Saturday, April 01, 2006

CSM report on Jill Carroll

Within hours of her release Jill Carroll was the subject of sneering, rabid, unconscionable rhetoric simply because of what she was wearing and her carefully-worded remarks about her ordeal. This column drives home the simple point that the main job of a hostage is to remain alive.

The Monitor's editor, Richard Bergenheim, says that "none of us - except perhaps her personal friends and family - know what Jill's views are about the war in Iraq. But we do know that they did not color her reporting for the Monitor. She covered a wide spectrum of people in Iraq and that is part of what made her reporting valuable."

On the evening of March 29, her captors brought her written questions in Arabic, and asked her to translate them into English for the video. Though they promised her freedom in exchange for cooperating, she didn't believe them, as she'd been promised freedom many times in the past, she told her father.

But that evening, during the first attempt at producing the video, the power went out. They finished up the next morning, shortly before she was dropped off in a Baghdad neighborhood and pointed to the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), which then contacted friends and the US government.

Mr. Garen, who was forced to make a propaganda video by his own captors, says that "I said the US should 'stop the massacre' in Najaf - and they weren't my words, and I felt very uncomfortable saying them," recalls Garen. He says he tried to change some of the text he was fed but "that was very risky."

Garen's book "American Hostage," co-authored with his wife Marie-Helene, recounts his experience, and in the process of researching it he delved into the methods and motives of kidnappers, particularly ones with political agendas. "The point of taking hostages is to get them to make propaganda statements," he says. "The job of a civilian hostage... is to stay alive."

H/T Althouse

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