US military murder of journalists during invasion of Iraq
Over 1,100 journalists killed in decade-report
06 Mar 2007 18:05:15 GMT
By David Clarke
LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - More than 1,100 journalists and support staff have been killed carrying out their work in the past decade and the annual toll has jumped since 2003, the year of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a report said on Tuesday.
Hotel Journalism Gives American Troops a Free Hand
As the Press Shelters Indoors
By Robert Fisk
The Independent U.K.
Monday 17 January 2005
"Hotel journalism" is the only phrase for it. More and more Western reporters in Baghdad are reporting from their hotels rather than the streets of Iraq's towns and cities. Some are accompanied everywhere by hired, heavily armed Western mercenaries. A few live in local offices from which their editors refuse them permission to leave. Most use Iraqi stringers, part-time correspondents who risk their lives to conduct interviews for American or British journalists, and none can contemplate a journey outside the capital without days of preparation unless they "embed" themselves with American or British forces.
Rarely, if ever, has a war been covered by reporters in so distant and restricted a way. The New York Times correspondents live in Baghdad behind a massive stockade with four watchtowers, protected by locally hired, rifle-toting security men, complete with NYT T-shirts. America's NBC television chain are holed up in a hotel with an iron grille over their door, forbidden by their security advisers to visit the swimming pool or the restaurant "let alone the rest of Baghdad" lest they be attacked. Several Western journalists do not leave their rooms while on station in Baghdad.
So grave are the threats to Western journalists that some television stations are talking of withdrawing their reporters and crews. Amid an insurgency where Westerners - and many Arabs as well as other foreigners - are kidnapped and killed, reporting this war is becoming close to impossible. The murder on videotape of an Italian correspondent, the cold-blooded killing of one of Poland's top reporters and his Bulgarian cameraman, and the equally bloody assault on a Japanese reporter on the notorious Highway 8 south of Baghdad last year have persuaded many journalists that a large dose of discretion is the better part of valour.
February 18, 2005
Shooting the Messenger
The real issue in the Eason Jordan controversy is the US military's killing of
journalists in Iraq
by Jeremy Scahill
from the March 7, 2005 issue of The Nation
One of the most powerful executives in the cable news business, CNN's Eason
Jordan, was brought down after he spoke out of school during a panel
discussion at the World Economic Forum in January. In a rare moment of candor,
Jordan reportedly said that the US military had targeted a dozen journalists
who had been killed in Iraq. The comments quickly ignited a firestorm on the
Internet, fueled by right-wing bloggers, that led to Jordan's recanting,
apologizing and ultimately resigning after twenty-three years at the network,
"in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy."
But the real controversy here should not be over Jordan's comments. The
controversy ought to be over the unconscionable silence in the United States
about the military's repeated killing of journalists in Iraq.
Consider the events of April 8, 2003. Early that morning, Al Jazeera
correspondent Tareq Ayyoub was reporting from the network's Baghdad bureau. He
was providing an eyewitness account of a fierce battle between US and Iraqi
forces along the banks of the Tigris. As he stood on the roof of the building,
a US warplane swooped in and fired a rocket at Al Jazeera's office. Ayyoub was
killed instantly. US Central Command released a statement claiming, "Coalition
forces came under significant enemy fire from the building where the
Al-Jazeera journalists were working." No evidence was ever produced to bolster
this claim. Al Jazeera, which gave the US military its coordinates weeks
before the invasion began, says it received assurances a day before Ayyoub's
death that the network would not be attacked.
At noon on April 8, a US Abrams tank fired at the Palestine Hotel, home
office to more than 100 unembedded international journalists operating in
Baghdad at the time. The shell smashed into the fifteenth-floor Reuters
office, killing two cameramen, Reuters's Taras Protsyuk and José Couso of
Spain's Telecinco. The United States again claimed that its forces had come
under enemy fire and were acting in self-defense. This claim was contradicted
by scores of journalists who were in the hotel and by a French TV crew that
filmed the attack. In its report on the incident, the Committee to Protect
Journalists asserted that "Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the
ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international
In a chilling statement at the end of that day in Iraq, then-Pentagon
spokesperson Victoria Clarke spelled out the Pentagon's policy on journalists
not embedded with US troops. She warned them that Baghdad "is not a safe
place. You should not be there."
Eason Jordan's comment was hardly a radical declaration. He was expressing
common view among news organizations around the world. "We have had three
deaths, and they were all non-embedded, non-coalition nationals and they were
all at the hands of the US military, and the reaction of the US authorities in
each case was that they were somehow justified," David Schlesinger, Reuters's
global managing editor, said in November. "What is the US's position on
nonembeds? Are nonembedded journalists fair game?" One of the BBC's top news
anchors, Nik Gowing, said recently that he was "speak[ing] for a large number
of news organizations, many of whom are not really talking publicly about this
at the moment," when he made this statement about the dangers facing reporters
in Iraq: "The trouble is that a lot of the military--particularly the
American...military--do not want us there. And they make it very uncomfortable
for us to work. And I think that this...is leading to security forces in some
instances feeling it is legitimate to target us with deadly force and with
The US military has yet to discipline a single soldier for the killing of
journalist in Iraq. While some incidents are classified as "ongoing
investigation[s]," most have been labeled self-defense or mistakes. Some are
even classified as "justified," like the killing of Reuters cameraman Mazen
Dana, shot near Abu Ghraib prison when his camera was allegedly mistaken for a
rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Also "justified" was the killing of Al
Arabiya TV's Mazen al-Tumeizi, blown apart by a US missile as he reported on a
burning US armored vehicle on Baghdad's Haifa Street.
