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February 22, 2005

Comments

As a complete aside before reading the link, what on earth keeps Jes up this late at night? Is she a night security guard? Insomniac? A vampire?

I'm a vampire.

Comments welcome here or on my livejournal. If you post a comment on my livejournal and don't have an lj ID to comment from, you can comment "Anonymously", but do sign it.

Worse -- she's a UKoGBaNIan!

I already wrote something earlier at the site, but sent the following link to someone about the Palestine Hotel incident in a reply that did not post at the site (for an unknown reason). I am adding it here -- its relevant to my point that the Palestine Hotel incident (unlike many others) is not fairly listed as targeting media, or even as an out-of-line shooting.

My opinion is that I doubt that there is targeting of media per se (although I am sure there are a few such episodes in the mix) -- instead there are not enough troops in a hostile environment who as a result, adopt a shoot first, ask questions later policy. As a result, way too many innocent civilians are being killed (whether or not they are media) because of a hair trigger response to any possible threats. A lot of the media deaths seem to be an outgrowth of this bigger problem -- not the targeting of media per se, but targeting all sorts of innocents who might present a threat.

One thing I forgot to add in the recent debate, is that the expected number of mistaken killings is higher in a war where combatants on one side don't bother to identify themselves per the Geneva Conventions than in those where the combatants do--a point rarely bothered with by the those on the left here on this board or anywhere in the media.

Sebastian - I'll try to be brief. The number of jounalists that have died in Iraq in 2+ years is nearly equal to the total killed in Vietnam over the course of 20+ years. As you may be aware, we had a similar problem identifying the enemy there. The numbers suggest that there's something else at play here.

"The numbers suggest that there's something else at play here."

Sure and it can be things like journalists going more agressively into hot battle zones.

JerryN,

The Vietnam comparison makes me wonder how much we Americans were aware or even today have become aware of the VC news sources. I admit complete ignorance on the subject, but my impressionistic understanding is that all media is more visible to us today. Stringers and bloggers and technicians, they all get counted today, whatever their affiliation, loyalty, or race--as, I should say, they should be. Was it so in Vietnam?

There are also, I would guess, substantially more journalists in Iraq than were in Vietnam.

I bet more journalists are of the same ethnicity as our enemy in Iraq.

My general impression is: we are not doing this deliberately, but the Pentagon is also refusing to take even relatively low-cost, sensible precautions against harming journalists and is not doing serious investigations into whether these deaths were preventable, because it would really rather the journalists go away. The soldiers on the ground were not told that the Palestine hotel was journalists' headquarters, for example, and there was no inquiry at all into what happened with Tarek Ayoub's death.

This is wrong. It is also stupid: it is really, really not in our interests for Al Jazeera reporters to sincerely believe we are trying to murder their colleagues and cover it up. If their belief is mistaken, as I am convinced it is, that's all the more reason for us to show them it's erroneous.

(also,as far as the high death toll, Zarqawi and his supporters are deliberately kidnapping and murdering journalists. I don't think the VC did that, though I don't really know.)

Would it be wrong of me to point out that 'the Eason Jordan Implosion' sounds like a band name?

Would it be wrong of me to point out that 'the Eason Jordan Implosion' sounds like a band name?

Tonight's headliner "The Eason Jordan Implosion featuring the Swift Boat Singers"

But on a more serious note. I still have yet to see why Jordan's comments were so beyond the pale. Three US unfriendly media offices were bombed on the same day.

(1) Al Jazeera informed the U.S. military of the location of its Baghdad office so it would not be targeted.

(2) On April 8, that office was bombed.

(3) That same day, the Arab media outlet Abu Dhabi was also bombed.

(4) That same day, the Palestine Hotel - which housed many international journalists - was also bombed.

(from Publius)

I mean it may not have been intentional, but that was one hell of a bad day to be a non-US reporter in Bagdad.

I am also going to abuse my commenting privledges to recommend "Control Room" a documentary about Al Jezera's coverage of the Iraq war. Their news director is a facinating guy.

What a different conversation this would have been had we started with the question 'Why are so many more journalists getting killed in Iraq?'

Sure and it can be things like journalists going more agressively into hot battle zones.

Are you trying to make a joke? In Vietnam, war correspondents could accompany troops anywhere they could find a jeep or helicopter willing to give them a lift, in contrast to the restricted access the press has today. Got any theories that are at least, you know, plausible?

"Are you trying to make a joke? In Vietnam, war correspondents could accompany troops anywhere they could find a jeep or helicopter willing to give them a lift, in contrast to the restricted access the press has today. Got any theories that are at least, you know, plausible?"

Not as many journalists and not as many right at the front. Furthermore there was a front area and a non-front area which was much better (though not perfectly) defined. Furthermore the journalists were clearly different from the Vietnamese by easy to recognize facial characteristics. Do you only employ sarcasm when you don't have a good argument?

Furthermore there was a front area and a non-front area which was much better (though not perfectly) defined

I usually employ sarcasm when faced with arguments like that, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone familiar with the history of the Vietnam War. Although to be non-sarcastic for a moment, you should take some time and read a book about war correspondents in Vietnam. It's interesting stuff and you may learn something.

The problem in Vietnam is that the front areas would move unexpectedly. The problem with Iraq is that everywhere is a front area. Also, in Vietnam it was understood that journalists were expected to take precautions and responsibility for themselves. In Iraq they seem to want the US to take care of them--which for the most part they do.

We should note that Sebastian has acknowledged, at least implicitly, one point, that the number of journalists that have died is in Iraq is far more than in other conflicts, so we can view this as a second line of defense. I certainly agree that there are a lot of factors involved in the increased death tolls, but would be much more sympathetic to this if the proposition that Eason was engaged in baseless speculation had not been defended to the last trench.

btw, the truthlaidbare link seems to cause problems by failing to load. Does anyone else have these problems?

"if the proposition that Eason was engaged in baseless speculation had not been defended to the last trench."

