And I put on the captions: “Don’t send these out until you hear from me, until you hear from my boss” — Pancho Bernasconi is my boss. So I sent twenty pictures, and I got my Thuraya phone. I talked to Bernasconi and I said you better talk to this guy about what to do, and he said, “I’ll talk to him.” So I walked back over to the major’s office, but the major had gone to bed. And then there was a captain who I’d also talked to earlier, still up, and I said, “I have my boss on the phone, can you guys talk about …” and the captain, young sport, he said, “Yeah, okay, sure.” So they talked, and I heard them talking, and I heard his side. He said, “Well, we’d like to hold onto these photos. We’re asking you not to send them out for a few days so we can investigate … Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. Yeah, well, we wanted a little bit of time for us to get the investigation, uh-huh.” And I think what my boss was saying was, “Well, we’re a wire service, by the time we put them on our wire — but they won’t actually be in papers till a day or two, [or] maybe not — people use them or not, it just depends.” I heard that back and forth, and the captain said, “All right, well, I think we’ve come to an agreement” or something, and gave the phone back to me. So I went to bed.

Six a.m. next morning — [makes knocking sounds] — “The major wants to see you right away!” Oh boy, here we go. The major’s up bright and early. The major had already received an e-mail from Baghdad, the army office in Baghdad, because the photos were distributed right away by my office and immediately went out all over the world right away. Meanwhile, Baghdad Central Command had not been informed. If there’s something controversial, they’re supposed to report that to Baghdad and say, “Hey, by the way, there’s going to be some bad press coming out of here because we had a friendly-fire incident.” Then the Baghdad press office is always able to kind of prepare for it. They had no warning whatsoever. They just looked on the Web sites in the morning and they see these series of horrible pictures of U.S. soldiers shooting up an Iraqi family.

So the major comes up to me. “What happened, Chris? I thought we had an agreement. I thought you said you were going to hold onto those photos.” I said, “Well, major, I came back and you were in bed. I talked to the captain.” And the captain was right there and [the major] said, “What! Captain? Did he come back here last night?” and [the captain] said, “Well, yes, sir, but I talked to his boss and he …” and [the major] said, “Chris, excuse me for a second.” And the poor captain’s watching his career evaporate. The captain was saying, “Well, I thought — my impression was that the boss in New York said they were going to hold them.”

And you know, it was a confusing thing.


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