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February 6, 2005
The Details That Destroy Eason's Fables

CQ reader Blanknoone decided to take Eason Jordan's Davos comments at face value and do some research to see if his accusations had any basis in fact. Bear in mind that I believe the issue with Jordan is not just his specific Davos comments but the repeated allegations of our military committing atrocities specifically targeting journalists, and his predilection for making those accusations in foreign settings where he can build his anti-American credentials while not facing any scrutiny for his lack of substantiation.

However, Blanknoone's work in researching the issue through Reporters Sans Frontieres -- itself not exactly sympathetic to American military power -- is significant enough that I think CQ readers should read this as well. I'm posting the work verbatim, and of course my comments are open for anyone with further information that supports or contradicts Blanknoone's analysis. As this is quite lengthy, most of it will appear in the Extended Entry area, which will require readers to click on the link after the lead paragraph below.

Final note on Blanknoone -- he wants to make clear that he is a "huge fan" of CQ, which I certainly appreciate.

Eason Jordan made comments at the WEF in Davos about the US military targetting and killing 12 journalists. I use Reporters without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF)in French) to investigate his claims. On its homepage RSF says 46 reporters and 'media assistants' have been killed in Iraq since the start of fighting. 31 journalists, 15 media assitants. They link to a list of names which links to a short blurb on each of the deceased reporters. They do not have blurbs for the assistants, but I tried to piece together what I could.

CNN's Eason Jordan said 12 dead journalists had been 'targetted' by the US military. I tried to find them. With the widest possible definition of 'suspicious' I came up with a list that happened to be 13. I am not saying these necessarily include the 12 Jordan was talking about. I see one case that is in my judgement worth investigating. To use this data to arrive at the US military targetting 12 journalists requires both extreme anti-American bias and very kooky conspiracy theory explanations.

I list those I consider possibly suspicious first. It includes the date, name and RSF blurb followed by (my comments in parenthesis)

Possibly suspicious:
01.11.2004 - Dhia Najim, Reuters
Dhia Najim, an Iraqi freelance cameraman working for the news agency Reuters was shot dead in disputed circumstances on 1st November 2004 in the town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

A US army communique said that Najim, 47, was filming clashes between US marines and Iraqi rebels in the Andulus district of Ramadi when he was shot in the neck. The US military authorities said they had looked at the footage he had taken and claimed that it showed rebels preparing to attack coalition forces.

Reuters said it had seen video footage of Najim's death. The agency, which did not identify the source of the footage, said it indicated that he was killed by a sniper shot without any signs of fighting going on at the time.

A Reuters dispatch also noted that press photographs taken on 31 October showed US marine snipers taking up position in Ramadi. Reuters ruled out any possibility Najim being linked to the rebels and called for a thorough investigation by the US army. Najim's colleagues and family believe he was killed by a US sniper.

(US Army says footage clearly shows reporter was operating with insurgents and died in a firefight. Rueters (with a vested interest) says no way was their reporter operating with terrorists and he was killed by a US sniper, not in fighting. I think this is a case worthy of investigation, especially as both sides claim to have footage to support them. Just like Eason Jordan's comments, "Let's go to the videotape!")

12.09.2004 - Mazen al-Tomaizi, Al-Arabiya
Palestinian journalist Mazen al-Tomaizi, who worked for the pan-Arab TV news station Al-Arabiya and the Saudi TV station Al-Ekhbariya, was reporting live on Al-Ekhbariya at the scene of a burning Bradley fighting vehicle on 12 September 2004 in Baghdad when he was hit by the impact of a missile fired from a US helicopter.

(Palestinian journalist filming a still burning Bradley. An AH fired a missile (rather apparently at what they thought destroyed the Bradley) and he died in the explosion.)

15.08.2004 - Mahmoud Hamid Abbas, ZDF
Abbas, 32, married with three children, was killed on 15 August 2004 on his way from his native Falluja to Baghdad. He had worked for the German TV Network ZDF as a freelance producer for about a year and a half.

When he phoned the ZDF office in Baghdad to say he was coming he mentioned he had just filmed a house destroyed by US warplanes. About 25 minutes later, he rang again to say he had seen a second attack. During the call, he suddenly said he and others with him were being fired at. There was a dull thud, apparently an explosion, and the line was cut off, according to ZDF correspondent in Iraq.

(I think it pretty absurd to think someone was calling in close air support on a moving reporter or that a pilot identified him as a journalist. I'll include it in suspicious because I know the kooks will and I want the details told.)

