The Christian Science Monitor
Embedding is a fancy word for letting journalists go see what the military units do, although that was much more wide open in the Vietnam War, although that was much more of an anomaly of American history. It was much more locked down in the first gulf war, clearly. And now there is a bit of bureaucracy you have to go through and sometimes [the military] wants to steer you in some direction or another direction, but in general, in my personal experience — I guess I’ve probably done, maybe five embeds — I’ve always learned new things and I’ve always gotten great access to intelligence guys who’ll give you off-the-record briefings in the area and talk about what their points of concern are as well as what they think is going well. I’ve always found it fascinating. I consider it an incredible privilege in many ways to go out and see what these guys do. Unless you are a soldier yourself, very few people ever get to see infantrymen in combat. I’m into that and feel very privileged to do it. The only limitation is you are going where they want to go, on their schedules. You are not going to get all the access you want or be able to do all you want. And you are not going to get to talk to Iraqis when you do this.
Colonel William Darley
Well, embedding is a tremendous thing for public affairs officers. Every embed is a straw. You’re seeing the war through a straw. So it’s a good thing for the military. The more straws you can get out there, the more coverage, I think, the better. The military’s not going to succeed unless it has political — and certainly in connection with that — public support. If you don’t have political support, if you don’t have public support — the translation of political support — the military can’t succeed.
I think it’s a great mistake to go with American units and report on any Iraqi city because I think it’s in the nature of things that you’re not actually meeting local people, and if you are, you aren’t meeting them in circumstances in which they can actually speak.
Knight Ridder (McClatchy)
To me, not embedding is like not going to a mosque. I can’t imagine going to Iraq without spending the time I’ve spent in mosques there. And I can’t imagine having gone to Iraq without spending the time that I’ve spent embedding.
United Press International
Let’s say a civilian Iraqi car gets shot up at a checkpoint. Obviously this is a huge tragedy, but is it a crime? Well, if you’re never been embedded you’re not going to understand the procedure, you’re not going to understand the mentality, and you’re not going to understand that gut fear that you have when you’re sitting in Humvees and the car doesn’t stop, for whatever reason, whether it’s because they’re a suicide bomber or because it’s a confused, panicked Iraqi guy. If you want to cover the stuff, you have to know what that feels like before you do anybody justice, whether you’re trying to do justice to the Iraqis or to the Americans.
The two weeks [in October 2003] that I was [embedded with the Army] I saw many things that broke my heart and made me angry, and there have been journalists who have been embedded for many, many months during the occupation throughout areas where there are a lot of operations, so they must have seen so many more things than I did. Each time [the soldiers] go on a raid they break down the walls in front of the house; they break down the door, they drag the men out — it’s a very violent, horrifying thing. And usually these are large families. So in the middle of the night you have these huge Martian-looking soldiers breaking into the house when you’re asleep, dragging your father out, stowing all the women to one side, not really speaking your language, pointing guns at you, stomping all over your house in their boots, and they’ve just learned that it’s not even the right house. In my experience, they arrested hundreds more men than they were looking for. They basically arrested all the men. At some point they arrested all the men in the town, it seemed, that were fighting age.