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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Let's talk killin' them journalists

   By Marion Delgado at 9:56 PM

I posted this:
Why absolutely everyone should be concerned about the death of Marla Ruzicka

I believe American forces, at least "special" ones, are murdering journalists, and insurgents and rebels and terrorists and third world government hit squads certainly are - in the case of Al Qaeda, torturing and murdering, as they did to journalist Daniel Pearl. Protesters can end up like Laurie Berenson or like Rachel Corrie. Surely it's disturbing to realize that the stakes somewhere else are probably higher than you want to play for.

This drew this response (not a bad response, and, frankly, it was very nice to see someone comment on one of our posts, but a response I can't agree with at all):

Come back to the shallow end with the rest of us. You are in over your head. Yes, the "war" is wrong but to say the insurgents are right is bordering on lunacy. Furthermore, to purport that journalists are being eliminated/assinated is obviously wild speculation. If you had any kind of proof you would either be dead or too scared to say so.

I regard as a place where you can cut throught the pussyfooting (look at how they tore up CBS and Newsweek over stories that were almost certainly right over trivialities) and say what you BELIEVE to be the case. I'm basing it on the undisputed fact that US troops are killing journalists regardless of where they are. And the fact that ignorant Americans accepted the line that the perennial home of journalists in Iraq, the Palestine Hotel, was targeted because American troops thought fire was coming from there - that alone is an OUTRAGE. It means you think all journalists, including US ones, are traitors, anti-American traitors. It means you're too stupid to know the first thing about recent Iraqi history, and you don't care. Regular troops, pilots, etc. are doing this, usually, but I believe a hit squad attacked the car the Italian journalist was in, or else an officer high up used his regular troops as a death squad.

How wild is this? Let's look at what the president of my union has said about this? Clearly, she falls far short, as did Eason Jordan, of saying what I am. Both of them are in the public eye. But still, it puts what I am saying firmly in bounds:

Guild Chief Under Fire for Comments About Attacks on Journalists in Iraq:
Guild Chief Under Fire for Comments About Attacks on Journalists in Iraq

By Joe Strupp

Published: May 20, 2005 4:40 PM ET

NEW YORK Linda Foley, national president of The Newspaper Guild, drew criticism Thursday from some conservatives for comments she made last Friday about the killing of journalists in Iraq. Foley said, among other things, that she was outraged by 'the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal.'

Last month, Foley sent a letter to President Bush criticizing the U.S. investigation into the deaths of journalists in Iraq.

The backlash became so severe Thursday that staffers at Guild headquarters in Washington, D.C., stopped answering the phone because of abusive phone calls and 'people screaming at us,' Foley said. Instead, callers were required to leave messages on voice mail and await a return call.

Body and Soul: The birth of outrage

The birth of outrage

Mazendana2 I try to avoid the right-wingers scandal mongering, but sometimes my jaw just hits the table.

Today is one of those days.

A little history first:

March, 2003: British journalist Terry Lloyd, one of the few non-embeds, was wounded when coalition forces fired on his jeep, which was clearly labelled "TV." Six months later, it was revealed that he was wounded a second time when a U.S. helicopter gunship fired on the civilian vehicle that was transporting him to the hospital. He was dead on arrival at the hospital in Basra. Two colleagues travelling with him disappeared. A British investigation established that one, Hussein Othman, was killed. The second, Fred Nérac, is presumed dead, but his body has never been found. The Defense Department ignored requests from Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists to conduct a search for the missing men and an investigation into the deaths.

April, 2003: Al-Jazeera's Baghdad office was bombed, killing journalist Tareq Ayyoub. Coincidentally, in November 2001, Al-Jazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a U.S. missile. A state department spokesman said the Baghdad bombing was a "mistake," and that he "personally cannot imagine that a country which respects general freedoms can target media establishments."

