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Under Fire: Journalists In Combat -

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(generated from captions) Of course, you've got to take
the flak jacket.

You can't go anywhere without this.


You've got to have eye protection.

This is ballistic...
these are ballistic glasses

that will...they're not
gonna stop anything serious,

but, you know, when there's
an explosion or something,

there's sand and dirt and stones
thrown up - always wear these.

And everything has to be cotton.

You know, I take some fleece stuff
with me to stay warm at night.

But you would never wear
any synthetic material at all.

It has to be wool or cotton,

um, because if there was
a fire or an explosion,

that stuff melts into your skin
and you can't get it out, so...

In the hospital, they use

a kind of cheese-grater thing
to remove the stuff

and, uh,
you really don't want that.

I contacted the confidential hotline
that Reuters has for its journalists

and they put me in touch with

Anthony Feinstein in Toronto.

I fit all of the characteristics

of the other journalists

who'd been in similar situations.

I'd been covering,

if not
always conflict,

but difficult


Have you noticed any changes
during the course of the day?

No, not at all.




You mentioned, um, you know,

the awful business with Joao
in Afghanistan.

Is that giving you pause

for reflection and concern?

In some ways, yes.

I mean, as I told you, when I came
back from there, I was with Joao

a couple of days before he stepped
on the landmine and lost his legs.


In your mind, you just accept
that something's gonna happen

and that you sort of
resign yourself to the fact

that you're probably
gonna get hurt,

and you just hope that it isn't
too badly when it happens.


If one can't make that adaptation,

then you can't do this kind of work.

I think otherwise the anxiety
would just be too high

and, you know, it would force you
out of the, um, environment.

Yeah, yeah.

I mean, maybe know,
adjusting to that different reality

is part of the reason for this kind
of strange experience that I had

when I came back
last time, in November.

You know, my first four or five days
back in Paris and London,

I had this out-of-body sensation

where I almost felt like
I was watching myself from above,

moving through crowds,

and, you know, sitting in
a meeting with colleagues.

I was there but not there and...

Well, I've just arrived in... Libya, after a 13-hour straight
drive across the desert from Cairo.

And, um, I just did the math.

It was five, six days ago,

I was standing, uh, on a base
in Afghanistan

and I've been in five countries
since then.

We had to bolt and get away from the
front line as quickly as possible.


There's some tracer fire overhead.

Well, I've just arrived at
the Musa Qala district centre

in Helmand Province
in southern Afghanistan.

The staff sergeant who was
in charge of the outpost

that I was at on my last visit

was shot through the chest

and one of the snipers
who was there

also stepped on a landmine
and lost a leg.

I also made the mistake of
looking at some footage

of a British journalist

who, uh, also was hit by a landmine.

Your mind starts to
play tricks on you

and you start to think
a little bit too much.

You don't want to think too much
out here sometimes.

You just want to get working.



I need to get into this war!
I need to get into this war!

You know,
and I started breaking things.

I was like a drugged-up rock star.
I was breaking things in the room.

And, uh, my foreign editor,

a lovely woman, Vicky Knighton,

called back and she said,
"So, how bad is the room?"

I said, "It's pretty bad."

She said, "Well, don't worry, Jon.
We'll get you in this war."




STEELE: I liked being there.

I liked the way it made me feel.

I mean, the truth is I...
I pretty much grew up

being a fairly insecure kid
my whole life.

Very quiet. Um...

Very shy.

And, um, being in
that kind of situation,

I was, oddly enough, in control.

It was the only place in my life
I was in control.

That "I'm out here

"and some sonofabitch could kill me
at any second,

"but, you know, I'm concentrating,
I'm on the edge, I'm alive."

You never feel as alive

as when you're staring death
in the face.





INTERVIEWER: In your book,
you wrote about guilt.

Your own guilt.

And I quote here - "It's my fault.

"I needed those people to die."


Framing a shot of someone suffering
or someone dying or someone dead...''s obscene, in some ways.

