Reporters on the Job

Fall Back, Clean Up: What happens when the shooting stops, and a "step back" deal is declared (page 1) in Fallujah, Iraq? Staff writer Scott Peterson watched as US Marine battalions pulled back from their front-line positions, and headed for their base cafeteria - and the laundry building.

"We just had two units come in, so we're completely overwhelmed," said a laundry grunt on Saturday morning, jabbing a thumb at the industrial-size washing machines. Marines pulling laundry duty were building up a sweat, as they waded through a mountain of soiled uniforms smelling of "old boot."

Scott, who has been working in the same pair of pants for 12 days now, was hoping to toss his clothes into a machine. "If you drop yours off now," a marine warned him, "you'll be lucky to get it back by Monday."

In the Streets of Beirut: The story about US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners (this page) didn't hit the Arab media until Friday, says Nicholas Blanford. When he went out Saturday to see what people thought, he brought a handful of the Abu Ghraib pictures printed out from a web site. "About half of those interviewed had not seen them before and were stunned at the graphic nature of the images," says Nick. "Some of the women were quite embarrassed at seeing images of naked men. Most people said that although the sight of the pictures was shocking, the fact that prisoners were being abused by US and British troops came as no surprise. Still, there were a couple of people who said they couldn't care less. They were struggling to make a living in Lebanon and had no time to worry about what was happening 800 miles away in Iraq."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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