Thursday, July 19, 2007

No Friend Left Behind Update

[posted by Callimachus]

Judith at Kesher Talk has been doing a great job keeping up with the saga of Nour al-Kal, the Iraqi woman who worked with murdered U.S. journalist Stephen Vincent, and who was attacked when he was but survived. Her bid to find a safe haven in the United States was aided by Vincent's widow, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent. It finally has a happy ending, I am pleased to report.

Here is her latest:

Last week I attended a panel discussion (video below) on the accomplishments and plight of "fixers." These are natives of war-torn areas who help Western journalists by - in the words of one participant on the panel - finding hotel rooms, briefing them on the local customs, ethnic groups, and political situations, guiding them through unsafe neighborhoods, setting up interviews, translating during interviews, translating transcripts and articles, and much more. As George Packer said, "Without my fixer I would not have been able to get anything done in Iraq."

With respect to that class in Iraq, Judith gets to the pertinent question:

Although they can make a case for refugee status, our government has allowed few of them to repatriate to the US. Does the US have an obligation to help people whose work with our journalists put them and their families at risk? Especially now, as the NYTimes blithely admits that its advocated troop withdrawal will probably result in a bloodbath, how does the plight of those who sided with us fit into our national debate about immigration?

She admits the difficulty of distinguishing genuine refugees from infiltrators. But like me, she knows it's worth the risk to do the right thing. Our lives already are at risk. Our national soul is, too.