Eason did not propose merely that more journalists were dying in Iraq than in other wars. According to witnesses such as Barney and Dodd he suggested that they were being targeted by US soldiers. That isn't the same thing at all despite repeated attempts to make it so.

According to witnesses such as Barney and Dodd he suggested that they were being targeted by US soldiers. That isn't the same thing at all despite repeated attempts to make it so.

On a closed forum, where it's been agreed that you don't name names and quote, he said something that could be poorly interpreted - not scripted, but on the spur of the moment. *shrug* Let he who has a little bot on his back to stop him saying stupid things in public, cast the first stone.

Sebastian: In Iraq they seem to want the US to take care of them

Sure - "embedded journalists" are with an American military unit, and that unit is supposed to take care of them. According to John Simpson, the majority of journalists in Iraq still moving around the country are "embedded". (What this does to the independence of their journalism is a factor not yet thoroughly explored.)

Unembedded journalists don't want the US to "take care of them" - they simply want the US military not to shoot at them, which is not an unreasonable wish, don't you think?

Seb, you said they were baseless accusations. I assumed that baseless means that they have no basis in fact. If you accept that journalists have been killed at a higher rate in Iraq than in previous conflicts, than this seems like a basis for an accusation. It may not be a strong basis, but it is a basis. In fact, since you suggest that 'the left' never talks about this, let me count the ways.

-ethnic differences between Asians and Western reporters made it easier to avoid shooting them in Vietnam
-increased lethality of weapons systems
-urban versus jungle environments
-the difference between an occupation of Iraq and the situation of two sides in Vietnam
-increase in technological advances in communication allowing journalists to report from closer to the front lines
-the fact that 'mission accomplished' may have lulled journalists into taking more risks
-technological advances make video cameras (which resemble weapons) more prevalent
-poor preparation of US forces (and the reliance on National Guard) for this type of combat
-inadequate planning for the insurgent situation
-changes in staffing which makes CNN particularly at risk for casualties

You continue to wave Dodd and Franks, yet ignore what Gergen said. In light of what Gergen said, the last point, that CNN, because of its employment structure, is particularly at risk when problems like these arise. I would surmise that a larger number of people associated with CNN who might not be labeled journalists (translators and guides. If this is the case, these would be people employed by CNN and supervised by Jordan.

If you'd like to have a discussion about the problems of the environment for mass media in Iraq (though you'd have to pass on the warblogger refrains of 'why don't you count how many schools we've painted?'), I'd love to discuss it. But I don't see any evidence that you are interested in exploring this.

"Unembedded journalists don't want the US to "take care of them" - they simply want the US military not to shoot at them, which is not an unreasonable wish, don't you think?"

Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under. Sure if there were a magic glowing aura that only appeared around journalists. There isn't, and they hang out where fire-fights are going on, so it isn't shocking that sometimes they get shot.

"Seb, you said they were baseless accusations. I assumed that baseless means that they have no basis in fact. If you accept that journalists have been killed at a higher rate in Iraq than in previous conflicts, than this seems like a basis for an accusation."

You and I clearly have different ideas about a basis for accusation. If I notice that you are a man and physicaly capable of sexual conduct, and also notice that a rape has occurred within 3 city blocks of where you live, I would consider accusing you of rape purely on that 'basis' a baseless accusation. Jordan's accusations of targeting (in the normal English sense of the word) are baseless. To go further than that, I would suggest that many journalists complaints about a lack of care on the part of the US forces are based on a completely unrealistic sense of what 'care' looks like.

"You continue to wave Dodd and Franks, yet ignore what Gergen said."

I don't ignore Gergen, I have noted that journalists typically don't report on things regarding their own that they would have no trouble reporting if someone else did the same thing. Similar problems of reporting occur when you have to rely wholly on police officers to report a crime of a fellow police officer. The two reports we have defending Jordan are fellow journalists. The three we have reporting baseless charges--even after he 'walked it back'--are from a businessman, a Democratic House of Representatives member and a Democratic Senator. It is perfectly legitimate to believe the less interested parties. Unless you want to accuse Frank of trying to bring down Jordan--as if Frank needs to burnish his pro-American credentials in a safe seat--I don't see any reason to doubt him.

Sebastian: Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under.

I cited several instances where US soldiers shot at and killed media workers on my livejournal, Sebastian. On several of those occasions, the media workers were in fact showing the equivalent of a "little flag that says journalist" - Terry Lloyd, for example, was in a van clearly marked TV.

If you have evidence that the reason these "little flags that say journalist" were shot at was because the US soldiers who shot at them thought that the journalists were using them to hide insurgents, do cite it. That would be a whole new discussion worth having.

But I thought that your claim was that US soldiers weren't shooting at journalists - that if journalists were being shot at, it was completely accidental. If you now think that Eason Jordan was right to say that US soldiers are targetting journalists, and the reason US soldiers are targetting journalists is because journalists are using their "little flag that says journalist" to hide insurgents, well, presumably you have discovered some evidence that has changed your opinion since you were arguing that what Eason Jordan is claimed to have said was "baseless". Care to share that evidence with the rest of us?


Sebastian Holsclaw: The two reports we have defending Jordan are fellow journalists. The three we have reporting baseless charges--even after he 'walked it back'--are from a businessman, a Democratic House of Representatives member and a Democratic Senator. It is perfectly legitimate to believe the less interested parties. Unless you want to accuse Frank of trying to bring down Jordan--as if Frank needs to burnish his pro-American credentials in a safe seat--I don't see any reason to doubt him.

If the accounts I read are accurate, and the dispute over terminology was between Frank and Jordan and was somewhat heated (Gergen says Jordan "exploded"), then Frank could hardly be called a "less interested party" than Gergen. And what little I know about Barney Frank tells me he is no shrinking violet himself, so I think the notion that he was a dispassionate observer strains credibility. Furthermore, safe seat or no, if he wants to remain relevant, he can't be seen as tolerating anti-Americanism. It is completely plausible (not conclusive, mind you, but plausible) that this colored his perspective on the exchange and made him less likely to give Jordan the benefit of the doubt as to his true meaning.

