Reporters on the Job

Cultural snapshot

NO MISSILE MUGSHOTS: Getting a photo of Iraq's Al Samoud missiles being crushed by bulldozers has been as difficult for photojournalists as it has been for UN weapons inspectors to find illegal weapons, says correspondent Scott Peterson. Rumors about when and where the missiles would be destroyed were as abundant as prayer rugs. When the call came on Saturday afternoon, everyone in the press center rushed north of Baghdad, only to be stopped at the gates of the massive Al-Taji military base.

"Never before have so few Iraqis, standing around the gate as guards, received so much media attention," Scott says. "We had passed an Iraqi train packed with tanks and 155mm Howitzer guns heading south, and there was obviously a lot of activity on the military base." The journalists waited for several hours, until the sun set, but the guards still said, "No."

Scott speculated that Iraq officials didn't want photos because of all the military activity on the base. But later he was told that by Iraqi presidential decree there would be no photos taken of the missile destruction. As one source in Scott's story suggests (this page), the Iraqi people may not understand Saddam Hussein's capitulation on the destruction of the missiles.

SMALL WORLD: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher had a quiet lunch with a Turkish diplomat in Ankara last week, and he told her that Turkish officials were miffed by the undiplomatic pressure the US was applying (this page). "It's not easy to be in negotiations with a superpower," he said. "We agreed that lunch was off-the-record and just for background. But when I called a Turkish journalist in Ankara, yesterday, he started quizzing me about the lunch. He knew exactly whom I had eaten with. It turns out he had seen us on Argentine Avenue, a street full of popular restaurants. 'Big Brother is watching you,' he joked."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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