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Airstrike! The Pentagon simplifies media relations

Freelances will be shot at

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Should war in the Gulf commence, the Pentagon proposes to take radical new steps in media relations - 'unauthorised' journalists will be shot at. Speaking on The Sunday Show on Ireland's RTE1 last Sunday veteran war reporter Kate Adie said she had been warned by a senior Pentagon official that uplinks, i.e. TV broadcasts or satellite phones, that are detected by US aircraft are likely to be fired on.

Bush pere's Iraq war featured tight control of the media, but the current administration intends to go rather further. According to Adie (who, overseas readers should be aware, is effectively a saint in the UK), the Pentagon is vetting journalists who propose to cover the war, and is taking control of their comms equipment. This presumably will ease the logistics of managing the hacks quite considerably, because if the US has control of all the gear, then any gear it doesn't know about that starts broadcasting is presumably a target.

According to Adie the official told her: "There is a 'no' list... they have been warned." We presume that US forces will not be specifically trying to kill journalists - that escalation sounds more like the next war to us. But by warning of the dangers, the US is providing further discouragement for the few journalists who'll attempt to report from behind Iraqi lines, or to 'freelance' outside the control of the US authorities. And should they get one or two while taking out unidentified communications systems, well, they've covered themselves. They should however bear in mind that should Saint Adie be in the slightest bit damaged, no force on earth will be strong enough to save Tony Blair from the British public.

Adie's remarks came as part of a discussion of war reporting and media freedom which also involved author Phillip Knightley, New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges and former Irish Times editor Connor Brady. The whole discussion is well worth listening to, and we particularly liked Hedges' put-down of CNN: "CNN survives from war to war; as soon as the war starts they become part of the problem." You can find a partial transcript of Adie's remarks here, and you can get the whole show here.. ®

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