If the accounts I read are accurate, and the dispute over terminology was between Frank and Jordan and was somewhat heated

Sebastian, can I ask: do you have a little bot on your back that stops you from ever saying anything that could be poorly interpreted, even when you get angry?

Jesurgislac: But I thought that your claim was that US soldiers weren't shooting at journalists - that if journalists were being shot at, it was completely accidental. If you now think that Eason Jordan was right to say that US soldiers are targetting journalists, and the reason US soldiers are targetting journalists is because journalists are using their "little flag that says journalist" to hide insurgents, well, presumably you have discovered some evidence that has changed your opinion since you were arguing that what Eason Jordan is claimed to have said was "baseless". Care to share that evidence with the rest of us?

Jes, I'm pretty sure what Sebastian meant was not necessarily that journalists are lending cover to insurgents, but that they are incapable of stopping insurgents from masquerading as journalists (a fair point).

I hope the following doesn't offend, and is taken as constructive criticism:

I think you have a habit of carrying your reasoning a step or two beyond what is supported by evidence, usually with the formulation of "You claim not-Z, but at the same time claim X, which means Y, and since Y necessitates Z you must really be arguing in favor of Z!", and this tends to undermine the many good points you make. It might help if you simply point out what you see as contradictions or state what conclusions you would draw from the same facts without attributing beliefs to other commenters that are directly contradicted by their own statements. Give your opponents the opportunity to explain the contradictions, rather than framing the argument in a way that tends to shut down discussion. I know I would personally find that style of debate extremely grating if it were directed at me.

Gergen is a journalist?

Gromit: I'm pretty sure what Sebastian meant was not necessarily that journalists are lending cover to insurgents, but that they are incapable of stopping insurgents from masquerading as journalists (a fair point).

But I don't believe that Sebastian has shown any evidence that this has happened.

And again, this would be an argument that US soldiers are shooting at media workers - just as they are shooting at ambulances, and attacking mosques - which would mean, again, that Eason Jordan was not making a baseless accusation, even if we are to take the most hostile interpretation of his words as what he said - an interpretation which he has himself denied.

I'm more interested in understanding what Sebastian is trying to convey he believes than in what you think Sebastian is trying to convey he believes (no offense).

without attributing beliefs to other commenters that are directly contradicted by their own statements.

Actually, when I do this, I'm usually trying to point out to commenters that they are asserting two mutually contradictory beliefs.

Sebastian cannot both hold to (a) his belief that Eason Jordan said US soldiers are deliberately killing journalists and that this is a baseless accusation without foundation in fact and (b) his belief that US soldiers have good reason to be deliberately killing journalists.

If (b), then (a) isn't a baseless accusation, if that's what Eason Jordan said. If (a), then (b) can't be true.

hilzoy,

Gergen has a regular column at US News & World Report (or is it Useless Snooze & World Distort?)

But I don't believe that Sebastian has shown any evidence that this has happened.

I'm going to let Sebastian argue his own points, but suffice it to say, I don't see him claiming that it has happened, so I don't see why he needs to provide evidence.

Actually, when I do this, I'm usually trying to point out to commenters that they are asserting two mutually contradictory beliefs.

I understand this. I just think there are ways to do it that are less confrontational and will probably yield more productive debate.

I'd call Gergen a "pundit". But the broader point seems to be that he is a media figure, and hence biased toward journalists. To which I respond, whatever.

"Sebastian, can I ask: do you have a little bot on your back that stops you from ever saying anything that could be poorly interpreted, even when you get angry?"

I have no bot, but that doesn't mean I don't believe in responsibility for what I say. Furthermore, Jordan's backtracking apparently still left people with the impression that he thought the US was targeting journalists.

Sebastian cannot both hold to (a) his belief that Eason Jordan said US soldiers are deliberately killing journalists and that this is a baseless accusation without foundation in fact and (b) his belief that US soldiers have good reason to be deliberately killing journalists.

Please note that I am not asserting the bolded word and therefore the alleged contradiction is an illusion created by your own mind.

Gromit: I don't see him claiming that it has happened, so I don't see why he needs to provide evidence.

If he's not claiming it's happened, why is he offering it as an excuse for US soldiers shooting people who are indeed carrying the equivalent of "a little flag that says journalist"?

Sebastian: Please note that I am not asserting the bolded word and therefore the alleged contradiction is an illusion created by your own mind.

Since no word is bolded, either in your quote or in my original comment, I'm really not clear what you're claiming you're not asserting. Clarify?

David Gergen was the editor of the US News and World Report. I typically think of executive editors as journalists, but perhaps some only think of the reporters themselves as journalists. In any case he had a very similar position as Jordan in a large media institution.

Sorry the html hiccupped. The word is 'deliberately'.

See how easy clarifications can be even when angry?

Jes,

Sebastian has nowhere stated "that US soldiers have good reason to be deliberately killing journalists", only that they might have good reason not to take any kind of "journalist" insignia at face value.

And see how willing I am to accept that you misspoke yourself and to respond to your clarification, rather than your original misstatement?

Please note that I am not asserting the bolded word deliberately and therefore the alleged contradiction is an illusion created by your own mind.

Ah - it was entirely an illusion, then, that you appear to feel that the rightwing blogmobbing of Eason Jordan was in any way justified by what he said?

Since if you do not believe that if Eason Jordan said "targetted" he could have meant "deliberately killing journalists", you must believe that the whole blogmob asserting that he did and he must have was nothing but a storm over nothing, driving a good man out of job. Yes?

kenB: Sebastian has nowhere stated "that US soldiers have good reason to be deliberately killing journalists", only that they might have good reason not to take any kind of "journalist" insignia at face value.

But he hasn't shown any evidence that they do have good reason not to take any kind of "journalist" insignia at face value.

(In fact, all the evidence is that anyone who wants to be safer than not in Iraq should absolutely not carry journalist insignia - apparently the free flak-jackets marked Press that Reporters Without Borders provide to any media worker going to Iraq are not being taken up. There's a link to an article about that from my livejournal.)

