Contact: Eric Johnson, 831-394- 5656
Monterey, Calif.—Jan.15, 2004—After spending the holidays embedded with an Army Civil Affairs unit in Iraq, Weekly reporter Andrew Scutro describes the war zone as “a very dangerous place that’s random and weird but also ultimately hopeful.” In a Jan. 15 cover story published in the Weekly (www.coastweekly.com), Scutro reports on American soldiers and Iraqi civilians working together to rebuild post- invasion Iraq.
Scutro, who was in Iraq for three weeks between December and January, spent much of his time embedded with a civil affairs team that works with Iraqi civilians and officials to build the roots of a fragile new government. During his Middle East stay, Scutro also interviewed L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
Monterey County Coast Weekly is the only alternative newsweekly to have sent a reporter to cover the war and occupation in Iraq. It’s not the first time the Weekly has sent one of its staff to a war zone. In 1991, during the first Iraq war, the paper sent then-news editor Jim Cole to the Persian Gulf on a military cargo plan.
Scutro says his visit to the war zone was harrowing but enlightening.
“As a reporter, you just have to keep your eyes and ears open–and take lots of notes. I can’t begin to offer any sort of macro view, as I saw everything from the ground level, speaking to both Americans and Iraqis.
“It’s a given that the Iraqis don’t want to be occupied by a foreign army but they don’t want the Americans to leave. Clearly, the Americans would rather be home, but picking up and leaving now is not an option.
“Until the mess is cleaned up and Iraq is put back together–whatever that ends up looking like–expect to see Iraq in the headlines for a very long time.
Ultimately, Scutro’s story contains a surprising element of hope.
“Iraq rests in the cradle of civilization but after 35 years of abuse and war it’s broken and tattered. Despite the trauma, the people are resilient, whether that means they love the Americans, violently hate the occupiers or just don’t care.”