Mark Danner

Reporting the Iraq War

Tuesdays, 3 – 6 p.m. 
Mark Danner and Rone Tempest 
 No war since Vietnam – perhaps no war in American history – has brought more controversy upon journalists and the practice of journalism than the American war in Iraq. From the bitterly divisive launch of the war and the controversy over the “missing” weapons of mass destruction that came in its wake, to the ongoing guerrilla war and the accompanying car-bombings and kidnappings that have severely curtailed journalists’ freedom of movement, to the so-called “back-door draft” that has kept National Guardsmen and reservists fighting in Iraq long past their agreed obligations, the Iraq war has placed extreme stress on journalists’ ability to separate fact from propaganda and to report fairly the news from the battlefield. In this course we will study the Iraq war and journalists’ performance in reporting it, from the run-up to the war, to the embedding in the war’s opening stages, to the effort to report the insurgency and the lives and struggles of soldiers on the ground as they cope with the frustrations of the “back door draft.” Students in the class will participate in an ongoing Los Angeles Times project following California National Guard troops on their one-year mission in Iraq, interviewing the soldiers and their families as they return from Iraq, and contributing stories to the Los Angeles Times website. Mark Danner, a longtime New Yorker writer, has reported from Central America, Haiti, the Balkans and Iraq. His most recent book is “Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror.” Rone Tempest, a longtime foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, has reported from India, China, France, Afghanistan and Pakistan, among many other stories.


PART ONE: The Run Up To The War 

January 18: Introduction: Your War and How to Deal With It – The Biggest Story 
January 25: The Run Up To The War. Assignment: The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions Perle, Wurmser and Feith et al, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm Gary Khalil, “Wither the Abrams Doctrine: good or bad policy? —H- Reserve Forces Review” “Briefing Paper on the National Guard” (handout); “Major National Guard Call Ups” (handout) Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, “Guard Bonuses” The National Guard, 20 December 2004 Melissa Nix, Interview with Maj. Bruce Jacobs; Interview with Col. Mike Doubler (handouts) Jon Lee Anderson, “A Man of the Shadows: Can Iyad Allawi hold Iraq together?”, The New Yorker, Profiles, 24 January 2005 Michael P. Noonan, “The Future of the Reserves and the National Guard: A Conference Report, 19 January 2005 Jeff Nachtigal, “One Mother’s War”, The Los Angeles Times, 30 January 2005,1,3668041.story?coll=la-home-magazine Neela Banerjee, “Few but Organized, Iraq Veterans Turn War Critics”, The New York Times, 23 January 2005 John Hendren, “Pentagon Files Reveal More Allegations of Abuse in Iraq” the Los Angeles Times, 25 January 2005,0,3011482.story?coll=la-home-headlines Rone Tempest, “Who’s Dying in Our War?” the Los Angeles Times Magazine, 30 January 2005,,1,5168426.story Col. Mark P. Myer, “The National Guard Citizen-Soldier: The Linkage between Responsible National Security Policy and the Will of the People, 1 April 1996, Air War College Report 
February 1: The Creation of Iraq Assignment: Alissa J. Rubin, “Dispatch from Amarah, Iraq: To Get to the Story, You Have to Get to the Story”, the Los Angeles Times, 23 January 2005 Janet Reitman, “The Baghdad Follies: Hunkered down with the press corps in Iraq”, Rolling Stone, 14 June 2004, Phebe Marr, History of Modern Iraq Susan Sontag, “Reflections on September 11th”; Robert Kagan and William Kristol, “What to Do about Iraq”; Ann Coulter, “Why We Hate Them”; Jonathan Schell, “Pre-emptive Defeat, or How Not to Fight Proliferation”; Lawrence Kaplan and William Kristol, “America’s Mission, After Baghdad”, The Iraq War Reader Each student to summarize last week’s coverage of Iraq War in a particular foreign press 