April, 2003: Taras Protsyuk, a Ukranian reporter who worked for Reuters, and José Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish television station, Telecino, were killed when an American tank fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, where most international journalists were staying. At the time, a military spokesperson engaged in a bit of indirection, stating that "We don't know every place journalists are operating on the battlefield." The victims, of course, were not on a battlefield. They were in a hotel. And commanders were well aware of their location.

May, 2003: The Committee to Protect Journalists investigated the Palestine Hotel deaths and concluded that the "attack on the journalists, while not deliberate, was avoidable." The Pentagon, and commanders on the ground, knew that journalists were based at the Palestine Hotel, but failed to convey the information to the tank commander who fired on the hotel. It was not until November, 2004 that the Pentagon, eighteen months after the CPJ filed a FOIA request, released its redacted report on the incident, which came to the conclusion that coalition forces bore "no fault or negligence" in the journalists' deaths. CPJ notes that the military's report makes claims contrary to evidence and does not explain why troops were not told that journalists were in the hotel.

August, 2003: Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana was shot and killed when US troops in two tanks opened fire on him while he was filming outside Abu Ghraib prison. The soldiers alledgedly mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Other reporters working in the area say that the soldiers knew that Dana was a journalist. The Committee to Protect Journalists called for a full, public investigation. A somewhat less than full and public investigation concluded that Dana's death was "regrettable," but the soldiers "acted within the rules of engagement." It will not, however, say what those rules of engagement are.

March, 2004: Two journalists working for Al-Arabiya, Ali Abdel Aziz and Ali al-Khatib, were killed by US fire in Baghdad. Arab journalists demanded an open investigation of their deaths, and walked out of a press conference given by Colin Powell in protest.

April, 2004: Reporter Asaad Kadhim and driver Hussein Saleh who worked for Al-Iraqiya, a US-funded media network, were killed near Samara when when U.S. and Kurdish troops opened fire on them.

May, 2004: An Iraqi technician from al-Jazeera, Hamid Rashid Wali, was shot and killed during clashes between the US Army and Moqtada al-Sadr's militia. The International Federation of Journalists called for an independent inquiry into his death.

May, 2004: Reuters reported that three of its local staffers in Iraq were detained by US forces and subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse. An Iraqi journalist working for NBC, who was arrested, also claimed to have been abused. The U.S. military said there was no evidence of abuse. Aidan White, the International Federation of Journalists' General Secretary, describes how such conclusions are reached:

"In these cases, just like the media killings at the Palestine Hotel a year ago, the military tries to reach conclusions without even interviewing eye-witnesses and the alleged victims,” said White. “The US approach to violence against journalists is woefully inadequate and so-called investigations are filled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and breathtaking conclusions that exonerate the military and deny justice to the victims.”

Throw in a lot of lower level harrassment of reporters, and a political climate in which a reporter filming an uncomfortable story becomes the object of right-wingers drooling over the prospect of Marines doling out "justice" in the field.

And when American and European forces admittedly target and kill journalists, they are simply redefined as nonjournalists.

This from the Spectator in the UK should refresh people's memories about how unthinkable the US (or rather, NATO, led by the US) targeting journalists is:

When It's Ok To Kill A Hack
Two can play at hiding the truth. Siddharth Varadarajan, senior assistant editor of the Times of India, noticed that the CPJ had not included in its list the 16 journalists and support staff killed by Nato's bombing of the RTS (Radio-Television Serbia) studios in Belgrade in April last year. Varadarajan e-mailed the CPJ to get an explanation for this 'glaring' omission. Judy Blank, communications director of the committee, replied that the 16 had been deliberately left off the list. She said that the CPJ condemned the attack on the RTS studios as a threat to all journalists covering the Yugoslavia conflict, but shared Nato's view that RTS was a medium not of information but of propaganda. Therefore, its staff did not qualify as journalists under the committee's Extremely broad definition'.

