SAD  1:55 pm February 17, 2012

The Late Anthony Shadid Reporting From Baghdad, 2003

by Jim Newell

The great New York Times foreign correspondent and two-time Pulitzer winner Anthony Shadid died in Syria yesterday. He was among the best. Here’s just one incredible piece we re-read last night, a dispatch from Baghdad in March, 2003, just a day or two before the American invasion:

His friend, Salman Radi, joined the conversation. “We all expect war is coming,” he said.

Radi said he feared it would be like 1991, when bridges, buildings and, most painfully, a civilian shelter were destroyed. He remembered the stench of rotting bodies. “And now,” he said, “they come again.”

Radi lit a cigarette. He said he had quit for two years, but started again three days ago.

“We don’t know the truth, we don’t know what will happen,” he said, after taking a long drag. “There’s fear inside me, for a long time. What will happen? All I can say is that I don’t know. Tragedies, I’m sure. But I don’t know.”

That uncertainty pervades the city, where streets began emptying and stores were shuttered today in anticipation of an attack.

Some of the artists groped for symbols of resilience, in a gesture, it seemed, to reassure themselves. One spoke of the palm trees that remain a dominant motif in Iraqi art. The desert winds bend them, push them to the ground, but they never break. Another spoke of the Tigris as a measure of national character. Whereas the Nile provided life to Egypt with its floods, he said, the surging Tigris wreaked destruction. Resisting its torrents made Iraqis that much stronger, giving them a well-deserved reputation for toughness.

“It’s like slavery,” Samarai said. “We can’t stand foreigners to run our country. It is horrible for us. What makes me really nervous is that when I was listening to Bush’s speech, he talked and I couldn’t smell any truth.”

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freakishlywrong February 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

If I believed in hell, I would wish all who committed this fruitless nightmare to rot in it. No, I'm still mad as hell.

Gratuitous World February 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

the Fresh Air he did a few months ago is great too – especially for those averse to reading .

ChernobylSoup February 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

And Judith Miller, working for the same employer, never even left her desk to "report" on the same story.

MiniMencken February 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Is this the new, snark-free version of Wonkette we have heard is in the works?

edgydrifter February 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Truth was one thing I never smelled when Bush was speaking, either. Huge piles of rotting horseshit, yes, but not truth.

Mumbletypeg February 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

You beat me to it said it better than I could.

weej_bain February 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

With Shrub, the poop will out.

MMathS February 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm

That nut, Chavez, probably said it best: "The devil came here yesterday. And it smells of sulfur still today."

Limeylizzie February 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm

That was fantastic.

doloras February 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Why is Chávez a nut?

iburl February 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Because he won't lay down and die when we ask him to?

bikerlaureate February 17, 2012 at 10:01 pm

He seems to cling to the bizarre notion that he and his countrymen have the right to run their country as they see fit ?

ttommyunger February 18, 2012 at 8:59 am

Well said, Biker.

Kidneys4Sale February 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Cancer gun. That is all.

actor212 February 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm


Callyson February 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm

when I was listening to Bush’s speech, he talked and I couldn’t smell any truth.
That was what W meant by "Mission Accomplished."

nounverb911 February 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm

We lost a good man yesterday.

Lucidamente1 February 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Does this mean we can bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran now?

SayItWithWookies February 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Mr. Shadid’s work entailed great peril. In 2002, as a correspondent for The Globe, he was shot in the shoulder while reporting in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Last March, Mr. Shadid and three other Times journalists — Lynsey Addario, Stephen Farrell and Tyler Hicks — were kidnapped in Libya by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces. They were held for six days and beaten before being released.

A serious badass. May other journalists honor his legacy by carrying it on.

ifthethunderdontgetya February 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Let's hope that some do.

Most of them settle for reprinting the latest government war propaganda these days, and get well-paid for it.

Note that while Judy 'Queen of All Iraq' Miller no longer works at the NYT, her partner in crime, Michael Gordon, is still there.

New York Times Reveals "Reporter" Michael Gordon Actually Voice-Activated Tape Recorder

NeonTrotsky February 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Let it be noted that it was the IDF that shot him

MinAgain February 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Rest in peace, Mr. Shadid.

Crank_Tango February 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm

It's like slavery? Being occupied by crusaders is not like slavery, asshole.

SLAVERY is birth control, student lunches, and health insurance.

Friggin drama queens.

savethispatient February 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm

You forgot adjusting the marginal tax rate for top earners by 3%.

Crank_Tango February 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Oh no, raising taxes on the wealthy (back to anything resembling normal levels) is Hitler.

pinkocommi February 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Anytime someone brings up the idea of karma, I point to the absurdity of a great journalist like this being killed and then Cheney – who lacks a heartbeat and has split and diminished his soul more times than Voldemort – is still gracing us with his presence here on earth as evidence that it is all a load of crap.

finallyhappy February 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I read he died of an asthma attack -surviving his previous shooting and beatings

notreelyhelping February 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Here's hoping Kurt Schork and Larry Burrows are saving him a seat at the bar.

Mahousu February 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

There's a great bit he did (included in Night Draws Near) at an Iraqi police station early in the occupation.

He interviews both the Iraqi police and the American soldiers stationed there, and each side unloads on how unreliable the other one is – right in front of each other, since both of them assume the other can't understand their language. What's more, it becomes clear that what each side is saying about the other is basically true.

That one article was worth more than every single op-ed the Washington Post ever published on Iraq. Not that that's saying anything.

bikerlaureate February 17, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Thank you for the link! I hoped to learn here that he'd published a book, and I happen to have an Amazon gift card collecting dust…

fuflans February 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm

this is what real journalism looks like. and a sad day for all of us that appreciate it.

fuflans February 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm

abc is running a story about the dangers of asthma.

i think i would have gone with the 'returning on horseback from an unauthorized visit to a civil war zone.

with smugglers.'

Antispandex February 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm

He must have been part of the lame stream, left wing, anti-American media…because he got his story right.

sulmak February 18, 2012 at 12:42 am

Asthma attack, not what I expected when I read died in Syria.

ttommyunger February 18, 2012 at 9:02 am

"Asthma attack?" I smell something, but I'm not so sure it's truth.

sati_demise February 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Phillip Morris GMO tobacco named "Quest"

Take note:
If you are gonna smoke, it has to be organic tobacco these days.

ttommyunger February 18, 2012 at 8:56 pm


snoopyfan2010 February 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

“It’s like slavery,” Samarai said. “We can’t stand foreigners to run our country. It is horrible for us. What makes me really nervous is that when I was listening to Bush’s speech, he talked and I couldn’t smell any truth.”

Neither could we.

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