And when I say that I needed
those people to die,

I needed them to suffer...'s not as callous as it sounds
because what I was trying to do was

I was trying to reach
through the TV screen,

grab people from their comfy chairs
and drag them into my camera

and say, "Look, look,
this is what it's like."

Guys that do the job I do,

still photographers
and videographers...

..we're like prophets of...of...of
destruction, of death, of suffering.

And, you know, like most prophets
we, uh...we don't end up too well.


I went to Sarajevo
and it was fairly quiet -

you know, the usual sniping
back and forth across the river.

And one afternoon, we were trying to
get to the Bosnian front lines

outside of Sarajevo,

to Bosnian Army headquarters

off Sniper Alley.

A little quiet street,
90 degrees to Sniper Alley.

And there were children
playing in the street.

And, as it happens, in Bosnia
and anywhere you go in the world,

kids, when they see journalists,

it's always...they just
rush up and they go,

"Bon-bon, bon-bon! Candy, candy."

And you always carry candies
and you pull them out.

And I...I said, um,

"OK, I've gotta go in there and I'll
come back and I'll give you candy."

So, I'm basically telling the kids
to stay in the street.

And we go in and we're sitting

with one of the officers
in the Bosnian Army

and he's feeding us
a line of bullshit,

and we hear a Bosnian sniper
on the street on the roofs above us.

There was this incredible crack
of an incoming round.

And everything went quiet
on the street.

And when you hear
that kind of silence,

you know something bad
has just happened.

And I went rushing out
onto the street

and I saw a body in the street

and it was a little girl
lying in the road

and she was the same little girl
that I had told to wait

so I could bring her candy.

And she had taken a shot through
the neck and she was bleeding.

And people started to come out
and pick her up.

A car rushed up,
they threw her in the back

and I'm rushing, pushing through.

Going to the hospital, because
we'd heard she was...had survived.

I got there and said, "We want to
see the girl that was shot."

They said, "Oh, yeah, oh, yeah,
oh, yeah. Come, come."

So, we're walking down a hall

and I notice the operating rooms
are this way

and we just keep walking
down a hall.

And he opens a door and there was
a room full of bodies in there.

And they were just
lying on the floor.

Pulls off the sheet completely

and this little girl
is lying naked on the floor

with a bullet hole in her neck.

And she's dead.


and, um...

..I just...everything just started
to, like, fall apart inside me.

You know, the ground
just started to, like, move.

I got to the airport
and I checked in

and I was just walking in circles
around Heathrow,

and I just collapsed
on my duffel bag.

And I just started crying.

"Chapter One. Crashes.

"This is how it happened.

"The world fell out
from under my feet.

"I knelt, shattered on the floor
of Heathrow's Terminal Four.

"My eyes were burning with tears

"and I was babbling words
that made no sense.

"Strangers were looking through
my pockets to find out who I was.

"There were faces and voices

"and sounds and noise and blurs
of bodies speeding past me,

"nightmares closing in for the kill.

"My heart pounding and screaming,
'Run, goddamn it, run!'

"And all around were bodies
and souls I couldn't help

"and children bleeding to death.

"'Attention, Club World
and World Traveller passengers.

"'British Airways
is happy to announce

"'the nervous breakdown
of Jon Denis Steele'."

It's a part of my life I've tried
to move away from. I don't...

"Of course, Jon isn't his real name,
it's Denis."

I know it's there.

"But he thought a name with a poncy
spelling would make him special.

"Can you imagine?

"Stupid Denis, stupid Jon."

Yes, there is a bogeyman, I know it.

"He should have listened
to his father -

"'You're weak, useless,
you'll never be anything.

"'I'm ashamed to have you
as a son'."

But I manage to keep him
in the closet

and that's where I need him to stay.

Or he'll...
he'll beat the shit out of me.

I knew we were surrounded
by Taliban.


It seemed really, really stupid
to die in that field in Helmand,

that muddy field, for nothing.

All I could think about
was my son who was then six.

