Interview with Steven Vincent’s widow

Interviewing Lisa Ramaci

Fayrouz Hancock, an Iraqi in America interviews the widow of writer Steven Vincent. Vincent was murdered in Basra in August, and a response by her to Juan Cole gained widespread attention after being noted here on MO.

There’s a lot of great information and detail, and I encourage you to check the whole thing out. I’m going to quote a couple points here, but if you’re at all interested in this story you really owe it to yourself to read the whole thing. First is this:

Q: Did you get Steven’s laptop back? If yes, are you going to publish his project about Basra?

A: I have not yet gotten it back, nor have I gotten his notebooks. They are being held by the FBI as evidence in his murder case. However, I have asked for copies of everything in both the computer and the books, and once I have access to them, then yes, I will try and write the book in his stead. I want to call it “Basra: The Final Journey of Steven Vincent.”

This is really great news. Really really great news. I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed that someone would try to fashion a book out of the material that Vincent had gathered and recorded. Although much, tragically, doubtless has been lost with the silencing of Vincent’s voice, there is still much to be gained and learned. The fact that Lisa is going to be closely involved is good, as she knows Steven’s mind and will be able to impart much of what he thought and felt on a personal level that others would simply be incapable of. It’s this personal touch that makes ‘In the Red Zone’ so astoundingly valuable.

Q: Have you heard from Nour after she left the hospital? If yes, how she’s doing?

A: Nour is still incommunicado. Despite my repeated requests to speak to her, the FBI and military are not allowing her to talk to anyone except the investigators trying to determine the facts of what happened the night of August 2, when she and Steven were abducted and shot. I have asked them to relay messages to her, such as that I hope she is doing better, and that if she wants asylum in the United States to get word to me, so I can sponsor her or get her a visa.

Nour, of course, was Vincent’s translator in southern Iraq. The fact that she’s still being held incommunicado is, I think quite troubling. Sure, I understand that she continues to be in danger from those that killed Vincent and wounded her severely, but this looks and sounds more than a little fishy. The tangled web in Basra is thousands of years old, and it seems unlikely that the efforts of our intervention in Iraq are going to do anything but make them more sticky.

There really is a lot, lot more. More on the state of things in Basra. More on the relationship between Nour and Vincent. More on exactly what Lisa Ramaci thinks of pseudo-intellectual know-it-alls.

Also, check out Hootsbuddy’s Place, which led me to Fayrouz Hancock’s in the first place. He notes the initial backlash of bad-intentioned commenters on Fayrouz Hancock’s site when the interview was first published that led to its temporary deletion. He also adds a few thoughts of his own regarding the allegations of a romantic relationship between Vincent and Nour that some claim “justifies” his murder:

There is a tawdry affair going on, alright. But it isn’t between a journalist and his translator. It’s between and among politicians who prate about democracy but cannot face what it means when the will of a majority is clear.

I’m just one old guy blogging. But I would like to know if Nour, the translator, is able to talk? I would like to know, if she is, why she is not permitted to do so? If not, then what happened? I would like to know why Lisa Ramaci is being ignored? Maybe I am missing something, but I would like to know why no one of any consequence seems to be looking into this case? According to her letter, Lisa Ramaci has * offered to sponsor Nour to come to the safety of the US! Something is wrong with this picture. I can’t put it all together, but something is definitely wrong.

Go read.

And if you haven’t read IN THE RED ZONE, by all means stop what you’re doing and go do so right now. I believe it to be a crucial book for our times, and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the issues we face in Iraq. And, yes, Vincent supported the use of military force to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein and install democracy in Iraq. But I can guarantee that critics of our invasion will find much that they find valuable in the book as well. Really. You want to read it.

I posted an extensive review of the book, with generous excerpts, here on MO in June. It begins here.