How The Forever Wars Were (Mis)Reported For 20 Years

I was honored to be part of this discussion with Azmat Khan, Murtaza Hussain and Alice Speri at the International Journalism Festival.

How The Forever Wars Were (Mis)Reported For 20 Years

Edited by Sam Thielman

PERUGIA, Italy – This was one of the most moving discussions I've ever had about the wages and the weight of war reporting during an endless war.

On Saturday, I was privileged to attend the International Journalism Festival in the awe-inspiring Umbrian town of Perugia. I spoke alongside three reporters who I believe have done some of the most important reporting of the War on Terror: The Intercept's Maz Hussain and Alice Speri, and one of the most vital journalists currently working, Azmat Khan.

Like I say, this is a heavy one. You'll hear my voice catch a few times, and I'm hardly the only one. Go into it with that understanding.

At the risk of talking about a nightmare in progress, I write while a manhunt is underway in Brooklyn for a piece of shit who shot 10 people, kicking off a panic that left six more wounded, on the N train this morning as it entered the 36th Street Station in Sunset Park, a place my dad briefly lived when I was in elementary school. I've spent today making sure my relatives and friends who live in Sunset Park, Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights or who commute on the N/R are OK. We don't yet know who opened fire on the N train or why, but within hours, the NYPD was telling reporters it wasn't "classic terrorism." Now, all the early reports have the gunman opening fire and using a smoke device to obscure the scene, which makes it a complex attack and, tactically at least, quite classic terrorism. What they mean, as our panel discusses, is that the perp isn't believed to be Muslim. Terrorism, for 20 years, has been a who rather than a what.

There's not much else I feel like saying about the panel discussion. We talk for an hour, so hopefully that speaks for itself. I'm still processing everything that I experienced with my colleagues, both on this panel and in conversations afterward. Vital to those conversations were not only Azmat, Alice and Maz but Vanessa Gezari, Malali Bashir and Bilal Sarwary. I'm grateful for all of them. You'd benefit from reading their work if you don't already.