Initially, the introduction of journalists into the armed forces of foreign countries involved in the preparation and conduct of various kinds of peacekeeping actions and counterterrorism operations, which had become an ideal way of informing the public, has long become the standard method of covering military operations. But, acknowledged chronicler of the Iraq war, Irish journalist Patrick Cockburn, “do good history does not mean making the right story. ”
The Financial Times correspondent in the Middle East since 1979 of the year, the winner of the prestigious awards of James Cameron and Orwell Cockburn believes that embedding civilian journalists in the armed forces earned notoriety in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gina Cavallaro, who published reports from Iraq in the Army Times, also has mixed feelings about embedding journalists. Some war veterans in Iraq are convinced that “embedding” limits the reporter’s ability to “tell the public the truth about the war” from an objective point of view.
ADAPTING THE CIVIL PRESS TO THE NEEDS OF MILITARY
For the first time, embedded reporters widely declared themselves in 2003, when the PR service of the US military intensively engaged in establishing productive relations with civilian media, many of which were very critical of the government’s military policy and did not want to be content with the scant information received at briefings and press conferences . Therefore, the introduction of a qualitatively new development of information support that allowed not only changing the tone of publications of these print media, but also achieving substantial public support for the countries of the coalition of hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, should be considered to be implanted in the combat units of journalists representing the US and UK media.
The activity of the command to regulate media coverage of the military operation involves planning interaction with the media, including the regulation of the admission of journalists to the war zone. Journalists issue accreditation at the information bureau (press center) and are entitled to receive qualified explanations from the media relations officers about the events taking place. At the same time, they undertake to comply with the rules in restricting their activities (not to publicize materials that are not subject to disclosure, not to interview crew members and combat crews before performing those combat missions, not to use lighting, transmitting and other equipment in regimes that may result in unmasking parts etc.).
For journalists accompanying the Allied troops, such embedding turned out to be the only way to get into the combat zone and try to truthfully describe the events that took place. An obvious alternative opportunity for correspondents simply did not exist. Al-Qaida and Taliban militants viewed foreign journalists as potential hostages. The abduction of journalists turned into an effective form of exerting pressure on Western governments and at the same time served to promote the ideas of the kidnappers. The British Guardian newspaper reported on a Taliban offer to pay 50 thousand dollars for the murder of western journalists in Afghanistan. 85 journalists killed in Iraq.
For journalists heading to the war zone in Iraq, the US military organized a course of basic military training at the base in Quantico. But even these measures could not protect all journalists. 16 of them were killed in the first two weeks of the main phase of the conflict. About 775 journalists, by decision of the coalition command, were included in the advancing units of the armed forces. In part, this was done to exercise some control over journalists who would otherwise try to penetrate the battle zone themselves, putting their lives in mortal danger.
By the beginning of the war in Iraq, as part of working with foreign journalists, the central command of the US Armed Forces opened a new international press center in a military camp near the capital of Qatar, equipped with digital telephone and Internet lines and satellite communications. The interior of the conference room, equipped with huge plasma monitors, was designed by a famous Hollywood designer. It was from the press center in Qatar that information was provided to combat operations in Iraq. To provide information for the counterterrorist operation in Afghanistan, the United States and the United Kingdom deployed a coalition press center (“rapid response media center”) in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, which also included civilian media workers in addition to official military representatives. Thanks to the efficient and operational activities of the press center, the Western media managed to seize the initiative in covering Afghan events from the Middle Eastern media. The Ministry of Defense of Great Britain prepared a special document known as the Green Book, which spelled out in detail the procedure for the interaction of the military department with the media during a period of military conflict. The UK Department of Defense was then able to deploy additional 200 activities for additional members of the press services both in London and directly in Iraq, “to support the efforts of the military campaign in the media”.
