Kenneth Rosen: Baghdad’s Underground Railroad

I’ve worked with fixers in roughly twelve foreign nations, many of them born and raised in the Middle East in the shadow of an American force presence. They’ve scheduled interviews, found documents, and made the impossible possible countless times. In those days and weeks spent reporting with them, I’ve also placed my life in their hands. I’ve always returned safely. They are sometimes trapped.

Watching American allies die in Iraq, Lt. Col. Steve Miska promised he’d do something to bring interpreters (the military equivalent of a journalist’s fixer) to safety in the States. His team creates what they called the Baghdad Underground Railroad, to get the “terps” to their repatriation interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan. Sponsors who would help the new immigrants were often friends and families of the soldiers with whom the interpreters worked in Iraq.

From warzone to the struggle of adapting to an American way of life, Miska chronicles what it takes for U.S. allies to get home safely in his new book Baghdad Underground Railroad: Saving American Allies in Iraq, from the United States Veterans Artists Alliance and Onward Press.

In a career spanning the Marine Corps War College, the National Security Council, and as a Task Force 1-2 Commander in Iraq, he worked with local teams tasked with rebuilding their homeland.