I moved to Washington, DC to attend graduate school at American University so that I could learn about national security, having missed the opportunity to cover the first Gulf War. I met my husband, Peter Bergen, in Afghanistan and we are fortunate to work on films together.
I produced and directed my first military documentary in 2000, based on the book BLIND MAN’S BLUFF by Chris Drew and Sherry Sontag. For this two-hour film I interviewed U.S. submariners and their Russian counterparts about spying on each other under the oceans during the Cold War.
In the decade and a half following 9/11, I worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Iraq, I documented as a team of US attorneys helped Iraqis build a legal case against Saddam Hussein for a film called THE CASE AGAINST SADDAM. I filmed at multiple mass graves as investigators dug up evidence and also spoke to victims who had been disfigured, or had relatives murdered by Saddam’s regime. I also documented in 2003 as the US efforts to install a democratic government gave way to an insurgency for a film called AFTER SADDAM.
In Afghanistan, I visited poppy farmers who were joining the ranks of the Taliban because US promises for replacement crops had failed. For another film, years later, I documented the resurgence of the Taliban and US efforts to understand why locals were not supporting the newly elected Afghan government.
In Pakistan, I embedded with the Pakistani military in the tribal areas, which straddle Afghanistan, on the front lines of their war against the Taliban. This territory is known as among the most dangerous places on earth--the dramatic yet treacherous landscapes show why it is such a hard place to fight.
In 2014, I produced and directed a film for National Geographic, AMERICAN WAR GENERALS. The film tells the stories of the top generals who led America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They had joined the Army as America’s war in Vietnam was winding down and they had vowed never to make the mistakes their generals had made in Vietnam. Nonetheless, these post-9/11 generals found themselves and their Army bogged down again in Vietnam-like insurgencies in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2011 Nicholls State University awarded me an honorary Doctorate of Letters for my work covering the military. It was a great honor to be home at the University where I first realized my love of journalism. I will be forever grateful to the University and to Professor Alfred Delahaye for their constant support throughout my career. At its fall fundraising gala, The Green Beret Foundation honored me with its Steel Magnolia Award for my work with Special Forces. I am deeply grateful to the organization for its recognition, but also for all the wonderful work it does to support veterans.