Jes,

I think he means the second occurrence of the word "deliberately" (i.e. in your point b, not point a).

But he hasn't shown any evidence that they do have good reason not to take any kind of "journalist" insignia at face value.

That's a different argument (and one that I'll let him pursue, if he so desires). I was simply speaking to the alleged self-contradiction.

"Since if you do not believe that if Eason Jordan said "targetted" he could have meant "deliberately killing journalists", you must believe that the whole blogmob asserting that he did and he must have was nothing but a storm over nothing, driving a good man out of job."

I honestly don't know what you mean. Are you arguing that 'deliberately killing journalists' can be fairly interpreted as deliberately killing people who later turn out to be journalists but that the US thought they were justifiably killing the person at the time? Because I don't think that is a fair interpretation. I think the typical interpretation of 'targeting journalists' or 'deliberately killing journalists' is that the soldiers know the people are journalists and then kill them.

To clarify further, you wrote

Sebastian cannot both hold to (a) his belief that Eason Jordan said US soldiers are deliberately killing journalists and that this is a baseless accusation without foundation in fact and (b) his belief that US soldiers have good reason to be deliberately killing journalists.

I do not assert the bolded section. The contradiction you see is an artifact of an argument I do not make.

The argument I do make is that some journalists seem to act as if their legal status makes them physically invulnerable. It does not. Acting as if it does, is likely to get you killed in a firefight.

I'm impressed that "right wing blogmobbers" have the power to force the resignation of someone as prominent as Jordan, which seems to be a premise of Jesurgislac's post.

Another quote from that post fascinated me: "just as his painfully honest account of the restrictions required of him when he worked in Iraq, during Saddam Hussein's regime, could have been easily understood." You realize, of course, that he admitted to intentional distortions in CNN's reportage, the purpose of which was to allow CNN to remain in Iraq when other (presumably more truthful) news outlets had been banned? And tha the effect of this was to supress news about Saddam's brutality towards his own people?

Tomsyl: I'm impressed that "right wing blogmobbers" have the power to force the resignation of someone as prominent as Jordan, which seems to be a premise of Jesurgislac's post.

No, it's not a "premise" of my post, not as I understand the definition of the word "premise": "A proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn" I am basing no arguments on the fact that the right-wing blogmob targetted Eason Jordan unjustly for the second time in two years, and shortly after they did so, he resigned. Those are facts.

You realize, of course, that he admitted to intentional distortions in CNN's reportage, the purpose of which was to allow CNN to remain in Iraq when other (presumably more truthful) news outlets had been banned? And tha the effect of this was to supress news about Saddam's brutality towards his own people?

I linked to the Op-Ed he wrote: you may conclude that I read it and understood it. You don't appear to have done so.

Sebastian: The argument I do make is that some journalists seem to act as if their legal status makes them physically invulnerable. It does not. Acting as if it does, is likely to get you killed in a firefight.

Ah. So your assertion earlier about "Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under" which I have been trying to get you to explain, was nothing but a red herring - you stuck it in for amusement value?

That's the part of your post I quoted, and the part I have been trying to get you to explain what you meant. If you meant nothing at all by it, well, there's no point discussing it - except to ask you why you said it in the first place.

"So your assertion earlier about "Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under" which I have been trying to get you to explain, was nothing but a red herring - you stuck it in for amusement value?"

That isn't a comment about journalists, that is a comment about the fact that the insurgents are happy to use whatever cover they can get. You for instance have mentioned mosques and ambulances, though you seem to have gained from that mention the odd belief that the US ought not shoot at them in mosques or ambulances. I seriously doubt that one comment is the root of our disagreement on the issue, considering it was made today and our disagreement predates that time period. It is much like suggesting that North Korea seeks nuclear weapons because of Bush.

Furthermore, my assertion with respect to that is as usual not what you make it to be. It was not a justification for targeting journalists or for deliberatly killing journalists--the proposition you suggest Jordan would have been justified in saying. It was part of an explanation for why journalists get caught in ugly crossfires. If the insurgents were following any of the important rules of war, journalists getting shot would be less likely. If the insurgents wore uniforms, it would be easier to differentiate journalists from combatants. If the insurgents did not disguise themselves regularly in civilian objects or vehicles, it wouldn't be so problematic to discern differences between civilians and combatants.

This is precisely why I find most liberal analysis of the Geneva Conventions so frustrating. One of the major purposes of their existance is to make differentiating civilians and combatants relatively easy. But the attitude on this board and nearly everywhere seems to be that the Conventions are a club to be wielded against America for even coming close to grey areas, with token tut-tuts about blatant, constant, and obvious violations by anyone who happens to be an opponent of the US. That gets annoying. Journalists are dying in Iraq for many reasons. There is a side that targets them--the other side. You may have seen the video, depending on the strength of your stomach. That wasn't an accident. Sawing off someone's head while praising Allah usually isn't. That is targeting. Journalists are dying because it isn't easy to differentiate between combatants and non-combatants. This is totally within the insurgents' control, but they would rather risk civilian lives than their own. But is that a problem for Jesurgislac? Apparently not. And arguing with that misplaced sense of priotities is quite a trial.

Sebastian: That isn't a comment about journalists, that is a comment about the fact that the insurgents are happy to use whatever cover they can get.

I'm confused, then. It does look like you're arguing that US soldiers are right to deliberately shoot at people who look like journalists, because they might be insurgents posing as journalists. That's what I thought you meant, and that's what you seem to be saying.

You haven't actually provided any evidence that insurgents are posing as journalists - and indeed, given how unsafe it is to be a journalist, I think it would be safer for journalists to pose as insurgents* - but it appears that my original analysis was saying was right. As is the logical consequence - if you're making this argument, you can't argue that Eason Jordan's accusation was baseless.

*yes, yes, sick joke.

Sebastian: But the attitude on this board and nearly everywhere seems to be that the Conventions are a club to be wielded against America for even coming close to grey areas, with token tut-tuts about blatant, constant, and obvious violations by anyone who happens to be an opponent of the US. That gets annoying.