That Sunday, I was supposed to
be home for his birthday party.

I'd promised I would be back.

"After dropping off my bags at home,

"along with some Starbucks
croissants from the airport

"and drinking my first
decent cup of tea in a month,

"we drive to Sainsbury's
to buy ham and sliced bread.

"I have to make ham sandwiches
for 20 seven-year-olds.

"I make twice as many
as anyone will eat,

"buttering slice after slice
of bread with great purpose.

"Then I take them and a cool box
of drinks to nearby Palewell Park

"where we're having
a football party."

INTERVIEWER: Do you think
it's harder for a woman,

being a war correspondent
and a mother, than it is for a man?

I don't know.

I can't say because I don't know
what it's like for them

and, actually, sometimes it makes me
cross when people ask about that

because there somehow
seems to be an implication

that it's more irresponsible
as a mother

to go off and do
a dangerous job like that

than it is as a man, as a father.

But, you know,
obviously people do feel

that a mother has
that responsibility.

It's interesting
because I didn't mean that,

but I'm interested
that maybe you took it that way.

Well, I, you know, um...

..I have had people
criticise me for...

..saying I'm very irresponsible

for going off and doing that kind
of reporting when I have a child,

and I find that very unfair
just because I think,

you know, there are plenty of men
who are fathers doing it.

Why should it be different?

Do you tell your husband
how dangerous it is?

No, I don't talk about
what I do at all when I come back.

I think all of us women that have
reported in Middle Eastern countries

and have been in crowds...

..are used to being groped,

and we develop quite sharp elbows

to try and elbow people
out of the way.

Um, I always dress
really conservatively,

respecting the local culture.

I cover my head,
I wear baggy clothes

and kind of try and hide the shape
of my body, really, in those places.


And, yeah, it is an issue.

We were just running and running
and it became really scary

because every direction we ran in,
firing was coming.

It was very clear, quickly,
that we were surrounded by them

and what was also really frightening
was that the soldiers I was with...

..were quite clearly scared,
some of them.

I mean, they'd never
been under fire before.

I realised then I'd been under fire

much more than
any of these soldiers.

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STEWART: This is the actual bullet.

It's a 7.62mm short...

..which is, I guess,

one of the most powerful rounds
from an AK47.

Um, the reason it's flat on the tip

was that's the impact.

It went through the window
of the car

and then it flattened on impact
with my skull.

Right through...
right to the back of my skull.

It used to be, once upon a time,

that you could put 'Press'
up on your window

and you were fine, you'd be safe.

You know, that ended
back in the '70s and '80s.

That just does not exist
at all anymore.

We had been fighting
our way into Freetown.

Miles Tierney was my cameraman.

David Guttenfelder was
chief staff photographer

for the bureau in Abidjan,
the West Africa Bureau.

It took quite a while to get
into the actual city proper.

It took us a couple of days

to actually get in a convoy
with the military

that had assured us
that the war was won,

they were just cleaning up,
they were just picking up bodies.

We didn't really know where we were
or where we were going.

And I was really getting
increasingly tense.

We reached a point at which
there was a rebel checkpoint

and the rest of the convoy
went up ahead and our car stopped.

You knew that this was trouble.

I mean, it seems like it was
a zone of no law or order.

These kids, four of them, you know,
they were 13-, 14-year-old kids.

one was in American jeans
and a camo jacket.

Sort of like, he was like a droog

from Stanley Kubrick's
'A Clockwork Orange'

with the bowler hat and the AK47.

So, it's extremely volatile
and extremely dangerous.

Chances are,
from what I'd witnessed,

these kids were hopped up
on something.

Their commanders often drugged them

in order to influence them
to be more effective fighters.

So, you know that they don't have
a sense of right or wrong

and pulling the trigger, to them,

just doesn't have the same
consequence that it does to us.

And one of them just unloaded
his entire AK47 clip

into the back seat of our car.


Miles was killed instantly.

I had the one bullet
through my head.

David, our still photographer,
in the back seat of the car,

he pushed me down to the floor.

