Reporters on the Job
• Becoming the Story: Staff writer Scott Peterson knew that getting permission to observe a patriotic tour of the former battlegrounds in Iran (from the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war) would be a difficult journalistic endeavor. Visiting the border region is often sensitive, especially for an American at a time of noisy saber rattling between the US and Iran. But he didn't expect his request to become news.
The Fars News Agency, which is linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, ran a story stating that the Monitor's request to observe a Rahian-e Nour (Followers of Light) battleground tour, would not be allowed until the US released five Iranians detained in Arbil, Iraq, in January.
Iran claims that the five were diplomats. The US claims that the Iranians were agents of the Revolutionary Guard, supporting anti-US militias in Iraq.
The story named Scott and the Monitor and quoted the head of the Foundation for the Preservation and Propagation of the Values of the Sacred Defense, Brig. Gen. Mir-Faisal Baqrzadeh, saying that "American journalists are not allowed to visit the [battlefield] sites" while the Iranians remain in US custody.
Ultimately, permission was granted instead to visit two cities, Ahvaz and Dezful, both 45 miles from the Iraq border but close enough so that Dezful was hit by 180 Iraqi missiles (see story).
David Clark Scott