Monday, January 09, 2006

"US troops seize award-winning Iraqi journalist"

That's the headline from a story in "The Guardian," a British newspaper with a long history of editorial and political independence. Many stories about the Iraq war have been printed in the Guardian long before showing up in the American news media, if at all.

American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning. He was released hours later.

Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.

The troops told Dr Fadhil that they were looking for an Iraqi insurgent and seized video tapes he had shot for the programme. These have not yet been returned.

The U.S. military isn't teaching Iraqis much about democracy with these actions. The International Federation of Journalists has accused the Bush administration of hiding behind a "culture of denial" over the deaths of at least 12 journalists who may have been killed by US military in Iraq.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says that while there is no evidence the US military is targeting journalists, too journalists are dying "at the hands of US soldiers because of negligence or indifference ... And when journalists are killed, the military often seems ... unwilling to launch an adequate investigation or take steps to mitigate risk."

Reporters Without Borders made the following comments in their on media in Iraq
As guerrilla attacks increased in Iraq during the summer of 2003, US soldiers became more aggressive with the media, especially Arab journalists, who were accused by the US of sympathizing or even collaborating with the attackers. US obstruction of journalists reached the point where on 12 November, the US media expressed their joint concern about it to the Pentagon. A press spokesman for the US-British forces, US Maj. William Thurmond, said 'guidance' had been given to military units "explicitly stating that reporters are not to be interfered with" but he admitted that 'individual soldiers' had not followed these instructions.

Is the military targeting journalists? I don't know for certain. But it wouldn't surprise me, given the revelations about the Bush administration's actions against US citizens. Certainly some of the 76 reporters who have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war have died at the hands of the insurgents.

Still, we know what Bush supporters are willing to do to those who disagree with Bush. Think Swift Boat Veterans.