This week, almost two dozen Association of Alternative Newsweeklies member papers published "Soldier's Heart," an article by freelance reporter Dan Frosch that casts a critical eye on the Department of Veterans Affairs' ability to properly treat Iraq War veterans with serious psychological problems. The article will appear in more than 40 AAN papers in coming weeks. Many of the participating weeklies will supplement the article -- AAN's latest collaborative story project -- with additional reporting to reflect the issue's regional and local impact. The collective stories can be found in a dedicated section of AltWeeklies.com.
In mid-April, editors of AAN papers waited in suspense to see a promised story discussing a memo by a U.S. official detailed to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Minutes before 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 20, the investigative piece by reporter Jason Vest was posted to the Web sites of two papers, The Village Voice and The Boston Phoenix. Over the following hours and days, AAN papers from New Haven, Conn., to Mill Valley, Calif., also published the story, in print, on the Web, or both. Alerted to the article by blogs, readers rushed to alt-weeklies' Web sites in droves.
Writing in "The Reliable Source," Richard Leiby (pictured) presents evidence to support the theory that Michael Rubin wrote the memo that was the subject of Jason Vest's story for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies last week. Leiby describes Rubin as "a thirty-something neocon intellectual" who served as a Coalition Provisional Authority political officer in Iraq for nine months. He is now a scholar at the "hawkish American Enterprise Institute." Rubin wouldn't confirm or deny that he wrote the memo.
The postwar stabilization of Iraq is not going well, a Coalition Provisional Authority official wrote in a memo in early March. The result: "Baghdadis have an uneasy sense that they are heading towards civil war." The memo describes corruption within the Iraqi Governing Council, resentments about the centralization of power in Baghdad, insufficient security in the Green Zone where CPA officials stay, and black-market sales of U.S.-supplied weapons by Iraqi police. Investigative reporter Jason Vest obtained a copy of the memo from a Western intelligence official and was commissioned to write an article about it for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. His piece, "Fables of the Reconstruction," is being published simultaneously on the Web sites of scores of AAN papers.