Monday, May 30, 2005

Media Slander, Aptly Named

17 days and counting.

Media Slander is a new blog formed by right wing bloggers including Mike Krempasky, LaShawn Barber, and Bill Roggio which is targetting journalists who they disagree with (Krempasky, who I interviewed in February, was instrumental in previous right-wing blog attacks against Dan Rather and Eason Jordan).

17 days ago, Linda Foley, the national president of the Newspaper's Guild, participated in a panel discussion at the National Conference for Media Reform held in St. Louis. Ms. Foley is under fire mainly for the following two paragraphs (links to the video clip and transcript):

"Journalists are not just being targeted verbally or politically. They are also being targeted for real in places like Iraq. And what outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal."

"It's not just U.S. journalists either, by the way. They target and kill journalists from other countries, particularly Arab countries, at news services like Al Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios, with impunity. This is all part of the culture that it is OK to blame the individual journalists, and it just takes the heat off of these media conglomerates that are part of the problem."

This is the statement of purpose for Media Slander (link):

"The goal of Media Slander is to hold journalists and bloggers to high ethical standards regarding coverage of the War on Terror and other military-related issues. We plan to achieve this by highlighting bias, rumor and falsehoods that have been creeping into military coverage under the guise of objective news."

"We by no means advocate censorship or the deliberate suppression of well-researched and relevant stories about the war and the military."

"As much as journalists feel that they are the guardians of the First Amendment, its true protectors are standing watch in Iraq, Afghanistan and places no one will ever hear about. Journalists owe it to the true gatekeepers of our liberties to be fair, balanced, relevant and accurate in covering them."

But Linda Foley did more than just give a speech about "the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq." As Editor and Publisher's Joe Strupp reported "Last month, Foley sent a letter to President Bush criticizing the U.S. investigation into the deaths of journalists in Iraq."

17 days and counting.

The folks at Media Slander don't specify what it is they're waiting for. Do they want Linda Foley fired? Do they want Linda Foley expatriated? Do they want Linda Foley arrested?

Obviously, the folks at Media Slander never saw the Control Room documentary, otherwise they wouldn't claim that Linda Foley's accusations were presented "without proof of any kind." The folks at Media Slander must also not be familiar with the Committee To Protect Journalists who have a Website which documents journalists banned, attacked and killed from all parts of the world.

Some of those journalists were banned, attacked and killed by US Military forces. Were they deliberately targetted? You'd have to be pretty naive to believe that we'll ever hear the truth about the individual cases since there is no independent investigations being mounted.

And, since some of the Military investigations are still "continuing," the jury's still out. But that doesn't mean anything to the folks at Media Slander.

The folks at Media Slander are too busy slandering Linda Foley.

Inside the 17 days and counting box is written, "It's been 17 days since Linda K. Foley, the President of the Newspaper Guild, without proof of any kind, accused US Troops of deliberately targeting and killing journalists."

Yet, as Ms. Foley told E & P, "I was careful of not saying troops, I said U.S. military. Could I have said it differently? There are 100 different ways of saying this, but I'm not sure they would have appeased the right."

Watch the video. Read the transcript. The only thing that Linda Foley directly accused the US Military of doing was possessing a "cavalier nature" toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. And it's reasonable to assume that she was just as much upset about the journalists who died at the hands of terrorists and insurgents, as well. In 2003, the US Military acted rather "cavalier" to most of the deaths of the unembedded journalists, regardless of who killed who.

This is the same game that the right-wingers always play.

To the right-wingers, anyone who criticizes the US Military (or President Bush) is really attacking the troops. Of course, when Rudy Ghouliani attacked the troops last November for getting the Bush Administration in trouble for failing to safeguard an Iraqi munitions camp there weren't any right-wing countdowns or blogs formed.

Terry Lloyd, Tareq Ayyoub, José Couso, Taras Protsyuk, Mazen Dana, Asaad Kadhim, and Mazen Al-Tumaizi.

Those are seven names that you won't read about at Media Slander.

Terry Lloyd, Tareq Ayyoub, José Couso, Taras Protsyuk, Mazen Dana, Asaad Kadhim, and Mazen Al-Tumaizi.

