Pentagon threatens to kill independent reporters in Iraq
By Fintan Dunne
The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink
positions of independent journalists in Iraq, according to veteran
BBC war correspondent, Kate Adie. In an interview with Irish radio,
Ms. Adie said that questioned about the consequences of such
potentially fatal actions, a senior Pentagon officer had said: "Who
cares.. ..They've been warned."
According to Ms. Adie, who twelve years ago covered the last Gulf
War, the Pentagon attitude is: "entirely hostile to the the free
spread of information."
"I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot
reporting, as the war occurs," she told Irish national broadcaster,
Tom McGurk on the RTE1 Radio "Sunday Show."
Ms. Adie made the startling revelations during a discussion of media
freedom issues in the likely upcoming war in Iraq. She also warned
that the Pentagon is vetting journalists according to their stance
on the war, and intends to take control of US journalists' satellite
equipment --in order to control access to the airwaves.
Another guest on the show, war author Phillip Knightley, reported
that the Pentagon has also threatened they: "may find it necessary
to bomb areas in which war correspondents are attempting to report
from the Iraqi side."
Transcript follows below.
Audio of this very frank discussion of the problems facing reporters
Guests: Kate Adie, BBC; Phillip Knightley, author of The First
Casualty, a history of war correspondents and propaganda; Chris
Hedges, award winning human rights journalist, and former Irish
Times Editor Connor Brady on the Sunday Show, RTE Radio 1 9th March,
Tom McGurk: " Now, Kate Adie, you join us from the BBC in London.
Thank you very much for going to all this trouble on a Sunday
morning to come and join us. I suppose you are watching with a
mixture of emotions this war beginning to happen, because you are
not going to be covering it."
Kate Adie: " Oh I will be. And what actually appalls me is the
difference between twelve years ago and now. I've seen a complete
erosion of any kind of acknowledgment that reporters should be able
to report as they witness."
" The Americans... and I've been talking to the Pentagon ...take the
attitude which is entirely hostile to the free spread of
" I was told by a senior officer in the Pentagon, that if uplinks
--that is the television signals out of... Bhagdad, for example--
were detected by any planes ...electronic media... mediums, of the
military above Bhagdad... they'd be fired down on. Even if they were
journalists ..' Who cares! ' said.. [inaudible] .."
Tom McGurk: "...Kate ...sorry Kate ..just to underline that.
Sorry to interrupt you. Just to explain for our listeners. Uplinks
is where you have your own satellite telephone method of
Kate Adie: " The telephones and the television signals."
Tom McGurk: " And they would be fired on? "
Kate Adie: " Yes. They would be 'targeted down,' said the
Tom McGurk: " Extraordinary ! "
Kate Adie: " Shameless! "
" He said.. ' Well... they know this ... they've been warned.' "
" This is threatening freedom of information, before you even get to
"The second thing is there was a massive news blackout imposed."
"In the last Gulf war, where I was one of the pool correspondents
with the British Army. We effectively had very, very light touch
when it came to any kind of censorship."
" We were told that anything which was going to endanger troops
lives which we understood we shouldn't broadcast. But other than
that, we were relatively free."
" Unlike our American colleagues, who immediately left their pool,
after about 48 hours, having just had enough of it."
" And this time the Americans are: a) Asking journalists who go with
them, whether they are... have feelings against the war. And
therefore if you have views that are skeptical, then you are not to
" Secondly, they are intending to take control of the Americans
technical equipment ...those uplinks and satellite phones I was
talking about. And control access to the airwaves."
" And then on top of everything else, there is now a blackout (which
was imposed, during the last war, at the beginning of the war),
...ordered by one Mr. Dick Cheney, who is in charge of this."
" I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot
reporting, as the war occurs. You will get it later."