War Journalists Labeled Spies, Unprivileged Belligerents. That’s What A New Pentagon Manual Calls Some War Reporters

imageedit_3_4673052415August 26, 2015

By Lorra B. 

US defense Secretary, Ash Carter, is being asked by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) to amend a new Pentagon manual that is labeling war journalists as spies, unprivileged belligerents and saboteurs.

Is this new manual an indication the U.S. government is openly marking journalists who challenge Washington’s objectives?

An open letter was published by RWB to Carter about the Law of War Manual. The manual has infuriated reporters “for saying war reporters may be held liable for ‘engaging in hostilities’ or spying, sabotage and similar acts behind enemy lines’,” according to The Guardian.

The War Manual, was published on June 24 and is 1,176 pages of revisions, the first revisions since 1956.

The revisions include terminology marking journalists stating “in general, journalists are civilians,” and that in some instances these reporters may be viewed as “unprivileged belligerents.”

But what does unprivileged belligerents really mean? Well, ‘unprivileged belligerents,’ according to veteran war corresponded Don North, simply replaces the term ‘unlawful combatants’ and that journalists, therefore are looked upon as nothing more than those in the ranks of Al Qaeda.

Based on this assessment, broad interpretation and hazy wording, journalists could not only be asked to leave military bases but they could also be detained for perceived wrongdoings.

Secretary General Christophe Deloire of Reporters Without Borders stated, “This terminology leaves too much room for interpretation, putting journalists in a dangerous position.”

“Liking journalistic activity to spying is just the kind of ammunition certain repressive countries like Iran, Syria and China would seek out to support their practices of censorship and criminalization of journalists.”

Columbia Journalism Review’s managing editor, Vanessa Gezari, stated, “It’s very threatening. I believe it contradicts at least the spirit of customary battlefield relationships, if not the letter. The relationship between journalists and combatants has always been complicated. The way the language about spying is placed in there is alarming to me in that is says, ‘journalism is a lot like spying’ and then it leaves that to people to make up their own mind. It gets at the commonalities but not the differences.”

The craftily worded manual sets journalist in a whole new category. Journalists will not be classified as either civilian or soldier and therefore have no protections. The manual states that ‘like other civilians, civilian journalists who engage in hostilities against a State, may be punished by that State after a fair trial.”

The “relaying of information,” according to the new manual, may be construed as such an act.

Governments, according to the manual, “may need to censor journalists’ work or take other security measures so that journalists do not reveal sensitive information to the enemy.”

Censor journalists’ work? Really? This does not sound like the ‘America The Free’ I remember. Press freedoms are vitally important to America remaining free. Without them we will become no better than a dictator state.

When the Pentagon begins to crack down and round up all journalistic work to be reviewed and possibly censored then we will be playing in a whole new ball game and not one for the betterment of American citizens.

Will we become nothing more than the New China or New Russia? When we begin to censor and impede on journalistic freedoms then we start chipping away at the very fabric this great nation was built on. Just where that chipping will lead is a road I, for one, don’t wish to travel.

By Lorra B.

Sec. Of Defense Ash Carter: Maybe More U.S. Troops Could Help Direct Airstrikes Against Islamic State In Iraq

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, left, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appear before a House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, left, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appear before a House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

June 18, 2015

The Wall Street Journal: by DION NISSENBAUM

WASHINGTON—The nation’s top defense officials left open the possibility on Wednesday that the U.S. military may play a more active role in the fight against Islamic State extremists, by joining Iraqi forces on the front lines to help direct airstrikes.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that they might support the higher-risk role for U.S. troops in Iraq, a move that has been under discussion but that President Barack Obama has so far resisted.

Gen. Dempsey told lawmakers that he sees value in helping Iraqi forces when they go on the offensive to retake key targets, including oil refineries and major cities, including Mosul, which Islamic State forces have controlled for more than a year.

But Mr. Carter and Gen. Dempsey repeatedly told lawmakers that it would be a mistake for the U.S. to send thousands more American troops to replace faltering Iraqi forces in the fight.

“Putting U.S. forces on the ground as a substitute for local forces will not produce enduring results,” Mr. Carter told the House Armed Services Committee. “I would not recommend that we put U.S. forces in harm’s way simply to stiffen the spine of local forces.”

But Gen. Dempsey, the top U.S. commander, suggested the time may be coming for U.S. troops to take a more hands-on role in directing the fight against Islamic State, known also as ISIS or ISIL. The general said he was open to using U.S. forces to militarily aid Iraqi forces “when they go on the offensive and there is a strategic target and we want to make sure they succeed.”