(NOTE - The rest of this post includes lengthy paragraphs from the C.P.J. Website in order to educate those that say "without proof" but please visit the Website to read more).

On March 23rd, 2003, ITV news correspondent Terry Lloyd was killed in Iraq.

"An investigative article published in the Wall Street Journal in May indicated that Lloyd's SUV and another vehicle belonging to his colleagues came under fire from U.S. Marines. The article cited accounts from U.S. troops who recalled opening fire on cars marked "TV." Soldiers also said they believed that Iraqi suicide bombers were using the cars to attack U.S. troops."

"In September, London's The Daily Mirror newspaper reported the testimony of an Iraqi man named Hamid Aglan, who had allegedly tried to rescue the wounded Lloyd in a civilian minibus. Aglan told the newspaper that he had picked up a lightly wounded Lloyd, who had suffered only a shoulder injury, and attempted to take him to a hospital in Basra when the minibus came under fire from a U.S. helicopter, killing Lloyd."

"An ITN spokesperson told CPJ that a number of elements of Aglan's story are not consistent with ITN's own investigation. She said an autopsy revealed that Lloyd had suffered two serious wounds that likely resulted from Iraqi and U.S. fire. She said that after he was wounded, an Iraqi civilian in a minibus had picked up Lloyd and tried to take him to a hospital in Basra. The minibus later came under U.S. attack. "It was a gunshot to the bus and [Terry] was probably in the bus," she said."

On April 8th, 2003, Tareq Ayyoub, a worker for Al-Jazeera, was killed in Iraq.

"Ayyoub, a Jordanian national working with the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, was killed when a U.S. missile struck the station's Baghdad bureau, which was located in a two-story villa in a residential area near the Iraqi Information Ministry and the former presidential palace compound of Saddam Hussein. Al-Jazeera cameraman Zouhair Nadhim, who was outside on the building's roof with Ayyoub, was injured in the blast, which targeted a small electric generator outside the building."

"U.S. Central Command (Centcom) maintains that U.S. forces were responding to enemy fire in the area and that the Al-Jazeera journalists were caught in the crossfire. Al-Jazeera correspondents deny that any fire came from their building."

"Al-Jazeera officials pointed out that the U.S. military had been given the bureau's exact coordinates weeks before the war began. In an April 8 letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CPJ protested the bombing and called for an immediate investigation. In October, a Centcom spokesman confirmed to CPJ that no investigation into the incident has been conducted."

"Moments later, Abu Dhabi TV staff on the roof came under machine gun fire from a U.S. tank on the nearby Jumhuriyya Bridge, and one of their three unmanned cameras was struck by a shell, staff told CPJ. The three-story building was marked with a large banner labeled "Abu Dhabi TV."

"Just before the war, CPJ obtained a copy of the February 24 letter that then Al-Jazeera Managing Director Mohammed Jasem al-Ali had sent to then Pentagon spokeswoman, Victoria Clarke, specifying the coordinates of the bureau."

Also, on April 8th, 2003, Telecinco's José Couso and Reuters' cameraman Taras Protsyuk were both killed in Iraq.

"Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish television station Telecinco, died after a U.S. tank fired a shell at Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, , where most journalists in the city were based during the war. At around 12 p.m., a shell hit two hotel balconies where several journalists were monitoring a battle in the vicinity. Taras Protsyuk, a Ukranian cameraman for Reuters, was also killed in the attack."

"Directly after the attack, Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, confirmed that a single shell had been fired at the hotel from a tank in response to what he said was rocket and small-arms fire from the building. Journalists at the hotel deny that any gunfire had emanated from the building."

"A CPJ report concluded that the shelling of the hotel, while not deliberate, was avoidable since U.S. commanders knew that journalists were present in the hotel and were intent on not hitting it. The report called on the Pentagon to conduct a thorough and public investigation into the incident."

"On August 12, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) issued a news release summarizing the results of its investigation into the incident. The report concluded that the tank unit that opened fire on the hotel did so "in a proportionate and justifiably measured response." It called the shelling "fully in accordance with the Rules of Engagement.""