They assumed that I'd been killed

and they put me
in amongst the bodies

of the victims
from that particular firefight.

I can remember one dream vividly
in the hospital

where there was a hospital machine,
it was my heart rate machine

and it was just
making a beeping noise.

And in the dream, there was
a commander who, you know,

had a mortar barrel
pointed right at my head

and the beeping was
the sound of his countdown

until it would blow up
and take my head off.

And, you know,
night after night of that dream,

it was just, you know...

How do you get better from that?
How do you make that go away?

That was my own
self-imposed therapy, if you will.

Writing in journals
and painting was a refuge.

It was an absolute escape.

I would come home
from these assignments

in Guinea-Bissau, in Liberia
and Sierra Leone and Congo,

where I'd seen
nothing but destruction,

and my way of escaping
was just to create -

create in the form of writing,
create in the form of painting.

After you told me this yesterday,

I went out and bought a pad
and some watercolours.

Could you try
and duplicate that for us?

I can try it.

I remember once,
um, I started to paint

and I wanted to do basically an
outline of the continent of Africa.

And as I was painting it
and I was painting it,

it morphed into this face...

..with this open mouth...

..screaming in horror and pain.

You could see these white teeth
against the black face

and flames all about it
and charring.

It's was the nightmare
that would be my vision

throughout...till now,
coming out on paper.

Do you remember that face?

It's still there, yeah. I see it.

As I'm telling you now,
I see it vividly.

I can see and hear those guys
screaming right now. (VIBRANT AFRICAN MUSIC)

O'REILLY: I don't consider myself
to be a combat photographer.

In terms of pictures
that I think have worked

in the sense of
there being something captivating

about the expression
or the look on people's faces,

the one in Congo with the woman with
the orange shirt and the spiky hair

and the woman with her hands folded

in the refugee camp,

worrying about having lost her sons,

and also the World Press photo

of the mother

with the child's hand on her mouth.

There's an emotion that is...

..that is part of that image,

that conveys some of the situation
that those people are in.


Hey, how you doing?
Finbarr, Reuters.

Oh, hi. Yes, yes.

I think we maybe met in Canada
or somewhere.

You were there in November, right?





O'REILLY: Having a camera,
it's a bit of shield.

It allows you
a certain distance from things,

even though, in photography,
you try to get close and intimate.

But you're doing that
through a filter, through a lens.

And I think maybe
some photographers -

and, I think, myself included -

can maybe be a bit
naturally shy about some things

and, in a way, the camera gives you
a licence to go into areas

and into situations
and into people's lives

that you wouldn't otherwise
feel comfortable doing.

But you have an excuse.
It's kind of like your passport.

And in recent years,
I've covered more combat as a... a just sort of default part
of covering conflict.

I've found myself in situations
where there is fighting

and, uh, certainly in Afghanistan.

The Canadian soldiers
were hit by three shells.


It was an ambush on them,
so the initial shells struck.

I didn't know what it was
or where it had come from.

All I knew was there was
a big explosion very nearby

and as they were trying to fire,

two more shells came in
from the Taliban positions.

it's happening in slow motion,

so everybody, in those moments,
they're no longer looking after you.

You have to look after yourself.

Making a picture allowed this fear
that I was feeling to dissipate.'s still there,
your adrenaline's still going,

you're still shaking.

When you try to run, your legs
give out and you fall down.

And that's exactly what happened
when I tried to leave that position.

This is, I mean...
this is the obvious question.

Why do we do this kind of thing?

And, I'm not...I don't think
I'm one of these adrenaline junkies

who goes for the thrill of it,

but at the same time, um... is an experience
to live through

and once you have experienced that,

um, other kinds of stories,
other kinds of subjects,

maybe take on less significance.

Being in serious conflict situations

and being in them over and over
for years and years,

can certainly change
your view of things.

And when I just came back from
this most recent assignment,

I remember I flew
straight to London.

