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Journalist Elizabeth Neuffer

She is the Foreign Affairs/U.N. Correspondent for The Boston Globe. She's about to go into a special training camp for journalists planning on covering a possible U.S. war with Iraq. She's also reported on the war on terrorism from Afghanistan. Her recent book, The Key to My Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda, is now out in paperback.


Other segments from the episode on December 3, 2002

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, December 3, 2002: Interview with Elizabeth Neuffer; Review of the new box set "Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers."


DATE December 3, 2002 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A

Interview: Journalist Elizabeth Neuffer discusses her career

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest, Elizabeth Neuffer, leaves for the Gulf on December 8th. She's a
foreign affairs and United Nations correspondent for The Boston Globe. To
prepare for what she might face in Iraq, she has just completed boot camp for
journalists going to war zones. She already has some experience having
covered the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, the Gulf War and the war in

She writes about her experiences in Bosnia in her book "The Key to My
Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda," which has just come
out in paperback. The book is about war and its aftermath, the International
War Crimes Tribunals and how individual victims have tried to uncover the
truth and seek some form of justice. I asked her if she feels prepared to
face war in Iraq.

Ms. ELIZABETH NEUFFER (Author, "The Key to My Neighbor's House"): I'm not
convinced that any of us are ever prepared to be anywhere during a war. I'm
getting prepared to be there during a war. I just spent a week training with
retired SAS officers in a school, in fact, not too far away from Philadelphia
in the wilds outside of Reading, where we learned everything from emergency
first aid to how to avoid a sniper bullet to the difference between AK-47 fire
and another kind of fire. And I will, in fact, be doing on Saturday another
day's training, this time in chemical, biological and nuclear weapon survival.

GROSS: And who will be teaching that?

Ms. NEUFFER: That is yet another group of retired SAS soldiers, I believe.
They're both British companies who do this.

GROSS: You know, if there is a war or you're likely to be exposed to weapons
of mass destruction, doesn't that terrify you?

Ms. NEUFFER: Yes. I'm always terrified when I go into a war zone. I mean,
people sometimes think I'm a glutton for punishment. But I do always find
that the stories of the people who will be there, the citizens, and who are,
in fact, unprepared for these kinds of disasters, are always just
extraordinarily compelling. They're usually worth the risk.

That said and done, I think, frankly, none of us are going to be in a place
where these weapons are likely to be used. I think this is good precaution.
I can't imagine, you know, any newspaper wanting their reporter to be in the
way of, for example, a chemical attack. So I think, you know, newspapers are
going to make an extra effort to get their reporters out of such places.
That's certainly our philosophy.

GROSS: That said, I know the military in Iraq would have special biohazard
suits in case they are exposed to biological or chemical weapons. For you as
a journalist, will you have any protective gear?

Ms. NEUFFER: Yes, I will. I'm getting--I just got outfitted for a biohazard
suit in one of those strange journalistic days where you find yourself going
to your local tailor asking for your measurements for your biohazard suit.
So, anyway, it was quite interesting. But I will have that with me and, in
fact, will be carrying it in next week when I go.

GROSS: What are some of the things you learned from the boot camp that you
just went to that you didn't already know from having covered war in Bosnia
and the Gulf War in '91?

Ms. NEUFFER: You know, it was sobering to me, Terry, having done this for 10
years and covered basically every conflict, major conflict, of the last
decade, just how much there was still to learn. And I can't recommend such
courses enough to fellow reporters and to news organizations. I learned, as I
said, first aid. I knew nothing about first aid. I now feel confident that,
in fact, someone was shot in the chest next to me, I would be able to know
what to do in an emergency situation, how to make that bleeding stop, how to
get that person stabilized until I could get them to a hospital.

You know, in Bosnia, I was often at the scenes of places where people were
killed, and I found myself powerless to help those who were injured. Now I
feel like, in fact, there is something I can do to help those who are really
gonna just bleed to death otherwise.

On sort of a survival front, I learned how to orient with a compass, something
I'd never known how to do before. And I think perhaps for me, one of the most
amazing exercises was they actually have a daylong scenario. Part of the
woods is turned into a foreign country and, you know, you have to get from A
to B and go through checkpoints. And one of the surprises of the day is that
you are abducted, hooded and marched with the hood over your head through the
forest, put into a place and, basically, you have to figure out how to
convince your captors to take your hood off and, in fact, to let you free and
not to execute you. I think that was a really interesting exercise in sort of
psychology and survival for all of us.

GROSS: What did you say to try to convince the person playing the part of
your captor to take the hood off and save your life?

Ms. NEUFFER: Well, when one of them went into a long riff about justice, I
did tell them about my book. Ever desperate to sell a copy of "The Key to My
Neighbor's House," I said, `I wrote a book about two UN War Crimes Tribunals.'
That's probably not the recommended approach.

