Inside Iraq

by JACOB H. FRIES & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he Spokesman-Review laid off reporter Jim Hagengruber last year as part of deep cuts across the newsroom (not to be confused with cutbacks this fall that put another two dozen journalists out of work).

Unemployed, Hagengruber went to Iraq and Kuwait earlier this year as a freelancer to follow up on stories he had written about twin brothers from Hauser Lake who joined the Marines together and were deployed overseas. Hagengruber had documented the lives of the twins for three years as they finished high school, enlisted, married sweethearts and went off to war.

Now, Hagengruber's back in Iraq as the story of the war has fallen from the headlines. Working as an independent journalist, Hagengruber plans to publish articles in various publications, including The Inlander, but in the meantime you can read about his journey at

From a dispatch posted on Sunday: "I'm back in Baghdad. I flew in last night on a C-130 full of Navy lawyers, intel officers and accountants (gotta be a joke there somewhere). When I asked the accountant sitting next to me why he seemed to be the only one with just a pistol, rather than a machine gun, he replied: 'If I ever have to draw this pistol, the battle's already lost, trust me.'

"Baghdad was covered by clouds and the streets were flooded. Huge thunderstorms hit last night. Pretty strange. Even more bizarre was the fact that I can now wander the streets of the Green Zone near the press center. They recommend staying within 10 minutes of your body armor and I'm certainly not planning on taking a nightly stroll in the Red Zone, but it feels positively bizarre to be able to walk around here without an escort. Nonetheless, I had to pass through at least six checkpoints (and was frisked three times) during a two-block walk to the Al Rasheed Hotel. I guess it's a bit pathetic when this type of walk somehow passes for 'normal.' And I was reminded of the war as I stood outside a few minutes ago and heard two distant booms. Not fireworks, I'm guessing."