"Centcom offered some detail—consistent with CPJ's investigation—that the tank opened fire at what it believed was an Iraqi "spotter" directing enemy fire at U.S. troops. The release also explained that "one 120mm tank round was fired at the suspected enemy observer position. ... It was only some time after the incident that A Company became aware of the fact that the building they fired on was the Palestine Hotel and that journalists at the hotel had been killed or injured as a result.""

"Centcom's results, which were summarized in the release, appeared to back away from earlier charges by U.S. military officials that the tank unit was responding to hostile fire emanating from the hotel. Yet, despite considerable testimony to the contrary from several journalists in the hotel, Centcom maintains "that the enemy used portions of the hotel as a base of operations and that heavy enemy activity was occurring in those areas in and immediately around the hotel.""

On August 17th, 2003, Reuters' cameraman Mazen Dana was killed in Iraq.

"Dana, a veteran conflict cameraman for Reuters news agency, was killed by machine gun fire from a U.S. tank near the capital, Baghdad. Dana was struck in the torso while filming near Abu Ghraib Prison, outside Baghdad, in the afternoon. He had been reporting with a colleague near the prison after a mortar attack had killed six Iraqis there the previous night. The soldier in the tank who fired on Dana did so without warning, while the journalist filmed the vehicle approaching him from about 55 yards (50 meters)."

"U.S. military officials said the soldier who opened fire mistook Dana's camera for a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. There was no fighting taking place in the area, and the journalists had been operating in the vicinity of the prison with the knowledge of U.S. troops near the prison gates."

"On September 22, the U.S. military announced that it had concluded its investigation into the incident. A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command (Centcom) in Iraq told CPJ that while Dana's killing was "regrettable," the soldiers "acted within the rules of engagement." No further details were provided. The results of the investigation have not been made public. A Centcom spokesman said other details of the report are classified."

"U.S. military spokesman Col. Guy Shields called Dana's death a "tragic incident" and promised to do everything to avoid a similar incident in the future. When questioned by London's Independent about the rules of engagement for U.S. troops, Shields said, "I can't give you details on the rules of engagement, but the enemy is not in formations, they are not wearing uniforms. During wartime, firing a warning shot is not a necessity. There is no time for a warning shot if there is potential for an ambush.""

On April 19th, 2004, Al-Iraqiyya TV correspondent Asaad Kadhim was killed in Iraq.

"Kadhim, a correspondent for the U.S.-funded Al-Iraqiya TV, and his driver, Hussein Saleh, were killed by gunfire from U.S. forces near a checkpoint close to the Iraqi city of Samara, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Baghdad. Cameraman Jassem Kamel was injured in the shooting."

"On April 20, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the deputy director of operations for coalition forces in Iraq, confirmed that U.S. troops killed the journalist and his driver. According to media reports, Kimmitt said that coalition forces at the checkpoint warned the journalists' vehicle to stop by firing several warning shots. When the vehicle ignored those shots, Kimmitt said, forces fired at the car."

"The Associated Press (AP) reported that Kimmitt said there were signs in the area indicating that filming was banned at both the base and the checkpoint. According to the AP, Kimmitt said the signs were designed to prevent Iraqi insurgents from canvassing the area."

"Cameraman Kamel told the AP that no warning shots had been fired at the vehicle."

On September 12, 2004, Al-Arabiya Television reporter Mazen al-Tumeizi was killed in Iraq.

"Mazen al-Tumeizi, a reporter for Al-Arabiya television was killed after a U.S. helicopter fired missiles and machine guns to destroy a disabled American vehicle, international news reports said. Seif Fouad, a camera operator for Reuters Television, and Ghaith Abdul Ahad, a freelance photographer working for Getty Images, were wounded in the strike."

"Military spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Boylan told The Associated Press that a U.S. helicopter fired on the disabled Bradley vehicle to prevent looters from stripping it."

"Reuters quoted a statement it said was issued later by the military, which offered a different account. "As the helicopters flew over the burning Bradley they received small-arms fire from the insurgents in vicinity of the vehicle," the statement said. "Clearly within the rules of engagement, the helicopters returned fire destroying some anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the Bradley.""

Terry Lloyd, Tareq Ayyoub, José Couso, Taras Protsyuk, Mazen Dana, Asaad Kadhim, and Mazen Al-Tumaizi: seven murdered journalists that you won't read about at Media Slander.


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