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Scorched journalist policy

Shall we speculate as to who is killing journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan? (141 to date in Iraq.) Well, the who is documented, much of it labeled “friendly fire.” Shall we speculate about the why? Forgive me if it feels like I am connecting the dots with a crayon.
 
A recent documentary interviewed some Iraqi journalists about their inconsistent use of flack jackets. The journalists said they choose not to wear protection around fellow Iraqis because they don’t want to be mistaken for working for the occupiers. But walking beside American soldiers the journalists do wear flack jackets because they are fearful of being shot …by the Americans.

Witness to a crime
We’ve all seen it in the movies: the protagonist is accidental witness to a crime and becomes targeted by the perpetrator lest he live to testify. Or the victim begging for life, vowing in exchange not to go to the police. Both victim and criminal know it’s an offer the villain cannot risk.

Massacres usually intend to leave no survivors because the dead tell no tales. Countless war movies have depicted the war correspondent happening upon a war crime in progress, recognizing immediately that a “stray bullet” will be eminent.

Kill Boxes
We’ve learned over the course of two Gulf Wars that our military employs such tactics as “Kill Boxes” and “Free Fire Zones.” Both describe a similar US M.O.. The first is Air Force lingo for an area bounded by given coordinates inside of which everything is considered a target. The airmen are tasked with killing everybody in that box. They have the discretion not to shoot something, but they will be held responsible for whatever they leave, authorized as they were to annihilate all.

Photo shown across the world except in the USA renowned Kill Box in 1990 was the Highway of Death, where thousands of Iraqi soldiers fleeing from Kuwait were incinerated in their vehicles. (American viewers were spared the graphic images.)

The Hague Conventions forbid firing upon soldiers who are no longer attacking you. Even cowboys know you don’t shoot somebody in the back. Both the Hague and Geneva Conventions outlaw the indiscriminate killing of civilians and other non-combatants.

Free Fire Zones
Kill Boxes violate all international conventions. They are as illegal as the US Army’s Free Fire Zone in which soldiers are ordered to fire freely at “anything that moves.” Civilians are expected to know beforehand to get out of the way. They figure it out when our snipers begin popping their family members’ heads off in their gardens. IED detonations now trigger automatic Free Fire Zones around the radius of the blast. An American reputation for ruthless overkill now precedes us. As a result, when IEDs explode, Iraqis have learned to run for their lives. Our soldiers lie to themselves that the escaping figures must be responsible for the IED, and are thus combatants. American Humvees carry extra shovels to plant on the bodies of the slain civilians to paint them as bomb laying insurgents.

The US has deliberately shot civilians since the Korean War, though this has only recently been revealed. In No Gun Ri, entire masses of refuges were machine-gunned to prevent fighters from passing amongst them. This policy continued in Vietnam, the My Lai massacre being unique only for having been uncovered. In war, Collateral Damage has always been a tragic unintended consequence, but by no stretch of a JAG’s imagination can it be a sanctioned consequence.

Secret and Confidential
Let’s speculate here… If military manuals exist with instructions for Kill Boxes and Free Fire Zones which explicitly require the killing of civilians and non-combatants, how do you suppose the instructions read for dealing with uninvited members of the press? The US military seems quite preoccupied with how its actions appear in news broadcasts. How might US soldiers be instructed to deal with journalists who stumble upon the bodies and capture the unbecoming bloodshed with their cameras? We’ll find out someday when a witness survives.

One thought on “Scorched journalist policy

  1. Effective journalism and blogging when making accusations like this is usually accompanied by proof, for which you have none, just pure speculation by an anti-establishment individual.

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