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February 6, 2005

Maybe this is what Eason's talking about . . .

The blog Resonant Information attempts to uncover the names of the journalists that Eason might have been referring to, and the circumstances surrounding each of their deaths. The conclusion:

This brings the total to twelve, so if someone handed Eason Jordan the same information I've just provided here, it's entirely possible that he said what he did in good faith. Blogs keep decrying him as a liar, and asking for names here they are. It is admittedly a little unfair to ask the US military to prove a negative, that these deaths were not intentional... but then, we have most likely killed over a hundred thousand civilians in Iraq, and taken horrendous casualties among our own soldiers, because Saddam Hussein was unable to prove a negative: that he had no weapons of mass destruction.
Leaving most of that aside for the moment, a writer at FreeRepublic has examined each of these cases and found little merit to the charge that any of their deaths were intentional murders by US troops (hat-tip: Captain's Quarters):
Eason Jordan made comments at the WEF in Davos about the US military targetting and killing 12 journalists. I use Reporters without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF)in French) to investigate his claims. On its homepage RSF says 46 reporters and 'media assistants' have been killed in Iraq since the start of fighting. 31 Journalists, 15 media assitants. They link to a list of names which links to a short blurb on each of the deceased reporters. They do not have blurbs for the assistants, but I tried to piece together what I could.

CNN's Eason Jordan said 12 dead journalists had been 'targetted' by the US military. I tried to find them. With the widest possible definition of 'suspicious' I came up with a list that happened to be 13. I am not saying these necessarily include the 12 Jordan was talking about. I see one case that is in my judgement worth investigating. To use this data to arrive at the US military targetting 12 journalists requires both extreme anti-American bias and very kooky conspiracy theory explanations.

I list those I consider possibly suspicious first. It includes the date, name and RSF blurb followed by (my comments in parenthesis)

Possibly suspicious:

01.11.2004 - Dhia Najim, Reuters Dhia Najim, an Iraqi freelance cameraman working for the news agency Reuters was shot dead in disputed circumstances on 1st November 2004 in the town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

A US army communique said that Najim, 47, was filming clashes between US marines and Iraqi rebels in the Andulus district of Ramadi when he was shot in the neck. The US military authorities said they had looked at the footage he had taken and claimed that it showed rebels preparing to attack coalition forces.

Reuters said it had seen video footage of Najim's death. The agency, which did not identify the source of the footage, said it indicated that he was killed by a sniper shot without any signs of fighting going on at the time.

A Reuters dispatch also noted that press photographs taken on 31 October showed US marine snipers taking up position in Ramadi. Reuters ruled out any possibility Najim being linked to the rebels and called for a thorough investigation by the US army. Najim's colleagues and family believe he was killed by a US sniper.

(US Army says footage clearly shows reporter was operating with insurgents and died in a firefight. Rueters (with a vested interest) says no way was their reporter operating with terrorists and he was killed by a US sniper, not in fighting. I think this is a case worthy of investigation, especially as both sides claim to have footage to support them. Just like Eason Jordan's comments, "Let's go to the videotape!")

12.09.2004 - Mazen al-Tomaizi, Al-Arabiya Palestinian journalist Mazen al-Tomaizi, who worked for the pan-Arab TV news station Al-Arabiya and the Saudi TV station Al-Ekhbariya, was reporting live on Al-Ekhbariya at the scene of a burning Bradley fighting vehicle on 12 September 2004 in Baghdad when he was hit by the impact of a missile fired from a US helicopter.

(Palestinian journalist filming a still burning Bradley. An AH fired a missile (rather apparently at what they thought destroyed the Bradley) and he died in the explosion.)

15.08.2004 - Mahmoud Hamid Abbas, ZDF Abbas, 32, married with three children, was killed on 15 August 2004 on his way from his native Falluja to Baghdad. He had worked for the German TV Network ZDF as a freelance producer for about a year and a half.

When he phoned the ZDF office in Baghdad to say he was coming he mentioned he had just filmed a house destroyed by US warplanes. About 25 minutes later, he rang again to say he had seen a second attack. During the call, he suddenly said he and others with him were being fired at. There was a dull thud, apparently an explosion, and the line was cut off, according to ZDF correspondent in Iraq.

(I think it pretty absurd to think someone was calling in close air support on a moving reporter or that a pilot identified him as a journalist. I'll include it in suspicious because I know the kooks will and I want the details told.)

15.08.2004 - Hossam Ali, freelance Iraqi freelance photographer Hossam Ali was killed in Falluja on 15 August 2004 in unclear circumstances.

(Unclear circumstances is enough evidence for the Blame America First crowd...so I wanted to highlight it)

Be sure you read the entire post. The examination ends with this:
Overall I think the case of Dhia Najim is worth investigating. There is a truth and there is a good chance that we can get to it. But even if Najim was shot by a sniper, that by no means indicates that the US military deliberately targetted Najim or even identified him as a reporter. Other than that, I don't see anything that could even possibly be legitimately described as the military targetting journalists. Mistakes. Collateral damage. Panic. But if the US military set out to kill journalists, especially as a policy as Jordan insinuates, they would have been a whole lot more effective that what the evidence I have seen shows.
Indeed.

We welcome comments on this analysis.

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