That view was echoed by Mr. Carter, who said the first step is for the Iraqi government to rebuild its military so that it can take on the fight.

Assigning U.S. forces to targeting duty would signal a shift in military tactics and put Americans at greater risk of being drawn into direct firefights with Islamic State militants. Mr. Obama and key administration officials have sought to minimize the U.S. military role in Iraq after pulling the last combat troops out in 2011, part of the president’s campaign pledge.

Some lawmakers from both parties have pushed for Congress to debate and vote on the use of ground troops in Iraq and Syria as part of the U.S. fight against Islamic State militants. Democrats have led the effort, joined by some Republicans, including Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Wednesday’s comments from Gen. Dempsey and Mr. Carter came in response to questions posed by lawmakers, and offered the latest indication that the U.S. military is preparing for a more active role in Iraq. Republican lawmakers and some U.S. military officials have pushed for a more aggressive U.S. approach.

Gen. Dempsey and Mr. Carter both expressed frustrations on Wednesday with Iraqi leaders for the slow pace of training Iraqi soldiers. While the U.S. had hoped to train 24,000 Iraqi troops by this fall, the program has been able to train only 7,000, Mr. Carter said.

To address the sluggish training program, Mr. Obama approved a new plan last week to send 450 more U.S. troops to Iraq to set up a new training base in an Islamic State stronghold near Baghdad. That decision followed the surprise collapse of Iraqi forces defending Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, which was seized by Islamic State fighters last month.

“What we saw in Ramadi last month was deeply disappointing and illustrated the importance of a capable and motivated Iraqi ground force,” said Mr. Carter, who conceded that the president’s strategy needed to be refined.

“In our meetings at both the Pentagon and the White House, we determined that while we had the right strategic framework, execution of the campaign can and should be strengthened, especially on the ground,” he said.

More at The Wall Street Journal

Disclaimer: This article was not written by Lorra B.

Ash Carter Warns Russia On Nukes

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February 24, 2015

Politico:

“U.S. responses must make clear to Russia that if it does not return to compliance, our responses will make them less secure than they are today.”

Ash Carter has quietly thrown down the gauntlet in a lingering dispute with Russia: If President Vladimir Putin continues to violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the U.S. could respond in kind.

“The range of options we should look at from the Defense Department could include active defenses to counter intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missiles; counter-force capabilities to prevent intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile attacks; and countervailing strike capabilities to enhance U.S. or allied forces,” Carter told senators in little-noticed written answers to follow-up questions from his confirmation hearing.

The defense secretary’s bottom line: “U.S. responses must make clear to Russia that if it does not return to compliance, our responses will make them less secure than they are today.”

Obama administration officials believe Russia began testing what they call its illegal cruise missile as long ago as 2008, predating the current crisis in Europe over Moscow’s military incursion into Ukraine. And they have accused Russia of violating the 1987 INF treaty under which the U.S. and then-Soviet Union agreed to pull back land-based missiles deployed around Europe that many feared could escalate a crisis too quickly for either side to control.

Now, with Putin still pressing into Ukraine, some members of Congress are even more eager to push back on what they see as Russia’s violations of the INF treaty. And Carter’s endorsement of new “counter-force capabilities,” following his cautious support for arming Ukraine’s government against the Russian invaders, puts him on the hawkish side of the spectrum as President Barack Obama and his advisers weigh how to resolve the standoff.

The Russian president may have secretly been developing a new intermediate missile even as diplomats were negotiating the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that the Senate approved in 2010, a breach of faith that hawks say deserves a serious answer. Carter would appear to agree. In his written answers to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), he said Putin had imperiled a cornerstone of global stability since the Cold War.

“Russia’s continued disregard for its international obligations and lack of meaningful engagement on this particular issue require the United States to take actions to protect its interests and security, as well as those of its allies and partners,” Carter said. “U.S. efforts should continue to remind Russia why the United States and Russia signed this treaty in the first place and be designed to bring Russia back into verified compliance with its obligations.”

Critics in Congress, meanwhile, call the violation of the INF agreement just another broken Russian promise.

“Within the last year, Mr. Putin has flagrantly and deliberately violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Budapest Memorandum, and the Minsk Protocol,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), long a top congressional delegate to NATO. “In order to change Putin’s calculus, President Obama must stop stalling and listen to his own secretary of defense, members of Congress in his own party and dozens of military and civilian leaders who have all recommended actions to empower the Ukrainian army so they can successfully confront the growing Russian threat.”
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