Basically, what you're taught is to try to be very much a gray person until
you can sense a sort of stabilization in the mood. For us, I would have said
that was when we--after we were marched through the woods to a confined area
and once the sort of verbal attacks kind of stopped and then you could raise
your hand politely and try to establish communication with the captors. In my
case, I kept saying, `I'd really like to interview your leader,' you know,
whoever--we named him General Joe for the purposes of the exercise. And then
I finally said, `Well, if I'm going to interview General Joe, you know, I'm
going to be able to need to see him.' And that was when my hood was taken

GROSS: Did they grade you on this? Did they say that they thought you did a
convincing job?

Ms. NEUFFER: They gave us feedback at the end, and I know that they were
particularly impressed with this group of journalists that I was with, that we
were sort of working as a team on this exercise and, you know, we had come
through it with pretty flying colors.

GROSS: How did you feel, even though it was just role playing, having a hood
over your head and being, you know, abducted and taken through the woods and
not really knowing what to expect, although you knew, still, it was just role

Ms. NEUFFER: You know, it's funny how quickly you forget it's role playing
and how real it is, particularly when you can't see. So parts of it were
quite terrifying. I felt it was an excellent experience because if this ever
happens to me, I'll have been through it once. And there's nothing like the
virtue of experience, even for an exercise, to kind of give you some sense of
what it might be like should this happen.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. Are there things you did that you realized in retrospect you
shouldn't have done during this exercise?

Ms. NEUFFER: Yeah, I kept interviewing my captors. Sort of a reflexive...

GROSS: Sure. Well, that's obvious instinct for a journalist, yeah.

Ms. NEUFFER: `And where are you from? And how old are you? And how many
children do you have?' And that was, in fact, pointed out to me, that
typically it wouldn't have endeared myself to my captors by doing that.

GROSS: Why? Why would that be a bad thing? Because typically people like to
talk about themselves and they are appreciative of your curiosity about them.

Ms. NEUFFER: I think it was more that I became the interrogator as opposed
to sort of drawing them out slowly.

GROSS: Uh-huh.

Mr. NEUFFER: I was just being a little too intense about it. They also
encourage you to talk about yourself and to try to find points of, you know,
sort of communication between you and the person. Ask them if they have
children. If they do, volunteer if you have children that you do, what their
names are. Again, the object is just to try to get the captors to see you as
a human being.

You know, and interestingly, you know, one of the things I thought that the
course also did well--this is related not entirely on this topic--was they had
a session on post-traumatic stress disorder. And I think that was exceedingly
useful, particularly for the people who did go through this exercise and found
it kind of unnerving to realize that when you do go to a war zone, you will
experience things and you will bring them back with you. And part of the
challenge is to learn how to live with them afterwards.

GROSS: Now we were talking about how one of the role-playing things you did
during this boot camp for journalists entering war zones is that you were
abducted, you know, in a role-playing scenario.

Ms. NEUFFER: Right.

GROSS: Have you ever been abducted in real life while covering a war?

Ms. NEUFFER: I was hijacked, I guess would be the way to put it. I had an
incident occur in Bosnia. Imagine it's the height of the war, there's intense
shelling, it's dark at night. A colleague and I are up on Mt. Igman. We can
watch the city being bombed below. And we're attempting to drive out. We're
driving a heavily armored car. The road is slippery, it's rainy, it's a dirt
track. Our car slips in the mud and basically falls into a ditch. We climb
out. It's an exceedingly heavy car, and we can't get it out of the ditch.

Unfortunately, the people we flagged down are extraordinarily drunk soldiers,
and they proceed to sort of take the car battery, to, you know, sort of try to
harass us. They surround my colleague with guns. One of them starts pawing
me rather intensely. And it becomes pretty clear at a certain point that, you
know, rape can be a real option. It was a rather nasty experience and kind of
a horrible realization at the time.

GROSS: How did you get through to the other end on that one?

Ms. NEUFFER: Well, just sort of one of those moments of insight that, in
fact, what these guys were probably were more interested in was the car than
they were me. So I spoke a little bit of Bosnian. I kept talking to them,
again I kept trying to humanize myself. I kept saying, you know, `Hi. I'm a
journalist. This man is my husband.' He wasn't, but he was convenient for
the time. And, you know, `Here's our car. Can you help us fix it?' you know,
and eventually handed the car keys over.

And they got very distracted with the idea of getting this car out of the
ditch. And once they took their hands off me, we grabbed the satellite
telephone and ran and found our way to a UN soldier in a tank and had
literally just set up the satellite telephone and we're radioing for help and
whatever could happen, and watched our car drive by us--Vroom! And saying,
`Whoops,' because it's like 2 in the morning and we have to hitchhike off of
Mt. Igman in the middle of a terrible shelling raid. But, in fact, we were
able to hitchhike off of Mt. Igman and we did get down to safety. And
eventually, the car, in fact, was recovered from these particular thugs. So
it all ended very happily.