February 8: Inside Iraq’s Autocracy (+ Election) Assignment: Kanan Makiya, Republic of Fear Kanan Makiya, “Our Hopes Betrayed: The US Blueprint for Post-Saddam Government”; The Iraq War Reader Kanan Makiya, “AFTER SADDAM: The Shiite Obligation: Iraq’s majority group must rise above the politics of victim hood”, 7 February 2005 Peter Beaumont, “Shia ‘poll landslide’ set to put religion at heart of Iraqi power”, the Observer, 6 February 2005 Greg Mitchell, “UPDATE: Officials Back Away from Early Estimates of Iraqi Voter Turnout”, Editor and Publisher, 2 February 2005 
PART TWO Iraq: The Invasion 
February 15: The War From the White House Assignment: Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack; Jon Lee Anderson, The Fall of Baghdad (read first 3 chapters & summary) Rod Nordland, Tom Masland and Christopher Dickey, “Unmasking the Insurgents”, Newsweek, 7 February 2005, Writing assignment: Solve the Problem of Covering the Iraq War (Set Up Your Own Bureau as a Foreign Editor in Iraq) “Birnbaum v. Jon Lee Anderson”, The New Yorker, Personalities, 18 October 2004 
February 22: Plan of Attack, Part II Assignment: Anonymous, Imperial Hubris James Fallows, “Blind into Baghdad”, the Atlantic Monthly, January/February 2004, James Fallows, “The Fifty-first State or What Will Happen after We Invade Iraq”,the Atlantic, 10 October 2002, Ron Suskind, “Why Are These Men Laughing?”, Esquire, January 2003 Adam Davidson, “Out of Iraq: the rise and fall of one man’s occupation”, Harper’s, February 2005, 
March 1: The War, from Baghdad And Fallujah Nir Rosen, “In the Balance”, the New York Times Magazine, 20 February 2005, Patrick Graham, “Beyond Fallujah: a year with the Iraqi resistance”, Harper’s, June 2004 Nir Rosen, “Letter from Falluja: HOME RULE: A dangerous excursion into the heart of the Sunni opposition”, the New Yorker, Larry Diamond, “What Went Wrong in Iraq and Prospects for Democracy and Stability”, Presentation at UCLA, Andrew Lee Butters, “Revenge of the Kurds”, Time, 7 March, 2005,,9171,1032335,00.html BIN LADEN FATWAS Declaration of War 1996, Jihad against Jews and Crusaders 1998, Fatwa before 04 Presidential Election, GEORGE W. BUSH SPEECHES Second Inaugural Speech: Axis of Evil Speech: VMI Speech: West Point Speech: Mission Accomplished/Truman Doctrine Speech Sept 20 2001 Speech (Either with Us or Against Us): 
March 8: The Battle of Algiers: What Can We Learn about the Nature of Insurgencies? Watch Battle of Algiers; Discussion afterwards 
PART THREE Mistakes, Obstacles and Disasters 
March 15: Iraq and the National Guard Writing Assignment: What can the U.S. military campaign in Iraq learn from Battle of Algiers Guard, Reserve Service Takes High Financial Toll, Morning Edition, 15 March 2005, Morning Mark Mazzetti, “Iraq War Compels Pentagon to Rethink Big-Picture Strategy”, the Los Angeles Times, 11 March 2005 Mark Mazzetti, “Pentagon Won’t Extend Reservists Deployment”, the Los Angeles Times, 3 February 2005 Mark Mazzetti, “Leader of Army Reserve Fears a ‘Broken Force'”, the Los Angeles Times, 6 January 2005 IN BRIEF, “Governor Wants Guard Troops Back for Fires “, the Los Angeles Times, 5 March 2005 TIMES WIRE SERVICES, “Army Recruiting Goal Falls Short”, the Los Angeles Times, 4 March 2005 Nancy Ramsey, “Through Soldiers’ Eyes: Several new documentaries show the Iraq conflict from the point of view of U.S. troops”, the Los Angeles Times, 4 March 2005 Elizabeth Mehren, “Iraq War Lands in the Midst of Vermont’s Town Hall Meetings”, the Los Angeles Times, 2 March 2005 Susannah Rosenblatt, “With a Direct Hit to Every Heart”, the Los Angeles Times, 16 February 2005 
