Submitted by Mike Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg.
A 1,176 page Pentagon war manual was recently released that hasn’t received the attention it deserves. The book of combat instructions, titled “Department of Defense Law of War Manual,” apparently covers rules of war for all branches of the U.S. military.
One passage in particular is generating controversy, where journalists seem to be thrown into a convoluted and opaque category, in which they could be seen as “unprivileged belligerents” as opposed to civilians. Naturally, this has sparked concern that journalists the U.S. government doesn’t like could be lumped into the “unprivileged belligerents” category and subsequently murdered at will. The Washington Times covered this story, here are a few excerpts:
The Pentagon’s new thick book of instructions for waging war the legal way says that terrorists also can be journalists.
The manual pushes aside the George W. Bush-era label of “unlawful enemy combatant” for al Qaeda and the like. The new term of choice: “unprivileged belligerent.”
An eye-catching section deals with a definition of journalists and how they are expected to stay out of the fight.
The manual defines them this way: “In general, journalists are civilians. However, journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents.”
Lumping terrorist writers with bona fide scribes prompted one officer to call the paragraph “odd.” A civilian lawyer who opines on war crime cases called the wording “an odd and provocative thing for them to write.”
For another perspective, let’s turn to Georgetown University journalism professor, Chris Chambers, who was recently interviewed by RT. The Free Thought Project reports that:
In an interview with RT, Georgetown Journalism professor Chris Chambers explained why using these terms seemingly provide legal cover, explaining that the reason is “because the Geneva Convention, other tenets of international law, and even United States law – federal courts have spoken on this – doesn’t have this thing on ‘unprivileged belligerents’.”
This will result in journalists embedded with military units, who are already forced to abide by strict protocols censoring what they can show or report on, following the preferred military narrative even closer.
“It gives them license to attack or even murder journalists that they don’t particularly like but aren’t on the other side,” Chambers said.
The Pentagon failed to detail the specific circumstances under which a journalist would be declared an unprivileged belligerent, but Chambers says he is sure “their legal department is going over it, as is the National Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.”
One cannot mistake the government’s intent to tighten the control of the flow of information from the battlefield to the public at large, which raises some very troubling questions.
Now here’s the interview:
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