Saturday, March 10, 2007

Controlling The Message

The U.S. military asserted that an American soldier was justified in erasing journalists' footage of the aftermath of a suicide bombing and shooting in Afghanistan last week, saying publication could have compromised a military investigation and led to false public conclusions.

The comments came Friday in response to an Associated Press protest that a U.S. soldier had forced two freelance journalists working for the AP to delete photos and video at the scene of violence March 4 in Barikaw, eastern Afghanistan. At least eight Afghans were killed and 34 wounded.

"Investigative integrity is one circumstance when civil and military authorities will reluctantly exercise the right to control what a journalist is permitted to document," Col. Victor Petrenko, chief of staff to the top U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan, said in a letter Friday. ...

"When untrained people take photographs or video, there is a very real risk that the images or videography will capture visual details that are not as they originally were," he said. "If such visual media are subsequently used as part of the public record to document an event like this, then public conclusions about such a serious event can be falsely made."

The AP also raised concerns about the military's efforts to restrict its coverage of the Feb. 15 crash of a U.S. helicopter in southern Zabul province in which eight soldiers were killed and 14 wounded. Two AP journalists and their vehicle were searched extensively in an effort to prevent footage of the wreckage getting out.

Petrenko justified that action on the grounds of "operational security" exercised when "equipment, aircraft or component parts are classified."

He maintained that the U.S. military had no intention of curbing freedom of the press in Afghanistan.

7 Comments:

Blogger Meatball One said...

"...there is a very real risk that the images or videography will capture visual details that are not as they originally were..."

lmao. clutching for straws - perhaps?!

3/10/2007 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was flabbergasted by that exact same quote... and then the same guy said further down in the article about how *committed* the U.S. military is to a free and independent press...

What I don't get is how matter-of- factly the story is reported in the NYT. Shouldn't there be an editorial about this or something?

George Orwell must be spinning in his grave.

Dena

Note to self: "untrained" journalist - one that doesn't report exactly the spin the U.S. military wants.

3/10/2007 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the U.S. military needs is some kind of Oprah-like film crew + producers and actors to "re-create" events and then shoot footage for the 6 o'clock news. That way Americans can rest easy in their delusional fog believing that everything their military do is really the best; they're the nicest guys on the planet. (that goes for the foolish Canadians in Afganistan too...)

3/10/2007 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was me.
Dena

3/10/2007 3:27 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

They want us to believe them, not our own eyes.

3/10/2007 4:45 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

Dena:

The military is still pissed about the Abu Gharib photos. They had been denying (and would still be denying) that prisoner abuse was taking place.

Until the pictures showed up.

They have learned from that experience to feel threatened by demonstrably unvarnished truth.

And about having an Oprah-like production team -- they used to go to great extents to try to play up all the supposed good news (what little there was) and the TV people were happy to go along -- until it got too dangerous for the press to go on these set up photo-ops.

3/10/2007 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's right, Mr. Meatball. Who are you going to believe, us, or your own lyin' meatball eyes?

Dena

3/10/2007 5:41 PM  

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