About this blog

Blogging Baghdad aims to provide a dynamic look at the story behind the story of covering the news in Iraq. Online entries – from text to video blogs – will detail the realities of daily life for ordinary Iraqis, American troops and the media living and working in a 24 hour war zone.

Regular contributors include NBC News correspondents, producers and staff on assignment in Iraq.

Click here to read more about the journalists behind Blogging Baghdad.

Saddam execution - time to move on

Saddam Hussein was executed last Saturday -- now almost a week ago. But it was only yesterday, Thursday, that -- for the first time -- we were not filing around the news cycle on the insidious fallout from ''the cell phone video."

Why? It was the perfect video storm: 2 minutes 36 seconds of grainy, shaky imagery had captivated the world's media organizations and galvanized anyone and everyone who had an opinion on the war. And -- especially -- against the war.

There was Saddam, once America's bulwark against the turbaned theocracy to the East, standing tall, head high, composed, taking verbal salvos from several unseen agents of the Shiite-led government America had supported, indeed -- created. The off-camera chants of "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada" quickly became a mantra for America's final moral -- if not yet military -- defeat in Iraq.

Wasn't al-Sadr the very man who commanders had claimed was the biggest threat to U.S. interests in Iraq? What was going on here? "If this is a sectarian struggle over there, how did we get to be Shiites?" bellowed MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on the Today Show.

Enough. It's time to step back and digest some of the feedback we've received from viewers and bloggers who -- in sum -- complained about our voyeuristic obsession with the death of a tyrant at the hands of his victims.


DiscussDiscuss (57 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Arab world reacts to Saddam's execution

X_arab_reax_070104VIDEO: NBC News Richard Engel reports on the ongoing reaction on the Arab street - from Baghdad and Fallujah to Damascus and the West Bank - to the hanging of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

DiscussDiscuss (5 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

An iconic moment destroyed in 2:36

Many Iraqis wanted Saddam to be executed in public. Thanks to a single cell phone, they got it.

But three words spoiled the execution the U.S. administration and Iraqi government hoped would be a unifying moment for Iraqis: "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada!"

A guard yelled Muqtada al-Sadr's name at Saddam just moments before he was hanged.

A witness recorded it on a cell phone.

The two minute, thirty-six second video was leaked to the media.


DiscussDiscuss (179 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Execution timing – a religious debate

Here's where we stand on the timing of Saddam Hussein's execution…It is no longer a legal debate, now it's a religious debate.

On Thursday, the main conflict over Saddam's execution centered on one question: Does the president need to authorize it?

This question has bogged down Iraqi politicians all week. On Friday an Iraqi judge who will oversee the execution said the question has been resolved. He told me the president has written a letter saying that his signature is not required on the death warrant.

But today there's a new dispute -- religion.

The Muslim Eid (feast of the sacrifice) begins on Saturday for Sunnis. But it starts on Sunday for Shiites. It is customary in Iraq not to carry out executions over religious holiday.

If the Shiite-led government carries out the execution tomorrow, they would not be executing Saddam during "their Eid," holiday but during the "Sunni Eid." It would be insensitive, and could be provocative.


DiscussDiscuss (54 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Iraqi police lead Baghdad patrol

Increasingly, U.S. combat troops are becoming de-facto advisors to the fledgling Iraqi National Police force. An NBC News team was recently embedded with C Troop, 1-14 Cavalry as the troopers accompanied, usually in the rear, about 100 National Police officers on a house-to-house search for gunmen and weapons in the dangerous Dora neighborhood, south of Baghdad.

This was the first time Iraqi police actually led a mission from its inception. At a time when U.S. forces are accelerating efforts to hand over battle space to the Iraqis, Sgt. Charles Smith told NBC News that the operation went well, despite some communication problems.


VIDEO: As U.S. forces accelerate efforts to hand over power to the Iraqi National Police force, an NBC News team went on the first mission lead from start to finish by Iraqi forces.

No big weapons caches - or insurgents - were found on this day. But in another neighborhood, a similar joint operation turned up a large cache, and freed an Iraqi hostage, held by kidnappers.

DiscussDiscuss (6 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Reporting under al-Qaida control

I am often asked, “How do you get the video you broadcast or post on the Internet?” On days like today, I find myself asking the same question.

Today one of our freelance Iraqi cameramen - to describe him as brave is a wild understatement – brought in a video and the amazing story of how he filmed it.

Place: The city of Baqouba

Date: Christmas Day

Time: 4 p.m.

Scene: The stringer reports that large parts of the city of Baqouba have “fallen” under the control of al-Qaida-inspired Sunni militants.  They attack American troops, Iraqi security forces and force Shiites from their homes. Many parents have stopped sending their children to school. Few state institutions function. The city is paralyzed.

Our cameraman (for his safety, I am not including his name) was driving from Baqouba to our Baghdad bureau. He was in a car with his father and brother. Along the road, they passed several cars and pickups, packed with gunmen, waving AK-47s and black flags. The gunmen were members of Al-Qaida in Iraq, holding a “parade” to show their power, and intimidate the local population and Iraqi security forces. From the back of his car, our cameraman - without telling his brother or father in the front - took out his small DV camera and filmed the gunmen in stealth.

But he didn’t get away with it.


DiscussDiscuss (137 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

An Iraqi Christmas for U.S. troops

Tdy_maceda_iraq_061222VIDEO: NBC News' Jim Maceda reports on how U.S. troops stationed in Iraq will be celebrating Christmas this year.

DiscussDiscuss (3 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Iraqi Army Training

X_iraqi_army_061221VIDEO: NBC News' Jane Arraf and a crew recently spent time with the 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, which is responsible for some of the most volatile parts of Baghdad. They are currently the only tank division in the Iraqi Army. Watch the video to see how the U.S. military is training the soldiers to improve their marksmanship.

DiscussDiscuss (4 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Uniform crimes

In Baghdad on Tuesday a group of men dressed in Iraqi police uniforms stormed a bank and left with over $700,000. Last week, men dressed in Iraqi military uniforms stopped a vehicle headed to the central bank and stole a million dollars in cash.

When I heard both stories, I have to admit, I was not surprised. To be honest, I actually thought, at least this was just theft and not another mass kidnapping.

If this incident happened in a "normal" place, I would have been more interested and the press would have been all over it. There would have been reporters, camera crews, satellite trucks and more importantly police lines securing the area. But not here.

Personally, I think the most interesting aspect here is whether the thieves were actual thieves in uniform or real security forces committing crimes and disgracing the uniform. In any case, it is another example of the lawlessness that this country has plunged to after the start of the war and the "end of all major" operations.


DiscussDiscuss (11 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

A year of tumult

A_tyiv_iraq_061215 Video: Take a look back at the defining moments in Iraq during 2006.

DiscussDiscuss (0 comments) Email thisEmail this | Link to thisLink to this

Slide Show

  • Life beyond the violence
    Suicide attacks and murders due to sectarian conflict continue around Iraq. See how residents live their lives amid the attacks.

More Conflict in Iraq coverage