Why I came to Baghdad
Editor's note: About seven hours after filing this blog post, Brian appeared on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert. Click here to watch the video.
After much planning and many hours of traveling since our departure from New York on Friday evening, we have arrived in Baghdad for several days of coverage.
The decision to come here was mine. The trip was under consideration for months and has been several weeks in the planning. It is the story of our time, it dominates our news coverage night after night, and as a journalist I believe it's important to see and touch this story first-hand. It is my third trip to Iraq since the start of the war, and this one comes at a critical time in my view. The recent change in the tempo of the violence and the decision to send more U. S. troops were both major factors in my decision. We have taken all the security precautions possible, and we will do nothing to put ourselves in any undue danger.
After I made the decision to come, NBC signed off on the trip, from the very highest levels on down, and then the planning started. It was our goal to visit before the coming anniversary of the start of the war. I'd be lying to say that the wounds suffered by my friends Bob Woodruff and Kimberly Dozier didn't weigh heavily on my mind. My own family has been profoundly affected by Bob's ordeal -- and it will stay with us and help guide our actions. I saw both Bob and Kimberly just days ago, and we intentionally delayed our trip so as not to conflict with Bob's documentary last week and the launch of the book that he and his wife Lee have written.
While in Iraq, I'm surrounded by the best possible team -- all of whom volunteered for this duty. Producer Subrata De is here (you will be seeing her photos and reading her postings) as is producer John Zito, who was embedded with U. S. forces during the war. We have an outstanding technical crew, including Craig White, who was David Bloom's cameraman during the war, and who was just here with Robert Bazell while shooting the series of reports, "Wounds of War."
Also with me is retired 4-star U. S. Army Gen. Wayne Downing -- a former member of President Bush's White House anti-terrorism staff, and the former head of U. S. Special Operations. Gen. Downing was traveling with me during a helicopter mission at the start of the war, which was forced down by insurgent fire, which in turn forced us to spend three days in the desert under the protection of the Third Infantry Division. It is great to have him on this trip, both for his technical assistance and for his companionship.
We will try our best to report what we see, including the texture of military life here, which is seldom reported back home in any depth. Again: we are here to take stock of this story, and see it for ourselves. We have two superb correspondents in our Baghdad bureau, Richard Engel and Tom Aspell, who will continue to cover the day-to-day life and warfare on the streets they know so well.
My thanks to all the people who got us here and are keeping us safe. My thanks to my friends back at NBC News in New York -- who will turn what we report -- into a great broadcast each night we're here.
We'll see you on the air from Baghdad.
Read more from Brian Williams 2007, Brian Williams in Iraq
Broadcasting from Baghdad
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