For probably the first week
or 10 days,

I almost felt disembodied
from myself -

like I was floating outside myself

and I was watching myself
moving through the streets

or talking with people,

but I wasn't really there.

And I couldn't really feel like, uh,

I was back in this place
where normal things happen.

INTERVIEWER: Is that a way of saying
that you have depression?

Yeah, I mean, I think feeling
disconnected is part of that

and, um, you know, my family
does have a history of depression,

so I'm aware that that exists
in, you the family.

And so, for me, yeah,
there was a certain point,

after a couple of times
in Afghanistan,

where I was just
feeling unmotivated.

Like, "What's the point of this?
Why am I doing this?"

And you not only feel disconnected,

but you don't feel like there's
a purpose to what you're doing.

Previous generations didn't even
acknowledge that this was a problem.

It was a very macho business,
and it still is to some degree,

but there's a greater understanding
now, I think, by the institutions

that they need to look out
for their employees.

After I called
the Reuters confidential line,

they put me in touch with
Anthony Feinstein in Toronto.

And the thing that appealed to me
about him was he was South African,

he'd been an army medic
at one point,

so he'd presumably had some
military experience as well,

and possibly even experienced
combat himself.

And he'd done this study
on journalists and stress.

And I call him from time to time.


Uh, hi, Anthony.

Hi, Finbarr.
Hi, Anthony. How are you doing?

Good. How are you?
Not too bad, can't complain.

He is one of a number of journalists
who, over the past 10 years,

I've counselled with respect
to emotional responses to war.

Given that this group of journalists
are widely dispersed,

I've started giving therapy
over the telephone.

I have given counselling
to journalists in Africa, to Europe,

throughout the Americas,
to the Middle East.

So, over the past 10 years,

it's really been almost
a worldwide geographic phenomenon.

You put it out of your mind
and you just hope nothing happens

and the weird thing that I kind of
realised last time I was there

is that, you know,
so many guys were getting hurt

and there were so many IEDs
every day, you know.

When I was there, there was an IED
that blew up pretty much every day

within a kilometre or so
of the base I was at.

I don't know if you've encountered
that ever before with people.

It's either denial or acceptance,
I guess, in your mind.

Yeah, I think it's impossible

to remain in a constant state
of hyper arousal.

I think, you know,
the body habituates to it

and then, in a sense,
it becomes the new reality.

For me, it was more
of a gradual thing

that over time and experience
sort of led me to feel

like I was just removed
from other things.

You really kind of start to say,
"Yeah, this is pretty normal,"

and you can learn that even just
knowing that makes a huge difference

and understanding that this
is normal, this is what happens

when people do what we do.

There was no such thing
as post-traumatic stress disorder.

We didn't know what it was.

We called it, "I need a drink"
or "I need a joint"

or "I need a line of coke"
or something.

You know, "I need something."

You know, we didn't call it PTSD.

Um...and it was also
this sort of tough-guy thing.

"Yeah, yeah, you know,
we're alright, yeah, we're fine.

You know, "We're fine." I mean...

You know, there are guys
in this business

who are on their third
and fourth marriages,

there are guys in this business
that are alcoholics, drug addicts.

It's not just PTSD.

It's a combination of
brain injury and PTSD

that completely reconfigures
your personality.

I think I was a gregarious,
athletic, happy guy.

But all of the nastier traits
that come out in me today -

the impatience, the short temper,
the anger, the bursts, the emotion -

was I like that before?

I don't know.

And I know,
I want somebody to tell me

who I was before this injury.

It destroyed my life,
it destroyed everything.

You know, I was dating...

My girlfriend at the time,
we could not get along.

I didn't want
anything to do with her.

I'd come home and she'd be there
and I just wanted to go outside,

I wanted to be by myself.

My lifestyle is brutal
on relationships.

I mean, I can't maintain a serious
relationship for very long at all.

You're constantly on the move,

there's no sense of
being anchored to a place

where you can actually have a life.

And I was home from in Dakar
for maybe six weeks last year.