GROSS: How'd you get your car back?

Ms. NEUFFER: These were Bosnian Muslim soldiers, believe it or not, and it
wasn't actually my car. It belonged to another news organization. They were
furious. They went to the Bosnian Muslim government and said, `How dare you,'
you know, `let this happen. Your soldiers,' you know. `You've had American
reporters,' you know, `living with you in Sarajevo.' And the Bosnian
government took this very much to heart, you know, tracked down the guys,
found the car and handed it back over. I think it had changed color or
something, but one way or the other, everything--at least the car was
restored. None of our belongings, or at least none of mine, were ever found.
But it was hardly, you know, earth-shattering. I had, in fact, been wearing
my armored vest.

One reason when they started pawing me I realized that while it was serious,
it was only so serious because if you paw someone while they're wearing
ceramic plates in a, you know, ballistic vest, they're probably not getting a
lot out of it. And I had all my reporter's notebooks stuffed down the front.
So I had the stuff that really counted to me.

GROSS: My guest is Elizabeth Neuffer, foreign affairs and UN correspondent
for The Boston Globe. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Elizabeth Neuffer. She is a foreign affairs correspondent
and UN correspondent for The Boston Globe. And she's the author of the book
"The Key to My Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda." She
has covered several wars, and on December 8th, she leaves for the Gulf, first
to Amman, Jordan, where she hopes to get a visa to get into Iraq.

One of the things you learned in journalist boot camp in preparing for your
forthcoming trip to Iraq is first aid. And I know from your book that you
were in the marketplace in Sarajevo that was bombed during the war in Bosnia.
And what did you do? You didn't know any first aid. Were you able to help?

Ms. NEUFFER: No, not really. I seem to remember diving in along with other
reporters and pulling the visibly dead out and, you know, moving some of the
bodies. But there was nothing I could do for the injured. There were enough
people there at the time who seemed to have the presence of mind to help those
people. But, you know, if that happened again, I would have a much stronger
sense of knowing what to do in that five- to 10-minute window you have where
you can sort of leap in and help because, obviously, you can't report at that
time. It would be tactless and unproductive and quite inhuman. So your first
job is, when something like that happens around you, to lend assistance. And
I feel better prepared to do that and better prepared to help my colleagues
should they become injured, which does, in fact, happen.

GROSS: Do you think most reporters would agree with you that after a shelling
or a bombing like that, your first responsibility is to help the survivors or
to carry out the dead and then worry about reporting a little later?

Ms. NEUFFER: I think so, because if you've ever been in a situation like
that, you realize that it's the wrong time to actually interview anyone. The
best you can do is observe. And you can certainly observe and do that in the
context of helping people. I don't think you want to cross the line and
become a Red Cross worker. Once the qualified people arrive, then your job is
to step back and take your role back up. But, you know, in the midst of an
emergency wherever we are--let's say I was to exit the studio here and watch a
gun shooting--I would, you know, as a person go help. And then when the
qualified person came, step back and then might think, `Well, goodness, how
did this happen? Who did it? Let's phone the information in.'

GROSS: Now you've been in wars before, but when you became The Boston Globe's
European correspondent, you weren't expecting to cover a war in the former
Yugoslavia. Were you prepared for war in Bosnia when you first went there?

Ms. NEUFFER: Not really, Terry. I mean, I sort of knew that there had been a
war ongoing. I was prepared and that I'd been reading about it. I'll never
forget flying into Sarajevo and then literally touching down, you know, in
Sarajevo and the plane immediately came under fire. And a whole group of us
scampered off, and I dove into the back of someone's armored car and they
drove me to the hotel and there was shell fire and firing. And I just
thought, `What have I gotten into?' And, you know, my first night, here I am,
I thought I was such a big--I knew so much about war. I was so terrified I
slept in the bathtub 'cause, you know, there was no window in the room,
anyway, and it seemed like without a window, those bullets would come straight
through it.

But you know, what I was most unprepared for was I had not seen a conflict
where civilians were the prime target. And what made Bosnia, I think, unique
for all of us who covered it and what was sort of the one thing we were most
unprepared for was the fact that war crimes were being committed. This was
really the first introduction for me as a journalist to these antiquated
things known as the Geneva Conventions, which are still very much alive today,
and the fact that war crimes--war involves war crimes against civilians.

GROSS: What were the war crimes you witnessed?

Ms. NEUFFER: Well, obviously, we were witnessing ethnic cleansing, which has
since been held to be an act of genocide by one of the UN War Crimes
Tribunals. We were seeing mass displacement of populations because of their
ethnicity. So right there, that would be perhaps the one we saw the most of.
But also, you know, indiscriminate targeting of civilians. The bombing of the
marketplace, in some ways, could be considered a war crime, the one that I was
present for. The bombing of civilians as they stood in line for bread in
Sarajevo. Snipers mowing down civilians just sort of for the heck of it--war
crime. I mean, civilians have a protected and privileged status in theory
under war.

