Reporters on the Job

SMUCKER ON THE JOB: Reporter Philip Smucker, who was escorted from Iraq by the US Marines, arrived safely in Kuwait on Saturday. His phones, computer, and notebooks were returned.

But his removal from the battlefield generated several hundred letters and e-mails.

About 65 percent supported the US military's decision. About 35 percent opposed it. Readers on both sides felt passionately about this event (page 10).

Many of those that supported Smucker's removal argued that the US military is fully justified in removing any potential threat to the safety of its soldiers. A number of readers mentioned that the commanding officer on the scene has an overarching duty to protect his troops, and order Smucker out. For the record, a US general who was not in the field ordered Smucker's removal. About 10 percent of the readers said they saw no value in any field reporting from Iraq, whether it came from embedded or non-embedded journalists.

Those that opposed Smucker's ouster frequently argued his case on the grounds of free speech and the quality of his work in Afghanistan. Many said that contrary to the official reason for his removal, the actual intent was to muzzle a source of information that might contradict the Pentagon's spin on the war.

Philip Smucker continues to report on the Iraq war from Kuwait (page 7).

SECURITY FOR WHOM? For about a week or so, security as been heightened at the hotel in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq, where the Monitor's Cameron Barr and many other journalists are staying (this page). A never-before-seen security manager has refused to allow journalists' drivers and interpreters to sit in the lobby. Guards now pat down journalists entering their own hotel and search their bags.

"For days," says Cameron, "they insisted that all this was being done for our security, which is fair enough, since we are considered under threat from Islamist militants in the region."

But one morning a few days ago, two US soldiers walked from the elevator and through the lobby, in full combat regalia. "So then we knew," Cameron says, "that all the new measures weren't primarily for our benefit, but for the newest hotel guests."

David Clark Scott

World editor

CORRECTION

The March 18 story about China's National People's Congress ("A legacy of 'Made in China' ") should have said that Li Peng retired as the chairman of the National People's Congress.

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