If you feel it's appropriate, write a post on how horrible it is that Iraqi insurgents are targetting journalists. I imagine the reason that you wrote a post about Eason Jordan instead is because you felt that writing about how horrible it is that journalists are being kidnapped, held hostage, and murdered, would be preaching to the converted - do you really think anyone here would disagree with you that this is terrible? - whereas with the journalists killed by US soldiers, there is room for discussion, which is generally what blogs are all about.

Similarly: we can agree (now - we probably wouldn't have agreed before 1991) that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator and his regime was bad.

We can agree that Iraqi insurgents who murder civilians are terrorists.

We can agree on a whole lot of things, Sebastian, but it's disagreements that fuel threads, and it appears that we disagree on whether it's okay for US soldiers to kill journalists.

"It does look like you're arguing that US soldiers are right to deliberately shoot at people who look like journalists, because they might be insurgents posing as journalists."

Uh, no. So far as I know neither YOU nor Jordan have provided a case where US soldiers have in fact deliberately shot at people who they thought were journalists despite the fact that both of you insinuate that such has occurred. Much less have you or Jordan provided proof that such targeting of journalists regularly happens though both of you seem to insinuate that.

I am arguing that by ignoring all the laws of war, the insurgents are making it very dangerous for civilians--including journalists. That doesn't seem to concern you.

"We can agree that Iraqi insurgents who murder civilians are terrorists."

Can we agree that fighting terrorists is important? I'm not convinced we agree on that.

tomsyl: Another quote from that post fascinated me: "just as his painfully honest account of the restrictions required of him when he worked in Iraq, during Saddam Hussein's regime, could have been easily understood." You realize, of course, that he admitted to intentional distortions in CNN's reportage, the purpose of which was to allow CNN to remain in Iraq when other (presumably more truthful) news outlets had been banned? And tha the effect of this was to supress news about Saddam's brutality towards his own people?

With all due respect, have you actually read the piece? Would you care to quote the parts where Jordan says, or even hints at, an exchange of silence for access?

You could argue that he should have pulled out of Iraq, meaning NO atrocities would get reported on CNN, rather than face the choice between withholding certain stories and seeing specific Iraqis tortured or killed as an inevitable result of running those stories, but to say that this is equivalent to trading silence for access is specious, to put it quite mildly.

Seb:So far as I know neither YOU nor Jordan have provided a case where US soldiers have in fact deliberately shot at people who they thought were journalists despite the fact that both of you insinuate that such has occurred.

I am going to repeat what I posted upthread, because I still haven't heard an explanation:

(1) Al Jazeera informed the U.S. military of the location of its Baghdad office so it would not be targeted.
(2) On April 8, that office was bombed.
(3) That same day, the Arab media outlet Abu Dhabi was also bombed.
(4) That same day, the Palestine Hotel - which housed many international journalists - was also bombed.

Now this is not absolute and conclusive proof that journalists are being targeted but it is some pretty damning circumstantial evidence of it. I still have get to see any argument that would rebut the suggestion that these buildings were deliberately targeted.

These three bombings all happened on the same day . Some explanation is in order (in my opinion, at least) before I can accept the fact that this wasn't intentional.

Sebastian--I think Jes interpreted this:

"Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under. Sure if there were a magic glowing aura that only appeared around journalists."

as saying that if journalists DID have a flag marking them as journalists, or a TV camera, or whatnot, and U.S. troops noted this but decided to shoot them anyway, it would be justified because there was an off chance that it was an insurgent posing as a journalist.

I doubt this is what you meant, but I also think it is a reasonable interpretation of your words.

Do you see any parallel between this and Jordan's situation?

Your interpretation of what happened requires you to accept Dodd's, Frank's description and explanation of Jordan's comments, and reject Jordan's, Gergen's, and the BBC reporter's description and explanation of Jordan's comments. My interpretation of what happened assumes that Jordan, Gergen, the BBC reporter, Frank & Dodd are all honestly describing what Jordan said to the best of their ability, and that there was a good faith misunderstanding because Jordan chose his words very carelessly and because Frank and Dodd did not know the same facts that Jordan and the BBC reporter knew. Again, "targetted" does imply that journalists were killed as journalists, but it could also mean, in a narrow, literal sense, aimed and shot at journalists or news outlets rather than them getting harmed as collateral damage by falling debris. If meant in this narrow, literal sense, "targetted" would accurately describe the Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi bombings, the Palestine hotel incident, the Mazen Dana shooting, and several other cases.

Your only response to this has been to say, "you can't trust journalists when talking about other journalists." You haven't provided much basis for this; I could just as easily say "you can't trust politicians."

Again, I don't think we are targetting journalists deliberately, but there is evidence that we are not taking reasonable steps to protect them and are not seriously investigating whether we could prevent these accidental deaths without putting U.S. troops at risk. I don't see how marking TV headquarters and the hotel where all the journalists are staying on the map, and informing the troops about it, puts our troops at a greatly increased risk. If there's confirmed fire from that building they could legitimately shoot at it anyway, but if I were a soldier I would like to know if I was shooting into a hotel where journalists' were housed. That's relevant information and I doubt the Palestine hotel soldiers were very happy they weren't given it.

Sebastian, I'm getting truly confused by this conversation.

I say: "Unembedded journalists don't want the US to "take care of them" - they simply want the US military not to shoot at them, which is not an unreasonable wish, don't you think?"

You say: "Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under."

I say (having cited several incidents of "little flags that say journalist" being shot at by US soldiers): "If you have evidence that the reason these "little flags that say journalist" were shot at was because the US soldiers who shot at them thought that the journalists were using them to hide insurgents, do cite it. That would be a whole new discussion worth having."

[skipping a discussion I had with Gromit]
[skipping the discussion about was Eason Jordan justified, which I tend to think is a red herring anyway]

You say: "To clarify further, you wrote

Sebastian cannot both hold to (a) his belief that Eason Jordan said US soldiers are deliberately killing journalists and that this is a baseless accusation without foundation in fact and (b) his belief that US soldiers have good reason to be deliberately killing journalists.

