'Unauthorised' journalists to be fired on – Pentagon official

In a debate on Irish radio, Kate Adie has made some startling remarks. The show is hosted by Irish rugby guru, Tom McGurk. The other panelists this week included author Phillip Knightley, New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges, and former Irish Times editor Connor Brady. During the discussion the issue of censorship by the military in the last Gulf War is raised. Tom introduces Kate and she reveals something rather sinister.

Simply put, Kate Adie said that she had been informed that the US military may fire on journalists in the coming war.

This is truly staggering.

The full audio of this debate is available from my server here (5MB) (if it can cope).(No longer available)

Here is an exerpt of the debate:

Tom McGurk: “Now, Kate Adie, you join us from the BBC in London. Thank you very much for going to all this trouble on a Sunday morning to come and join us. I suppose you are watching with a mixture of emotions this war beginning to happen, because you are not going to be covering it.”

Kate Adie: “Oh I will be. And what actually appalls me is the difference between twelve years ago and now. I’ve seen a complete erosion of any kind of acknowledgment that reporters should be able to report as they witness. The Americans… and I’ve been talking to the Pentagon …take the attitude which is entirely hostile to the free spread of information. I was told by a senior officer in the Pentagon, that if uplinks – that is the television signals out of… Baghdad, for example – were detected by any planes …electronic media… mediums, of the military above Baghdad… they’d be fired down on. Even if they were journalists…”

Tom McGurk: “…Kate …sorry Kate ..just to underline that. Sorry to interrupt you. Just to explain for our listeners. Uplinks is where you would have your own satellite telephone method of distributing information.”

Kate Adie: “The telephones and the television signals.”

Tom McGurk: “And they would be fired on?”

Kate Adie: “Yes. They would be ‘targeted down’, said the officer.”

Tom McGurk: “Extraordinary!”

Kate Adie: “Oh, shameless, he said, well he said, ‘they know this, they’ve been warned.’ This is threatening freedom of information before you even get to a war.

The second thing is that there was a massive news blackout imposed in the last Gulf War where I was one of the pool correspondants with the British Army. We effectively had very, very light touch when it came to any kind of censorship. We were told that anything which was going to endanger troops lives which we understood we shouldn’t broadcast. But other than that, we were relatively free.

Unlike our American colleagues, who immediately left their pool, after about 48 hours, having just had enough of it.
And this time the Americans are (a), asking journalists who go with them, whether they are… have feelings against the war. And therefore if you have views that are sceptical, then you are not to be acceptable.

Secondly, they are intending to take control of the American technical equipment …those uplinks and satellite phones I was talking about, and control access to the airwaves. And then on top of everything else, there is now a blackout, which was imposed, during the last war, at the beginning of the war, …was ordered by one Mr. Dick Cheney, who is in charge of this. I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting, as the war occurs. You will get it later.”

This is also reported on the Register. As they point out:

According to Adie (who, overseas readers should be aware, is effectively a saint in the UK), the Pentagon is vetting journalists who propose to cover the war, and is taking control of their comms equipment. This presumably will ease the logistics of managing the hacks quite considerably, because if the US has control of all the gear, then any gear it doesn’t know about that starts broadcasting is presumably a target.

If my server is working well you can download the entire show in Real format from here.(5MB) The above portion of the interview is in the 49th minute – though I would recommend listening to the entire thing. If you can’t get it from my site go here.

There is a debate over at MetaFilter about this topic.

Bernie Goldbach has picked up the story here

Karlin Lillington has commented on the story.

Meg Hourihan is shocked.

Chris Gulker picks it up.