Iraq, The Vote: 'Some People Do Get It'


J$P Instant Transcript! Shepard Smith on the Reconstruction of Sadr City


From Studio-B with Shepard Smith, January 27 2005:

SHEPARD SMITH [FOX NEWS]: This morning we loaded onto a helicopter and flew into an area of Baghdad known now as Sadr City; it used to be Saddam City. And when the war first started there and all the violence broke out, our seasoned war correspondents and producers told us it was among the most violent places they had ever seen. Fighting to the death, they were there, with that guy Muqtada Al Sadr, you remember him, sort of leading them. Well he eventually settled down, bowed to political pressure, lots of people took a payoff, and things began to settle. Then the military moved in and started a whole new focus. Instead of just fighting on the streets they started rebuilding on the streets. They got lots of help, they got cooperation, and it may not look like Paradise to you, but it's vastly improved....

SMITH: Now they're warriors and nation-builders. Sewage was everywhere here, but no more. This pump station, fixed and upgraded....Now, travel on solid ground, not raw sewage, but not everywhere. In this neighborhood there's much work ahead. If only you could smell it. This man is telling the interpreter what the sewage is doing to the children. He's been telling us over the last couple of minutes that it's much better than it was a month ago, but right over there is a market that services about 200,000 people a day. It's better than it was, he says, but the kids are sick, and the military says they're working on it. And they have been for months. First, security had to be restored.

SMITH: Another project: in this trench they're running electric lines, so this neighborhood can have power 24/7. And by the way, look at this. A barrier built, for election day. The locals put it up, to protect the neighborhood polling place. We did it to stop a car bomber, he says, from destroying the building. Achmad is a 20-year-old volunteer police officer, guarding from bombers the place where he and his neighbors will vote for the very first time. I'm protecting the election center, he says, that's protecting my country. Some people do get it. And in neighborhoods even here it's spreading. The kids are everywhere. They play to the cameras, they play to the soldiers. No fear. And in their hands they all have campaign posters. These are about people running for office on Sunday. Even the kids are in the mix....

SMITH: One of the biggest projects was trash, teaching people you've got to pile it on the side of the road so somebody can come pick it up. A brand new concept; it had always all been thrown anywhere. They've learned, in large part. But a goat--a goat's got to eat. And eat they do, on every street. It's a way of life most Americans could never imagine, trust me. But here it's a step up. There's commerce, now. People seem to feel safer, say the soldiers....

SMITH: The plan is in place: secure the area, clean the streets, give the people jobs and freedom, and they'll stop fighting. And maybe they'll vote. "D" the interpreter believes it can work, and he's risking his life to help.

"D": I think and I believe in my job, by practicing the both languages, English and Arabic, I'll be a reason to save a life, it will be the life of an American soldier who came to this country to help us. Or the life of an innocent Iraqi, and that's by taking out the misunderstanding and the miscommunication between the soldiers and the civilians....

SMITH: An impressive bunch they were. And that interpreter? He fought against the United States in the Gulf War in '91, then went to the United States seeking citizenship, and is now back here fighting against the insurgents for freedom, and trying to become a citizen of the US. Some incredible stories this morning in Sadr City.

posted: Sat - January 29, 2005 at 01:13 PM       j$p  send 
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