msnbc | March 17, 2013
>>> ten years ago this week, the united states and its allies launched its shock and awe attack on iraq . the early days of the war saw success with touster of stape buaddam hussein, but violence in iraq continues. we talk with a few of the many journalists embedded with u.s. troops in iraq and kept americans in the know about what was happening there. i want to bring in nbc news correspondent kerry sanders , who was embedded in iraq from kabul, afghanistan. mike taibbi also embedded in iraq and also in kabul for us tonight, former cbs news correspondent kimberly dozier now with the associate press, she was seriously wounded. her camera crew killed while they were covering the war. good to see all of you.
>> good to be here.
>> let me start with you. the neiman foundation back in the summer of 2003 called embedding a success saying in part, embedding allowed far greater access to the battlefield than the press endured in more than two decades and dampened the long hostilitity between the pentagon and the press. highway dp being embedded affect your ability to cover the war?
>> you know, i'd add to that statement that it was also law, and the true new complexion to all of this. we weren't just there able to be exactly with. i was with the 28, with the marines, it wasn't just i was with them as they were working but with them with a live camera and microphone literally crawling in the dirt up on a sand berm, putting my microphone out as a young marine would have his weapon out trained on the enemy here. i kind of like didn't to this -- if you wanted to get a picture of the whole war, you weren't going to get it from me. imagine you wanted a disruption how i looked, all i could give you, a description of the tip of my finger. you wouldn't know what kerry sanders looked like. but if you had all the different reporters weighs in with different parts of it you might be able to piece it together. that's what we doing. little snapshots from locations so people at home could piece it together and get an overall picture how the war was proeging on the battlefield.
>> mike, you spent a good chunk of time with one specific unit'sthe 3rd infantry . what wases that experience like?
>> well, i think that the 3rd infantry , the characterization of them being the tip of the sword was accurate and with other campaigns. i hooked up after our colleague david bloom died away from kuwait. great reporting at that point came to an end when 3rd i.d. settled in, saddam's old palace. i joined them then. one of the things i remember of that notion talking about, being right in the middle of a unit involved in the war, you get to see all the things they go through and all the ways the war impacts them. we did a long story on a critical incidentful stress bebriefing session. 14 guys in one squad, through the horrific aspects. a terrible incident at checkpoint at the end, opened fire on somebody they thought just jumped the checkpoint. a family who panicked. and the father and the daughter were killed and the mother survived, and came out and stars and stripes gave a photograph saying, why? what happened? these guys were so devastated by it. they sue prelsed it to a point, but in this long three-hour session talked how it seared into them and they'd never forget and they'd raised them to figure they came up with a translator making it clear everybody coming through the checkpoint exactly what was happening. to be that close to a unit as they go through that, acknowledge that, confront it, tells you something about the cost of war not being embedded would not allow you to tell.
>> kimberly, protecting, about 140 journalists killed. the iraq war , from 2003 to 2009 , were you badly wounded. colleagues, paul douglas , james brolin killed and, of course, as mike alluded to, we lost david bloom there died traveling in the iraqi desert. how did you deal with the constant danger? with the constant fear?
>> well, you know, i would say one of the ironic things was towards the end of my time there, we were hit, in my particular case in 2006 , we had started going out with the troops occasionally, because early on -- because its would lead to a good story from their point of view, but we tried to balance it spending time with iraqis. we'd drive to mosul up north. weez drive out to fallujah on the highway. but it got more and more dangerous. kidnapping became a threat. insurgents started targeting us. so we started embedding with troops towards the end of my time there because it was the safest way, ironically, to try to see what was going on outside the walls of our hotel rooms . that's how we ended up in our case on memorial day in 2006 with a foot patrol that was doing the kind of patrols that would later lead to some security in baghdad, face to face with the people. they wanted to be out talking to the people on that street, asking them who planted a roadside bomb the day before. unfortunately, someone knew we coming and we walked into an ambush. car bomber waiting until we were close enough and command detonated it through us. you always news that kind of risk was there. the nigh before any shoot, you always talked with your team. you relied on everyone's instincts. we didn't see this one coming. there were other times when we all said, no. we're not going to go there. not tomorrow. somebody feels badly. someone's -- you know, senses going off. not today. but there were times, you talked to troops the same way. they're instincts telling them, don't go out today, but they would have to take that patrol. have to do that mission and walk into it. it's just always with you, and it becomes part of the job .
