Peter Maass, The Toppling

category: Palestine Hotel

January 13, 2011  |  permalink

The Map to the Palestine Hotel


The Marines who were dispatched to the Palestine Hotel were given a grid coordinate for an area that was a square kilometer large but they did not know where the hotel was located in that area; the hotel was not marked on the map they used. The map is posted above. The red circle, which I placed on the map, shows the area where the Palestine Hotel and Firdos Square are located. The versions below show the area in greater detail; the red arrows that I put on these maps (I have made no other alterations) point to the intersection where Firdos Square and the Palestine Hotel are located. Because the map did not show the precise location of the hotel, a photographer who knew the hotel’s location rode atop the turret of the first tank into Firdos Square.


January 11, 2011  |  permalink

Shelling the Palestine Hotel

On April 8, the day before Marines arrived at Firdos Square, an Army tank on the Al Jumhuriya Bridge fired a shell at the Palestine Hotel, killing two journalists and injuring three others. Those killings increased pressure on the Pentagon to secure the hotel, so that no further harm would come to journalists there; the next day, Marines were dispatched to the Palestine. Subsequent investigations revealed that although key officers on the ground, including brigade and battalion commanders, knew the Palestine should not be fired on, they did not know the hotel’s precise location, because it wasn’t marked on their maps; the tank’s crew did not know that journalists were in the building they were firing on. Click here to read the investigation from The Los Angeles Times, and click here to read the report from the Committee to Protect Journalists.


January 07, 2011  |  permalink

Inside the Palestine Hotel, 2

On the fifth anniversary of the invasion, New York Times reporter John Burns wrote about the precarious status of journalists at the Palestine Hotel, and how he felt when Marines arrived at Firdos Square.


January 02, 2011  |  permalink

Inside the Palestine Hotel

Melinda Liu, a Newsweek reporter, was among the several hundred journalists who stayed at the Palestine Hotel during the invasion. She wrote a colorful story for Conde Nast Traveler about her sojourn, including her introduction of Lt. Col. Bryan McCoy to the Palestine manager. Click here for the story.


January 02, 2011  |  permalink

Asking for a Rescue

Seamus Conlan, a photographer at the Palestine Hotel, asked American troops to come to the rescue of journalists there. Click here for his account of that day.

I had been pleading with every American soldier I encountered in the chaos in the surrounding streets to come and protect the international media at the hotel. We figured it was the least they could do after killing three of us the day before. I was sure that today was going to be the day that we got killed by Saddam’s enraged and retreating militiamen . . . So I’d sounded desperate when talking to the U.S. soldiers down the road, pretending to joke around: “You guy have to get to the Palestine tonight before we are raped and shot, and I don’t know in which order.” A U.S. Marines officer assured me that every journalist in Baghdad was telling him the same thing. I asked if he was doing anything about it. “Yes sir, I have made a phone call every time,” he said.


About The Toppling by Peter Maass

On April 9, 2003, American Marines toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein at Firdos Square in Baghdad. Broadcast across the world, the event symbolized what was thought to be an American victory in Iraq. My reconstruction, written with support from ProPublica and the Shorenstein Center, was published in The New Yorker. This section contains documents, photos, videos and links related to the story.


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