There have also been several questionable killings of journalists at US
military checkpoints, such as the March 2004 shooting deaths of Ali Abdel-Aziz
and Ali al-Khatib of Al Arabiya. The Pentagon said the soldiers who shot the
journalists acted within the "rules of engagement." And Reuters freelancer
Dhia Najim was killed by US fire while filming resistance fighters in November
2004. "We did kill him," an unnamed military official told the New York Times.
"He was out with the bad guys. He was there with them, they attacked, and we
fired back and hit him."
The military has faced almost no public outcry at home about these killings.
In fact, comments by Ann Cooper of the Committee to Protect Journalists have
been used to discredit Jordan's statement at Davos. "From our standpoint,"
Cooper was widely quoted as saying, "journalists are not being targeted by the
US military in Iraq." But as CPJ's Joel Campagna acknowledges, the Pentagon
has not been cooperative in the investigations of many of these journalist
killings. The fact is that CPJ doesn't know that the military has not targeted
journalists, and there are many facts that suggest that it has. These include
not only the events of April 8, 2003, but credible accounts of journalists
being tortured by the US military in Iraq, such as Salah Hassan and Suheib
Badr Darwish of Al Jazeera [see Christian Parenti, "Al Jazeera Goes to Jail,"
March 29, 2004] and three Reuters staffers who say they were brutalized by US
forces for seventy-two hours after they filmed a crashed US helicopter near
Falluja in January 2004. According to news reports, the journalists were
blindfolded, forced to stand for hours with their arms raised and threatened
with sexual abuse. A family member of one journalist said US interrogators
stripped him naked and forced a shoe into his mouth.
In many of these cases, there is a common thread: The journalists, mostly
Arabs, were reporting on places or incidents that the military may not have
wanted the world to see--military vehicles in flames, helicopters shot down,
fierce resistance against the "liberation" forces, civilian deaths.
In his resignation letter, Jordan wrote, "I never meant to imply U.S.
acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists." The
families and colleagues of the slain journalists believe otherwise. And it is
up to all journalists, not just those in Europe and the Middle East, to honor
the victims by holding their killers responsible. In Spain, the family of
cameraman José Couso has filed a lawsuit against the US soldiers who killed
him, and they plan to travel to the United States for the anniversary of his
death this spring. Will any network have the courage to put them on the air?
Jeremy Scahill, who has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq, is a
journalist with the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!
www.democracynow.org. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2005 The Nation
Fri 31 Dec 2004
Record Number of Journalists Killed in 2004
By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent
The number of journalists and other media staff killed around the world reached a record high in 2004.
The death toll has reached 120, mainly because of the conflict in Iraq which has claimed the lives of more than 50 journalists and other members of the media this year.
There has been a spate of deaths in the Philippines, while the most recent incidents have been in Sri Lanka and Gambia.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which compiled the figures, called for investigations into cases where reporters were targeted for attacks.
IFJ general secretary Aidan White said 2004 had been a year of "unprecedented horror" for journalism.
He said: “Our figures show that this is the worst single year on record.
"Many of the deaths could not have been avoided, but targeted killings as we have witnessed in the Philippines, Iraq and the Gambia must be properly and publicly investigated and the killers brought to justice."
The Toronto Star December 28, 2003
Some reporters acted bravely
By ANTONIA ZERBISIAS
It was the bravest of years - and the most cowardly of years.
Bravest because so many journalists risked life, limb and sanity to cover the war in Iraq - not to mention other hellholes which, indeed, never got much mention in the media.
Cowardly because so many other journalists, particularly those embedded in Washington, risked not even being dropped from a cocktail party invitation list by asking the questions that needed to be asked.
According to Reporters Without Borders, 31 journalists and two media assistants were killed in 2003, most of them in Iraq. Worldwide, 126 were imprisoned while 60 "cyber dissidents'' - people who post stuff online that their governments don't like - landed in jail.
Killing the Messengers
Journalists Die, the Networks Lie, Iraqis Ask "Why?"
Fury at US as attacks kill three journalists
Press Watchdogs Protest U.S. Killings of Journalists in Baghdad
Committee to Protect Journalists
Are Independent Journalists Being 'Executed' By
the Bush Administration?
Are Independent Journalists Being 'Executed' By the Bush Administration?