Professional journalists were integrated into the units involved in combat operations. 662 journalists were attached to the US Army and 95 - to the Armed Forces of Great Britain. Each of the largest US television stations - ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox - was represented in the 26 troops by journalists. Solid post publications from the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time, Newsweek and others were given the opportunity to send journalists to 10 troops. Together with the upcoming units, the most famous American reporters Oliver North, Wolf Blitzer, Scott Pelee, Ted Connell turned up on the front lines.
WHO DOES THE JOURNALISM KORMIT, TOGO AND HE PRAISE
The problem of the relationship between the personnel of the units and the journalists built into them was touched upon by Audrey Gillan of the Guardian attached to the cavalry squadron and BBC Gavin Hewitt, who was included in the American 3 Infantry Division, who witnessed some of the most intense fighting. Both agreed that there is always a danger for journalists to fall under the influence of the unit to which they are attached. "The main reason is that you are dependent on them and they ensure your safety." Both journalists pointed to the possibility of the moment when there might be a “contradiction between the need to inform readers of the truth about what they saw and their loyalty to the people with whom they shared shelter, from whom they received food, water, electricity, and who were concerned about your safety.”
Most of the implanted journalists were convinced of the importance of their mission. However, by the end of the first year of the invasion of Iraq, less than a hundred were left. And in the 2005 year, this number was also halved. Only 48 correspondents continued to report from the locations of coalition military units from Iraqi territory. This led to "a loss of media initiative in covering the efforts of the coalition to stabilize the country."
The BBC was the only British broadcaster that provided a permanent office in Baghdad. Continuously informing the public about the development of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan turned out to be very costly because of the need to pay for security services providing relative security to the editorial offices in Kabul and Baghdad. The media did not want to bear the financial costs associated with the presence of their journalists abroad. In addition, the world’s great interest in the events in Iraq, registered by sociologists in the first days and weeks of the war, gradually faded away.
A similar picture was observed in Afghanistan. Most of the reports that appeared in the American and British media in 2006 year, told about the clashes with the Taliban in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar in the south of the country. The problems that were raised on the pages of foreign publications were mainly limited to the description of quasi-technical or operational tasks that affected the supply of equipment or the fight against roadside mines and improvised explosive devices. Analytical materials from their own correspondents, explaining how the Taliban were able to expand their power in a significant territory of the country right up to the outskirts of Kabul, have practically not appeared in the foreign press until recently.
Over time, the flaws of embedded journalism began to appear clearly, and it came to the realization that journalists cannot but reflect to some extent the points of view of the soldiers they accompany. Pre-embedding implies certain restrictions on the movement of journalists in a fairly narrow and atypical military-political segment. Correspondents of civilian media complained about the excessive zeal of security officers who made it difficult for them to communicate with each other and with sources of information due to the “lack of operational need”.
The forced detachment of embedded journalists from real events was fraught with the threat of losing objectivity and even misinterpretation of any phase of the conflict. Having no established contacts with the local population and constantly being in the disposition of the invading forces, the journalists focused on the internal problems of the military units. Their stories about servicemen are real, they create a sense of immediacy and humanity. Obviously, it can be said that the cooperation of the Armed Forces and civilian media developed according to a well-defined scenario developed by experienced army PR experts and propagandists.
In addition, since it was the military who meticulously selected candidates for embedding, journalists, selected from incredible and dubious sources - a film crew and an MTV journalist, several journalists from right-wing newspapers were among those selected, according to testimony from leading American and British newspapers ... ". Also among the introduced reporters were “military propagandists positioning themselves as civilian journalists.” This manipulation was needed “to increase the degree of reliability and clarity” of materials produced in the bowels of the military department and intended for the general public. It is worth adding the “total censorship” arising from the contract, which puts under the control of the military any journalistic report going out of the conflict zone. The image of the corpus of embedded journalists suffered from tangible damage.
EMOTIONS - ENEMY OF THE OBJECTIVENESS
Meanwhile, the military had an excellent opportunity to “create their own history of the war and broadcast it to the audience, using it to promote their interests.” Kenneth Bacon, a former Pentagon press secretary, expressed this thought almost aphoristically in the Wall Street Journal: “Even hired actors could not have presented the Pentagon’s point of view to the public as well as the press did.” According to the press itself, “The Pentagon used the built-in journalists, and not vice versa, considering the media as a force multiplier.”
