Revise ‘dangerous’ language of new Pentagon manual
Published On October 9, 2015 » 1886 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Letters to the Editor
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Allow me some space to discuss one of the most important international matters that concern the journalism profession.
As a true believer in the importance of independence of journalists and freedom of the Press both locally and internationally, I would like to make a comment on the Pentagon’s decision to call war journalists ‘Belligerents.’
The US has essentially built up a whole system of double standards under which all journalists are divided into the loyal (the so-called independent) and those who dare to disagree with the White House and support national governments trying to pursue their own national policies.
The idea of changing the objectionable regimes seems rather popular with all the US administrations no matter who the current president is.
Some good examples include the support of the opposition in Zimbabwe and the ‘coloured’ revolution in Maghreb which resulted in total chaos, the failed state of Iraq.
This is not limited to the unfolding drama in Syria. President Bashar Assad is virtually the only power standing in the way of the Islamic State’s further advance.
However, the opposition’s armed forces in Syria are being backed to topple the legitimate government.
Washington does not allow meddling in its affairs, even from the media whose job is actually to question the government’s decisions.

•A WAR journalist.

•A WAR journalist.

It is, therefore, important that Washington should revise “dangerous” language of the new Pentagon manual that says journalists can become unprivileged belligerents” similar to spies or saboteurs.
It is no wonder Reporters Without Borders published an open letter to US Defense Secretary Ash Carter in response to the Department of Defence’s first Law of War Manual which has provoked outrage among journalists for saying war reporters may be held liable for “engaging in hostilities” or “spying, sabotage and similar acts behind enemy lines”.
The manual suggests journalists avoid spying accusations by gaining permission to report from “relevant authorities” but does not provide guidelines about chaotic conflict Zones such as Syria, Central Mexico, Northern Iraq and Eastern Ukraine where factions have attacked and captured accredited journalists.
The Pentagon also implies that reporters should submit all their relevant work for review and possible censorship so that the journalists do not reveal sensitive information.
So war correspondents would have to think twice before writing or broadcast something on air as the “wrong” words could easily land them in the still functioning Guantanamo.
From what is going on, it can be said that the US is playing double standards as regards to freedom of the Press. When it suits them, they are able to interfere with the Press, but when others (countries) do, they go on an anti-hill and cry foul. This should not be the case at all.

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