15.08.2004 - Hossam Ali, freelance Iraqi freelance photographer Hossam Ali was killed in Falluja on 15 August 2004 in unclear circumstances.

(Unclear circumstances is enough evidence for the Blame America First I wanted to highlight it)

19.04.2004 - Assad Kadhim, Al-Iraqiya
29.04.2004 - Hussein Saleh, driver, Al-Iraquiya TV (Media Assistant)
TV The coalition-funded Al-Iraqyia said on 19 April 2004 that two of its staff had been killed that day as they travelled to Samarra north of Baghdad. "Journalist Assad Kadhim and driver Hussein Saleh have been killed", said TV news editor-in-chief Najm Khalfaji. He said the crew had started to film a US base as it came under fire.

(They were hired by the Coalition, and there is no indication who did the firing at them...but they were in the general vicinity of Americans when killed so that is probably enough for the blame America first crowd. Somewhat troubled by the dates being 10 days apart. These reporters that don't have frontiers apparently don't have editors either. Probably just a typo.)

26.03.2004 - Bourhan Mohammad al-Louhaybi, ABC News Bourhan Mohammad al-Louhaybi was killed while covering clashes between US forces and groups of armed Iraqis in Falluja, 50 kilometres west of Baghdad on 26 March 2004.

The cameraman, 34, had reportedly wanted to go on filming the clashes against the advice of some of his colleagues.

(Again, being in the general vicinity of Americans and fighting is enough for blame America firsters)

18.03.2004 - Ali Al-Khatib, Al-Arabiya
18.03.2004 - Ali Abdel Aziz, Al-Arabiya
Two Al-Arabiya journalists were hit by American shots on 18 March 2004 near the Borj al-Hayat Hotel although there their vehicle was clearly marked "TV."

Cameraman Ali Abdel-Aziz was killed instantly, and reporter Ali Al-Khatib died early the next day from his injuries at Baghdad's neurosurgical hospital. Both worked for the Dubai-based, pan-Arab TV news network Al-Arabiya.

The TV crew was there because the Borj al-Hayat Hotel had just sustained a rocket attack. Abdel Aziz's brother, Haidar Abdel Aziz, said Al-Arabiya had been given permission to film by the US army. "Suddenly, a Volvo did not stop at the roadblock and the soldiers began to open fire," he said. "My brother and the journalist wanted to leave, they ran towards their car, and at the moment that it was starting up, an armoured vehicle fired on it."

(So while parked in line at a roadblock...while someone was trying to ram through it...they started driving. Possibly not quite as much restraint as might be desired, but certainly not the military going hunting for journalists. Also, the RSF text is written to cast the Americans in the worst possible light...only the quote from the brother clarifies what happened.)

17.08.2003 - Mazen Dana, Reuters
Palestinian cameraman Mazen Dana, 43, was shot dead by an American soldier on 17 August 2003 as he was filming Abou Ghraib prison in a suburb of Baghdad. US officials said the soldier mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. A veteran who had worked for the British news agency Reuters for 10 years, Dana won an international reputation for his coverage in his home town of Hebron in the Occupied Territories. He was roughed up and injured several times by Israeli soldiers and settlers while trying to shoot footage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

(I find it interesting that RSF find the need to detail Israeli action at a totally different place and time in their very brief blurbs. They certainly don't give bios of other journalists. That said, he pointed a camera at a secure and notorius facility and a soldier mistook it for an weapon. Again, possibly not quite as much restraint as desired, but certainly not journalist hunting by the military. PS there is a reason that the military Public Affairs section escorts journalists.)

08.04.2003 - Jos Couso, Tele 5
08.04.2003 - Taras Protsyuk, Reuters
Two TV cameramen, Spaniard Jos Couso and Ukrainian Taras Protsyuk, were killed on 8 April 2003 when a US tank fired on the hotel Palestine in Baghdad, where many foreign journalists were staying.

(Probably the most famous incident. It is noted that RSF did not bother to give ANY indication as to WHY the tank fired on the hotel. The unit was under indirect fire, SIGINT picked up an Iraqi radio transmissions of an observer adjusting the artillery fire. The unit was looking for an artillery observer trying to kill them when two men on a high balcony, with obvious electronic equipment, in a good observation post, were taking an obvious interest in them. They were definitely shot by Americans. But there is no way it could be classified as 'targetting journalists')

08.04.2003 - Tarek Ayoub, Al Jazeera
Al-Jazeera cameraman Tarek Ayoub (35), a Jordanian, was killed on 8 April 2003 when a missile hit and badly damaged the station's offices near the Mansour Hotel in the centre of Baghdad.

