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2 on CBS Crew Killed in Iraq

Times Staff Writers

A car bomb on Monday killed a U.S. soldier and two CBS News crew members and severely wounded an American correspondent.

On-air reporter Kimberly Dozier, 39, and two British crew members were traveling with the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, which was working its way in a convoy through central Baghdad. Cameraman Paul Douglas, 48, and soundman James Brolan, 42, died at the scene of the attack.

The CBS crew was riding through the largely Shiite Muslim, middle-class shopping district of Karada and had stepped down from a Humvee when the car bomb ripped through the vehicles. It was unclear how the bomb was detonated.

The attack came as bloodshed surged across the country Monday. At least 33 people were shot dead or killed in bombings in Baghdad as an insurgency raged and the two major Muslim sects continued to swap rounds of attacks and assassinations.

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Targets for bomb attacks included the German Embassy, an Iraqi police station and a parking garage.

The most deadly attack struck a bus full of day laborers on their way to work at a base belonging to the Iranian dissident group Mujahedin Khalq. The blast north of Baghdad killed 11 workers and wounded 16 others. Most of the men were farmers and construction workers on the base; they had mixed religious backgrounds.

Another bomb targeting a patrol of Iraqi police in northern Baghdad killed eight people, most of them students from a nearby school. And Sunday night, two British soldiers died after a British patrol north of the southern city of Basra struck a roadside bomb.

After the Karada attack, Dozier was rushed into surgery at a U.S. military hospital in the Iraqi capital. She was in critical condition, and doctors were “cautiously optimistic” about her prognosis, a statement from CBS said.

“This is a devastating loss for CBS News,” Sean McManus, president of the network’s news and sports divisions, said in a statement. “Kimberly, Paul and James were veterans of war coverage who proved their bravery and dedication every single day. They always volunteered for dangerous assignments and were invaluable in our attempt to report the news to the American public.”

McManus said in a phone interview that Dozier was undergoing a second operation Monday evening at the military hospital in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and would probably be airlifted to a U.S. military base in Germany.

“We’re hoping and praying for a full recovery,” he said. “She is in the best possible hands and is getting medical attention that is probably better than any hospital in America.”

Army Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad rushed to the hospital Monday night to pay their condolences to CBS staffers and to monitor Dozier’s condition.

Dozier, who has been reporting in Iraq for three years, had returned to Baghdad this week after taking a break in Maryland to help her parents move, said anchor Bob Schieffer.

“We’re just sick to our stomachs about this,” he said in an interview. “This is a reminder that this is not a reality show. We see so much of this on television that we tend to look at these things as a movie. But people are getting hurt and killed out there. This brings it home.”

Schieffer said he had just spoken to Dozier last week about taking a break from the war zone. “I was encouraging her to take some assignments where there was less risk,” he said. “But she was just determined to go back to Baghdad and see the story through. It’s just a heartbreaker.”

“This is the story that most of all she wanted to cover,” McManus agreed. “She couldn’t wait to get back. The amazing thing is how many of our reporters really, really have a need and a desire to report from Iraq. It’s an amazing tribute to their dedication and their bravery.”

The attack suffered by the CBS News crew was an eerie echo of the one sustained by ABC anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt four months ago as they were traveling with Iraqi troops north of Baghdad.

On Monday, Woodruff released a statement saying he was devastated by the news.

“I have met both remarkable journalists Kimberly Dozier and Paul Douglas in so many different countries from Israel to Afghanistan,” he said. “Their work and intelligence have always impressed me, whenever our paths have crossed. James Brolan and I were embedded together, working very closely on many difficult stories. During the Iraqi invasion in 2003 we spent more than a month on the road with the Marines and it was often James’ wonderful sense of humor that kept us going.”

McManus said he had received personal calls and messages from the top executives at the other broadcast networks and cable news channels offering support.

He said he hadn’t contemplated whether the network should reevaluate how it was covering Iraq, but added, “I don’t think there are any more precautions that any of us could take that we’re not taking. The fact of the matter is that it is so, so dangerous and so unprecedented. It’s something that every news organization is grappling with trying to cover the story.”

Douglas had worked for CBS News for more than a decade in hot spots such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Linda; as well as two daughters, Kelly, 29, and Joanne, 26; and three grandchildren, Charlie, 8, Georgia, 4, and Kai, 18 months.

Brolan was a freelancer who had worked for the network for a year, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was part of the CBS News team that received a 2006 Overseas Press Club award for its reporting on the Pakistani earthquake.

Brolan’s family released a statement calling him “the best dad, the best husband and the best mate to be with in a tight spot out in the field.”

After serving in the British army, Brolan ran his own painting and decorating business before getting into TV as a sound recordist, according to his family.

“James had a natural way with people and was always in demand as the person to go with to the world’s trouble spots; always putting the locals at ease, winning friends everywhere he went and always putting in his best effort,” the statement read.

He is survived by his wife, Geri; and his two children, Sam, 18, and Agatha, 12.

The military had not yet released the name of the U.S. soldier killed in the blast.

With its steady bouts of kidnappings, bombings and shootouts, Iraq has proved a deadly place to practice journalism. Before Monday’s attack, the Committee to Protect Journalists had said that at least 69 journalists and 29 support staff members had been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion. The vast majority of the slain reporters have been Iraqi.

“Reporters who are embedding have always had a very realistic understanding of the dangers,” said Army Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a senior spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad. “They cover it every day.”

Reporters who have been covering the war in Iraq for the past three years have experienced a whittling away of their ability to gather information as the violence continues to spiral. Many have been forced to rely increasingly on Iraqi colleagues and reporters traveling with the military to get an accurate view of everyday life in Iraq.

“You develop coping strategies; you develop a little cocoon -- a place you feel safe,” Dozier told CNN in 2004. “I still go out and report the story, but I do it in a way that gives minimum danger to me and to the team of people I’m working with. We’re still trying to get the story out. I think if we would pull out, that would be a cop-out.”

Before reporting from Iraq, Dozier was the chief Middle East correspondent for New York affiliate WCBS-TV in Jerusalem, covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Iraq.

She also served as London bureau chief and chief European correspondent for CBS Radio News.

Among her peers, she has a reputation for kindness, collegiality and a knack for asking incisive questions.

“Kimberly is a very genuine person who wanted to go out and be with the soldiers and understand what they’re doing and feeling,” Johnson said. “This is exactly why she chose to do this story today.”

Stack reported from Baghdad and Gold from New York.


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