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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

Understanding Jessica...

In the surreal green night vision light that was so typical of the Iraqi war coverage, we met Jessica Lynch as she was being carried down flights of stairs, on her way back to freedom. It was/is a powerful moment in war coverage, in television, even if, even then, it felt a bit contrived.

In our sorting out of this young woman's story, we are finding a frame in which to put this war. It has not been quite all Jessica, all the time, this week but close. She has been everywhere.

As we are peeling back the layers of her story, separating fact from fiction, reality from press release, we are striving to have a clearer of understanding of this young woman who has found herself the focus of so much national attention and as we attempt to understand her, we are also attempting to understand the war to which she has given a face.

In the reshaping, remaking and redefinition of the Jessica Lynch story, we are seeing not just the adjustment of an individual story but of the country's understanding of the Iraqi war, which had its justification rooted in this administration's belief - misguided, it now appears [at the very least], that Saddam Hussein was in some concrete way linked to the events of 9/11 - the seminal event to date of this young century and the catalyst for profound changes in the way we, as Americans, think of ourselves and of our place in this world.

That event was also the catalyst for the creation of the concept, as well as the Department, of Homeland Security and for the attempt of this Administration, according to, at least, the ACLU, to handily dismantle the Bill of Rights.

There has been tragedy, followed by fear, accompanied by a war that has ebbed into a now long occupation, which has every sign of being a very LONG occupation.

It will be interesting to see how this is navigated emotionally by this country - not to mention countries like the Italians who lost more men this week than they have at any time since the end of World War II.

Ancient Rome didn't question its occupations much. They mostly wallowed in the grain given up for bread and animals caught for circuses.

The Imperial analogy that has been trumpeted by the "neo-cons" of this Administration has become deeply troubling to many. Are we occupying Iraq for its own good, as we say we are, or is it for its oil, the contemporary equivalent of the Roman's bread and circuses? Rome was quiet while there was bread and circuses and America should be quiet as long as oil flows and we can drive our cars for less than any other non-oil producing country.

All these Imperial analogies are rightly troubling for Americans who grew up with a sense of pride in our voting process and in the concept of national self-determination.

But then this is what has been troubling about the Bush Administration from the beginning - it lacked the solid electoral legitimacy we assume in our processes. We accepted it all, once the Supreme Court's gavels had come down on the side of Bush, whether we liked it or not, unsuspecting that in front of us was a national tragedy that would transform the landscape.

The world that has emerged since then seems to confirm every liberal's fear of the Bush - Cheney ticket.

For Bush, the combined storms of a shaky economy married with an increasingly suspect foreign policy coupled with a national growing sense of dis-ease for the death toll being taken in Iraq in all quarters linked to a perceived lack of direction in the occupation, have only been moderately relieved by some good economic news this past week.

We are full swing into the throes of the upcoming Presidential election. That election, which appeared at the end of 2001 to be a Bush "no brainer" has recently become a free for all as we assess the meaning of footage showing a young female soldier moved to safety.