I do not assert the bolded section. The contradiction you see is an artifact of an argument I do not make."

I say: "Ah. So your assertion earlier about "Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under" which I have been trying to get you to explain, was nothing but a red herring - you stuck it in for amusement value?"

You say: "That isn't a comment about journalists, that is a comment about the fact that the insurgents are happy to use whatever cover they can get."

I say: "I'm confused, then. It does look like you're arguing that US soldiers are right to deliberately shoot at people who look like journalists, because they might be insurgents posing as journalists. That's what I thought you meant, and that's what you seem to be saying. "

You say: "Uh, no. So far as I know neither YOU nor Jordan have provided a case where US soldiers have in fact deliberately shot at people who they thought were journalists despite the fact that both of you insinuate that such has occurred."

Now we're back at the start again, because I have in fact provided several examples of instances where US soldiers shot at people who were in fact carrying these "little flags that say journalist" - or rather, the equivalent.

And I assume you knew that when you said "Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under."

I'm left with wondering - was this comment meaningless? Did you throw it in for amusement's sake? Did you mean that US soldiers have fired upon these "little flags that say journalist" because they had a right to suppose that (for example) there were insurgents in Terry Lloyd's van, and that's why they killed Lloyd, Othman, and Nérac? Or that the command who set out the RoE supposed there would be insurgents hiding in thge Palestine Hotel, so they didn't tell the units fighting there that it was being used by foreign journalists and ought not to be considered a target?

Can we agree that fighting terrorists is important? I'm not convinced we agree on that.

No, you're right, we don't. I think fighting terrorists is important; you think invading Iraq was more important.

end blockquote

"I linked to the Op-Ed he wrote: you may conclude that I read it and understood it. You don't appear to have done so."

I see nothing in my post that justifies your tart reply. The entire "Op-Ed" (which presumably shows Jordan in the best possible light, since he wrote it) has as its theme the fact that CNN did not report fully and accurately on the atrocities of Hussein's regime in order to remain in Iraq. Other news sources weren't willing to make that compromise.

Gromit, Jordan's Op-Ed is entirely about what CNN had to do to stay in Iraq (when other news sources were banned for unfoavorable reportage). Do you really require independant proof of that?

"These three bombings all happened on the same day."

Was that same day one of the first days the US was in the Baghdad by any chance? Why yes it was, huh. How surprising.

"Your only response to this has been to say, "you can't trust journalists when talking about other journalists." You haven't provided much basis for this; I could just as easily say "you can't trust politicians."

Ok, then we have the original person who reported the incident who is neither. And I think we typically can't trust people to police their own profession well--that is why we bother having journalists at all. Furthermore that just leads me to ask for the tape--just like you can read what I wrote here.

And that is where the parallel between the Holsclaw case and the Jordan case breaks down rather spectacularly.

I'm not even a journalist. I am not trying to change the opinions of world leaders at the Davos conference. Yet even I am willing to say, "You think I'm not clear? Let's go to the tape". That is all I asked for throughout the entire time I've talked about it.

"I think fighting terrorists is important; you think invading Iraq was more important."

I think the two are related. And considering your discussions of Afghanistan, I don't believe you think FIGHTING terrorists is important. You may believe that playing defense is important, but not fighting.

Tomsyl: has as its theme the fact that CNN did not report fully and accurately on the atrocities of Hussein's regime

Yes. This is the theme, stated in the first paragraph of the Op-Ed: "Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff."

Then he offers some examples of those stories. link

Then he concludes "Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely."

It would take a right-wing blogmob to warp that painfully honest account into the summary you've given.

Since an "Op-Ed" piece seem to be a legitimate source in this thread, I offer this view on Jordan's confession.

I apologize for not knowing how to post a hyperlink, but the following has an interesting analysis of the Palestine Hotel incident, by the Committee to Protect Journalists that bears on this topic:

http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2003/palestine_hotel/palestine_hotel.html

"CPJ has learned that Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists and were intent on not hitting it . . . However, these senior officers apparently failed to convey their concern to the tank commander who fired on the hotel."

tomsyl: Gromit, Jordan's Op-Ed is entirely about what CNN had to do to stay in Iraq (when other news sources were banned for unfoavorable reportage). Do you really require independant proof of that?

Independent proof? Nah. A quote from the op-ed that bears out your characterization would do. I just re-read it a couple of minutes ago. What part did I miss?

Sebastian: "I think fighting terrorists is important; you think invading Iraq was more important."

I think the two are related.

I am aware that you believe that invading a country with no connections to al-Qaeda and posing no possible military threat to the US, was somehow "related" to fighting terrorism. I even know why - Bush & Co talked you into it, in various well-documented ways, most of which have since been proven to be false.

And considering your discussions of Afghanistan, I don't believe you think FIGHTING terrorists is important.

I also don't see how invading Afghanistan, overthrowing the Taliban, and letting the country be taken over by the warlords as it was before the Taliban took over, had anything to do with fighting terrorists. Or terrorism.

I also think you're trying to avoid answering the question I'm still waiting for an answer to: If you didn't mean that US soldiers are shooting at people who are "a little flag that says journalist" because they think they're insurgents (Terry Lloyd?), what did you mean when you said: "Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under."

travis: "CPJ has learned that Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists and were intent on not hitting it . . . However, these senior officers apparently failed to convey their concern to the tank commander who fired on the hotel."

Yes, one of the commenters on my livejournal, a soldier who's been deployed in Iraq, also bears that out. His livejournal ID's Pecunium.

tomsyl: Since an "Op-Ed" piece seem to be a legitimate source in this thread

Er, tomsyl, when the subject of the discussion is "what did Eason Jordan say in his Op-Ed in the NYT", then clearly Jordan's Op-Ed is a legitimate source.

However, the thread's discussion topic is - why are US soldiers shooting at journalists in Iraq?

"I also don't see how invading Afghanistan, overthrowing the Taliban, and letting the country be taken over by the warlords as it was before the Taliban took over, had anything to do with fighting terrorists. "

I'm well aware that you don't see how invading Afghanistan had anything to do with fighting terrorists. Which is exactly why I think you don't know/care much about fighting terrorists. Thanks for reminding me explictly.

