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Journalists in collusion with terrorists? April 19, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Iraq.

Editor's Note: Gonzo is a former journalism student and newspaper editor. 

Alright, I just read a couple posts on the media's use of local stringers in Iraq.

Clicked here first
And then here
And then on to Michelle Malkin
And from there to CBS news blog

The gist of these posts is that certain stringers in the Iraqi (hired by Western outlets) media appear to be in collusion with terrorists. The last three links center around Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Bilal Hussein, who was apparently captured and taken into custody by coalition forces in Iraq.

Malkin and some of these other bloggers have insisted his Peter Parker like ability to be in the right place at the right time to document the "insurgents story" proves he is complicit in the murder, by terrorists, of innocents, U.S. troops etc.

Of course this is ludicrious.

Certainly, this is a hot button topic. A lot of people in the United States have loved ones in Iraq. However, journalists have traveled with American soldiers since day one, and almost certainly Iraqis killed by U.S. troops have families who see any journalist embed as complicit in the murder of their family members.

A journalist is a front line witness to history. In such an important role, to do anything but report completely objectively would be unprofessional as well as wrong.

So if a combat journalist, Iraqi stringer or not, is privy to information from insurgents/terrorists concerning future attacks on U.S. forces is it that person's responsibility to inform the U.S. led coalition/occupation?

The answer: absolutely not. Never.

This is a war, journalists, although targeted occassionally, are non-combatants. They are present to observe not intervene. Many journalists faced the same tough ethical questions during the Vietnam War.

Remember this a war. War. War. War. War. Not some FBI investigation but a war. Got that?

For any American citizen or military commander to expect that a journalist turn over information that would alter the outcome of events is complete lunacy.

Try looking at it from the other side and see if you still disagree. Think of this scenario, an Iraqi stringer embedded with American troops is given information that a U.S. led operation against an insurgent stronghold in Ramadi is set to take place at 10 a.m. the next morning.

Should the insurgents expect that the journalist hand over this information to aid them in their fight against their enemy?

The answer: absolutely not. Never.

It's really no different. Just because George W. Bush says that all insurgents are terrorist criminal thugs doesn't make it so. Ms. Malkin might do well to remember that. There are two sides to this war, the American and the insurgent. Both sides are fighting for a reason and no the insurgent reason is certainly not that they are "freedom haters." The desire to kill enemies runs deeper than political buzzwords.

It's also important to remember the old adage, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

To believe in blanket objectivity from the news media in situations of such important historical significance is not to condone the acts of violence or atrocities that occur but to observe and report them fairly. Lest history be left to judge.

Doing otherwise would be an injustice to history and to future generations who will struggle to learn something from this destructive conflict. This is something that I have wanted to say for a long time, this Bilal Hussein case and the blogosphere rambling about it have given me a perfectly timely opportunity to do so.


1. Mac - April 19, 2006

So who is a journalist? To me that question must be answered empirically to remove any gray area. Otherwise the status of journalist is an easy cover for deadly exploitation. I guess its a question of feasibility between theory and practice.

2. gonzo - April 19, 2006

that's the main problem in Iraq. journalists are no longer the non-combatants they once were. its a very gray area. but for journalism to work correctly reporters must be allowed to objectively report without fear of retribution or death. a problem reporters are obviously having on/from both sides of this conflict.

this war will change the face of combat journalism methinks.

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