April 11, 2008
Mike Huckabee: A security threat?
Posted: 01:44 PM ETIt’s 6:45am and I’m standing at the Little Rock airport in Arkansas, after covering potentially dangerous weather for the past two days. But it’s a great respite from the bombs and bullets of Baghdad. I’m usually overseas for the network; recently I’ve been working here in the U.S.Between the four of us — producer Alex Walker, photojournalist Ric Blackburn, video editor Greg Bowman and I. Apparently, only one of us actually had our eyes open because Alex said, “Hey, it’s Mike Huckabee.”We all looked up from our BlackBerries and walking directly towards us was the former U.S. presidential candidate.Alex was quick to cut him off — introducing himself and then us. At this point, my jaw is on the floor – because Huckabee is just strolling towards security alone. For the past six months, I’ve been overseas watching this man give speeches in front of thousands with loads of security.Alex quickly snapped into reporting mode.“So,” he says to Huckabee, “you could be vice president.”Huckabee laughed and answered sarcastically, “Yes, as you can see I’m waiting home by the phone with anticipation.”At one point during the brief conversation Ric flipped on his camera light – joking, “Hold on – let me make you feel like you’re at home.”We said goodbye and like the psychotic young reporter I am (maybe just psychotic … leave it for you to decide), I started quietly following Mike Huckabee through the airport.He reached security and the TSA guard looked at his boarding pass.“You’ve been selected for the random security check,” he said to the former governor.Am I in the twilight zone? (I muttered to myself). The guard looked up, asked for his ID – and then realized who it was.“Oh, did you change your ticket, or book it in the past 24 hours?” he asked sheepishly.“I changed it,” said Huckabee.“That must be what it is,” said the TSA guard.“Must be,” said Huckabee.So through the random security check went the man who garnered almost 270 delegates. Shoes off and a quick frisk – he made it through.The next question popped into my mind – where’s he going?So, I followed him some more.As it turns out — Huckabee was headed to Denver. I would have asked him what he was doing there but I figured — better to leave him wondering if I’m psychotic, than to open my mouth and confirm to him that I am.- Cal Perry/CNN International Correspondent
April 11, 2008
Married military life in Baghdad
Posted: 1507 GMTThey live at Camp Stryker, part of a massive military base in Baghdad, in an eight by 15-foot military trailer with two single beds pushed together. When we stop by to see them the electricity is out. They’re sitting on a storage box, holding a flashlight, chatting in the heat.But 27-year-old Captain Jessica Hegenbart and 33-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Brian Hegenbart — both Blackhawk pilots — say they’re not complaining.They’re married but under traditional Army rules they would not be allowed to live together. Now, under a policy quietly introduced in 2006, they can –- if housing is available.“I think it makes it easier for us to unwind than some of the other folks here that don’t have their spouse, their best friend, here to share that with,” Jessica says. “It’s harder to communicate over the phone and through email and that’s something that we’re really lucky to have.”I ask Brian if his fellow pilots are jealous. “Definitely!” he laughs. ”Maybe not true jealousy, but in a joking manner I get it all the time from the guys, you know! If I complain about somethin’ they’re like, whatever, yeah, your wife’s here!”But it’s no laughing matter to know up close the dangers your spouse faces. Brian flies infantry troops on assault missions against al-Qaeda in Iraq; Jessica transports military personnel. They fly the same black helicopters, with two gunners at each window, weapons ready.“I don’t usually worry,” Jessica says, “unless he’s getting to the point that he should be home and it’s going on a couple hours and I feel like he should have been home by now. So I try not to think about it otherwise.”Brian adds: “I call her right when I get back in the office, just to let her know I’m back, just so she doesn’t have to worry.”Back in their trailer — part of a row of the same white “mil vans” protected by concrete blast walls where other personnel, some of them married, live — the Hegenbarts show us the trappings of home: mini-refrigerator, microwave oven, a TV, Playstation and computer, all bought at the PX on base.Their identical uniforms hang together on a coat stand. Jessica says that on early mornings, when she dresses in the dark, she sometimes puts on Brian’s uniform by mistake.They’ve been married for three years but Army regulations still apply: no public displays of affection.I ask them if they ever hug or kiss each other in public on the base. “No m’am,” Brian says. “It’s hard sometimes but it can wait until we get back to the room.”Posted by: Jill Dougherty, U.S. Affairs Editor for CNN International