Journalists among the dead in leaked Iraq video

April 5, 2010 6:10 PM ET

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement today after reviewing a classified U.S. military video showing the killing of an unspecified number of individuals, including Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and camera assistant Saeed Chmagh, outside Baghdad. The footage was shot in July 2007 and the video was posted on WikiLeaks.

"This footage is deeply disturbing and reminds us of what journalists in war zones undergo to bring us the news,” said Joel Simon, CPJ executive director. “The video also confirms our long-held view that a thorough and transparent investigation into this incident is urgently needed.”


I am also concerned with the needless deaths of those who feel compelled to capture the real-world drama so violently projected upon the world stage. Therefore, it is with only the most fervent and sincere hope that journalists will follow my advice that I present Actionable Items that can Save Lives:

1. Realize that entering an active war zone is an inherently unsafe and dangerous act.

2. Realize that in a battle environment, cameras sporting long and thick telephoto lenses, especially when equipped with shoulder slings, are effectively indistinguishable from rifles, RPGs, and other assorted weaponry.

3. Understand that in a war zone, one has no realistic expectation of restraint that one might presume an essentially civilian police force would demonstrate.

4. Come to grips with the fact that professional military personnel, as a result of dealing daily with people who (often by using misdirection and subterfuge) actively seek to kill them, will be disinclined to give anyone found on the field of battle the benefit of the doubt.

5. The above point is magnified if the journalist chooses to congregate with fighters who wear no uniform while attacking uniformed forces.

6. The above points in aggregate are prima facie evidence that if a journalist, wearing non-military clothing, chooses to carry an object that can be misconstrued as a weapon while in the company of fighters who also don't wear uniforms and are carrying weapons, has no reasonable expectation of anything other than violent death in the face of a technologically superior force seeking to kill those fighters whom the journalist wishes to cover.

I hope this helps. I don't want any more journalists to die either.

- Someone who cares more about life and individual liberty than most readers here do, but who's afraid such readers are constitutionally unable to appreciate this fact.

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