GROSS: Now if there is a war in Iraq, all bets are off in terms of the Geneva
Conventions, because if Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, a lot of people
think they're likely to use those weapons if the United States attacks. So I
mean, that's--nothing could compare...

Ms. NEUFFER: No, that's true. Nothing could compare.

GROSS: those particular Geneva violations.

Ms. NEUFFER: Right. Right. Exactly. I mean, if indeed Iraq has weapons of
mass destruction and if they choose to use them, we entered into sort of
uncharted territory. But obviously, we do know they have used them in the
past. Right? They used them against the Kurds. So we have some idea of the
impact they had on the population, the extraordinary devastation that occurs.

What we don't know is how to prosecute them legally, you know. And again,
just as the wars in Bosnia and Rwanda--you know, the UN War Crimes Tribunals
that were established for those wars have charted such new territory legally.
Rape, for example, now considered to be an act of genocide in certain
circumstances due to a rather remarkable case in Rwanda. You know, we will
find ourselves again in new legal territory postwar Iraq.

GROSS: Now you were telling us a story of what happened to you on Mt. Igman
when you were covering the war in Bosnia. And one of the drunken soldiers who
dropped by while your car was in a ditch was pawing you, and it made you think
a lot about the possibility of rape, rape during wartime and also rape as a
possible threat to women journalists. Can you talk a little bit about if you
feel like you face any special threat as a woman correspondent in war like

Ms. NEUFFER: I think rape is the prime threat and one that, you know, people
should be wary of and take the same kinds of precautions in war zones that you
would take in your daily life. Don't travel alone after dark. Don't agree to
interview someone in a place that's unfamiliar or where you will be alone.
Don't assume that just because it's a different culture you're somehow

Other than that, I really can't say that I have found much difference or, in
fact, much discrimination. Even in very conservative parts of Afghanistan,
where perhaps I might have had to act somewhat more deferentially than I might
have in a different culture, I've always found that I've been allowed to do my
job, and I've been treated with great respect and courtesy. And I would say
most of the time it actually works in your favor to be a woman. I think that
there is a certain unwillingness in most cultures to harm women, and I still
think that that can act in your favor. Not always. We saw, in fact, a woman
journalist among those who was executed last year in Afghanistan. But
certainly from the standpoint of being able to get people to open up to you
when you're talking to people. I think women often find it a lot easier to
sit down with a grieving family, with someone who's just lost a relative, and
talk to them.

GROSS: Elizabeth Neuffer is a foreign affairs and UN correspondent for The
Boston Globe. Her book, "The Keys to My Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in
Bosnia and Rwanda," has just come out in paperback. She'll be back in the
second half of our show.

I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)


GROSS: Coming up, more on war and its aftermath with journalist Elizabeth
Neuffer of The Boston Globe. She's preparing to go to Iraq.

And Milo Miles reviews the new box set "Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers: The
Complete Specialty Recordings."

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with Elizabeth Neuffer, a
foreign affairs and UN correspondent for The Boston Globe. On December 8th,
she flies to Amman, Jordan, where she hopes to get her visa to go to Iraq.
She's covered the Gulf War, the war in the Balkans and the war against
terrorism in Afghanistan. Her book, "The Keys to My Neighbor's House:
Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda," has just come out in paperback. She
says the risks she's taken to report from war zones have been worth it for the
story she's been able to tell.

Is there a story that you've told that has had the biggest impact, you know,
that you feel really good about?

Ms. NEUFFER: Well, I'd have to again refer back to "The Key to My Neighbor's
House." I was really haunted by some of the people I covered in Bosnia and
Rwanda, and that's why I chose to take time off and to write the book. So the
two stories I feel most strongly about are Hasan Nuhanovic, who's one of the
characters in--or one of the real people, actually. I call him a character,
but he's a real live Bosnian. And I told his story at various points
throughout the Bosnian War and was able, in one case--Hasan is a survivor of
Srebrenica, the UN safe area that was overrun by Bosnian Serb troops; 8,000
Bosnian men and boys were slaughtered. Hasan survived, but he lost his
family. And a series of stories I did I know answered a lot of questions for
him about sort of who had pulled the trigger and why. And that was a kind of
pretty neat thing to be able to do.

The second story is, again, witness JJ, this remarkable woman I met in Rwanda
after the genocide. I'd told her story, along with that of other women,
of--they were willing to come forward and talk about their rape. Just an
extraordinary set of accounts particularly in conservative Rwanda, where women
rarely talk about issues of sex--and wrote that story.

And when I returned, I guess, three or four years later, I found that, in
fact, witness JJ--and you notice I'm calling her witness JJ and not by her
name--had gone on to be a lead witness at the UN War Crimes Tribunal. And, in
fact, it's due to her testimony that rape is now considered to be an act of
genocide. That is a historical first for women.