Since the war started, a total of at least half a dozen journalists have been killed - an outrageously high percentage of casualties - the highest for any single group of people in the war zone, from the civilian support personnel to the soldiers themselves. It seems way, way beyond coincidence that most of the fallen journalists are non-embedded writers dedicated to telling the truth. The latest death is British reporter (Channel 4, ITN) Gaby Rado, covering the action in Northern Iraq. Rado died under mysterious circumstances in a "fall" from a hotel roof. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2900379.stm Not long before, fellow ITN journalist Terry Lloyd was killed in Iraq by 'friendly fire' from Allied forces. Lloyd was one of the "unilateral" reporters, travelling freely around the war zone, as opposed to being "embedded."
A Frightening Overview:
There are two alternative theories here:
I am putting my money on theory 2, especially as McAllester has written
extensively on the plight of Iraqi children in the wake of UN sanctions
and received the full accreditation of the Iraqi government to write on
Iraq just a few months back.
Robert Fisk: Did the US murder journalists?
Reporters Without Borders accuses US military of deliberately firing at journalists http://www.amin.org/eng/uncat/2003/apr/apr082.html
Dark day for journalists
Is Al-Jazeera Being Targeted by the U.S. Government ?
Secret US Mass Graves of Green Card Hopefuls.. a scoop in progress
KS, 25.08.2003 05:58
Did the Pentagon order the assassination of a journalist in order to cover
up secret mass burials of dead U.S. soldiers and U.S.- contracted mercenaries
in the deserts around Baghdad? What is really behind the killing of my colleague
and friend, the Palestinian Reuters cameraman, Mazen Dana, in Bagdad?
Secret Burials in the Desert
Ultimate Disrespect for U.S. Army Personnel and US-Contracted Mercenaries in Iraq
Aug. 19, 2003
By Kawther Salam
The Daily Life of Kawther Salam
Did the Pentagon order the assassination of a journalist in order to cover up secret mass burials of dead U.S. soldiers and U.S.- contracted mercenaries in the deserts around Baghdad?
What is really behind the killing of my colleague and friend, the Palestinian Reuters cameraman, Mazen Dana, in Bagdad? Is the Pentagon really scared of the media telling the U.S public what is really going on in Iraq? Do the criminals in the Pentagon want to cover their crimes against their own soldiers by killing journalists in Iraq? If so, then this is what can be called organized terror.
The U.S. troops obviously felt threatened and in big danger due to the Palestinian Reuters cameraman, Mazen Dana, who was investigating a story about secret burials of U.S. mercenaries and soldiers in mass graves in far-away places in deserts strips around Baghdad, burials which had obviously been authorized by the commanders of the U.S. army.
Mazen's scoop began when he realized that that the U.S. troops were burying human bodies wrapped in plastic in the desert. Initially, he thought that these were the bodies of Iraqi people. He kept watching and investigating the activities of the U.S. troops. He kept developing his scoop, working around different U.S. units and military jails, trying to figure out where the bodies had come from, and whether they were Iraqi or not.
Ultimately he found a source, a U.S. mercenary, who told him that those buried were not Iraqis, but mercenaries who had been promised green cards and U.S. citizenship in return for serving in the U.S. Army. Besides, according to this source, not few of those interred were Americans who had been killed in combat. Mazen had been able to film the activities of the U.S. army, and their secret mass graves. He was experienced in journalistic work in areas of conflict and under dangerous conditions. In our hometown Hebron, he had been covering the Israeli Duvdevan units, essentially death squads of the Israeli army which can not normally be filmed. Since he had become aware of what the Americans were doing in the desert, he kept the secret to himself. The intelligence units of the U.S. Army probably knew that Mazen was uncovering, and they must have feared that their secret desert burials would expose the Pentagon and the Army for involvement in a big scandal.
The U.S. Army prides itself of always bringing home their dead, and this ultimate disrespect for their own would certainly be frowned upon by the American society at large, even if not few of them were mercenaries. The story also had the potential of making foreigners think twice before joining the U.S. military forces as mercenaries, nobody wants to be disrespected in this most abject and impious way, not even those who would sign up as mercenaries.
During his last days, Mazen felt that the U.S. Army were observing him. Ten days before his death, he called home to Hebron and told his family that he feared for his life because of the story he was investigating, and he promised them to return as soon as he had finished his research. On Sunday, August 17, 2003, at noon and in bright sunshine, Mazen Dana was assassinated by the U.S. Army outside Abu Ghraib prison, where it had previously given him permission to film.
According to my colleague, Nael al-Shyoukhi, who was with Dana at the time of his death, the camera team was known to the U.S. military personnel at the prison. Al-Shyoukhi said that they had asked for permission to interview an officer, which had been denied. The soldiers had seen their IDs and knew about their mission and intentions.
Nael Al-Shyoukhi said "after we filmed we went into the car and prepared to go when a convoy led by a tank arrived and Mazen stepped out of the car to film. I followed him and Mazen walked three to four meters. We were noted and seen clearly. The soldier on the tank shot at us. I lay on the ground. I heard Mazen, I saw him scream and touch his chest with his blood-covered hand".
The Pentagon Response: The U.S officials said that the troops mistook Mazen's camera for a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. This was obviously a lie which nobody, not even naive people, will be able to believe. How can it be that the U.S. troops have the most technologically advanced sensors on their weapons, but will not be able to distinguish a camera from an RPG launcher at 50 meters in broad daylight? Did the U.S. troops learn to lie from their friends at the Israeli Defense Force (IDF)? This killing was a prepared assassination by the U.S troops in order to cover up their criminal activities, which Mazen had discovered and was about to expose.