"What part did I miss?"

Gromit, have you honestly missed the fact that Jordan is telling what CNN had to do in order to continue reporting from within Iraq?

"It would take a right-wing blogmob to warp that painfully honest account into the summary you've given."

"Painfully honest" is your characterization -- by his own words that doesn't fit CNN's reportage. I take Jordan's words at face value -- as an admission of what news CNN had to suppress to stay in the Hussein regime's good graces so they could remain in Iraq. I don't see why that merits name-calling, but YMMV.

"However, the thread's discussion topic is - why are US soldiers shooting at journalists in Iraq?"

Funny, I thought I got the link to Jordan's Op-Ed from you -- in this post. Maybe a whale swam over the internet between here and there.

Tomsyl, it may very well be that Saddam would have kicked CNN out of Baghdad for airing those stories. It could very well be that this, and not the well-being of the Iraqis in question was CNN's motivation for withholding them (and the op-ed you linked does add weight to this argument). However, you characterized Jordan's essay as saying access was a factor in withholding those reports, which is plainly false. If Jordan is to be believed (and this assumption is very arguable, sure) then had CNN decided to leave Baghdad, they still could not have reported those stories as long as Saddam was in power.

Again, if I have missed something, quote the relevant passages. How hard is that?

Gromit, please read this statement carefully:

"You realize, of course, that he admitted to intentional distortions in CNN's reportage, the purpose of which was to allow CNN to remain in Iraq when other (presumably more truthful) news outlets had been banned?

This is your take on those words:

"However, you characterized Jordan's essay as saying access was a factor in withholding those reports . . ."

If you honestly thought that I was saying that Jordan admitted that CNN suppressed the news to stay in Iraq, then perhaps I'm guilty of ambiguity. The purpose of that suppression of is my own conclusion, which, to me, obvious -- if CNN had reported truthfully they would have been banned like everyone else that did so. The likelihood of CNN admitting it suppressed negative reports on the regime in return for continued access is about the same as Dan Rather admitting he relied on forgeries.

tomsyl: I take Jordan's words at face value -- as an admission of what news CNN had to suppress to stay in the Hussein regime's good graces so they could remain in Iraq.

Then plainly, you are not taking Jordan's words at face value, since his Op-Ed says nothing about suppressing stories "to stay in the Hussein regime's good graces". Since you are arguing in bad faith, I see no point in continuing this discussion.

Sebastian: I'm well aware that you don't see how invading Afghanistan had anything to do with fighting terrorists.

I also don't see how invading Afghanistan, overthrowing the Taliban, and letting the country be taken over by the warlords as it was before the Taliban took over, had anything to do with fighting terrorists.

Why do you think letting Afghanistan be taken over by the warlords as it was before the Taliban took over had anything to do with fighting terrorists?

And why don't you want to answer the question I'm still waiting for an answer to: If you didn't mean that US soldiers are shooting at people who are "a little flag that says journalist" because they think they're insurgents (Terry Lloyd?), what did you mean when you said: "Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under."

Jesurgislac is a she?!?

This is fascinating, last I heard you weren't for the Afghanistan invasion at all, did you change your mind? Did I misremember?

"Why do you think letting Afghanistan be taken over by the warlords as it was before the Taliban took over had anything to do with fighting terrorists?"

Furthermore I don't agree with your framing of the current situation.

A) The Taliban was intimately connected with Al Qaeda, suggesting that even if we had left Afghanistan exactly as it were before the Taliban it would be an improvement over the Taliban vis-a-vis terrorism concerns.

B) You are wrong that Afghanistan is just like it was before the Taliban, and you are exhibiting a very American impatience with how long it will take to build (I specifically do NOT say rebuild) a civil society in Afghanistan. Are you sure you aren't American?

This unfortunately leaves us very little to discuss on Afghanistan. But please do remind me of your position on the initial Afghanistan invasion.

I've answered your other question repeatedly. I'm happy to allow the transcript to speak for itself at this point. Too bad we can't do the same for Jordan.


Jesurgislac is a she?!?

Yes.

And a vampire.

"Since you are arguing in bad faith, I see no point in continuing this discussion."

Ditto.

Sebastian: I've answered your other question repeatedly

No, you never have. I'm asking you if you meant by it that US soldiers are shooting at journalists - because, you think, they believe them to be insurgents, because insurgents are posing as journalists. Is that what you meant when you said: "Sure if they have a little flag that says journalist which they don't allow insurgents to hide under."

You keep not answering this question.

Incidentally, I've added a new link for when US soldiers shot Mazen Dana, a Reuters cameraman, outside Abu Ghraib prison:

The incident took place in daylight on Sunday afternoon.

Mazen Dana's last pictures show a US tank driving towards him outside the prison walls.

Several shots ring out from the tank and the camera falls to the ground.

His sound engineer, Nael al-Shyoukhi, said that the pair had spoken to a US soldier near the prison shortly before the shooting.

"They saw us and they knew about our identities and our mission," he said. cite


Also, Sebastian, if you want to argue about the invasion of Afghanistan, how much it had to do with fighting terrorism, and whether it's proven justified, do start a new thread. You have that power. I don't.

Likewise, for the invasion of Iraq and your belief that it was somehow connected to fighting terrorism.

Meanwhile, back to the killing of journalists by US soldiers in Iraq...

Sebastian:

I think the two are related. And considering your discussions of Afghanistan, I don't believe you think FIGHTING terrorists is important. You may believe that playing defense is important, but not fighting.

I can't speak for Jes, but I would like to point out that "FIGHTING terrorists" [sic] is not a rational goal any more than "defending against terrorists" or "recovering gracefully from terrorist attacks" is. If FIGHTING results in a net increase in terrorism then what good is it? Ditto for "defending."