I've just arrived at the Musa Qala
district centre.

Today is my first day in Kunjak.

Patrolling through
the town of Nabuk.

Waiting at a camp called Bastion.

I've got to turn around
and go to Libya.

I need to make my way as quickly
as possible to Libya.

I've been in Benghazi now
for a couple of days.

I travelled down
to the front line today.

I drove six hours to Tobruk.

Our team decided to pull out
across the border to Egypt.

Well, this is the front line
in the Libyan conflict.

Well, today's my last day in Libya.

I'm pretty much ready to go home.

I mean, I've had
wonderful relationships

that have ended
because of what I do,

and the difficulty of maintaining
a long-term serious relationship

has proven too difficult
for me to be able to do.

Well, I think it is very addictive

'cause, obviously,
you're living on the edge

like people that do dangerous
sports, and it is very exciting.

And you just keep going
to these places.

You're, like, running away

and you just can't keep
running away from your life.

We are trying to tell the stories
of people who are...

..who are going through the worst
experiences in their lives.

Miguel was the West Africa cameraman

and a larger-than-life humanitarian.

The last six years of my life

is the most incredible experience

that a single human being can have.


But I cannot see the picture
of my family

the day they get the phone call

saying that
I've been killed in a war.


You know, Miguel was so wonderful

and so dear to me,

and the fact that he'd been killed

in such a similar way
as when I was ambushed

that...I couldn't...
I went back down.

I had to go back into therapy
for counselling and PTSD.

I thought I was gonna have a seizure
right there on the phone.

I left out something.

I don't know how you're gonna
jump around, but...

..the night that I was really
restless and I couldn't sleep,

the dream I had was Miguel.

And he was alive.

But he was on a dusty...
a red, dusty street in Africa.

And I remember he was, like,
calling out to me to...

You know, "Help me. Ian, help me."


And there were vultures
that were pecking away at his flesh.

And I...

..and then I just woke up.

I think that was Miguel
saying goodbye.

(SOFTLY) Give me a second.


O'REILLY: I'm in
the Libyan conflict.

It's a pretty messed-up place.

There's rebels
running up and down the road

until they get shot at
and shelled and bombed.

We're at war and we wanted to bring
the war into people's living rooms.

It's the first time that I've
lost a friend in this business.

I just got news from Libya

that two friends of mine,
two photographer friends,

were killed today
in a battle in Misrata in Libya.

One is Tim Hetherington,

who I was with in eastern Libya
just a week or two ago,

sitting, having a drink
late one night.

Tim and I sat and had a glass
of whisky before we left Libya.

It was too dangerous, really,
is what we decided, not worth it.

He emailed me about 10 days ago
saying he was actually going back.

And it makes you think about what
we're doing and why we're doing it.

And if it's really worth it
in the end -

to lose your life for a picture.

I don't know, I don't think
I can answer that right now.

LAMB: I think
we're more of a target, even,

than the soldiers fighting there

because the death of a soldier
was no longer a big story anymore

because it was happening so much,

whereas a journalist
being kidnapped or killed

would still make headlines.

and Miguel and Kurt were killed
in Sierra Leone,

I had known probably, I don't know,
10, 12 people who'd been killed.

I guess the difference for me

was I wasn't with them
when they were killed.


Oh, my God!

Oh, my God!

Oh, my God!

One of the reasons why he was killed

was that we stopped in a place
where I decided to stop.

Yeah, I've seen the pictures.

You can see the car
and you can see my reaction.

And it does bring back the event

and also the...what, for me,
is a sense of responsibility.

Had I not had
a slightly quixotic desire

to do a piece to camera
with Israel in the background -

I was living in Jerusalem
at the time -

we may not have stopped there.

I wasn't immediately aware of it.

A colleague came up to me
a day or two later,

'cause I went back to work
after the funeral,

and she said,
"I was in an ambush in..."

I think she said it was Nicaragua.

"And the people in the car were
killed and I was just like you.

"I was experienced, and I thought,
"'Well, I'll deal with it'."

