Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Pentagon Vs. Journalists

Kevin Gosztola at Shadowproof:

Pentagon War Manual Gives Military License To Target & Attack Journalists

The Pentagon has adopted a “law of war manual” [PDF], which enables commanders to treat journalists as “unprivileged belligerents.” It suggests that correspondents who report some information about combat operations may be taking “direct part in hostilities,” a disturbing argument for justifying the killing of reporters in war zones. There also is a part of the manual that encourages journalists to submit to censorship of news reports that might aid enemies.

On July 31, the Committee to Protect Journalists published an analysis on the Pentagon’s weak justifications for treating journalists as spies. The New York Times Editorial Board also condemned the guidelines in an August 10 editorial.

Here we go again; the Obama administration, like the GeeDubya Bush administration before it, has repeatedly treated American journalists like the enemy. Now they merely assert the right to f^<king kill the enemy. What nation did I wake up in this morning? China? Nazi Germany circa W.W. II?

Please read Mr. Gosztola's piece and then the NYT condemnatory editorial, both linked above. Then take some comfort: this is a war game the military ultimately cannot win, although they can certainly leave a lot of journalists' bodies beside the road in the process of realizing that in a genuinely free and open society,
  • the press is more powerful than even the overwhelmingly powerful military, and
  • between the press and the military, the press is more essential to the survival of openness and of democratic government.
Yes, you read that right: the press tops the military. Think about it for a moment. If the course of action reflected in this manual is indeed pursued, the military can successfully physically protect a society which, thanks to that very military, is neither free nor open. Ya pays yer money 'n' takes yer choice... takes yer chances, too.

The US has been through literally dozens of wars, "police actions," etc. from W.W. II to the present, and not once has the military been granted a leash on the press, let alone a whip and a chair, in wartime. In turn, the press has been largely cooperative except on those occasions in which the military has deliberately squelched things the press had every right to publish. (Obama has been as bad as Bush in trying to shut down the press.) The NYT editorial gets that part just right: the new manual is not aimed at reinforcing the unavoidably uneasy relationship between the press and the military, but rather at giving the military the authority to silence the press when it finds them inconvenient. That is not how a free society is supposed to work. I have no desire to learn military secrets or to see them exposed in the popular media, but I see no justification in America for accomplishing that protection by nailing journalists' feet to the floor. That's not merely unnecessary: it's unacceptable.

The NYT editorial asserts that "[t]he White House should call on Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to revise this section, which so clearly runs contrary to American law and principles." As I see it, that is the focus of the matter. Will the White House do that? I'm not holding my breath...

(courtesy freepress.net)

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