Q&A with Sun reporter in Kuwait

JAMIE COSTELLO: Let's go to the phone right now. We're on the phone right now with Sun correspondent Todd Richissin, who was supposed to be in Iraq by now. But the trip out of Kuwait City never happened because of the frightening and tragic turn of events for journalists.
JOANN BAUER: That's right. Todd joins us now from Kuwait City. Good morning, Todd.

TODD RICHISSIN: Good morning.

JB: Tells us a little bit about where you are, what you're seeing, and what the mood is like.

TR: We're in Kuwait City still, and the reason for that is the sporadic fighting that is going on in the south. There had been hopes of taking reporters through checkpoints in Iraq, but those plans were scratched at the last minute because of the fighting going on there in Umm Qasr and Basra and elsewhere.

JC: I've seen the weather, the sandstorms going through. What's going on where you are right now?

TR: It's raining actually, pretty good out there. It feels good for us; I don't know what it's like farther north for our troops, I can't see that. I think you guys just ran a report. I know the forecast is not good for the next couple days and that has slowed some people down. They had hoped to keep moving north at a pretty good clip and they have just sort of dug in until some of the sand passes. From what I understand from military personnel here, apparently visibility is just about nil.

JB: Todd, will you be moving forward out of Kuwait City, and if so when, and how is your family reacting to that?

TR: Yeah, we will be moving north and, hopefully, it will be soon. I can tell you that on Saturday we made it as far as the checkpoint. Liz Malby, a Sun photographer, is here with me. We got up to the checkpoint, which is just a few miles south of Iraq, and it had just closed, and the reason it had just closed was because some journalists who were up further had been shot outside of Umm Qasr. Now, there were reporters here who, last Saturday, got around the checkpoint by four-wheeling it across the desert. Some of them wound up between Iraqi troops and American and British troops, which was not a good place to be.

Some of them ended up in Umm Qasr, which the military at the time had said was secure. So, they weren't taking outlandish chances in that case, but they were taking some chance. Well, when we got up to the checkpoint, people had been shot, [and] they weren't taking any chance, [so] they closed the checkpoint. Now, reporters are a little hesitant to go up north now. The problem is there is not a line to the south that you can stay behind and follow that line as it moves northward. As the troops move northward, they are leaving pockets of resistance behind. There are a number of reporters who did make it up into southern Iraq and have already turned around and come back, and they are going to wait for that area to be cleaned up.

JC: All right, Todd Richissin. Thank you very much.

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