Reporters on the Job

Overstaying His Welcome? Staff writer Scott Peterson visited a refugee camp at Baghdad University for a glimpse into the thinking of those who didn't vote Sunday and are bitter about the American presence in Iraq (this page). Most of the 900 refugees are from Fallujah. Scott didn't lie about his nationality, but he also didn't volunteer that he was an American.

"I signed the guest book and spoke with the sheikh for an hour. Then, my interpreter and I went outside. Lunch - rice and a potato and meat stew - was being served in the courtyard. We were invited to stay. After the meal, I helped a refugee figure out how to use his new camera. Then we went into the mosque and spoke with his family for about two and a half hours," says Scott. "Their views were more moderate than the cleric's."

But Scott's interpreter was getting nervous spending so much time in a place filled with people whose homes had been destroyed by US forces. At his urging, Scott finally left.

When they got back to the hotel, there was a rather ominous e-mail. "There was a message on the safety bulletin board set up by foreign journalists. It said that there had been an attempted abduction of a journalist after visiting the same refugee camp that we had just left. It was a good reminder to pay attention to your interpreter's instincts."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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