GROSS: What did she say, and what was the importance of it?

Ms. NEUFFER: You know, she went in front of the tribunal and basically
looked the man in the eye who had ordered the rapes. His name was Jean-Paul
Akayesu. He was the mayor of her village, of Taba. And she gave
extraordinary testimony about how Akayesu, as he was discussing the women,
turned to one of the Hutu Interahamwe, the sort of Hutu thugs, and said,
`Never ask me again what a Tutsi woman tastes like,' in reference to the fact
that the women had just been raped. And then added, you know, `Because
tomorrow, they will all be killed.' It was that particularly set of phrases
just--you know, the courtroom was just dead silent at the sort of gall that
this man had to sort of talk about these women's rape and then basically order
them to be killed the next day. JJ obviously escaped that fate, but her
rather ironclad description of him, the orders he gave, helped cement that

GROSS: And where is he now?

Ms. NEUFFER: Behind bars for life.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Now you've been covering the United Nations and how it's dealing with Iraq.
When you were in Bosnia covering the war there, you were very frustrated with
the UN peacekeepers. I'm interested in your perspective on the UN from both
positions, Bosnia and as a UN correspondent. Let's start with Bosnia. What
were some of the things that made you so frustrated with the UN peacekeepers
when you observed them in Bosnia? What are some of the things you saw?

Ms. NEUFFER: Well, two separate incidents really spring to mind, Terry. One
would be standing in Sarajevo and watching French peacekeepers being unable to
return fire even though an elderly woman has crossed down the street and been
hit by sniper fire. I can see the scene very clearly in my mind. And, of
course, the UN mandate at the time was such that UN peacekeepers could only
return fire if they themselves were directly fired at. Now, you know, it's to
the credit of many of the peacekeepers that they chafed themselves under this
mandate, but it was just an impossible one.

The second memory would be, of course, the UN peacekeepers at Srebrenica.
Here again, I go back to Hasan, who I talk about in the book. Hasan brings
his family, his mother and his father and his little brother, on to the UN
base for protection. Hasan has become the translator of the Dutch UN troops.
And yet even though it's become clear that the Bosnian Serbs, in fact, are
executing some men outside the compound, even though it's become clear that
men and boys are separated from the women by the Bosnian Serbs and led away,
the Dutch officers who complain--you know, their complaints are never passed
up the UN line of command. It never reaches UN headquarters; the Security
Council knows nothing about it. And so Hasan's mother, father and brother are
ordered off the base by the very people Hasan works for, the UN peacekeepers.
Terry, he has never seen them since. He has criss-crossed Bosnia looking for
them, for their graves, for any, any news about them. And that was a pretty
horrible indictment of those particular UN soldiers.

But I think you have to understand that the UN--and one of the things that's
become clear to me reporting from it is the UN is a collection of member
states. The UN isn't a body like the Pentagon. It is the will of those
countries that form it. And most of the decisions are made by the 15-member
UN Security Council. So if we go back to that mandate that those--in fact, it
was French peacekeepers in Sarajevo were forced to live with, it couldn't
return fire unless directly fired at. Well, that was a mandate that the UN
Security Council had come up with. And the reason they had come up with it
was because countries like the United States and Great Britain and France were
unwilling to intervene in the Bosnian War, and so they looked to the UN for a
solution. And peacekeepers who'd originally been tasked with delivering
emergency humanitarian aid suddenly found themselves, you know, trying to,
like, guard people. They were underequipped, poorly trained and didn't have a
very good mandate to do so.

I think that the difference I see with this Security Council--and again,
Security Councils, you know, change character and composition. So the one
we're looking at now is very different than the one that was in place during
Bosnia and Rwanda. There are five permanent members, but the ambassadors
change. And of the 15, the other 10 rotate on two-year terms. Certainly on
the Iraq discussion, I think what we have seen is a clear recognition that
there can be no waffling this time around. There was a lot of waffling in
Bosnia and Rwanda. We can remember that it was, in fact, you know, the United
States which blocked having additional UN peacekeepers go to Rwanda and that
the genocide might have been prevented if they went. I think this particular
incarnation of this Security Council--it's very aware they cannot afford to do
that this time around with Iraq.

GROSS: My guest is Elizabeth Neuffer, foreign affairs and UN correspondent
for The Boston Globe. We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Elizabeth Neuffer, foreign affairs and UN correspondent
for The Boston Globe. She's also the author of the book "The Key to My
Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda." She was in Bosnia
during the war. She also covered the Gulf War in '91. She's heading back to
the Gulf on December 8th.

The day that you leave for the Gulf, December 8th, is the day--it's the day of
deadline for Iraq to give a complete accounting of its weapons of mass
destruction. It's very possible Iraq will say, `We don't have any.' What are
the options of what would happen in the United Nations if Iraq says, `We don't
have any'?