The “embedded journalists”, as they were called, lived up to expectations by posting online and real-time video and photo materials made from American tanks during the offensive of coalition forces. But many journalists, striving to be objective, "did not succumb to the rumble of military propaganda and did not wishful thinking." Some of them, not recognizing the restrictions that arise when a reporter is included in any military unit, sought to maintain maximum independence in matters of movement. Sky News journalist Jeremy Thompson crossed the border between Iraq and Kuwait March 22 "through a hole in the fence." Soon, however, for security reasons, he joined the 7th Armored Brigade. And his friend was killed a few miles from Thompson. “But we were autonomous, independent,” Thompson explained. “We should not have relied on the military, on their fuel, water, food, communications, or anything like that.”
In order to create a positive image of coalition troops in the eyes of the world community, full-time propagandists sought to mitigate the consequences of the military occupation and downplay the hostility of the reaction of the local population to it. However, some journalists were inexperienced in military matters. The materials they transmitted were more emotional than informative. This was testified by Alex Thomson from Channel 4 News. “I was horrified at how wasteful and free they handle the language,” the British Marshal shared his impressions. aviation Berridge. Some journalists were prone to overly dramatic events.
Military experts were surprised by such a “distorted perception” of the true picture. According to Kevin Tebbit, as a result, "we were in a situation where hostilities looked much more brutal and much less successful than what actually happened." According to military experts, a heap of small or non-essential details that overwhelmed the messages of "implanted" in the advanced parts of journalists, often modified the "overall strategic picture." Also news the editors on TV, without delay sending reports from the front-line broadcast, did not bother themselves with checking the incoming material.
From the very beginning, the intentions of the command were to provide the right to cover and analyze comprehensive strategic and political issues related to the activities of the coalition forces in Iraq, to the central information structures in London and Qatar. The task of journalists attached to military units was seen in the supplement with reports from the general picture of military operations. But often there was a situation in which the mosaic information transmitted by journalists from the locations of military units in the online mode, or ahead of the information spread at the press briefings in the centers, or conflicted with it. Sometimes MO officials called messages from the front line simply “impressionistic”. And the editors of the media preferred to use this information, rather than information coming from the official press center. In some cases, journalists in the capitals knew more about specific combat incidents from their colleagues in the field than from officials called to answer their questions.
It was gradually becoming clear that military planners were not in a hurry to keep up with changes in the journalistic profession, often using the lessons of recent conflicts without taking into account the realities of today. Military planning only came to terms with the 24-hour news cycle, and the press took another leap forward. The media suggested that large information corporations could deploy their own unmanned aerial vehicle systems in future military conflicts in order to actually display a picture of the fighting.
A serious irritating factor for the military leadership, which has repeatedly declared its desire to "eliminate the barriers between information and the media as the basis for an effective campaign," was the work of independent journalists. Unusually brave people, such as Gate Abdul-Ahad, Terry Lloyd and Nir Rosen, risked their lives many times "in order to break out of the tenacious embrace of the military." By contacting both militants and police officers, they obtained invaluable information in an “undiluted form”, tending to believe that the destructive effect of embedded journalism lies in the very fact of being correspondents with the occupying army, which gives the impression that conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan can be resolved , countries that have survived 30 years of crisis and war, with the help of military force.
Independent journalist Gate Abdul-Ahad, after invading Iraq in 2003, picked up a camera and became a “street photographer” to document events in the country. Fame came to him through his work as a freelance photographer at Getty Images and a special correspondent for the Guardian. His photo stories appeared on the pages of the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other newspapers. For several years, an independent journalist lived in the dungeons of Baghdad. Fearing detection and arrest, regularly changed shelters. Three days before the end of the main combat operations was arrested. Soon he managed to bribe his guards and escape. In 2006, he moved to Beirut, but continued to regularly travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. In October 2010, Abdul Ahad was imprisoned by the Taliban. 2 March 2011 was arrested by Libyan soldiers, but was released due to the intervention of representatives of the Turkish government. James Cameron (2007) and Best Foreign Journalist of the Year (2008) journalist awards, Gate Abdul-Ahad, currently resides in Istanbul and continues to be involved in documenting insurrections, civil wars and other social disasters in the region.
