Reporters on the Job
LESSONS FROM OF THE PAST: Correspondent Scott Peterson's interview with Iraqi opposition leader Mohammad Bakr al-Hakkim (page 1) brought back old memories for Scott. The ayatollah spoke about the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War - and how Washington allowed Saddam Hussein to crush a rebellion. At the time, Scott was traveling in northern Iraq with the Kurdish fighters or peshmerga," and witnessed the tide of history change on the battlefield. "Iraqi tanks appeared on the horizon, blasting our position in an open field," Scott recalls. "As we raced away in a truck, I poked my head out the window and saw Iraqi helicopters low and directly overhead, firing ahead of us."
"We bailed out of the car, and the Kurds were blasting the helicopters with their rifles. Far above - and doing nothing but watching - I saw American fighters flying overhead," Scott recalls. "We had to escape on foot to Turkey, along with 1.5 million refugees, and I will never forget the lament of the Kurds. They had believed President Bush, who promised to back them in their uprising - and then failed to help at the critical moment."
"Where's Bush?" they pleaded. Scott didn't have an answer.
A BUSY WEEKEND: While working on today's story about Al Qaeda ties to Southeast Asia (page 7), reporter Dan Murphy was trying to confirm some details with Rodolfo Mendoza, a Philippines police expert on Islamic militants. When Dan called Mr. Mendoza's secretary, she said that her boss was away on an operation, that his cellphone was turned off, and that she didn't know when he'd be back. At first, Dan thought he was getting the brush-off. But Mendoza called him back on Sunday. "Busy weekend?" asked Dan. "Yeah, busy," Mendoza replied with a chuckle, then proceeded to chat about Al Qaeda. When Dan opened a local newspaper the next morning, he saw that Mendoza's men had been involved in a weekend shootout that left 11 alleged gangsters dead.