Major Eric E. serves with the Iraq Explosive Device Task Force at Camp Victory in Baghdad. He understandably takes Linda Foley’s remarks regarding the American military targeting journalists rather personally. He has sent us a copy of his letter to the union over which she presides:
Dear Newspaper Guild:
As an American serving here in Iraq, and having previously served in Afganistan, I am deeply offended by Ms. Linda Foley’s crystal clear allegation, made in a public forum to audience applause, that the U.S. military conducts targeted killings of foreign journalists in Iraq. Of course, she has no evidence. The U.S. military liberated these nations, and is providing security to facilitate the development of democratic governments that encourage constitutional freedoms, such as that of the press.
On the other hand, however, there is possible evidence that there are journalists, or people posing as journalists, who are actively supporting the insurgents and, therefore, their terrorist tactics. For example, there was recently a CBS journalist who was firing at U.S. troops. Interestingly, when he was first apprehended, many of the newspapers you represent breathlessly reported that the U.S. had wounded a CBS journalist. After a brief investigation that revealed the man’s actual role in attacking U.S. troops, many of the same papers changed their decription to say only that it was a man who carried the credentials of a CBS journalist.
Another example of journalists who actively support the insurgency occurred recently at the 14th Street Bridge in Baghdad. My sources are the troops who were themselves involved in this incident. The south end of the bridge was the site of a spectacular car-bomb attack several months ago and there is an abandoned building that stands alone near the site.
One morning, the Iraqi police guarding the bridge noticed an abandoned car near their checkpoint. Upon investigation, they found that it was filled with explosives. After safely moving the dozens of innocent civilians who would likely have otherwise been killed by a blast, the police neutralized the car bomb.
Within minutes, a television camera crew, emerged from the abandoned building. When the Iraqi police questioned them, they simply showed their Al-Jazeera “journalist” credentials, saying that they were filming the river and knew nothing of the car bomb. They then drove north toward the next bridge, where thirty minutes later a different car bomb detonated, killing Iraqi civilians. To the surprise of no one, the footage was aired on Al-Jazeera that night. Obviously, the crew had at least been informed of the terrorist plans, and even back-up plans, then actively supported terror against Iraqi civilians by filming and broadcasting it around the world.
Another example, which does not yet rise to the level of evidence, is the photographer who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his photo of insurgents executing Iraqi poll workers in the middle of a busy street, before the January 30th elections. From the perspective of the photo, it is clear that the photographer is close to the killers…and likely in the middle of the street with them.
It raises the question of whether the photographer was collaborating with the killers. That question is unlikely to be answered though, because Associated Press, the news organization who paid the photographer, refuses to give his or her name, and explained that they were doing so in order to protect the individual’s “safety.” I ask you, if he or she was comfortable enough to be that close to the men who were executing those poll workers in broad daylight, exactly who is it that might pose a danger to this person?
The men and women of the U.S. military are risking their lives to end tyranny and bring freedom to these countries. It is insulting for the leader and chief spokesperson for your organization, which represents journalists from all over the country, to make baseless allegations in order to smear the reputation of the members of our armed forces. She need not support, or even appreciate, the U.S. military, but she should not use her position to smear its reputation with charges that are equally horrible and baseless.
Ms. Foley seems better suited to write an opinion column, rather than to serve as the head of a leading organization that represents the members of a profession that, at its core, requires integrity and objectivity. I ask you to relieve Ms. Foley of her duties, and replace her with someone who understands the importance of having evidence to support sensational allegations, such as saying publicly that the U.S. military murders those from around the world who carry out one of our nation’s most sacred freedoms–the freedom of the press.
Thank you for your attention. Please e-mail a response to this address.
Major Eric E.
Major E. promises to let us know as soon as he hears back from the guild, but we’re not holding our breath on that one.
JOHN adds: Linda Foley, head of the Newspaper Guild union, has picked up where Eason Jordan left off:
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.
So Ms. Foley specifically alleged that journalists are being deliberately killed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq; that there are a “number” of such killings which are “brutal;” that the U.S. military has killed American journalists; and that soldiers have also murdered Arab journalists “with impunity.” She cites exactly one example in support of these lurid charges, the blowing up of the Al Jazeera studio in Baghdad in the early phase of the Iraq war, in which an Al Jazeera employee died. I believe this incident did occur; however, I do not know of any evidence that the bombing was deliberate. The Army said that it was accidental. Which illustrates, of course, why the U.S. government urged all foreign journalists to leave the country before the war began. That’s a mighty thin reed on which to rest her charges.