Saturday, April 19, 2008

My recent e-mail to Leila Fadel, the McClatchy bureau chief in Baghdad (Yes, I'm still trying to get embedded!)

(Photo is of the VIP suite in Haditha, where I stayed while being embedded in October of 2007)

Dear Ms. Fadel:

I recently saw you on the
Bill Moyers show and hoped you might use your knowledge of the current situation in Iraq to help me get re-embedded in the Green Zone.

CPIC and the U.S. military have embedded me twice in Iraq during 2007 and I was promised a third embed in February of 2008 -- which was rescinded at the last moment by Lt. Col. [XXXX] of CPIC, leaving me helplessly stranded at the Kuwait airport Starbucks for days on end.

I truly do not understand why my embed was canceled, because the three different official reasons that CPIC gave me clearly did not apply to my circumstances: First, that I was requesting to go into a combat zone (why ELSE would I want to go to Iraq!); second, that I did not have enough readers (OpEd News has 615,000 readers and over 180,000 people have read my blog); and, third, that the Army could not afford to embed me (Yeah, right).

The only reasons that I can think of as to why my embed was rescinded are because I am a progressive journalist, am against the occupation of Iraq because its cost is bankrupting America, and had just written an article negative to John McCain. When I was embedded in Iraq last year, other journalists warned me not to say anything negative about the "war" effort in Iraq if I wanted to continue being embedded but I went ahead and reported what I saw anyway. Perhaps that might be another reason my embed was rescinded.

In addition, when I was at CPIC last April I was told, off the record, that the State Department had their eye on me and was monitoring everything that I wrote while in the Green Zone. Do you have any suggestions on how I can find out if the State Department had anything to do with my rescinded embed -- short of bugging Ms. Rice's office, that is!

I am hoping that you can advise me on how to get re-embedded or else how to find out the real reasons why my embed was suddenly rescinded. And if your bureau would like to do a story on this angle -- that progressive journalists are being systematically discouraged from coming to Iraq -- here are some e-mail addresses if you want to contact them [not included in this article while legal action is still pending. Sorry]. Thanks.

I have also brought a JAG Article 139 legal complaint against Lt. Col. [XXXX] in order to get my $1,780 in expenses back from the Army after they canceled my embed. This complaint has been denied by Col. John B. Hildebrand of the administrative law section of OSJA-Iraq and is currently on appeal.

I am also pursuing this matter in small claims court here in California as well. Let Judge Judy sort all this out!

Very truly yours,
Jane Stillwater

PS: Before I can sue the Department of Defense on the Judge Judy show, I need to serve the Army with a small claims document -- and to do that, I need to have the name of the Army's agent of service in California. Any suggestions about who this might be?