Journalists to become ‘unprivileged belligerents’ in U.S. military rules change?

Journalists to become ‘unprivileged belligerents’ in U.S. military rules change?
(Image via Slate)

[Ed. – This one will have some kinks to work out.  It’s not as simple as journalists want to make it; media access to combat areas can lead to serious breaches of tactical security, and can actually create new tactical hazards, for friendly troops.  Media actually can’t be “privileged” as if they were the Red Cross, and yet also be embedded.  “Privileged” status comes with severe restrictions on where you get to go in a combat zone.  But journalists do have legitimate concerns about what the designation means here.]

New guidelines in a US military war manual may change the rules for reporters covering conflicts, but it remains to be seen how the Pentagon will implement the new policy.

Media watchdog organizations have expressed shock and concern that reporters could be treated as “unprivileged belligerents” under the Defense Department’s new Law of War Manual, which provides guidance for US commanders and others.

The Pentagon has insisted it “supports and respects the vital work that journalists perform.” But some media advocates see too much room for maneuver in the guidelines.

Reporters Without Borders joined other organizations this past week in expressing concern, sending a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter urging consultations on the issue. …

“This terminology leaves too much room for interpretation, putting journalists in a dangerous situation,” said the group’s secretary general, Christophe Deloire, in the letter.

Deloire said governments “have a duty to protect journalists covering armed conflicts” under a United Nations resolution and that his group was “disappointed that this manual takes a step in the wrong direction.”

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