Print Casualties of War (New York Post)


June 2, 2006 -- ONE of the first - and toughest - tasks facing incoming Time magazine editor Richard Stengel is replenishing the Baghdad bureau.

While the bureau has certainly earned its stars - most notably by reporting the apparent shooting of unarmed civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha last November - it has been hit by two big departures.

Tim McGirk, who shepherded the original story which broke in January, moved last month to be Jerusalem's bureau chief, while the other principal architect of the story, Bobby Ghosh, is now the Baghdad bureau chief.

This week, veteran Time reporter in Iraq, Michael Ware, who spent more than three years in the war-torn country, said he is jumping to CNN as a TV correspondent in Baghdad.

Ware was on book leave when Time was piecing together the story on the deaths in Haditha.

Military investigators now say the version of events surrounding the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians does not appear to jibe with the Marines' first account.

At least 15 of the deaths now appear to have been of noncombatants shot at close range.

Getting volunteers to move into harm's way is always one of the tougher assignments for an editor of a newsweekly.

"It is unimaginably dangerous for journalists in Iraq every single day, every single minute," said Ware, who Media Ink caught up to in Australia where he is relaxing with his family.

"You risk kidnapping every time you leave your gate," he added.

Ware may have missed out on the big Haditha story - but he hasn't missed much else.

"I've been in just about every major battle in Iraq," he said. "I recently returned from Ramadi, which is just a major war zone."

He said that in October 2004, he was captured by Al Qaeda supporters of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who pulled him from his car, threatening to murder him.

"They were going to use my own camera to record my death," he said. He said he was saved when Iraqi nationals vouched for him and convinced the insurgents to free him.

On at least three other occasions, Ware said he was in rooms with insurgents when debates broke out over whether he should be killed on the spot.

So, why go back?

"This is the greatest story of our age," he said.

"We need to understand what is happening in Iraq because the reverberations will be rippling across the world for many years to come."

Asked about his move from print to TV, he said, "I think it will allow me to better relay the experiences of the war."

Times' Managing Editor Jim Kelly said of Ware, "He's been leaving us for a while. He did well by us and we did well by him. But we have a deep bench in Iraq." Kelly will move to his new job as corporate managing editor of Time Inc. in two weeks.

Ware said his move has nothing to do with the switch at the top. "I believe Time will proceed from strength to strength," he said, "but I just felt for me it was time to try a new medium."