March 22: [No Class, Spring Recess March 21-25] 
March 29: Iraq and the War on Terror Assignment: Michael Massing, Now They Tell Us Michael Massing, the New York Review of Books, (his sequel on Iraq reporting) Mark Danner, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror Read the five 5 chapters and then several of the documents, including the Taguba Report, the Red Cross Report, the prisoner depositions and the Schlesinger Report Seymour Hersh, Chain of Command Louise Roug, “Extreme Cinema Verite: GIs shoot Iraq battle footage and edit into music videos filled with death and destruction”, the Los Angeles Times, 14 March 2005,,1,1044248.story Press Release, “Discovery Times Channel’s Critically Acclaimed Series “Off to War” Signed for a Full Season, 4 March 2005, Richard Boudreaux, “Iraq’s Sunni Arabs Seek Their Voice”, the Los Angeles Times, 28 March, 2005,0,5173092.story?coll=la-home-headlines PLUS watch “Gunner Palace” 
April 5: Torture, Abu Ghraib and its Aftermath Assignment: Jane Mayer, “Annals of Justice: Outsourcing Torture”, 14 February 2005, the New Yorker, Writing Assignment: Comparative Piece on Abu Ghraib Torture, using documents from “Torture and Truth” Profile: Summary Paragraph Due Watch First Episode: Off to War 
PART FOUR Quagmire or Victory 
April 12: Democracy in Iraq Assignment: Carl Conetta, The Iraqi Election “Bait and Switch”: Faulty Poll Will Not Bring Peace or US Withdrawal, Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Report #17, 25 January 2005, Carl Conetta, “The Iraqi election: “first step” or detour?”, Global Beat, 7 February 2005, The Center for War, Peace and the News Media, Marina Ottaway, “Iraq: Without Consensus, Democracy is Not the Answer”, March 2005, Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief on Iraq Elections, Marina Ottaway, “Iraq Votes: Can the Iraqi elections save the state?”, the San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 January 2005, Discussion: Reporting on Iraq (and other War Zones) Watch Second Episode: Off to War April 19: NO CLASS; Meetings with Rone about profiles; rough draft due before meeting Assignment: Doug Smith, “The Conflict in Iraq; Young Activist’s Life Cut Short in Iraq Blast; the Los Angeles Times, 18 April 2005 Charles Burress, “Noted activist for war victims killed in car bomb attack, Californian Marla Ruzicka championed humanitarian aid in Iraq”, the San Francisco Chronicle, 18 April 2005, Pamela Constable, “Appreciation: A Disarming Presence in a Dangerous World,” the Washington Post, 18 April 2005, 
April 26: Post Saddam Corruption Discussion: Principles of Organization: How to best organize multiple and long-term reporting assignments Watch Third Episode: Off to War Assignment: T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times (14 articles sent earlier via Factiva) Rone Tempest, “Advocate for War Victims is Mourned; Marla Ruzicka died in her quest to document civilian casualties in Iraq, the Los Angeles Times, 24 April 2005, Finish Phebe Marr, History of Iraq Recommended Resource: Brookings Iraq Index: 
May 3: Class at Mark’s Review Profiles and Photographs; Watch and Discuss “Z” Mark Sappenfield, “Despite hardships of war, many soldiers reenlist”, the Christian Science Monitor, 3 May 2005, Final profiles due 
May 10: Classes End Assignment: Molly Bingham & Romanesko Debate Molly Bingham, “Home from Iraq: Journalist urges Americans to search for ‘truth, freedom'”, Louisville Courier Journal, 8 May 2005, Secret Downing Street Memo, the Sunday Times, 1 May 2005,,,2087-1593607,00.html Profile Photographs Review 
May 20: Semester Ends