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Baghdad Bureau Chief Reports on Rebuilding Process

Jun 26, 2008 (Fresh Air)

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As a journalist for The New York Times, James Glanz has covered the attack on the World Trade Center, biowarfare and security issues in Iraq.

In 2007, he was named the Times' bureau chief in Baghdad. From there, he's covered the successes and failures of the reconstruction effort in Iraq.

Recently, he's been reporting on a government study that criticized the Bush administration for misrepresenting some of its gains in Iraq.

The report charges that administration figures "broadly overstate gains in some categories, including the readiness of the Iraqi Army, electricity production and how much money Iraq is spending on its reconstruction," Glanz reported in the Times.

Further, Glanz wrote, the report concludes that "the American plan for a stable Iraq lacks a strategic framework that meshes with the administration's goals [and] is falling out of touch with the realities on the ground."

Glanz cautions that the "fog of war" in Iraq is thicker than most, and that it's difficult to know how much of the administration's public claims are wishful thinking and how much is based on uncertain or changing information. On the other hand, there's no question that reports on certain projects — a children's hospital in Basra, for instance — were reports "we were never able to take at face value."

With fellow Times reporter Eric Lipton, Glanz co-authored the book City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center.

He talks with Terry Gross about his work in New York and in Baghdad, and about how shrinking foreign-desk staffs at many newspapers are changing the choices journalists make as they cover the ongoing story.

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