The Danger of Free Press

I guess there's a reason they didn't call it "Operation Enduring Freedom of the Press".  Because those three last three words would have been awkward in the face of US troops erasing footage of US troops shooting Afghan civilians. 

But don't worry, its justified, or so the millitary claimed in a letter to the Associated Press.   The AP (through the Boston Herald) reports some of these reasons.  Apparently it was justified for reasons of investigative integrity, a very interesting rationale.  After all, I bet if you took a survey of 100 detectives and prosecutors and asked each of them "In solving a crime or potential crime, would you find a videotape of the incident to be useful?"  at least 98 of them would say yes, and the other two would have just been appointed by President Bush. 

But not Col. Victor Petrenko, chief of staff to the top U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan.  He said "”When untrained people take photographs or video, there is a very real risk that the images or videography will capture visual details that are not as they originally were.”  Really?  It seems like the risk of 'visual details' being misrepresented would increase with having highly skilled reporters traveling along with, and dependent on, the army they are supposed to be documenting in an unbiased way. 

All facts aside, though, there is no way this action, which was probably done under pressure by a soldier who realized he and his comrades had made a terrible, but understandable, mistake, and their superior officer refuses to admit that they were wrong in so doing because that would cede control from NATO to, gasp, the Afghan people.  It certainly won't do anything for the perception of this event by the public, as the court of public opinion will now depend more heavily on eye witnesses, who were either a) US Soldiers (whose credibility is lacking because in the court of public opinion, they are the defendents already) or b) people getting shot or shot at.  Good luck getting an accurate picture of events now. 

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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