Reporters on the Job

UNDER COVER PHOTO: The Monitor's Scott Peterson ruefully admits that he didn't have time to go horseback riding on the day he visited a ranch about 25 miles outside of the Iranian capital. He arrived with just enough daylight left to get a photo of Louise Firouz, an American who has been living in Iran for the last 45 years (this page).

"We agreed to do the interview after I took her picture. We were just stepping outside when she ran back in and grabbed a headscarf. She's not a Muslim, but she didn't want to appear in a photo to be disrespectful of the rules of the society where she lives," says Scott.

ONE MORE THING: After reporter Nicholas Blanford interviewed Joe Wilson, the former deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Baghdad and the last US official to meet with Saddam Hussein, he received an e-mail. It was a follow-up note to their conversation. "Joe Wilson recounted a vignette that may illustrate what the Iraqi leader thinks of voluntarily leaving office (page 1)," says Nick.

"During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Saddam held a cabinet meeting and asked the ministers what he should do next. One of them replied that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's supreme leader, had stated repeatedly that the war would end if Saddam stepped down. Perhaps he should consider the offer if he really wanted to end the war, the health minister said. Saddam nodded his head and replied 'Interesting. Why don't you come outside with me and we will discuss it further.' The two men walked out of the room. A moment later a gunshot was heard and Saddam returned alone," wrote Mr. Wilson.

"True or not, it is widely believed in Baghdad, and underscores the extent that power and survival are intertwined in Mr. Hussein's mind," Nick says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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