She said,
"But I didn't get any help,

"but I'm telling you,
you must go and see someone,

"even if you feel fine

"because, long-term, it'll have
a bad effect on you otherwise."

So, I thought,
"Well, OK, I'll take her advice."

It so happened that my employers,
the BBC,

had a number you could ring
of a counselling service.

So, I went back to London
and while I was in the taxi queue,

I was thinking, "Well, what if
there was a grenade attack?"

So, I saw a guy
and he explained to me

that what I had was the symptoms
of post-traumatic stress disorder.

But then I started
getting some nightmares.

Everything was horrible in them -
very grey, depressing nightmares.

"Oh, God, no,
not the drowning dream.

"Please, not the drowning dream.

"Tick-tock, tick-tock.

"And me grabbing the arms
of the chair, but feeling the water

"rise up my legs and over my body
and round my face.

"Jon, you're suffering from acute
post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"You need sleep."

It's not like a normal nightmare.

so insistent and so pounding

that you cannot get it
out of your head

and, you know, it is...basically
it's...I dreamt of children.

(COUGHS) And they'd be begging
for help, they'd be asking for help,

and it wasn't even dreams...

I'd see, I'd hallucinate,
these children.

And I'd want to help them,
they were so desperately poor.

They had nothing.

So, I'd want to reach in my pocket
and give them some coins.

And then I'd see that they had
no hands to take the coins with.

It was just...and then, you know...

I don't even know where to go from
there, it's just so heartbreaking.

"Rotting corpses squeezing my chest,

"trying to force the air
from my lungs,

"and hearing the clock
blasting like killer shells

"and the dead hand is tearing me
from the chair

"and pulling me deeper and deeper
into the forever dark."

OK, I can't do any more of that.

You know, I was witness to,
and participant in,

grotesque human behaviour.

'Participant' because I was there
and did nothing to stop it.

I couldn't have done
anything to stop it. I know that.

But because you are there
and can do nothing to stop it

and therefore do nothing to stop it,

you feel part of it.

And when I think about that and
think of the danger of what I know

and what I have to answer for,

I just feel scared

and...and want it to go away.

INTERVIEWER: Most people
who overcome things

have a will
that makes them tougher.

Was that the experience with you?

I think so.

Um, you know, I just wanted to play
ice hockey like all the other kids,

but this was a big problem.

When I was with my mother,

people would sort of stop her
and say, "Oh..."

Complete strangers coming out of
nowhere in the shopping mall,

and say,
"Oh, it's too bad about your son."

And, you know, she would have to
explain, "This is not a big problem.

"It could be much worse."

And you're a kid and you're
sort of listening to these things

and realising that the world thinks
what you take

as either meaningless

or, if anything, a small problem,

as some sort of terrible thing.

Has that ever affected you
covering wars?

I have a sense that I am always
trying to prove myself.

I'm still doing things that I really
ought not to be doing at this age

because I don't want anyone to say,
you know, "His time has passed."

But let me tell you
about how I work here.

I go out in the daytime
with a translator and a driver,

no guns, no guards.

And at the urging of my translator,

I wear a loose cloth, kind of like
a shawl, over my head and shoulders,

just to make it more difficult
for folks along the street

to know that there's a foreigner
in the car.

A Blackhawk helicopter
had been shot down.

When this happened again
a couple of weeks later,

after an all-night battle,

scenes which were portrayed
in a movie many people have seen

called 'Blackhawk Down',

the Somalis working for me,

one of them came to the hotel
that morning -

the city's know, there's
fires burning and smoke rising

from tyre barricades and burnt
buildings and that sort of thing -

said, "They have a dead American
in a wheelbarrow."

And I said, "We have to go
and get pictures."

And he said, "Are you crazy?

"There's no way you can go out
on the streets right now.

"The place...I was terrified
coming here and I'm Somali.

"If they see you,
they'll kill you in a second."

And we went looking for
this corpse in a wheelbarrow.