When I received the news of the killing of Mazen Dana, I thought for the first moment that the Israeli government was involved or in some way behind it. Mazen Dana had troubled the Israeli occupation more than enough for one man.
The Israeli occupation forces targeted Dana several time during this Intifada, and even before that during the 'peaceful' period. He was shot in Hebron in 1998 by the IDF, together with his colleague Nael Al-Shyioukhi. Mazen Dana had been exposing the daily crimes of killing and collective murder in Hebron and the occupied territories, and he was shot again by the IDF during 2001. The Israelis were obviously not interested in his return from Iraq to Hebron.
All Palestinians know that the U.S. Pentagon and the Israeli Defense Ministry do work together closely. Maybe we do not realize this, but we are killed by the IDF soldiers who use U.S. bullets, grenades, rockets and missiles, airplanes and attack helicopters. The U.S is constantly providing Israel with highly developed killing machinery, around $2 billions worth a year. That is more military aid than any other country receives from the U.S. It is also more aid (period) than any other country receives from the U.S. A quarter of the enormous military budget of the Jewish state is paid for directly by the U.S. American soldiers also did train Israeli soldiers to raid the Jenin refugee camp and other cities, they trained the Israelis in assassinating, killing and chasing "wanted" people, and in other so- called 'counter-insurgency techniques'. They also offered the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) Minister Muhammad Dahlan to train his forces to do the same. Soon the P.A. forces, instead of the IDF, will probably be chasing and murdering Palestinians.
When I called Hebron to offer my condolences to Mazen Dana's family and to inquire about his death, I was informed about his investigation in Iraq on secret mass burials by the U.S. soldiers in the desert. This made me worry about my other colleague, Nael Al- Shyioukhi, who was still in Iraq, so I delayed writing this story until after Nael's safe return to our home town, Hebron.
Mazen Dana held a B.A. in English Literature from Hebron University. He was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine during his time in the University. For this he was a targeted and harassed by the Israeli occupation forces, even after he stopped his political activities.
During the first Intifada I worked for a short while with Mazen as a correspondent for Voice of Palestine Radio in Jerusalem. After that I worked with Al Fajir Newspaper, and Dana continued his work with different media. He was investigated several times by the Israeli civil administration in Hebron. He became a peace supporter after the signing of the Oslo Agreement in 1993, and he then became a member of Fatah Peace Wing. He had been employed by Reuters since 10 years as a cameraman to cover the conflict in his hometown Hebron. Mazen Dana and Nael Al-Shyoukhi had been working together for eight years when Mazen was shot last Sunday.
The Israeli occupation intelligence units continued considering Mazen Dana as a member of Popular Front party even after he discontinued his activities with it, and they did not grant him the an Israeli Government Press "GPO" Card, or a travel permit to visit the Reuters office in Jerusalem.
Dana was attacked several times by Jewish settlers and IDF soldiers in Hebron. In May 2000, Dana was shot in the leg with a rubber-coated bullet while filming Palestinian youths throwing stones towards the Hebron area H2 under Israeli control. Dana was arrested hundreds of times. In 1997 Dana was arrested as a result of filming IDF soldiers who were arresting me during an incident at the Halhol bridge border, where the IDF soldiers had caused the death of a nine-year-old child by preventing him from reaching a hospital in Hebron during a curfew which was imposed on the city, during peace time.
Dana established the Journalist House of Hebron during the year 2002 despite the daily attacks and the constant threat of arrests made by the IDF soldiers against all Hebronite journalists.
The last time I met my colleague Mazen Dana was at the end of May 2002 at our colleague's house: Hossam Abu Allan, an Agence France- Presse (AFP) photographer who was arrested and imprisoned by the IDF for five months without being tried or even charged. At 10:30 on the same night Mazen drove with me in his jeep to "Al-Beweareh" mountain to film IDF tanks, 54 armed vehicles were arriving to Hebron on Road 60 as the military was preparing to re-occupy the city of Hebron, the area H1, normally under PA control.
Mazen Dana had a long experience as a television cameraman, and he had experienced the hardships and harsh working conditions of journalistic work under military occupation. He left behind a wife and four wonderful children in Hebron. He also left a courageous and historic journalistic experience and a legacy for other journalists behind him.
Mazen Dana left behind him a wife and four cute children in Hebron. He left a courageously historical journalistic experience and signs for other journalists behind him.
To most people, his death is but one more display of the abjectly criminal behavior of the gang in control at the Pentagon. To those of us who knew him and who worked with him, he will be a missed and respected colleague, friend, community and family member.
Reuters Cameraman Killed For Filming U.S. Graves: Brother
Tuesday, August 19 2003 @ 06:51 PM EDT"'Mazen told me by phone few days before his death that he discovered a mass grave dug by U.S. troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow comrades killed in Iraqi resistance attacks ..'"
