Reuters: U.S. Troops Killing and Detaining Journalists
Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger yesterday charged that U.S. troops in Iraq are intentionally targeting journalists in Iraq, including illegal detentions and murder.
The conduct of U.S. troops in Iraq, including increasing detention and accidental shootings of journalists, is preventing full coverage of the war reaching the American public, Reuters said on Wednesday.In a letter to Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Reuters said U.S. forces were limiting the ability of independent journalists to operate. The letter from Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger called on Warner to raise widespread media concerns about the conduct of U.S. troops with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee on Thursday.
Schlesinger referred to “a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by U.S. forces in Iraq.” He urged Warner to demand that Rumsfeld resolve these issues “in a way that best balances the legitimate security interests of the U.S. forces in Iraq and the equally legitimate rights of journalists in conflict zones under international law”.
At least 66 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed in the Iraq conflict since March 2003.
U.S. forces acknowledge killing three Reuters journalists, most recently soundman Waleed Khaled who was shot by American soldiers on Aug. 28 while on assignment in Baghdad. But the military say the soldiers were justified in opening fire. Reuters believes a fourth journalist working for the agency, who died in Ramadi last year, was killed by a U.S. sniper. “The worsening situation for professional journalists in Iraq directly limits journalists’ abilities to do their jobs and, more importantly, creates a serious chilling effect on the media overall,” Schlesinger wrote.
At least four journalists working for international media are currently being held without charge or legal representation in Iraq. They include two cameramen working for Reuters and a freelance reporter who sometimes works for the agency. A cameraman working for the U.S. network CBS has been detained since April despite an Iraqi court saying his case does not justify prosecution. Iraq’s justice minister has criticised the system of military detentions without charge.
Has Reuters hired Eason Jordan?
Strangely, the story provides little basis for the charges nor does it include the DoD’s response to these rather serious allegations, aside from their view that the incidents are “justified.” Juan Cole thinks Reuters is underselling the problem:
(It is worse. Reuters typically lists 5 or 6 deadline “security incidents” in its daily roundup, but we know that there are more like 60 or 70, about which the US military knows but of which the rest of us are kept in the dark).
No source is cited for this, however. It strikes me as rather contradictory–the military is doing something and keeping it a secret but we nonetheless know?–but it’s possible that there has been a continuing dialogue on his site that I’ve missed. Searchability of his site is limited to a Google bar. Typing “security incidents” reveals several results but most are false positives.
At any rate, one hopes the Pentagon will issue a statement pronto and that the Senate will indeed look into the matter. If it’s true, then serious shake-up is needed in the military hierarchy. If, as I’m inclined to believe, it’s not, then the record needs to be cleared.
both links via Memeorandum