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Update to US War Manual Makes it Easier to Defend Killing Journalists

Published: June 25, 2015
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The US has always been a deadly force for journalists.  The US invasion of Iraq launched in 2003, for example, as Al Jazeera reports, is the single “deadliest war for journalists” ever waged: “More journalists were killed during the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq than in any war in history.”

Now, as US and EU officials and propagandists regularly denounce the journalism of outlets they don’t like (ie ones that debunk Western propaganda), and the US positions tanks, artillerytrainers, and other equipment and hostile forces on Russia’s border, the US is further muddying its official definition of “journalist”.

Under the Bush Jr. regime, a phrase with no occurrence or standing in law was invented as an “excuse” to illegally violate the Geneva Convention and use outlawed treatment, such as execution, torture, military instead of civilian courts, and indefinite imprisonment, on whomever the US wanted, includingjournalists.  That phrase was “unlawful combatant”.  (The perpetrators of crimes “excused” by the phrase are all being protected by Obama.)

Under the Obama regime, the made up phrase is being replaced by the Pentagon with a new one that iseven broader and more vague: “unprivileged belligerent”.  This is different from the previous term in that it does not specify any relation to law, but rather to a notion of “privilege”.  Likewise, it conveys no direct relation to combat, but rather simply to “belligerence”.

Obama is already infamous for creating false definitions for words and terms to cover major crimes, such as executions of thousands of suspects and civilians (see: 123).

And the new war-conduct manual directly links the new vague and highly exploitable phrase, “unprivileged belligerent”, to journalists, stating:

“In general, journalists are civilians. However, journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents.”

A Telesur News analyst notes that “The classification of journalists as ‘unprivileged belligerents’ is leading experts to conclude that the U.S. Department of Defense has given the green light for soldiers to kill journalists.”  The classification could also be used to justify the continuation and/or extension of other types of illegal treatment of journalists, such as torture or indefinite imprisonment, which the US practices.

In response, the Pentagon assured media that this was not the case (what else would it say?).

Obama is known as particularly hostile towards informational awareness and the press, having persecuted more whistle-blowers than all previous presidents combined, and having carried out other actions such as classifying journalists as terrorists, having journalists imprisoned without trial, and aiding armed groups, such as the post-coup regime in Kiev, as they purge and murder journalists en masse.

While the new manual does not necessarily represent the stance of the US government as a whole, it applies to the armed wings and could be cited by anyone, as Telesur notes, including foreign actors, as justification for continued crimes.

Also see: Award-winning Serbian director Emir Kusturica predicts that if Washington starts a hot war with Russia, RT, one of the world’s most popular news outlets, will be among the US’s first targets.  In the late ’90s, US forces planted and detonated explosives in Serbian state media buildings.


Author focuses on force dynamics, national and global.

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