CPJ: U.S. Military Failing To Probe Journo Killings In Iraq

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By: E&P Staff

Though American troops have killed 13 journalists in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March 2003, the U.S. military has failed to investigate the killings fully, or implement its own recommendations to improve the safety of the news media, according to a study by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

New York City-based CPJ said that in most cases of killed journalists, the military has either failed to investigate at all, or has not made its investigation or conclusions public.

?The findings from the few investigations that have been released have not credibly addressed questions of accountability for shooting deaths, and whether U.S. forces are taking necessary measures to differentiate between combatants and civilians in conflict areas,? CPJ said.

In several cases, CPJ said, the circumstances of the journalist?s death ?suggest indifference by U.S. soldiers to the presence of civilians, including members of the press.?

In addition to the 13 journalists killed by U.S. troops, at least 40 other journalists have been killed covering he war. (CPJ statistics do not include the death of journalists by accident or natural causes.) Another 21 media support staff such as drivers and translators have been killed in Iraq, two by U.S. forces, CPJ said.

“By failing to account for all shooting deaths and demonstrate that it is taking steps to avoid future tragedies, the U.S. military shows an alarming disregard for the safety of civilians, including journalists covering this conflict,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said in a statement. “As far as we know the military has conducted full investigations into only a handful of incidents and made public its reports on just two of them. With such a record the Pentagon needs to address its own serious credibility problem by showing some accountability and by providing real answers to outstanding questions about these shocking deaths.”

The complete study is available at the CPJ’s Web site.

One repeated theme in the individual cases detailed by CPJ is that letters from the association to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld go unanswered.

In the most recent case of a journalist killed by U.S. troops — the Aug. 28, 2005 shooting death of Reuters soundman Waleed Khaled — the U.S. military has completed a report but not yet published the findings. CPJ said that on Sept. 1, the chief military spokesman in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, said soldiers had followed “established rules of engagement” and acted in an “appropriate” manner when they opened fire.

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