By Awad al-Ragoub
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - The brother of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana said he was deliberately murdered for discovering mass graves of U.S. troops killed in Iraqi resistance attacks.
"The U.S. troops killed my brother in cold blood," Nazmi Dana told IslamOnline.net in exclusive statements.
"The U.S. occupation troops shot dead my brother on purpose, although he was wearing his press badge, which was also emblazoned on the car he was driving," he said.
He also recalled that his brother had obtained a prior permit from the U.S. occupation authorities in Iraq to film in the site.
On Sunday, August 17, U.S. troops shot dead the award-winning Reuters cameraman while he was filming near the U.S.-run Abu Gharib prison in Baghdad.
His last pictures show a U.S. tank driving toward him outside the prison walls, several shots ring out from the tank and the camera falls to the ground.
"Mazen told me by phone few days before his death that he discovered a mass grave dug by U.S. troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow comrades killed in Iraqi resistance attacks," Nazmi said.
"He also told me that he found U.S. troops covered in plastic bags in remote desert areas and he filmed them for a TV program. We are pretty sure that the American forces had killed Mazen knowingly to prevent him from airing his findings."
Nazmi said that the U.S. occupation troops were slowing down the transfer of his brother’s body to his hometown city of Al-Khalil (Hebron) in the West Bank.
"At the very beginning, the Americans refused to transfer his body outside Iraq. After Reuters intervened they offered to allow us to take the body to Jordan by road but we refused because of the state of insecurity in Iraq," he said.
"Thanks to Reuters international and diplomatic contacts, the U.S. troops reluctantly agreed to transfer the body on an army plane to Kuwait. From there, the body will be flown to Jordan and finally Palestine to be laid to rest," added the grieved brother.
Mazen's wife, Umm Hamza, did not rule out that the U.S. troops targeted her husband personally, noting they had agreed to give him a permit to film Abu Gharib prison and then he was directly shot dead by two U.S. tanks.
Resolved as she was, Umm Hamza said the death of her husband came as a bombshell, especially that she expected him to be killed while covering the developments in Palestine for his bravery and rare heroism.
"Filming Abu Gharib was his last mission; he was scheduled to leave Baghdad after getting the job done.
"I lost the dearest man to my heart, he was caring and was loved by all his friends and relatives," she lamented.
Mazen’s camera was the Israeli settlers' archenemy, given that he exposed to the entire world their terrorism against the Palestinians and their wildcat outposts sprawling in four Al-Khalil posts.
His death cast a pall of sadness over the Palestinian territories and reporters, who mourned him as "a matchless colleague."
All international and local news agencies sent cables of condolences to his family, lauding his patriotism and determination to uncover the truth wherever it was.
The Palestinian information ministry and press syndicate issued two separate statements, condemning the attack on Mazen and the continued targeting of journalists.
The two statements demanded the U.S. to show some respect for human beings, particularly reporters, pointing out that Mazen was a distinguished journalist who did his best to serve his country and cause.
The ministry further urged all Arab and international press unions "to open a probe into this crime and expose to the entire world the murderers who have blood on their hands and put them on trial."
Furthermore, dozens of Palestinian journalists protested on Tuesday morning in Al-Khalil at the killing of Mazen.
The marchers put on a peaceful demonstration from the House of the Palestinian Press established by the deceased and other journalists.
In Bethlehem, journalists also held a mock funeral for Mazen, denouncing the U.S. occupation of Iraq and displaying placards condemning his "assassination."
A U.S. military inquiry has recently exonerated an American tank crew for firing on a Baghdad hotel housing journalists, killing two foreign reporters and wounded three others.
THE U.S. WAR AGAINST WAR CORRESPONDENTS (linked from the Progressive Review
PHILIP KNIGHTLEY, OBSERVER, UK - The Pentagon made it clear from the beginning of the Iraq war that there would be no censorship. What it failed to say was that war correspondents might well find themselves in a situation similar to that in Korea in 1950. This was described by one American correspondent as the military saying: 'You can write what you like - but if we don't like it we'll shoot you.' The figures in Iraq tell a terrible story. Fifteen media people dead, with two missing, presumed dead. If you consider how short the campaign was, Iraq will be notorious as the most dangerous war for journalists ever. This is bad enough. But - and here we tread on delicate ground - it is a fact that the largest single group of them appear to have been killed by the US military.
Brigadier General Vince Brooks, deputy director of operations, has told us the Americans do not target journalists. But some war correspondents do not believe him, and Spanish journalists have demonstrated outside the US embassy in Madrid shouting 'murderers'. I believe that the traditional relationship between the military and the media - one of restrained hostility - has broken down, and the US administration has decided its attitude to war correspondents is the same as that set out by President Bush when declaring war on terrorists: 'You're either with us or against us.'
Journalists prepared to get on side - and that means 100 per cent on side - will become 'embeds' and get every assistance. Any who follow an objective, independent path, the so-called 'unilaterals', will be shunned. And those who report from the enemy side will risk being shot.