Ms. NEUFFER: Well, Iraq's been saying all along `We don't have any,' but they
have to prove what happened to the weapons they used to have. So there have
been discussions--in fact, we've heard--I think it was foreign minister Naji
Sabri said recently the declaration could be up to 1,000 pages long. I think
this is going to be a voluminous document, and it's going to take some time to
analyze it and take a look at it.

Remember, there's sort of a paper trail for all weapons of mass destruction.
You have to keep a paper trail in part so you yourself know where your weapons
of mass destruction are and what kind of state they're in. Obviously, you
don't want them to be used against yourself, so you want to know where they
are. They have to basically, you know, present that paper trail and they also
have to show where things that we know they used to have--they have to explain
to us what happened to them and document it.

So I think we're going to be looking at a pretty hefty submission on December
8th. It's going to take at least 24 hours, if not a little bit longer, for
people to make sense of.

GROSS: And then what?

Ms. NEUFFER: Well, then I think it's going to be up the UN weapons inspectors
to go out and verify that submission. I think that's when the real work
begins. That is when we are going to be having inspectors go out and say,
`Wait a minute. You say you did such and such and such and such. We have
intelligence that says so and so and so.'

If you go back and look as Hans Blix's public comments, you'll see several
times he has said, `December 8th is the pivotal day. December 8th is the
pivotal day.' And he's called on all sides to step forward with information,
not just the Iraqis. In other words, he's saying to, you know, whether it's
American intelligence or British intelligence, you know, `If you have
something up your sleeve, tell me, because we'll need that to be able to, you
know, use that against Iraq to find out if, in fact, they are hiding

GROSS: If there is a material breach--if Iraq is responsible for a material
breach of a Security Council resolution, do you think all the countries in the
Security Council would be willing to back the United States in use of force?

Ms. NEUFFER: I think it depends on the circumstances. I think if Hans Blix
comes back to the council and says, `This is a material breach,' I think we're
going to see certainly a great number of countries back him. They have a lot
of confidence in him. I think they find him a measured, but not sort of mushy
diplomat. He's not a pushover, but he's not kind of belligerent either. And
I think it's really going to have to be a very clear example of a material
breach and something that directly relates to the UN weapons inspectors' work
for that to work.

GROSS: Now you've written about war crimes tribunals for Bosnia and Rwanda in
your book, "The Key to My Neighbor's House." Have you been following the
Milosevic trial, and have you learned any, really, new, surprising things from
that trial?

Ms. NEUFFER: I've learned a lot of sort of inside baseball details. The most
overarching surprise, of course, is that Milosevic himself and his, you know,
uncanny skill in the courtroom to defend himself, perhaps more a surprise than
I would have anticipated. The trial is just now moving into the phase where
they're addressing Bosnia, and we're beginning to read it a little bit more
closely and looking forward to learning some new things.

GROSS: A question that's come up is: Should journalists have to testify at
war crimes tribunals about the information that they have? And there have
been journalists who have been subpoenaed to testify. One in particular has
refused. And what has been the consequence of his refusal?

Ms. NEUFFER: I know that that case has been brought before the tribunal.
And, in fact, many major news organizations, including my own, have entered
into a Friend of the Court brief supporting his decision not to testify.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. NEUFFER: The argument is, in fact, that--and one with which I agree--that
it's a very slippery slope if you require journalists to testify. I'll try to
give you a specific example. Let's say I'd been required to testify about
what I learned about General Kerstich(ph) and his role in the Srebrenica
massacres. Well, all of that stuff was given to me by people who were
terrified to talk in Bosnia, terrified that their name's printed. They were
Bosnian Serbs who stepped forward and felt so strongly that the truth needed
to get out that they were willing to implicate their own kind, so to speak,
the fellow Bosnian Serbs, and to be able to say, `Look, not all of us are bad.
Some people committed this horrible war crime.' They helped, you know, replace
collective guilt with individual accountability. They showed extraordinary
bravery. But I would not have been able to have carried out those interviews
if I had known at the time when I did it that I might, in fact, be subpoenaed
to appear before the War Crimes Tribunal.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. NEUFFER: I could not have given my word that I could keep their identity
secret. So that's my concern, I think many news organizations' concern, about
this particular case.

GROSS: Is there information you would voluntarily give up to the War Crimes
Tribunal because you didn't think it would hurt victims and that it might help
get justice?

Ms. NEUFFER: Yeah. No, it's obviously my company's decision whether or not
they want me to testify or whether or not they want me to turn information
over. But there was a time when I led war crimes investigators to a mass
grave. They wouldn't have found it otherwise. And I didn't see that it was
any dereliction of duty. I happened to be in the neighborhood. I had just
stumbled on it. It was clear that it needed to be safeguarded, that it needed
to be exhumed, that it was an important piece of evidence, and so I, you know,
said, `Hey, follow me. I'll show you where it is.' I didn't feel that that
compromised me in any way as a journalist. And I...

