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Matt Renner: Dahr Jamail - Living In Occupied Iraq

Dahr Jamail: Living and Reporting in Occupied Iraq

By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Interview
Friday 08 February 2008

Video of interview available at:

In his new book, "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," Dahr Jamail walks the reader through his experience as a roaming reporter in Iraq during the US occupation. The picture he paints is much darker and much more graphic than the one we normally see in the United States.

Jamail, a former volunteer Alaska mountain rescue ranger, decided to see for himself what the war in Iraq looked and "tasted" like. During the early years of the war, he traveled and lived among the people; something he says would be impossible today because of the sheer danger.

The book includes pictures, like the one on the cover, that serve to illustrate the reality of life under occupation. These pictures, most taken by Jamail with a small hand-held camera, are not the typical long-range shots of Baghdad seen in American media. Instead, close-ups of frustration, mistrust, pain and despair give the reader a glimpse into the lives of the Iraqis who have bared the brunt of the ongoing occupation.

Among the many otherwise untold stories in Jamail's book is the incident at the al-Shahid Adnan Kherala Secondary School for Boys. Shortly after the arrest of Saddam Hussein, US forces and Iraqi Police put the school on lockdown, surrounding it with armored vehicles. Sixteen students were arrested and jailed as a preemptive measure to try and stop a pro-Saddam rally that was rumored to be scheduled at the school for the next day. After the arrests, a small group of students threw rocks at the US vehicles. In response, the troops opened fire, shooting randomly at the crowd.

Evidence of torture, indiscriminate killings, and other possible war crimes fill the pages. In his coverage of the battles of Fallujah, Jamail bore witness to the use of chemical weapons against a civilian population by US forces.

The impression the experience left on him is permanent. He has taken this knowledge and made it his personal mission to disseminate it. Jamail continues his work by traveling around the country and giving presentations and lectures about his experience.

For an archive of Jamail's writing and past interviews, or to purchase his book, visit his web site.



JMatt Renner is an assistant editor and Washington reporter for Truthout.

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