Ref NoOHP/30/7
TitleJames Meek
Date4 June 2003
Extent1 minidisc, 1 cd, 1 file, 1 AIFF file (741.2 MB)
Creator NameMeek; James; journalist and author
DescriptionInterview with James Meek, Guardian reporter. Conducted by Leslie Plommer on 4 June 2003. This interview is part of a series of interviews with Guardian staff who covered the Iraq War of March-April 2003. Also includes a data sheet containing biographical details about the subject and information about the recording.

Summary contents of interview (with rough timings):

Disc 1:
Track 1
00.07 Introductions
00.17 Joined troops coming up from Kuwait into Southern Iraq onto Baghdad
00.30 How he heard he would be going to Iraq. Approached by foreign editor Ed Pilkington who was putting together a team
01.30 Asked where he would prefer to be based. Given choice between Jordan and Kuwait
02.20 Had experience of crossing borders in this region from coverage of the 1991 Gulf War for the Scotsman newspaper
03.00 Training provided by the Guardian. Doubts over protective measures
05.05 Attended nuclear, biological and chemical warfare training course. Course run by former soldiers
05.45 Requirements of journalists very different to that of the military
07.00 Had received some training for 1991 Gulf War coverage
07.20 Carrying a large amount of equipment. Discusses equipment

10.00 Travelling with photographer Paul Driscoll
11.00 Equipment he left behind
11.36 Arriving in Kuwait before the conflict. Became accredited with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information
13.00 Return from Kuwait before outbreak of war
13.30 Preparations for the war
14.05 Reported on the mood of Kuwaiti people
14.28 Difficulty getting reports in the newspaper, due to lack of space
15.00 Difficulties dealing with press organisations
15.20 Spent time with US military
16.20 British control over access to British military in the area
17.30 Belief that the British military press officers were image orientated. Lack of access to troops
19.30 Story about colleague being followed whilst using the toilet in a military camp

20.30 Distrust of the Guardian by the military
21.10 Hostility of right wing press to conflict
21.45 Position of the Daily Mail. Contradiction of being for the war, but against Tony Blair
22.35 Renting vehicles
24.09 Concerns over the sealing of police check points. Hostility towards journalists
25.10 Use of military disguises
25.50 Access in Kuwait. Overcoming sand walls
27.25 Left Kuwait City in lead up to conflict. Waiting on the border
28.30 Memories of start of conflict
29.20 Disguising vehicles with mud

30.10 Getting across the border
31.00 Interview with British commander
31.30 Attempts to cross border
32.17 Tip off from another journalist. Gap in a sand wall
33.35 Crossed into no man's land. Concern about mines
33.57 Final border crossing. Arriving in Iraq
34.30 Realisation how different it was to be in Iraq
34.50 Looters
35.00 Interviewed Iraqis. Did not have a translator. Working with the New York Times translator
36.13 Not situation they expected to be in. Uncertain atmosphere. Everyone armed. Lack of authority
37.30 Decision to seek protection of the military
39.00 Became 'parasites' on the US marines. Needed them for security, fuel, food and water

40.07 Advantages of being embedded without the restrictions. Access to troops. Own transport. Ability to move units. Own translators
41.30 Reflections on the US marines. 'Extraordinary' hospitality. Offered them phonecalls in exchange
43.30 Problem of restrictions on light in a warzone
44.30 Driving at night. Recalls near accident
46.15 Paperwork he carried
48.00 Problems of being embedded

50.30 Being careful not to endanger marines
51.30 Marines watching American press more closely
53.00 Fears over use of satellite phones to track location
55.13 Writing about how the marines conducted themselves. Critical of how they conducted operations
56.00 Remembers New York Times staff - Dexter Filkins, writer; James Hill, photographer; Mandi, translator
57.40 Carrying cash
59.38 Cigarettes as currency

60.11 Issue of race
61.30 Importance of having an all volunteer army. Well paid and well trained. Lack of tension between ranks. Contributes to atmosphere
63.45 Remembers meeting French journalists. Tension between marines and French journalist
66.23 Marine units. Combat Services Support Group. Heavily armed
68.00 Advance of units
68.30 Access to front line. Switched regiments. Joined 5th regiment before crossing the river with the 7th regiment. Moved to the 1st regiment
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsAccess to recording via GNM Digital Repository
Related Materialminidisc box P0381, cd box P0334, file box D0632
FormatElectronic record
CD recording
Minidisc recording
Printed document
CopyrightGuardian News & Media Ltd and James Meek

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NA360Middle East
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