Zoriah's blog

Zoriah: War Photographer Diaries: Embed Terminated by Marine Corps

A few hours after posting my story on the suicide bombing in Anbar Province, I was woken up by a young marine who took me to receive a phone call. A high ranking Public Affairs Officer told me that they were requesting that I remove my blog post immediately. I asked on what grounds, as media rules state that wounded and killed soldiers may be portrayed in images as long as their name tags and identifiable features are not shown. I had made very sure my images followed those guidelines, asking a large number of soldiers on base if they could find anything at all that would identify the dead. I made sure of this primarily out of respect for the families.

I was told that the Marine Corps would not allow even the pants or shoes of a injured or killed Marine to be depicted in images, This was a rule I had never been told or even heard of and I refused to remove the blog post. It seemed insane to me that the Marines would embed a war photographer and then be upset when photographs were taken of war.

A few minutes later my embed was terminated and a convoy was arranged, despite a fierce sand storm, to bring me to Camp Fallujah where I would wait for the first flight out of the Marines area of operation into the Green Zone.


I am still waiting for my flight out, one day later. Apparently they fear that someone is angry enough to do me harm, as I now must go to the chow hall with two armed escorts. However, I have had five or more marines approach me on base and tell me that the images were the best and most powerful, real photographs of war they had ever seen and that they supported my choices 100%.

I truly labored with the decision to post these images and I still do. But in my heart of hearts I know that people need to see and feel the reality of this horrible situation. How can things change if all that comes out of Iraq are sanitized, white-washed images of war designed for mainstream media outlets who focus on making money instead of the quality and truth in what they report.

For the families of the Marines, interpreters and the Iraqi police and civilians killed in the attack, you have my deepest condolences. These men were attending a city council meeting and working together to better their community. They were doing a good thing when something terrible happened to them.


I have done everything I can to post images that are not in any way identifiable. I have photographed to the best of my ability, hoping to capture images that speak the truth yet capture the horror and senselessness of these kinds of attacks in a dignified, emotional and artistic way. I have made sure there are ample warnings that the post is very graphic and very disturbing. I put it on a separate page that contains even more warnings and buffer text and images before the graphic content is displayed to avoid anyone stumbling on it by accident.

If despite my safeguards these images end up hurting people, I offer you my sincerest apologies. Please know that my intent is to show the true nature of the horrors of war in hopes that this will deter others from committing or accepting senseless acts of violence.


Zoriah - Gaza and the West Bank

A masked Palestinian man walks through a burning field ignited by Israeli tear gas canisters. Residents of the West Bank village of Ni'ilin came out in force to protest the deaths of a 10-year-old boy and his friend who were shot in their faces at point-blank range by Israeli Border Police, who recently set up a base on the outskirts of the village..  August, 2008.


Palestinians run from a barrage of tear gas canisters fired from an Israeli tank during protests in Ni'ilin.

A masked Palestinian man launches rocks from a slingshot toward Israeli Border Police after tear gas and bullets were fired into the crowd of protesters.

In-depth feature stories on the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank will be posted on this site during the coming weeks.


Zoriah - Iraq War Diary

After three days in Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, it is finally
time to leave for Baghdad. It is 5:45 in the morning and I am sitting
in a large hanger waiting for news on the flight. I sneak off now and
then to shoot a bit more of the latrine graffiti, as people found it
suspicious when I would just stand in the bathroom with my cameras out
waiting for stalls to open up.

Finally it is confirmed that we are leaving and after three more
hours of waiting and formalities, we are shuttled out to a landing zone
and led onto a large military airplane.
We are herded on like cattle and cramped into hanging mesh seats.
There is no air-conditioning and the thermometer on my watch reads
121f/49.4c. I look at the faces of the people on the plane with me as
the last remaining light is cut off by the closing doors.
After a little over an hour, we arrive at Baghdad International
Airport, known here is BIAP. Although the actual airport can be seen
in the distance, the military flights land on the opposite end of the
complex and drop us off near a series of hangers where incoming troops
are processed and transferred to other locations. I will end up stuck
in the hanger for the next half day, waiting for a helicopter to the
Green Zone.

Zoriah - Iraq War Diary

After forty-seven hours of travel time, I have arrived in Kuwait. Originating in Denver and stopping in Washington DC, New York City, Amsterdam and finally Kuwait. The journey was made virtually unbearable by toothache which made tears stream down my cheeks for a good part of those forty-seven hours. I was able to access my checked luggage in New York City and took out a bottle of pain killers but the Vikodin, Percoset and Tylenol with codeine did little to numb the pain…they just made my stomach upset and made it hard to walk. Kuwait is the main point of transfer or US soldiers and contract workers entering Iraq. It is not much to look at, a massive sea of beige sand, beige buildings and an often beige sky thanks to the numerous sand storms. The military base, Ali Al Salem, is even worse, hundreds of beige tents and camo-netting surrounded by airstrips and compounds. We arrive at the base late and I beg whoever I can find to help me with my tooth. I am taken to an Army Colonel who, after about forty-five minutes of fierce tugging is able to pull the tooth out. Now I have a huge hole in my mouth, but the pain is gone so it seems to be a fair trade. Now it is time to play the waiting game, showing up several times a day at ungodly hours for info on flights into Iraq. Plans get changed often due to sandstorms and other reasons, one of which, I believe, is to remain inconsistent to avoid rocket attacks on the planes. It looks like we will be leaving for Baghdad at 5:45 tomorrow morning, only a few hours away. Photography in Ali Al Salem is strictly forbidden, but I spent most of today shooting pictures without causing damage to America’s security. Some graffiti on the wall in the latrines caught my eye, so I went from stall to stall and photographed more than 60 toilette stalls. Ranging from profane and racist to funny, poetic philosophical, it was an interesting glimpse into the minds of the soldiers heading into, and out of Iraq. I cant sleep and am sitting in my cot trying to get some work done. I now have an infection in my left and look like I have been beaten (the missing tooth probably fills in the image perfectly.) I went to the shower trailer and put some antibiotic ointment on my eye but then got caught in a sandstorm on the way back to my tent. Now I have an infected eye covered with sandy ointment. None of this is unusual.


Which Photo Agency Is Hardest To Deal With? (Please use the comment section to address some of the issues you see.)
Agency VU
Lookat Photos
Zuma Press
Total votes: 690
Syndicate content