Where Would You Rather Be?

The never-ending, New Years Eve-spoiling Fiscal Cliff drama still unfolding on Capitol Hill has reminded me why I so disliked my years covering Congress as a reporter for USA TODAY. As many of my friends and former colleagues learned last night, much of their job is standing around. And standing around. And, oh yeah, standing around while our elected representatives dither over what they would — or would not — do about something they should have done long before. In other words, a lot of late nights.

Take this photo that ran in The New York Times back in 2005. It shows Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist briefing the media during the debate on Judge John Roberts’ nomination for chief justice of the Supreme Court. That’s me on the right diligently taking notes. That was a rather calm presser and, unlike those covering the current controversy, I didn’t have to cancel my New Years Eve plans.

Capitol Hill 2005

Now take a look at these photos of me hard at work almost four years ago to the day:

abu ghraib interview

abu ghraib street interview

These were taken outside the prison in Abu Ghraib in Iraq a couple days after New Years 2009. I was there for this story about the transfer of detainees to the government of Iraq.

Yes, I did have to wear heavy body armor to interview a local council member and storekeepers in the market. And I did have to travel in an armored MRAP to get to my appointments. But compared to covering the political battle right now on Capitol Hill, I’ll take a war zone in the Middle East any day.

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Bringing Torture Back?

With drone strikes and the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Obama may have proved “enhanced interrogation techniques” are unnecessary to collect actionable intelligence. So why has Mitt Romney said he would revive torture if he were elected president?

That’s the topic of my latest @HuffPost segment. Hear what I and others have to say about it in this discussion hosted by my colleague Mike Sacks:

And to read more about the topic and see what others had to say, check out the entire segment here.

Enroute to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba 2002

On the Way to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba 2002

I was among the reporters who accompanied Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on his first visit to the detention center at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This was on Jan. 27, 2002. As I told Rummy a few days earlier during a Pentagon briefing, I had already been there , done that one of the first journalists to report from newly opened prison camp for Taliban and al Qaeda captives.

Listen to my interview from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with NPR’s All Things Considered on Jan. 17, 2002. In it I talk about watching one of the first planeloads of detainees arrive from Afghanistan.