Observations on War with Iraq, 1991
Though I am not a journalist, I have always been a keeper
Some of the odd details that find their way into journals
may give us the flavor of a moment in a way different from,
but perhaps as effective, as conventional reporting. This
personal bearing witness is a different looking
glass precisely because an individual may record small
things that "The Media" will, over time, edit out
of the cut-down version of its coverage.
But the telling detail has its' own value and need not be
I recently looked at the journals I kept in 1991; it was
fascinating to see the texture of the things that I chose
to record. The United States was getting ready to take military
action against Iraq; I was working for Network Graphics at
NBC News in New York, and had been moved from the overnight
shift, (which served "Today" and "Sunrise"),
to a new 4 to midnight shift. We would service "NBC Nightly
News with Tom Brokaw" and any primetime coverage that
NBC would do.
I made note of the following among many pages of entries
as the war progressed:
January 17th, 1991, 2:40 AM (the bombing of Baghdad had begun
at 7 PM Eastern)
"...Everyone agreed a very scary moment came early in
our coverage when, while Brokaw and Tom Aspell, in Baghdad,
were cross-talking, we lost Tom Aspells signal, and
his box turned from a live person talking to hash
and static. But right now Garrick Utley is talking to him-
"Its wonderful to hear your voice..." he said
to Aspell, and it is.
January 25th, 1991, 1:30 AM
"The use of chemical and nerve weapons, available to
(Saddams) tanks and aircraft, remains a big question
mark, and horrible to contemplate. Details of his military
fortifications- concrete bunkers for aircraft, tanks operating
like trapdoor spiders, the mobile Scud missiles, now loom
large in our attention. After a week this seems more difficult
than we had thought. The Iraqi technique depends
on deception- the ability to hide and strike later, it seems,
as opposed to our techniques of relentless precision. The
idea being, I gues s, that theyll wait while we exhaust
ourselves... Our Pentagon guys are cautioning us about the
coming ground war. Its as if we are at the end of an
early chapter, and the closing sentence steels us for the
calamity in the next chapter..."
January 29th, 10:40 PM
"Starting today, we are wearing our ID cards at all times
when were in 30 Rock.
At the IBM Gallery today (on Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan),
they inspected my bag when I checked it at the bag check.
They had a sign posted: "Due to the situation in the
February 8th, 1991, midnight
"Jack (Kriska, "Sunrise" lead artist) heard
on the radio on his way in to work that there is trouble-
anti-Saddam trouble- within the Iraqi military. Harry (my
husband) predicted this two weeks ago. It will be interesting
to see if it amounts to anything. Meanwhile, the Iraqi army
has sent out execution squads to shoot defectors."
February 27th, 1991, 11:36 AM
" The Today Show had a report this morning: one of our
Humvees got stuck in the sand in Iraq. The Americans got out
and tried to extricate it, just as some Iraqis approached
in a tank. The Iraqi soldiers got out, helped push the Humvee
out of the sand, then surrendered.
Is it possible the war will only last the length of this (journal)?"