The media should have seen it coming. Last year the BBC sent one of its top reporters, Nik Gowing, to Washington to try to find out how it was that its correspondent, William Reeve, who had just re-opened the Corporation's studio in Kabul and was giving a live TV interview for BBC World, was blown out of his seat by an American smart missile. Four hours later, a few blocks away, the office and residential compound of the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera was hit by two more American missiles.
The BBC, Al-Jazeera, and the US Committee to Protect Journalists thought it prudent to find out from the Pentagon what steps they could take to protect their correspondents if war came to Iraq. Rear Admiral Craig Quigley was frank. He said the Pentagon was indifferent to media activity in territory controlled by the enemy, and that the Al-Jazeera compound in Kabul was considered a legitimate target because it had 'repeatedly been the location of significant al-Qaeda activity'. It turned out that this activity was interviews with Taliban officials, something Al-Jazeera had thought to be normal journalism.
Is Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 10, 2003 - 8:11 PM
CONTACT: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Is Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?
NEW YORK - April 10 - The Pentagon has held up its practice of "embedding" journalists with military units as proof of a new media-friendly policy. On April 8, however, U.S. military forces launched what appeared to be deliberate attacks on independent journalists covering the war, killing three and injuring four others.
In one incident, a U.S. tank fired an explosive shell at the Palestine Hotel, where most non-embedded international reporters in Baghdad are based. Two journalists, Taras Protsyuk of the British news agency Reuters and Jose Cousa of the Spanish network Telecino, were killed; three other journalists were injured. The tank, which was parked nearby, appeared to carefully select its target, according to journalists in the hotel, raising and aiming its gun turret some two minutes before firing a single shell.
Journalists who witnessed the attack unequivocally rejected Pentagon claims that the tank had been fired on from the hotel. "I never heard a single shot coming from any of the area around here, certainly not from the hotel," David Chater of British Sky TV told Reuters (4/8/03). Footage shot by French TV recorded quiet in the area immediately before the attack (London Independent, 4/9/03).
Earlier in the day, the U.S. launched separate but near-simultaneous attacks on the Baghdad offices of Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV, two Arabic-language news networks that have been broadcasting graphic footage of the human cost of the war. Both outlets had informed the Pentagon of their exact locations, according to a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists. As with the hotel attack, Pentagon officials claimed that U.S. forces had come under fire from the press offices, charges that were rejected by the targeted reporters.
The airstrike against Al Jazeera killed one of the channel's main correspondents in Iraq, Tareq Ayoub, and injured another journalist, prompting Al Jazeera to try to pull its remaining reporters out of Baghdad for fear of their safety (BBC, 4/9/03). Personnel at Abu Dhabi TV escaped injury from an attack with small-arms fire.
Al Jazeera, which the Bush administration has criticized for airing footage of American POWs, has been attacked several times by U.S. and British forces during the war in Iraq. Its offices in Basra were shelled on April 2, and its camera crew in that city fired on by British tanks on March 29. A car clearly marked as belonging to Al Jazeera was shot at by U.S. soldiers on April 7 (Reporters Without Borders, 4/8/03).
International journalists and press freedom groups condemned the U.S. attacks on the press corps in Baghdad. "We can only conclude that the U.S. Army deliberately and without warning targeted journalists," Reporters Without Borders declared (4/8/03). "We believe these attacks violate the Geneva Conventions," wrote the Committee to Protect Journalists in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (4/8/03), referring to the protection journalists receive under the laws of war. The attacks on journalists "look very much like murder," Robert Fisk of the London Independent reported (4/9/03).
But the Pentagon, while expressing regret over the loss of life, rejected the idea that its forces did anything wrong, and appeared to place blame on the press corps for being in Baghdad in the first place: "We've had conversations over the last couple of days, news organizations eager to get their people unilaterally into Baghdad," said Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke (Associated Press, 4/9/03). "We are saying it is not a safe place; you should not be there."
Kate Adie, a British war correspondent during the 1991 Gulf War, told Irish radio prior to the war (RTE Radio1, 3/9/03; GuluFuture.com, 3/10/03) that she had received an even more direct threat from the U.S. military: "I was told by a senior officer in the Pentagon, that if uplinks-- that is, the television signals out of... Baghdad, for example-- were detected by any planes...of the military above Baghdad... they'd be fired down on. Even if they were journalists.... He said: ' Well...they know this.... They've been warned.' This is threatening freedom of information, before you even get to a war."
Clarke's claim that "we go out of our way to help and protect journalists" is belied by the U.S.'s pattern of deliberately targeting "enemy" broadcast operations. In the Kosovo War, the U.S. attacked the offices of state-owned Radio-Television Serbia, in what Amnesty International called a "direct attack on a civilian object" which "therefore constitutes a war crime." On March 25, the U.S. began airstrikes on government-run Iraqi TV, in what the International Federation of Journalists (Reuters, 3/26/03) suggested might also be a Geneva Convention violation, since it the U.S. was "targeting a television network simply because they don't like the message it gives out."