We had gone from place to place

and, literally, at this point,
had been going down main avenues,

stopping one block
after the other, saying,

"Have you seen the dead American?"

You know, the driver of the car
was upset

because we had pushed it

You know, I don't speak Somali, and
when people make threats against me,

usually my translator doesn't tell
me so as not to make me upset.

But these guys had heard things
which made them terrified

and I just assumed we had failed.

And suddenly, he made a U-turn
around a boulevard

that ran up the middle of the street

and made a quick turn
down a side street.

He had seen,
and no-one else had, a small mob,

and figured this must be the people
we're looking for.

So he got out of the car
and said, "Gamay is here.

"He wants to take a picture.
Is that alright?"

I was fairly well known in the city
because I have one hand

and I had a Somali nickname
which is 'Gamay',

which means 'the man with one hand'.

If I say the words 'staff sergeant',
what does that mean to you?

Um...that is
William David Cleveland,

whose job was to man a...
you know, a heavy machine gun

in the door of a Blackhawk,

protecting troops.

We ended up finding
William David Cleveland

who was being dragged,

almost naked except for
his green army-issued underwear,

through the streets of the capital.

Tell me what you heard.

You talk about
how you heard something.

A voice came into my head
and it was an old colleague,

a photographer, Andrew Stawicki.

But there was another voice
you heard too. "If you do this..."

"I will own..."

Tell me what the voice said to you.


Do you want to stop?

Um...I-I can't... I can't say
the words, but I hear them.



He did, he said, "If you do this,
I will own you forever."

Um...and I spoke back to him
in my mind and I said, "Please...

"Please understand
why I have to do this."


And it was because of what
I told you, know,

nothing remotely as graphic
as this had happened.

The previous incident was
burnt teeth and bits of flesh.

No less horrific,

but certainly not the full corpse,
identifiable corpse, of an American.

But it had to be shown to the world

because the military knew full well
what was going on there

and had denied it.

And to this day, um,

I feel that I participated in
the desecration of a corpse.

I'm not a religious person,
I don't believe in God.

But there is something
innately human that tells you

of all things you can do
to another human being,

you cannot desecrate his corpse.

I...I felt a sense of
participating in it.

And you tried to make up
in other ways, didn't you?

Um, you know,
I live with it to this day.

It's not...

You know, I'm a sane person
and I know I was just doing my job,

but I wanted to meet his mother
or wife and reconcile with them

and explain to them who I was
and have them forgive me.

I this day,
I want to be forgiven.

You flew to Arizona?
I did.

Um, the, uh...
I found out that his mum,

who had actually given an interview
to a local newspaper...

I knew where she was

and knew that she had spoken
to a reporter,

so I thought,
"Well, I'll make my approach

"and, you know,
maybe she'll speak to me."

I got a call late that night from
her son in another part of the US,

who was livid, and said,

"How dare you phone my mother
and dredge all of this back up?

"She' know, she's a wreck,
sobbing on the phone.

"Don't you dare contact my mother
or anyone else in my family again."

Could you give me words
to describe...just words,

why you were doing this?

Misplaced, perhaps, but guilt.

And I wanted to, you know...

It's not a pain
as much as it is an imprisonment.

It''re just locked in a place
and you cannot get out of it.

I once felt like a good person.

I-I do not feel like
a good person anymore.

I don't feel,
um...I don't feel worthy.

I don't...

I just...I want to be set free and
I thought they could set me free.

Have you ever been set free?


I don't like it when journalists

make it sound like
the job ruined them.

My theory is that there's
something in my personality type

that drew me to this sort of thing

and I think anyone who does this
for any length of time

is drawn to it because of
their own personality flaws.

It seems that to cover war,

you have to go into this vortex,

if you do it continually.

I agree completely.
But don't ask for sympathy after it.

You made the choice.

Live with it.

You know, seek God's forgiveness
if you must,

but don't ask people
to feel sorry for you.

Supertext Captions by
Red Bee Media Australia
Captions copyright SBS 2012