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Reporters on the Job

Swimming in Molasses: For today's story, staff writer Dan Murphy intended to spend more time with Iraqi policemen and their families (page 1). He left the hotel at 8:30 a.m. to pick up a letter at the Interior Ministry that would allow him full access to Baghdad's police stations (though Iraq is far from normal, its old bureaucracy is reasserting itself well enough).

But first, he spent an an hour-and-a-half in traffic, generated by the fact that more of Baghdad's roads have been closed to protect US and Iraqi government installations, and by the gas lines that now seem to snake across the city. The Monitor's Iraqi interpreter estimated one gas line stretched for 6 miles.

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Upon arriving at the ministry, there was about an hour of delay in getting into the building, including the mile-long walk from the distant car park designed to protect against suicide bombers. The last time Dan visited the ministry in August, he drove right up to it.

He left the ministry at about 12:30 p.m. In the afternoon, Dan planned to meet with a police family who recently lost a son to the insurgency. But as he left the hotel, a suicide car-bomb exploded in a police station near the family's home. When he arrived, the road was closed. "Iraq is a more dangerous place today, but you don't really feel it, going about your business as a reporter,'' says Dan. "The biggest change is how hard it is to get around day to day. It's like swimming through molasses."

David Clark Scott
World editor


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