Sunday, March 9, 2008
Playing By The Rules
The media habitually ‘embeds’ itself with the Coalition military to cover various stories around Iraq. As a written policy the Coalition does not allow any of the media’s organic security assets come along on the trips and therefore assumes complete responsibility for the news teams’ safety, security and well-being.
I suppose that it’s the Coalition’s party and it can make the rules, regardless of how much the news organizations rile against this. It’s rumored that some news agencies have gotten around this policy in the past by "labeling" their security guys as “field producers”. This, to me, seems disingenuous and intrinsically wrong, and can get people tossed out of this country very quickly if it goes badly, which things have a tendency to do here.
My organization plays by the rules, no matter how much we dislike ceding the safety and security of our colleagues, and often friends, to an unknown military organization. While I have a great deal of respect for the military units here on the ground, the fact of the matter is that none of them are trained to provide "close protection". It’s just not an Army skill set that any of the units here possess, and it’s either arrogance or ignorance that allows the military to think that it can simply because it poccesses a lot of guns and armor. It’s akin to scattering a bunch of AK-toting Iraqis on the street and claiming that you all of a sudden have security. Nonetheless, in a year when violence against the media is at an all-time high, the military is putting our media teams in greater danger than need be simply because of it’s own ignorance/arrogance. Believe me, as an ex-soldier, it hurts me to say that but it's the truth in this case.