The legendary man, American freelance journalist Nir Rosen, who became famous for his sharply critical, sometimes outrageous reports and statements about the coalition forces, his own government, embedded journalism, spent more than two years in Iraq, actively collaborating with such famous publications as Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, New York Magazine, Boston Review, etc. After examining the problem of embedded journalism, Rosen came to a sharp and disappointing conclusion: “Too often, consumers of mainstream media become victims of fraud.” Most foreign journalists covering events in the Middle East do not speak Arabic. Therefore, the study of public opinion "becomes a challenge for them." Built-in journalists prefer to stay in protected "green areas". One of the reasons for their refusal to leave their “green zones”, in Rosen’s opinion, is “a combination of laziness and aversion to discomfort”. They don't ride the bus, they don't hear complaints from taxi drivers, swearing shopkeepers and soldiers, “they miss an important opportunity to naturally interact with people.” They are always in a protected place, "protected from life - from Iraqis and from violence." Independent journalist Nir Rosen dedicated the book In the Womb of a Green Bird to increased violence in Iraq after the invasion of 2003.
Sometimes a journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan looking for information “has to walk for six hours on a country road, in heat and dust, to sit on the floor and eat dirty food, and drink dirty water, and know that tomorrow you will be sick, for the path to truth includes a certain amount of diarrhea. " To lend credibility to their reports, “American journalists use local words and phrases to show that they have penetrated the cultural secrets” of the conflict region. "The American media always wants to adjust the events in the region to the American narrative." Embedded journalists are reluctant to notice that “America has lost its influence on the Arab masses, even if it can still put pressure on Arab regimes. Reformers and elites in the Arab world want nothing to do with America. ” Ultimately, Nir Rosen concludes with bitterness, "journalists who advocate government policy justify killing innocent people instead of becoming the voice of these people."
Known for his reporting from the Middle East, British television journalist Terence Ellis Lloyd, who worked for ITN and covered the independent invasion of NATO forces in Iraq, was killed by 22 in March 2003 of the year. David Nicholas called Terry Lloyd at the Guardian one of the most experienced war correspondents in the Middle East. Lloyd and his crew of two cinematographers and a translator who did not belong to those built into the US or UK armed forces got into the crossfire zone during the battle near Shatt al-Basra. Later it turned out that Lloyd and his translator-driver from Lebanon, Hussein Osman, were shot by American soldiers. The body of the French cinematographer Frederick Nerak was not found and he is officially listed as missing. Only Belgian cinematographer Daniel Demost managed to survive. However, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped any charges for the death of ITN reporter Terry Lloyd in Iraq.
Five years later, the head of the anti-terrorism unit Hemming told the Independent correspondent: "There is not enough information to identify the person who fired the bullet that killed Mr. Lloyd." Although Lloyd was in a car with a clearly visible TV sign. In other words, a compromise solution was found, the essence of which was reduced to a simple formula: an independent journalist was “illegally killed by US troops, but the Crown Prosecution Service cannot say who fired the shot that killed 50, the father of two, on the outskirts of Basra in March 2003 of the year". ITN, in the course of its own investigation into the causes of the death of independent journalists, established the names of 16 marines, one of whom fired a fatal shot. But the US authorities refused to give their soldiers the opportunity to testify during the 2006 investigation in October. The widow of Lloyd Lynn demanded the initiation of criminal proceedings in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
The Royal Military Police (RMP) investigated this incident. RMP investigator Kay Roberts reported on the transfer by the US authorities to representatives of the British intelligence of a video recording of the incident made by a NATO operator. According to BBC News, the American authorities made assurances that the materials submitted were “all that they had”. The forensic RMP expert, who examined the film, established the fact of its editing and deliberate deletion about 15 minutes of video recording. In the course of the investigation, it was established that ITN journalists were driving in two cars that had all the press signs necessary for vehicles in the combat zone. In the Shatt-Al-Basrah area, Terry Lloyd’s and Daniel Demost’s car, which was ahead of Frederick Nerak’s and Hussein Osman’s car, collided with an Iraqi convoy escorting one of the Ba'ath leaders in Basra. Iraqis forced Nerak and Osman to transfer to their car. Soon the convoy fell under the aimed fire of American marines. Osman was killed. The wife of Frederick Nerac, whose body was not found, Fabien Mercier-Nerac received a letter from the US authorities, which categorically denied the fact of an attack on the ITN News team.