Al Jazeera has also been targeted prior to the Iraq War. During the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Al Jazeera's Kabul offices were destroyed by a U.S. missile. In a report by the BBC's Nik Gowing (4/8/02), Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, the U.S. deputy assistant defense secretary for public affairs, claimed that the compound was being used by Al Qaeda-- a charge the news outlet strongly denied-- and that this made it a "legitimate target." The U.S.'s evidence? Al Jazeera's use of a satellite uplink and its regular contacts with Taliban officials-- perfectly normal activities for a news outlet.
Quigley also made the improbable claim that the U.S. had not known the compound was Al Jazeera's office, and asserted that in any case, such information was "not relevant" to the decision to destroy it. "The U.S. military," concluded Gowing, "makes no effort to distinguish between legitimate satellite uplinks for broadcast news communications and the identifiable radio or satellite communications belonging to 'the enemy.'"
Whether the U.S. is deliberately targeting independent media, or is simply not taking care to avoid attacking obvious media targets, the failure to respect the protection afforded journalists under the Geneva Conventions is deeply troubling. Unfettered reporting from the battlefield is essential to bear witness to the realities of war.
How best to disarm the anti-war movement?
Kill the independent media and convey the illusion that "the War is over"
Killing the "Unembedded Truth"
by Michel Chossudovsky
www.globalresearch.ca 11 April 2003
The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO304B.html
Killing the Independent Media
The tragic death of two journalists on the 8th of April bears
a direct relationship to the timing of US military operations in Baghdad. The
killings were an integral part of the Pentagon's war plans. They marked a turning
point in the disinformation campaign.
On the 8th of April, Al Jazeera and Reuters were deliberately targeted. This was not an accident. In fact, it was consistent with Pentagon "guidelines" regarding the independent "unembedded journalists", who had been reporting since the beginning of the war under the "protection" of the Iraqi Ministry of Information.
A week prior to the war, the Pentagon had intimated that it would target the transmission of information by independent journalists, from their satellite mobile phones. (Of course, that does not mean that they would actually kill the journalists.) According to veteran BBC correspondent Kate Adie, in an interview with Irish TV, the Pentagon had:
"threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists. Uplinks is where you have your own satellite telephone method of distributing information, the telephones and the television signals. According to the Pentagon official they would be 'targeted down... Who cares.. ..They've been warned'" (See transcript of interview with Katie Adie, Pentagon Threatens to Kill Independent Reporters in Iraq)
The underlying objective was to unseat the "unembedded media" and disrupt factual and objective reporting from the war theatre. The killing of the journalists was also a warning to media organizations from Asia and the Middle East, which were covering the war from Baghdad, without due accreditation of the US military.
With the entry of US troops into Baghdad, the independent journalists, who were operating under the protection of the Iraqi Ministry of Information, were brought under the direct control of the US military. In turn, the approved USCENTCOM "embedded journalists", attached to various US and British divisions, were now reporting directly from Baghdad, overshadowing and silencing many of their independent "nonembedded" colleagues, who had been operating out of the Palestine Hotel.
This shift in jurisdiction over the independent journalists in Baghdad took place on the 8th of April, with the breakdown of the Ministry of Information and the killing of two independent journalists by US forces.
The Al-Jazeera correspondent Tariq Ayoub was killed when two US missiles struck Al Jazeera's Baghdad offices:
"The Al Jazeera cameraman was killed on the roof 'getting ready for a live broadcast amid intensifying bombardment of the city when the building was hit by two missiles.'"
"Another journalist died and four others were also injured when a US tank round later hit the Palestine Hotel where at least 200 international correspondents, including Al-Jazeera reporters, are staying..." (See Al Jazeera report, 8 April 2003)
"A Reuters reporter, photographer, television cameraman and television technician were taken to hospital after the blast. The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear." (Reuters, 8 April 2003)
According to the Pentagon, "American soldiers who killed two foreign journalists in a Baghdad hotel had 'exercised their inherent right to self-defence'. (quoted in the Advertiser, 10 April 2003).
The Pentagon's objective was clear: foreclose independent reporting of the ongoing battle of Baghdad. How to achieve this objective:
-intimidate the un-embedded journalists and oblige them to seek approval and/or accreditation with the US military,
-exert direct censorship on the flow of information out of Baghdad.
Targeting "Unembedded" Humanitarian Organizations
Coincidence? On the same day, April 8th, a convoy of seven vehicles of the Red Cross (ICRC), involved in re-supplyng the city's hospitals .was "caught in cross fire". Thirteen people were killed including the ICRC delegate in Baghdad (who is a Canadian). The vehicles "were clearly marked with large red crosses visible from a distance." (Health Newswire Consumer, 10 April 2003). The press reports suggest that the convoy had been deliberately targeted. The Red Cross was the last independent international aid agency operating in Baghdad. It suspended its operations that same day, April 8th.
The attack on the Red Cross, which had been working closely with Iraqi health officials and hospital staff, was also an important turning point. It laid the groundwork for bringing in the Pentagon's approved ("embedded") humanitarian organizations and aid agencies.
Saddam's Statue: A Media Staged Event
The following day, 9th of April, broadcast live by network TV, the whole world had its eyes riveted on the collapse of Saddam's 40 foot statue, portraying "a jubilant crowd."
