Passing on the enemy message

North County Times:


(Lt. Gen James) Mattis: I was talking to a lieutenant in Haditha, he told me that because they are now all connected nowadays in their FOBs, he could read stories about Haditha. He said, 'I guarantee you there has not been a reporter in Haditha in my last two and a half months here.'

We're seeing, I think, an unwitting passing of the enemy's message, uncritical, unwitting passing of the enemy's message because the enemy has successfully denied the Western media access to the battlefields.

I'm not sure what Lloyds of London is charging now, I think it's over $5,000 a month insurance for a reporter or photographer to go in. But the murder, the kidnapping, the intimidation means that, in many cases, we have media folks who are relying on stringers who are Iraqi.

Now you can have any kind of (complaint) about the American media or Western media you want, but there is at least a nod, an effort toward objectivity. The stringers who are being brought in, who are bringing in these stories, are not bringing that same degree of objectivity.

So on the one hand, our enemy is denying our media access to the battlefield, where anything perhaps that I say as a general is subject to any number of interpretations, challenges, questions, but the enemy's story basically gets there without that because our media is unable to challenge them. It's unwitting, but at the same time, it can promote the enemy's agenda, simply because there is an apparent attempt at objectivity.

Reporter: Would you like to see more Western media there then?

Mattis: Oh, we would be happy to have more Western media out there. We've had Al-Jazeera out with our troops.

Gen. Mattis is commanding general of Camp Pendleton's I Marine Expeditionary Force and commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command. I can give you some examples of how the enemy play the stringer system. After a fire fight with the enemy, who all disguise themselves as civilians, the stringer will call a hospital and get a report that all the casualties wre civilian. The fact is the hospital and the reporter have no idea whether the people brought in were civilian or enemy troops. Certainly the enemy is not going to confess such a thing at that point. The same goes for reports from the morgues.

What is really worse is how the media follows the enemy script on attacks on non combatants. The lead is never about the enemy's blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions are the rules of war. In fact the media acts as if those rules do not and should not apply to the enemy. The media views them as a unilateral contract binding only our side of the war. Because of these violations the enemy puts all civilians at risk, such as the ones at Haditha, while at the same time targeting civilians. But the enemy script on their attacks on non combatants is to blame the US and the Iraqi government forces for not stopping the attacks. Since the attacks are purely for PR purposes the media becomes complicit in the murder of non combatants by following the script.

BTW, Gen. Mattis is rumored to be in line for a promotion to Commander of operations in Iraq or Centcom commander.


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