The Guardian March 26, 2003

Pentagon threatens to kill journalists

by Fintan Dunne

The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of 
independent journalists in Iraq, according to veteran BBC war 
correspondent, Kate Adie. In an interview with Irish radio, Ms Adie said 
that when questioned about the consequences of such potentially fatal 
actions, a senior Pentagon officer had said: "Who cares. They've been 

According to Ms Adie, who twelve years ago covered the last Gulf War, the 
Pentagon attitude is "entirely hostile to the free spread of information.

"I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting 
as the war occurs.

Ms Adie made the startling revelations during a discussion of media freedom 
issues in the likely upcoming war in Iraq. She also warned that the 
Pentagon is vetting journalists according to their stance on the war, and 
intends to take control of US journalists' satellite equipment —in order 
to control access to the airwaves.

Another guest on the show, war author Phillip Knightley, reported that the 
Pentagon has also threatened they "may find it necessary to bomb areas in 
which war correspondents are attempting to report from the Iraqi side."

Abbreviated transcript:

Guests: Kate Adie, BBC; Phillip Knightley, author of The First 
Casualty, a history of war correspondents and propaganda; Chris Hedges, 
award winning human rights journalist, and former Irish Times Editor 
Connor Brady.

Tom McGurk: "Now, Kate Adie, you join us from the BBC in London. I suppose 
you are watching with a mixture of emotions this war beginning to happen, 
because you are not going to be covering it."

Kate Adie: "Oh I will be. And what actually appals me is the difference 
between twelve years ago and now. I've seen a complete erosion of any kind 
of acknowledgment that reporters should be able to report as they witness.

"The Americans ... and I've been talking to the Pentagon ... take the 
attitude which is entirely hostile to the free spread of information.

"I was told by a senior officer in the Pentagon, that if uplinks — that is 
the television signals out of Baghdad, for example — were detected by any 
planes electronic media ... mediums, of the military above Baghdad ... 
they'd be fired down on. Even if they were journalists"

Tom McGurk: "Kate, sorry to interrupt you. Just to explain for our 
listeners. Uplinks is where you have your own satellite telephone method of 
distributing information."

Kate Adie: "The telephones and the television signals."

Tom McGurk: "And they would be fired on?"

Kate Adie: "Yes. They would be 'targeted down,' said the officer."

Tom McGurk: "Extraordinary!"

Kate Adie: "Shameless! He said, 'Well ... they know this ... they've been 

"This is threatening freedom of information, before you even get to a war. 
The second thing is there was a massive news blackout imposed. In the last 
Gulf war, where I was one of the pool correspondents with the British Army, 
we effectively had very, very light touch when it came to any kind of 

"We were told that anything which was going to endanger troops lives which 
we understood we shouldn't broadcast. But other than that, we were 
relatively free. Unlike our American colleagues, who immediately left their 
pool, after about 48 hours, having just had enough of it.

"And this time the Americans are asking journalists who go with them, 
whether they ... have feelings against the war. And if you have views that 
are sceptical, then you are not to be acceptable. Secondly, they are 
intending to take control of the Americans' technical equipment — those 
uplinks and satellite phones I was talking about. And control access to the 

"And then on top of everything else, there is now a blackout (which was 
imposed, during the last war, at the beginning of the war), ordered by one 
Mr Dick Cheney, who is in charge of this.

"I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting, 
as the war occurs. You will get it later."

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