A couple of hundred people at most, mainly by-standers gathered in Al-Fardus Square, while the statue was brought down by US Marines in a carefully staged media event. An Aerial photograph of the event suggests that the square had been "sealed off and guarded by tanks" (NYC Indymedia) . The Marines had draped an American flag over Saddam's statue and forcefully pulled it down with a tug from a tank recovery vehicle. A hundred or so people, at most, were shown on TV screens, rejoicing. (The Video is available online at Reuters. Photographs of the event are also available)
The "liberation footage" was replayed obsessively by network TV. "Iconic images" of the toppled statue were plastered on the front page of major newspapers. In chorus, the Western media portrayed this staged event as "historic", as a spontaneous mass movement of "thousands" of "happy Iraqis", celebrating the "Liberation of Iraq" by American troops.
Reuters first released the story on the 9th, following the Live TV newscast. The report said that "dozens" of people were celebrating the collapse of the statue. Hours later, this story had already been changed. The AFP report also acknowledged that "dozens" of people were rejoicing:
"Tanks had rumbled by late afternoon into the central Al-Fardus (Paradise) Square, where dozens of Iraqis quickly set about the massive bronze statue of the Iraqi president, a symbol of his 24-year iron-fisted rule.... Dozens of Iraqis jumped on the fallen figure shouting with joy and venting their anger by breaking it into pieces." (AFP, 9 April 2003)
Prime Minister Tony Blair's mouthpiece, the London Daily Express, casually inflated the "dozens" to "thousands":
"In historic scenes reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin Wall, thousands of civilians cheered as young men mounted the statue and tied a makeshift noose around Saddam's neck." (Daily Express, 10 April 2003)
Baghdad was not rejoicing. Since the outset of the war, several thousand civilians had been murdered and maimed by US and British troops. US occupation forces invoking the pretext of self-defense continue to shoot indiscriminately at civilians, as evidenced by several press reports. (See for instance ABC TV broadcast, 10 April 2003). Baghdad has a population of 5.6 million and most people, fearing for the lives, decided to stay home. With the entry of US troops, a reign of terror prevails in Baghdad.
The bringing down of the statue of Saddam played a crucial role in the Pentagon's propaganda campaign. Relayed by Fox News and CNN, it was immediately heralded by TV channels and news media around the World as marking an end to the war. While fighting was still ongoing, with heavy casualties on both sides, the Western media had decided in chorus: "It's in the end game now,"
In turn, the toppling of Saddam's statue had become a symbol of Iraq's "Liberation" by US forces, overshadowing everything else, including the atrocities committed by US and British forces.
Since the entry of US troops into Baghdad, civilian casualties are no longer front-page news. The slaughter of women and children and the crisis in the hospitals, is no longer an issue. The impending humanitarian crisis, reported by the relief agencies and the UN is no longer mentioned. Civilian deaths are view as "the price to pay" to "liberate Iraq":
"the number of Iraqi civilians accidentally killed has been far, far less than the number that would have been killed by Saddam Hussein's evil regime in the normal scheme of things" (Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 8 April 2003)
. "I'm sure there will be more casualties, but it is one of the prices we have to pay" (Washington Post, 10 April 2003)
"'one day' the mothers of children killed or maimed by British cluster bombs will thank Britain for their use (British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon quoted in the Independent, 5 April 2003)
In turn, because "the war is nearly over", detailed and accurate reporting from the war theatre is no longer deemed necessary.
Meanwhile, financial markets rejoice. Investors on Wall Street "applauded images of a statue of Saddam...[which] sent sent stocks surging..." (UPI, 9 April 2003).
This "liberation euphoria" also serves to disarm the critics and create divisions within the anti-war movement. A segment of the anti-war movement now views as "positive" the demise of the Iraqi regime, thereby tacitly signifying their approval of the US military intervention in support of "regime change".
"Peace", "reconstruction", "democracy" and "the post-Saddam era" are the buzz words. The main justification for waging the war (i.e. Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction) is no longer deemed relevant. The fact that the invasion was a criminal act in blatant violation of the UN charter and the Nuremberg charter on war crimes is no longer an issue. (For further details see Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal. Adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950 ).
The Pentagon's propaganda apparatus had taken over. The targeted killing of journalists in Baghdad marked a crucial turning point. Independent reporting out of Baghdad has been seriously impaired.
News media from Arab countries including Al Jazeera, which had been threatened for their "non-Western news perspective", were towing the line. Since the attack on its office in Baghdad, Al Jazeera's news reports seem to have taken on a different tone.
Virtually the entire news chain has become "embedded".
The War is not over
How best to disarm the anti-war movement and silence the critics: Convey the illusion that the war is over.
But the war is not over.
Heavy fighting is ongoing. The evidence suggests that a significant part of the Iraqi arsenal and troops is still intact. (For further details see the report of Richard Bennett published on April 5, 2003) . Thousands of Iraqi troops and armed civilians including volunteers from neighboring countries are confronting the invaders.
The Pentagon has acknowledged that it only controls part of the city.
The Battle of Baghdad is not over. The struggle against US occupation has commenced.
Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Centre for Research on Globalization 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .