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Iraq War

Breathing In

That funk.

No one had to explain to Tim Wymore or LeRoy Torres or any of the other troops and contractors why they couldn't breathe.

The burn pit on Balad Airbase in Iraq had a life of its own. Black smoke and orange flames shot heavenward twenty-four seven. Big as five football fields. Ten acres easy. Lit up the whole night sky. When the seasons changed and the winds died and the air didn't move, the smoke just hung, a stagnant mass over the whole base.


Empires of the Mind

Recently, I came across a photo on the web of prisoners in Guantánamo. You know the one: shot at close range through a chain-link fence, we see a line of detainees in orange jumpsuits—hooded, hands tied, bent over and broken. They are the first crop of prisoners from the new Global War on Terror.

A Window on Baghdad

The window of a Humvee rolling through Baghdad’s dangerous streets is essentially a television, watched in the dark. The glass is dirty and three inches thick: everything has a hazy and muted look, like a rerun of an old seventies movie. Humvees are dim inside even on sunny days; you can see out, but Iraqis can’t see in, any more than a sitcom character can see us when we watch.

Inside Saddam’s Spider Hole

Two pairs of shoes still in their boxes: a pair of clean new Hongmahwang loafers and a pair of gilded, tacky Italian slippers. The footwear of a madman caught last December hiding in a rat-filled hole almost within sight of one of his many palaces.

Capturing Saddam: Iraq, December 2003

The spartan interior of a U.S. Air Force C-130 has uncomfortable web seating. Our gear is strapped to a pallet in the aft section, where clamshell doors yawn open until we accelerate down the runway. This airplane is all business—bare fuselage walls and exposed bulkheads, longerons, and stringers.