>> kerry sanders , you were one of the first us that a female u.s. soldier, jessica lynch , had been rescued from an iraqi hospital. take a look, take a listen.
>> inside that saddam hospital, which i need to note is also an iraqi military headquarters, 19-year-old jessica lynch . she was inside and the authorities, the military knew she was in there, because somebody inside the hospital had written a hand. written note say that she here. that she's alive, and they even gave the room number where she was.
>> kerry, tell us how all of that came about.
>> it was really strange. first of all, we were in this area near nasiriyah, and somebody stopped and told me that there was an american woman who was being held, a soldier, held and tortured, they said, inside that hospital. and so not exactly sure why they came up and talked to me as opposed to those who were in uniform around me. maybe i was non-threatening, but they came up to me, told me what was going on. i passed the information on. as it turned out, there she was. we're not sure about the whole torture thing but at the end of the day , her rescue took place. the young woman from west virginia , in the army, took a wrong turn and wound up being wounded and being taken to that hospital, and then eventually the rescue. bought very tense early days of the war, because here we had a woman who was being held at the time, believed to being held prisoner. unclear whether you call somebody who is being treated at hospital a the prisoner, but at that moment, she was a prisoner who was wounded.
>> mike taibbi , how much did the military try to exercise over embeddeds like you?
>> depends how much of a, success you had, or whatever the team has had with the command. with the command center . it they tend to trust you. they're going to tell you more. they're not going to turn down any kwe69 you come to them with but if they trust you, they'll let you know. the briefings, tell you what they're going to do. you have a choice, kim was saying, whether you think, your instincts tell you it's a safe thing to do. harp on two things. i think they're fairly significant. one what kim said about being embedded was the safest way, least dangerous way to cover the wars. that's true because of a reason that has to do whip where we are. this is the internet age . when i cut my teeth in the '70s, go to a checkpoint, american television written ot wind screen and shout american television , all sides needed us to tell their story. now they --
>> a passport.
>> if they want to make a point, get their story told, they have the internet. make a point, they can and have beheaded, executed somebody on camera. they don't need us. our only real value to the insurgents on either side, hostages. increasing the danger on us exponentially and kerry talks be a the fact, potential for live coverage. we saw and heard a lot of that in the beginning of this war. think about it. a terrible loss in iraq , over 4,000 losses's men and women. terrible tragedy . on the third day of gettysburg, pickett's trarg, 6,000 casualties in three hours. imagine if live television , on the spot realtime reporting was available then, what the public would have known about that war, what opportunity to react in the a day of way? it's a whole different ball game.
>> kimberly, i'm --
>> the one thing you have to be --
>> i was going to say, i want to endy were you. you're on the intelligence beat for the a.p. quickly what has the mill -- what has the press, for that matter as well, what have we learned from some of the intelligence failures in the iraq war ?
>> well, you know, the cia reformed thousa ed how it did its whole analytic process. the things that led to the conclusion than saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction , created the whole system of red teaming, where you'd question yourself and question yourself and kquestion yourself and it's through that process that we were led to the raid that got osama bin laden . they questioned that information over and over and over again until they were sure, because they didn't want to make another mistake like iraq . one of the positive things that came out of that whole process in iraq , the hunt for the al qaeda leader apew abu czar ca -- zicari. have-o some would say, had the invasion not taken place we wouldn't have had that. that's for another segment.
>> thank you all for your work then and thanks for your work now as well. be safe, guys.
>>> we should note here as well that during the eight years of the war in iraq , as we mentioned in our conversation, more than 4,400 americans were killed. some 32,000 were wounded. that does not, of course, include the more than 100,000 civilian deaths as well. the financial costs of the war, it reached somewhere north of $800 billion. but most non-partisan experts suggest that by the time we're finished paying all the bills it will be closer to $2 trillion or $3 trillion.