(Photos are of the Kuwait Starbucks, me and a Seven-Ton in Iraq, an example of the typical American architectual design templates in Iraq, and me the last time I was in an actual suit -- and about to be eaten by lions)
"Jane! Why the freak are you taking the Department of Defense to small claims court?" you might well ask. "After all those times that they've been so nice to you and let you embed in Iraq four-and-a-half times, this is the thanks that they get? WHY are you biting the hand that feeds you?"
I seem to be asking myself the same question.
I just got back from Iran and I'm tired and jet-lagged and, frankly, going to trial, up against the full Shock and Awe of the entire US Department of Defense, all by myself, in my state of mind, is gonna truly be a whole bunch of work. What am I THINKING? I should be home doing the laundry instead.
But the laundry will just have to wait.
When I embedded with the Army in Baghdad this last August, I was totally impressed with all the work our brave soldiers are doing in Iraq as they risk life and limb to bring law and order to West of the Pecos. I wouldn't do anything to hurt our guys in uniform for the world. But even despite all that, the Department of Defense still owes me $1,780 -- and I want it back. I could use it. My daughter Ashley's birthday is coming up and she wants to go off to Disneyland -- or maybe Las Vegas.
"But Jane, do you even have a case?"
"Yeah I do. Hey, I gots Personal Injuries! The Army promised me an embed in Baghdad last February so I bought my plane ticket and then they rescinded the embed and I was forced to live on the couch of the Kuwait International Airport Starbucks for two whole days!"
I might have forgiven the Army for the airport couch episode because Starbucks makes a pretty mean mocha latte, but they (the Army, not Starbucks) kept changing the reason why the embed was canceled and that pissed me off. If you are gonna go ahead and cancel an embed, then freaking STICK TO YOUR STORY!
First the Army didn't give me any reason at all. "Sorry Ma'am I can not support your embed. Changes on the battlefield prevent me from explaining further due to operations security." Changes in battlefield conditions? That's the whole reason I'm GOING to freaking Iraq -- to report on the changes! Who would want to go to Iraq for just a vacation? I could go to Disneyland -- or Las Vegas -- for a vacation. I'm going there for the news!
Next, the Army told me that they were rescinding my embed because I didn't have enough readers. "The decision was made at the CORP level and the main reasoning behind the final decision is the low circulation of your work compared to military expense." Almost a million people read the news services I write for -- not to mention what a big insult this is. Nobody reads me? That's the absolute WORST thing one can say to a reporter.
Then the Army came up with yet another phony excuse. "You're not being embedded, Ma'am, because no military unit has agreed to sponsor you with them." That's not true either! The 3ID said that they would. And so did the Marines.
Will I get justice on Friday? Let's hope so. I don't know anything about the judge who will be presiding on my case but I imagine that he or she will be fair. However. I bet you anything that if Judge Judy was hearing my case, the Department of Defense would be getting a serious ear-full on how to play well with others.
In any case, if anyone out there is interested in attending my trial, it will be held on Friday, November 7, 2008 in Department 202, Alameda County Superior Court, 2120 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley, CA. The docket will be posted at 9:15 am. Please do come -- if for no other reason than this may be your last chance EVER to see me not wearing jeans.