GROSS: Did your paper support you in that decision?

Ms. NEUFFER: You know, there wasn't time to check with them at that point in
time. I felt that...

GROSS: After the fact?

Ms. NEUFFER: Yeah. No, I've never been criticized for that.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. NEUFFER: And I think most of us in one way, shape or form--you know, by
the sheer fact of the reporting we did--a lot of the reporting we did in
Bosnia, in fact, helped the War Crimes Tribunal. So I think that it's--you
know, we end up often chasing the same things. I don't work for them; they
don't work for me, but I don't see any problem with pointing certain things
out that are evident and that need to be secured to them.

GROSS: Can you envision a time when Saddam Hussein would be tried for war
crimes or leaders of al-Qaeda?

Ms. NEUFFER: Well, I certainly hope so, Terry. You know, I have great
respect for the process of war crimes tribunals. And we now, of course, have
an international criminal court that's been established. Even though the
United States is not a party to it, other countries are. I think that
they're, you know, as I said before, replacing collective guilt, i.e. all
Iraqis are guilty with individual accountability; it's Saddam Hussein who made
the orders. It's an incredibly important thing to do in demystifying what has

When you get into countries like this, you realize how many people have no
choice but to kind of try to stay in the darkness and avoid detection by a
dictator like Saddam Hussein, how many people truly do suffer. The Iraqi
people are not our enemies; Saddam Hussein is. So, yes, I hope there is a day
that, in fact, we do have Saddam Hussein and he does go on trial, whether that
is an ad hoc War Crime Tribunal probably would have to be or whether some
other form of justice.

As to al-Qaeda, again, I hope that is the case. I remain concerned by the
administration's decision to have military tribunals. I don't think military
tribunals are as open or render quite as internationally biased an accounting,
or as internationally neutral, I guess would be a better way of putting it, as
a UN war crimes tribunal. I think it has and looks like victor's justice, and
I think that's unfortunate.

GROSS: Are you pretty confident that there's going to be a war?

Ms. NEUFFER: Yes, I am. At least I'm confident that the Bush administration
wants us to believe that there's going to be a war. Whether that is a tactic
to back up this resolution with a very, very effective threat of force or
whether it is because there really will be a war I can't tell you. But at
this point in time, I feel pretty convinced that we will see a war with Iraq
perhaps early next year.

GROSS: Well, Elizabeth Neuffer, I wish you good luck and safe travel. Thank
you very much.

Ms. NEUFFER: It's been my pleasure, Terry. Thank you.

GROSS: Elizabeth Neuffer is a foreign affairs and UN correspondent for The
Boston Globe. Her book, "The Key to My Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in
Bosnia and Rwanda," has just come out in paperback.

Coming up, Milo Miles reviews the new box set "Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers:
The Complete Specialty Recordings."

This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: New box set "Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers"

Sam Cooke was one of the earlier stars of soul music. He was the first black
performer to run his own label, and he scored 29 Top 40 hits between 1957 and
1965. In '64, he was shot dead in a Los Angeles motel. Well before he
entered the pop charts, Cooke was a star on the gospel circuit with the group
The Soul Stirrers. Music critic Milo Miles reviews a new box set of Sam
Cooke's early work.

(Soundbite of music)

THE SOUL STIRRERS: The band I see as I walk along the street, that's heaven
to me. Do-do, do-do, do-do, do-do-do-do-do.

Mr. SAM COOKE: A little flower that blooms in May...


Mr. COOKE: ...a lovely sunset at the end of a day...


Mr. COOKE: ...someone helping a stranger along the way...

THE SOUL STIRRERS: That's heaven to me.

Mr. COOKE: ...that's heaven to me. Whoa.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Do-do-do-do-do.

Mr. COOKE: The feeling I have...

MILO MILES reporting:

I worry nowadays that not enough people know about Sam Cooke. What you miss
is not only his wondrous songs, but a poignant, heart-breaking life story. It
seems to me there are two ways to look at the course of his career. One is
the harsh judgment version. Here, Cooke is the shining matinee idol of '50s
gospel who betrayed the sacred by straying into pop. He paid the price with
his sordid death at age 29 in a situation that involved a dalliance with a
young female fan.

The more compassionate version hold that Sam Cooke followed his destiny, that
spurning pop music would have been the real betrayal of his talent. Oddly
enough, I think the compassionate version is reinforced by the new set, "Sam
Cooke With The Soul Stirrers: The Complete Specialty Recordings."

The best reason to go for a box set is that the collected tunes tell a story,
and these do. As the story begins, The Soul Stirrers make an unlikely
launching pad for a pop star, but Cooke isn't very convincing in the old-time
religion mode. The more he finds his own singing style, the more it sounds
like he has a teen-age crush on Jesus.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. COOKE: Somebody knows when I am tempted. Somebody cares when things go
wrong. Somebody's love is always there to guide you and make you strong. Oh,

Lord, I have a friend.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Ooh. I have a friend.