By the way, and this was before the big crackdown on dissidents and journalists with American ties in 2003, the Committee to (allegedly) Protect Journalists noted several countries where the slightest deviation from the party line resulted in the immediate death of journalists, then usually listed Fidel Castro as being among the top ten (often top 3) enemies of press freedom on earth in terms of journalistic freedom (let's face it, he was not even close to being the worst even in what remains of the communist world, let alone comparable to places like Uzbekistan or the Ukraine, where journalists disappeared all the time, or about a third of the nations in Africa, or ... but he IS an official US enemy).
One of the proud boasts in CPJ literature is that it 'accepts no government funding'. Governments are the enemies of a free press. Governments arrest and torture journalists. Governments close newspapers. Governments censor television news reports. Corporations, from which the CPJ does solicit funds, apparently do not. On its board arc employees of the major American media companies, some of them owned by larger conglomerates with interests well outside the news business.

CPJ accepts funds from the networks, including Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, which in December 1997 fired two television journalists, Jane Akre and Steve Wilson. Akre and Wilson are suing Fox's Tampa station, Channel 13 WTVT, for dismissing them when they sought to inform the Federal Communications Commission what the station was doing about a report they had prepared on synthetic hormones in Florida's milk supply. According to the two journalists, Fox 13 did not want to be seen killing the story. 'Instead,' they explained in a legal complaint, 'we were repeatedly ordered to go forward and broadcast demonstrably inaccurate and dishonest versions of the story. We were given those instructions after some very high-level corporate lobbying by Monsanto [the powerful drug company that makes the hormone] and also, we believe, by members of Florida's dairy and grocery industries.'

by the way the French-based Reporters without borders is even worse than the American, capitalist-funded CPJ - they have been gunning for Cuba to an absurd degree since they started publishing their lists of press freedom worldwide. They've been openly critical of the very idea that press monopolies or control by giant corporations is ever detrimental to press freedom at all.

Reporters without Borders Unmasked

TNG/Guild Reporter: Government funds color press group’s objectivity

The reason seems to be that RSF/RWB is actually a creature of the US State Department - making RSF's case that totalitarianism comes more easily from the State than from private funders.

From the beginning, RSF has made Cuba its No. 1 target. Allegedly founded to advocate freedom of the press around the world and to help journalists under attack, the organization has called Cuba "the world's biggest prison for journalists." It even gives the country a lower ranking on its press freedom index than countries where journalists routinely have been killed, such as Colombia, Peru and Mexico. RSF has waged campaigns aimed at discouraging Europeans from vacationing in Cuba and the European Union from doing business there ­ its only campaigns worldwide intended to damage a country's economy.

The above is not a matter of chance because it turns out that RSF is on the payroll of the U.S. State Department and has close ties to Helms-Burton-funded Cuban exile groups.

But fortunately for the public sector, it turns out RSF/RWB is actually mainly funded by Bacardi Rum, with an old grudge against Castro, and by an ad/PR conglomerate heavily dependent on Bacardi's business.


Blogger Mike Ter Louw said...

Wow, good comeback. I remember reading your original post, as well as the ignorant denial of it. It's a shame you had to do the work that other poster was too lazy to do to find the evidence that exists out there. Unfortunately that's the climate we find ourselves in - having to undo the lies, distortions, and omissions purveyed by the MSM.

For what it's worth, I think this work stands on its own as a thorough summary of events that support your claims of intentional journalist killings by U.S. military forces. Thank you for taking the time to write and publish it.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Marion Delgado said...

Don't hate me, but I thought the other guy's post, while a little superior and dismissive, was honestly meant, and certainly not out of the mainstream at all. It was a reasonably expressed slice of conventional, even liberal, wisdom.

But glad you liked the follow-up, and as I said above about his post, thanks for replying!

9:22 PM  
Blogger Tahoma Activist said...

Man, can you believe how violent and crazy these corporatists are? I mean the only thing keeping journalists alive in America are the people who would raise a stink about it. If the people don't speak our language, or they are marginalized by a massive corporate media vacuum, they can get a way with murder.

Even when a trade unionist from America is murdered in Colombia while working with the Coca-cola workers, it's not a national news story. It's as if the elites in the labor movement simply accept this as the price of doing business in the Third World.

3:48 PM  

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