Saturday, March 24, 2007

Woman of Steel: I'm off to Iraq & need Kevlar by Wednesday!

When you are a reporter, you gotta go where the good stories are. And everyone knows that the hot stories today are in Washington DC and Iraq. Well, maybe in the Bahamas too -- but mostly in DC and Iraq.

I've been trying to embed in Iraq with the Department of Defense since last July. At first my senator, when she inquired on my behalf, was told that I couldn't be embedded because I was "opinion-based and not fact-based" but as America's goddess of accurate-yet-fun reporting Molly Ivins used to say, "That dog don't hunt" -- not after the DoD itself got caught telling bold-faced lies about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction! But when the Dems took over Congress last November, I was informed by several sources that, under pressure from above, the DoD has now developed a whole new policy wherein progressive reporters are no longer being actively discriminated against and that I had a good chance of being embedded if my credentials were good.

After getting four online news services, a nationally-known crusading regional editor, my hometown newspaper and a major metropolitan media giant to sponsor me -- The Lone Star Iconoclast just sent me the most beautiful press pass in the world -- I finally got the green light from DoD! Sorta.

To get to Iraq, you fly into Kuwait and the Department of Defense's MNFI comes to pick you up. So I went online to, the best source of cheap international airfare there is, and scored a fabulously inexpensive round trip flight to Kuwait for a price that even I could afford! I was all ready to go, leaving on Wednesday, March 28, 2007. Sorta.

"Sorry, Jane," the DoD media guy just wrote me. "We haven't finished processing your paperwork yet." Oops. So here I am with a non-refundable ticket to Kuwait and no green light.

What to do?

Whether or not I have DoD clearance, I HAVE to leave for Kuwait on March 28. I can't afford to waste that kind of money. I lived off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a YEAR to save all that up. And when I get to Kuwait, either the MNFI will have completed the paperwork and I will be whisked off to their training and staging area near Kuwait City and then off to Baghdad to write fabulous stories for YOU all about how our brave troops are doing a bang-up job over there despite the fact that their bosses in the White House are sadistic bastards, terribly inefficient crooks and totally nuts -- or I will spend three weeks wandering the streets of Kuwait City waiting for my flight home, searching for internet cafes and trying to sell boot-leg Girl Scout cookies.

If, however, I do get embedded in Iraq, I will need a Kevlar bullet-proof vest. Can anyone loan me one by Wednesday? I'm serious! Would you send me into a combat zone without Kevlar? Who do you think I am? The Woman of Steel?

PS: Of course the main reason I'm going to Iraq is to bring you back stories about what it is actually like over there -- but there's also another special bonus inducement: I hear that the commissaries over there serve a dynamite (to-die-for) chocolate cake.

PPS: Just because George W. Bush happily sends our troops into combat without adequate body armor, this doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea.