The Uncertain Future of the Iraqi Fixer

Friday, September 03, 2010


Throughout the war in Iraq foreign journalists have relied heavily on fixers, the local feet on the ground who translate, find sources and help provide safety. Though many have since left the country, for fear that their work with Western media has made them targets, some fixers remain. Hussam Ali al-Mussawi, who worked for The San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, McClatchy, Newsweek and Der Spiegel, explains his uncertain future.

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Comments [11]

Celine Grenier from Capitola, CA

Let's not just stand around here, people! Whom or what US Government agencies should we contact on behalf of Hussam Ali Al-Mussawi and others like him? Does anyone know? Perhaps US NGO members of many stripes could sponsor these people. (I can't bear to even think about the millions of jailed, tortured and displaced others we are also resonsible for....)

Sep. 12 2010 05:40 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

"Cheer up sir"? That's all you can offer this Iraqi? What have these people been smoking?

The invaders offered peaceful relations and trade but there were murders and infected blankets. They made treaties and promises that were promptly broken and massacres happened. They took nearly all the land and called it theirs.

The Iraqis that bought the hype failed to explore the truth. Now, they wish we never came. Those that helped Americans are abandoned to their fates, as ever.

Sep. 10 2010 02:11 AM
Dorothy Quate from California, USA

The fact that we have used, then discarded the native speakers who aided our troops in Iraqi is a national scandal...
It's positively un-American! They were promised U.S.
citizenship, or at least a safe haven, and we abandoned them to the wolves. They are now hunted and at risk in their own country! Who has perpetuated this atrocity? Where is the bottle-neck? Do the Am.Generals know and sanction this? Where can we write or call to redress this frightful lapse of honor????
Save these IRAQI FIXERS! We owe them big time.

Sep. 09 2010 03:47 PM
Just a Thought

Cheer up sir.
The ultimate poetic justice may be that as the bottom continues falls out of the rotten and crumbling structure of American journalism in an unemployment ridden Post- American economy and as Iraq's natural resources and burst of media outlets in a critical part of the world sends that nation on an upward spiral, unemployed US reporters may be going hat-in-hand to their old Iraqi fixers for jobs. Japan and Germany looked hopeless in 1948 as well and some there found opportunity amongst the rubble. The wise never resent America but try to beat us at our game.

Sep. 08 2010 09:12 AM
Hussam Ali Al-Mussawi from Baghdad, Iraq

I appreciate all your kind feelings and gentle words that you left in the comments. What you wrote and felt made me so proud.
The agencies and the reporters I and all the fixers worked with were always so gentle to us. They used to tell us to be careful and to go to places that we feel they are safe for stories (but not all places have been safe). Some fixers were killed just because they were in the wrong place or wrong time or just because they were doing their job. And now, many others could not leave the country because their applications to have the right to live in the US have been refused by the IOM after the agencies left the country. I think it is my fate to be born here, to learn English, and to work with foreign journalists but to have a chance to live some years in peace; I don't think it is too much!
We went to dangerous places because we wanted the agencies to write about the real life here and show the readers the truth. The readers, who have been interested to read about the country where their sons are, did not know how stories were done and many journalists went to Hot Areas just to write about the truth; "Bad News is always Good News for Journalists." But the end was that the foreign reporters could leave when they wanted and the fixers, drivers, and even the local guards had to stay if the IOM does not accept their applications.
Now and after the departure of the media, which started some months before the departure of the forces; I think, the fixers and all the people who helped the media in Iraq have the right to have the chance to live in peace in the Us for some years. Finally, we who applied to the IOM and wait for the response are always wonder whether we will get a job when we come to the US or we will return to Iraq! This is part of The Uncertain Future of the Iraqi Fixer!

Sep. 07 2010 08:16 PM
Sid from Miami.

I share the outrage expressed above. Even On The Media's I wish you luck line is infuriating. Why was there no follow up by contacting the different newspapers this man worked for? They deserve some public embarrassment , the fixer deserves some help and we, the listener, deserve more than hearing the insulting kiss off line regardless how sincere given him at the end of the story.

Sep. 07 2010 08:41 AM
Julie Ludwig from South Haven MI

I am wondering if there are any ethical questions for you as you cover a story like this. Is any action every required by you other than putting the story out? I think of the photojournalist who committed suicide allegedly still tormented about his photograph he took in Sudan of the starving child with the vulture poised in the background....
Shame is an anachronistic moral position - still, I hope the media which used and abandoned these people feel something like it and do what they can to help.

Sep. 06 2010 09:34 AM
Mark from Charlotte

This is one of the best stories OTM has done. Just a case of Love them and Leave them. These fixers are not just a car or computer that made the big name reporters more efficient. They were the people that allowed the reporter to even be able to stay alive. How do they reward them allow them to be killed. Where was the big story like those from Iran when the fixer Hussam Ali al-Mussawi escaped death only because a friend helped him.

Sep. 05 2010 06:39 PM
Paul Rankin from New York City

What a shameful story. How could you not have contacted all the news agencies this brave man worked for to find out why they have not intervened on his behalf?

Sep. 05 2010 04:50 PM
Just a Thought

Funny how we never hear about the fixers and reporters in the Gaza Strip, Russia or elsewhere who are targeted by the local "authorities".
Gee, you think there might be a political motivation by the media to focus on endangered Iraqi fixers accused of spying but not those in the Gaza Strip and West Bank?
Could it be that the press deliberately slant their coverage to avoid offending the more media savvy local thugs which explains why the German media get a pass in this case?

Sep. 04 2010 09:47 AM
Christopher Brady from Taiwan

This story made me furious. I sent an email to SF Chronicle my US local paper requesting a letter sent on his behalf. How do you work with a person and leave them to be a target w/o any kind of letter of recommendation to get through INS? Thanks for broadcasting this story.

Sep. 04 2010 06:35 AM

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