I remain in awe of my NPR colleagues who reported the wars. They have been under fire, have been held prisoner by ugly regimes, and have endured the worst hardships. Anne Garrels is one of them.
As war with Iraq became inevitable, major American news organizations pulled their reporters out of Iraq. Annie stayed, and she was one of the very few who did. She and I had a daily on-air conversation as the United States prepared to bomb Baghdad—where Annie was. She was living in the Palestine Hotel, a place where British journalists would later be killed by U.S. troops who didn’t like reporters looking at them through binoculars. Anne was in the hotel that day.
Back in this preinvasion period, Annie would give me daily descriptions of the U.S. bombing campaign, speaking to me on a satellite telephone she was not supposed to have, equipment she kept hidden until the moment came when she had to send her reports to NPR. What I didn’t know at the time is that one of us was not wearing clothes. Annie’s memoir of this period is titled Naked in Baghdad. She had this idea that if the authorities knocked on her door, the Muslim men would allow her to get dressed before they entered. This would give her time to return the illegal sat phone to its hiding place and throw on a dress she had laid out for the occasion.
I knew nothing of this until she came out with her book. It is entirely sexist and unprofessional of me to say that Annie is someone you