In two separate letters to the Pentagon, the press claims that U.S. troops are harassing journalists in Iraq and sometimes confiscating equipment, digital camera disks and videotapes.
The Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) wrote a letter of protest to Larry Di Rita, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Some soldiers’ actions “”appear intended to discourage journalists from covering the continued military action in Iraq,”” wrote APME President Stuart Wilk, also vice president/managing editor at The Dallas Morning News.
“”These actions are unacceptable and contrary to the Pentagon’s own guidelines distributed to troops in the field,”” Wilk wrote. The harassment has deprived “”the American public of crucial images from Iraq in newspapers, broadcast stations and online news operations.””
APME asked the Pentagon to immediately take steps to end confrontations between journalists and soldiers.
Separately, 30 media organizations, lead by The Associated Press, fired off their own letter to Di Rita, saying they have “”documented numerous examples of U.S. troops physically harassing journalists,”” according to a report in Thursday’s Boston Globe. The letter was signed by representatives from CNN, ABC, The Boston Globe, Newhouse News Service, and many others.
“”It’s back to the bad old days where journalists are being treated as adversaries, AP Washington Bureau Chief Sandy Johnson told the Globe.
In a statement issued to the Globe, a Pentagon official said the military is aware of reports that soldiers had sometimes not followed procedures on dealing with the media, promising to take appropriate action. “”We remain committed to ensuring that the press is free to report on developments in Iraq,”” the official said.