Ayoub, who was the station's permanent correspondent in Amman, was sent to beef up the team in Iraq when the war broke out. He was seriously wounded in the attack and died soon afterwards.

(Part of Saddam's media control infrastructure. Best not to be in the belly of the beast when the beast is getting slain. Was he a cameraman or a correspondent?)

23.03.2003 - Terry Lloyd, ITV News
Reporter for the British TV network ITN, veteran British war reporter Terry Lloyd, 51, was killed in gunfire, probably from US-British troops, near Basra on 22 March 2003.

(I include this only because of RSF's wording. He drove literally between US and Iraqi forces in heavy combat. I have never seen any evidence as to which side hit him, but it was his own damn fault either way)

Not at all suspicious: (VERY clearly terrorist forces)
27.10.2004 - Liqaa Abdul-Razzaq, Al-Sharqiya
14.10.2004 - Karam Hussein, European Pressphoto Agency
14.10.2004 - Dina Mohamad Hassan, Al Hurriya Television
07.10.2004 - Ahmad Jassem, Nivive television
26.08.2004 - Enzo Baldoni, Diario della settimana
03.06.2004 - Sahar Saad Eddine Nouami, Al-Mizan, Al-Khaima, Al-Hayat Al-Gadida
27.05.2004 - Kotaro Ogawa, Nikkan Gendai
27.05.2004 - Shinsuke Hashida, Nikkan Gendai
07.05.2004 - Waldemar Milewicz, TVP
07.05.2004 - Mounir Bouamrane, TVP
18.03.2004 - Nadia Nasrat, Diyala Television
28.10.2003 - Ahmed Shawkat, Bila Ittijah
02.07.2003 - Ahmad Karim, Kurdistan Satellite TV
07.04.2003 - Christian Liebig, Focus
07.04.2003 - Julio Anguita Parrado, El Mundo
04.04.2003 - Michael Kelly, Washington Post
02.04.2003 - Kaveh Golestan, BBC
22.03.2003 - Paul Moran, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

15 Media assistants killed
(RSF doesn't bother to list any details of the media assistants. I will try to associate them based on dates with Reporters details and label them (S) Possibly Suspicious and (NS) Not at all Suspicious and (?) no info at all.)

25.08.2004 - Jamal Tawfiq Salmane, Gazeta Wyborcza (?)
29.05.2004 - Mahmoud Ismael Daood, bodyguard, Al-Sabah al-Jadid (?)
29.05.2004 - Samia Abdeljabar, driver, Al-Sabah al-Jadid (?)
27.05.2004 - Unknown, translator (NS)
25.05.2004 - Unknown, translator (?)
21.05.2004 - Rachid Hamid Wali, cameraman assistant, Al-Jazira (?)
29.04.2004 - Hussein Saleh, driver, Al-Iraquiya TV (S)(included in detail above)
26.03.2004 - Omar Hashim Kamal, translator, Time (Not sure. Same date as the ABC News guy in the vicinity of Fallujah, but different employer, and not mentioned in the blurb)
18.03.2004 - Majid Rachid, technician, Diyala Television (NS)
18.03.2004 - Mohamad Ahmad, security agent, Diyala Television (NS)
27.01.2004 - Duraid Isa Mohammed, producer and translator, CNN (? based on RSF, NS based on additional research)
27.01.2004 - Yasser Khatab, driver, CNN (? based on RSF, NS based on
additional research))
07.07.2003 - Jeremy Little, sound engineer, NBC (?)
06.04.2003 - Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed, translator, BBC (?)
22.03.2003 - Hussein Othman, translator, ITV News (Same date as the NS Paul Moran, but is not mentioned in the blurb.)

I took a special interest in the two from CNN, as they were most likely to personlly affect Jordan. Here is CNN's article on it. Clearly terrorist actions. And the CNN car with the security people left them behind. Guilty conscience?

Overall I think the case of Dhia Najim is worth investigating. There is a truth and there is a good chance that we can get to it. But even if Najim was shot by a sniper, that by no means indicates that the US military deliberately targetted Najim or even identified him as a reporter. Other than that, I don't see anything that could even possibly be legitimately described as the military targetting journalists. Mistakes. Collateral damage. Panic. But if the US military set out to kill journalists, especially as a policy as Jordan insinuates, they would have been a whole lot more effective that what the evidence I have seen shows.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 6, 2005 3:25 PM

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