When the rate at which you bail out a ship is lower than the rate at which water leaks in you are, by definition, sinking. Making holes well above the waterline but below the gunwales in hopes of bailing faster isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it's certainly a desperate measure and it certainly works against you in the long run. Making holes directly above the waterline is simply suicidal.

In regards to the death of Mazen Dana, Suburban Guerilla has a post that mentions it in the course of discussing the underreporting of US casualties

According to Islamonline.net and other sources, Dana's family, when interviewed after the murder, had stated to investigators that Dana was murdered because he was shooting video footage of mass graves of US soldiers --- i.e., soldiers killed who were not counted in the official Pentagon casualty figures --- for a television documentary on the subject for Reuters.

Just days before the murder, he told his brother that US military intelligence had been following him around continuously and that he was certain that, sooner or later, he would be killed. According to another article in www.aztlan.net, the mass graves in various locations in Iraq contained large numbers of Mexican nationals fighting on the US army front lines, persons who had been promised US "green cards" and even US citizenship by unscrupulous US Army recruiters if they were willing to risk almost certain combat death.

which is taken from this Indymedia post

wow, for like 20 months i've been reading you and thinking you were male.

I take it then that my memory was not wrong?

Well, as Josh Billings said "There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory." ;^)

tomsyl: If you honestly thought that I was saying that Jordan admitted that CNN suppressed the news to stay in Iraq, then perhaps I'm guilty of ambiguity. The purpose of that suppression of is my own conclusion, which, to me, obvious -- if CNN had reported truthfully they would have been banned like everyone else that did so.

Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification, and thanks also for understanding why I misinterpreted your earlier comments.

On a closed forum, where it's been agreed that you don't name names and quote, he said something that could be poorly interpreted and all you have to do is to seek the release of the video tape to set the record tape.

However, Jes, you failed to mention that this wasn't the first time Eason had made the comment JFTR.

Timmy: and all you have to do is to seek the release of the video tape to set the record tape.

Chatham House Rule makes that impossible. Judging by the reaction to this, though, I would guess it's likely that Rony Abovitz has managed to ensure bloggers will not be trusted anywhere near a meeting under the Chatham House Rule in future.

However, Jes, you failed to mention that this wasn't the first time Eason had made the comment JFTR.

I have no idea what this means. JFTR? WTF?

If you meant it wasn't the first time Eason Jordan had mentioned US soldiers shooting journalists, no, I don't suppose it was: US soldiers have been killing journalists in Iraq since the beginning of the invasion. As you'd know, if you read my livejournal entry. It's a fact - a horrid series of facts - that anyone is free to point out.

JFTR == Just For The Record

Actually, I meant to add that there is additional interesting discussion going on at my livejournal, and anyone who wants to join in is very welcome.

Eason's comment was that American soldiers were targeting journalists JFTR.

Chatham House Rule makes that impossible.

No it doesn't, because if it does why was it taped to beign with. Simply put let us go to the video tape would have resolved Eason's, well maybe it wouldn't and maybe that is the reason the tape wasn't released.

US soldiers have been killing journalists in Iraq since the beginning of the invasion, as killing implies intent, I suggest you retract. Journalists have died in the Iraqi conflict, which isn't unusual when one finds oneselves in the middle of an armed conflict.

Timmy the Wonder Dog: No it doesn't, because if it does why was it taped to beign with.

Doesn't follow. Lots of things get taped that aren't intended for public consumption. I mean lots of things.

US soldiers have been killing journalists in Iraq since the beginning of the invasion, as killing implies intent, I suggest you retract.

Since when does "killing" necessarily imply intent? Do all those "killed by a drunk driver" ads I see on TV imply intent on the part of the driver?

Actually Gromit, drunk drivers are prosecuted for killing (murder) in my state.

Timmy: Eason's comment was that American soldiers were targeting journalists JFTR.

Ah - JFTR - "Just For the Record". Well, just for the record, Timmy, Eason's comment was not on the record. It was made under Chatham House Rule, which is explained and linked to from my livejournal. Which means, as we weren't there, we don't know exactly what Eason said, nor the context in which we said it.

No it doesn't, because if it does why was it taped to beign with. Simply put let us go to the video tape would have resolved Eason's, well maybe it wouldn't and maybe that is the reason the tape wasn't released.

No. The reason the tape of the session wasn't, and won't be, released, is because it was made under Chatham House Rule. No attribution can be made. That's the agreement under which everyone intends. That one blogger didn't pay attention to this agreement does not release anyone else from their agreement: that a tape was made of the session does not change this agreement. I have made this sufficiently clear already.

as killing implies intent, I suggest you retract.

Why? US soldiers have been killing journalists: you only have to read the accounts linked to from my journal to find that out, or google on the names for yourself. The question is whether any, some, or all of the media workers killed were killed because US soldiers deliberately killed them knowing they were media workers. That no one knows, and the Pentagon is not interested in clarifying this.

Timmy the Wonder Dog: Actually Gromit, drunk drivers are prosecuted for killing (murder) in my state.

Non sequitur. Does a drunk driver who kills someone necessarily intend to kill that person? Does a soldier who kills a civilian, even a journalist, necessarily intend to do so? Is "accidentally killing" not a logical subset of "killing"?

Actually Gromit, drunk drivers are prosecuted for killing (murder) in my state.

So now, not only is all killing intentional, all killing is murder? Remind me not to move to TimmyLand.

I think you're way, way off base here, ol' pup. You realize that, under your definition as proposed here, the United States Armed Forces would be properly characterized as "murderers," right? Or maybe you don't.

From the Economist of February 24th, in an article about arabic tv (bolding is mine):

When American warplanes (accidentally, or not?) bombed al-Jazeera's Kabul office and later its bureau in Baghdad, much of the Arab audience assumed this to be a direct expression of American ire.


Giuliana Sgrena is an Italian war correspondent who was kidnapped on February 4, and held hostage in Iraq for a month: she was released yesterday, Friday 4 March.

But while she was being taken to Baghdad airport, US soldiers fired on the car she was in, wounding her and killing the Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari, who had negotiated her release.

More at my journal.

Jes, you ought to tell the entire story in your comment.

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