Mr. COOKE: He's above all others.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Above all others.

Mr. COOKE: His love is so far...

THE SOUL STIRRERS: His love is far...

Mr. COOKE: ...beyond others.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: ...beyond the others.

Mr. COOKE: Eternal life...

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Yes, eternal life...

Mr. COOKE: ...yours to know him.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: yours to know him.

Mr. COOKE: Savior divine...


Mr. COOKE: ...friend of mine.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: He's a friend of mine.

Mr. COOKE: Lord, I cannot tell...

MILES: Cooke went even further along this road with his original tune "Touch
the Hem of His Garment," one of his most celebrated sides of The Soul
Stirrers. That's a remarkable two minutes. There's a bursting passion for
redemption in this world, not the next. But also, there's no mistaking that
the woman supplicant who just wants to touch the hem of Jesus' garment is
exactly like a frenzied fan as a gospel revival or a soul review.

(Soundbite of "Touch the Hem of His Garment")

Mr. COOKE: Well, there was a woman in the Bible days. She had been sick,
sick so very long. But she heard my Jesus was passing by, so she joined the
gathering throng. And while she was pushing her way through, someone asked
her, `What are you trying to do?' She said, `If I could just touch the hem of
his garment, I know I'll be made whole.' She cried, `Oh, Lord.'


Mr. COOKE: `Oh, Lord. Oh, Lord.'


Mr. COOKE: `Oh, Lord.'


Mr. COOKE: Said, `If I could just touch the hem of his garment, I know I'll
be made whole.' And, oh, she spent her money...

MILES: In the same year that Cooke recorded "Touch the Hem of His Garment,"
he made his first secular "Love Sides for Specialty."(ph) These are not
outstanding performances, except that some sound like warm-ups for "You Send
Me." But they are also not deformations of Sam Cooke's sensibility. He was
too warm, too intimate for gospel. His voice was made to capture your heart
when there was just the two of you listening. Even so, he was a well-rounded
performer who first learned how to lay out an audience during his years with
The Soul Stirrers. Here he is giving them the spirit at the Shrine Auditorium
in Los Angeles.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. COOKE: If I tell him, `Lord, I've got a desire ...(unintelligible).'

THE SOUL STIRRERS: ...(Unintelligible).

(Soundbite of audience responding)

Mr. COOKE: I'll tell him, `Lord, I'll be all right if I can get...


Mr. COOKE: ...nearer my Lord to thee.'

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Lord to thee.

Mr. COOKE: ...(unintelligible) nearer to thee.

(Soundbite of rhythmic clapping)

Mr. COOKE: I get all excited ...(unintelligible), Lord.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Nearer to thee.

Mr. COOKE: If I can get nearer. I want to get a little bit nearer to thee,

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Nearer to thee. Nearer to thee.

Mr. COOKE: If I can get nearer.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Nearer to thee. Nearer to thee.

Mr. COOKE: I want to get a little bit nearer to thee, Lord.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Nearer to thee. Nearer to thee.

Mr. COOKE: I, I want to be...


MILES: For those who need only the essence of youthful Sam Cooke, a single
disc collection called "Sam Cooke With The Soul Stirrers" does an excellent
job. It must be emphasized, though, that the "Complete Specialty Recordings"
tell the story of a young man who had been singing the Lord's music since he
was a child, but found he was ready for worldly love as an adult. It feels
right. Soul was Cooke's destiny. The unhappy end of his career was in no way
punishment for its honest and honorable beginning.

GROSS: Milo Miles lives in Cambridge. He reviewed "Sam Cooke & The Soul
Stirrers: The Complete Specialty Recordings" on Specialty records.


GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of music)

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Doom-doom-doom doom-doom-doom-doom...

Mr. COOKE: This is a mean old world to live in all, all by yourself.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh...

Mr. COOKE: This is a mean old world to live in all, all by yourself.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh...

Mr. COOKE: Oh, yes it is.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Doom-doom-doom doom-doom-doom-doom...

Mr. COOKE: This is a mean world in which to be alone without a friend
(unintelligible) at home.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh...

Mr. COOKE: This is a mean old world to live in all, all by yourself.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Doom-doom-doom doom-doom-doom-doom. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh.

Mr. COOKE: When you get in trouble, it's so nice to look around and see a
good friend standing there. Oh, yes it is.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh...

Mr. COOKE: When you're in trouble, it's so nice to look around a see a good
friend standing right there. Oh, yes it is.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Doom-doom-doom doom-doom-doom-doom. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh.

Mr. COOKE: In trouble, it's so nice to see a friend standing there--your
troubles and trials--ready to help you, to share. For this is a mean old
world to live in all, all by yourself.

THE SOUL STIRRERS: Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh...

Mr. COOKE: Whoa, whoa.

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Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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