Lloyd, whose car was caught in the crossfire, was hit by a bullet fired by soldiers of the Iraqi Republican Guard. He was transferred to a civilian minibus, which stopped to pick up the wounded. The evidence presented to the court indisputably testifies that the minibus was subjected to shelling by the Americans after it had turned around to leave the collision zone. Terry Lloyd was killed outright. Only Daniel DeMost was able to survive.
In October, 2006, in Oxfordshire, was interrogated for eight days over the death of Terry Lloyd. The verdict, prepared by Andrew Walker from the coroner's office, speaks directly about the "unlawful killing of Terry Lloyd by the US military." Walker announced his intention to appeal to the Attorney General "to investigate the possibility of bringing charges." Coroner praised Lloyd and his team for "professionalism and dedication." According to him, “American tanks were the first to open fire on ITN’s television crews.” Walker drew attention to the fact that Lloyd "was killed away from the fighting" in a civilian minibus - an improvised ambulance car. If the Americans had noticed something suspicious, they “would have fired right away, and not wait for the minibus to turn around. It would damage the front of the car. ” The version of the guilt of American soldiers in the murder of a British television journalist and supported the Daily Mail.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) called the killing of Terry Lloyd a war crime. "The murder of my father," said the daughter of journalist Chelsea Lloyd, "is among the deeply shocking." In a statement on the occasion of the 10 anniversary of the death of Terry Lloyd, she called the incident "a very serious war crime." "It was a mean, deliberate act of revenge." Fabien Mercier-Nerac, the widow of Frederick Nerac announced the continuation of her “lonely vigil” to find out what happened to her husband.
A spokesman for the US Department of Defense said that an investigation conducted back in May 2003 showed that "US troops followed the rules of engagement." According to him, “The Ministry of Defense has never authorized deliberate attacks on non-combatants, including journalists. We have always gone to extreme measures to avoid civilian casualties. The death of journalists has become a sad reality. Fighting is inherently dangerous. ”
Lloyd's family for a decade after the death of the journalist was looking for any information about the last hours of his life. The daughter of the courageous reporter Chelsea went all the way to her father in Iraq. Accompanied by a colleague and friend of the deceased journalist, ITV News host Mark Austin, she visited the United States to try to meet with the marines who were guilty of the death of her father. The US Army official, who ordered the attack on the convoy, in which Lloyd followed with his group, answering the questions of Mark Austin, said: “I don’t think that someone is to blame for what happened. It was just a very unfortunate set of circumstances. ” Daughter Lloyd was able to talk to the commander of a platoon of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant Vince Hogan. According to Mark Austin, this “was good for him, and it was good for Chelsea.”
The ITN broadcaster, on which Lloyd worked 20 for years until his death, rendered any assistance in the search for truth. ITN Productions editorial director Chris Shaw became executive producer of the documentary “Who killed my father?”, Which was shown on ITN prime time. ITN chief editor David Mannion emphasized that “independent reports free of official dogma are crucial not only for journalists, but also for the role they play in a free democratic society. Lloyd, who was covering the invasion of Iraq, was just that - an independent and free journalist. He was not one of the reporters built into the American or British troops, so his materials were free from military censorship. ”