International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 10, 2003

April 10, 2003





**  Leftist and Muslim writers accused the U.S. of "targeting journalists" who are "conveying the truth."


**  The attack boosted "suspicion" that the Coalition seeks to silence "independent media."


**  The deaths intensified debate of the U.S.' "aimless" and "indiscriminate" bombings. 




The 'premeditated hideous crime' was deliberately planned to 'hide reality'--  Arab papers in particular treated the dead journalists as "martyrs at the hands of invading forces," targeted by the U.S. because of their reports on the Coalition's "tyranny, brutality and repression."  The deaths intensified commentary on the U.S.' desire to "make the world hostage to its side of the story" by "attacking freedom of information."  Jordan's semi-official Al-Rai concluded, "whoever is not with them is their enemy.  Bush said that and now his forces are saying it too."  The belief that the U.S. desired to prevent any "witnesses" from seeing the "infallible evidence" of "tragedies" was widespread in papers from Argentina to Lebanon to Norway to Pakistan. 


The Coalition obviously favors 'embedded journalists who travel with the aggressors'--  The attacks were a "tragic mistake," but European and Latin papers still did not find it "easy to believe" they were "due to convenient bad luck and tragic wrong targeting."  A Belgian paper highlighted the "American troops' increased hostility toward the journalists who are not embedded--and are therefore more critical."  Because the "media are today more important than ever" and "the management of the information war has become a higher priority," the only "face of the war America wants to reported by the reporters embedded with its forces."  Algeria's independent Sawt Al Ahrar dismissed embedded journalists as "mere trumpets for American propaganda...that marched with the bands of murderers from the South." 


The journalists were brave victims of the 'chaos of war' and American 'hysteria'--  The journalists' deaths were taken as confirmation of the Coalition's reckless rules of engagement.  An Indian daily declared that "targets are being finalized with little thought to the possibility of civilians being put in harm's way."  Austria's liberal Der Standard believed the "journalists became the victims of understandably nervous and inexperienced 20 year-olds.  Unfortunately, the same is true for the civilian population of Iraq."  Cameroon's pro-opposition Mutations added that "American soldiers fire on everything that moves."  In such a "chaotic war situation," it is the responsibility of the U.S. forces to "limit such casualties" among both journalists and civilians. 


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This survey is based on 59 reports from 29 countries over 8-10 April 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




GERMANY:  “It Affects Us Deeply”


Stephan-Andreas Casdorff argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (4/9):  “The war is coming to an end and now it is really affecting us.  The journalists, who report on events and bring the suffering of the people closer to us, are now also becoming victims.  They--and thus the public--are becoming the targets of attacks.  After weeks, the term ‘embedded’ gets its real, brutal significance....  The attacks and the debris can now be watched in real time.  It is becoming clear that the journalists in Iraq’s capital are no longer ‘embedded’ as reporters, but are drawn as participants into the war.  Never before were we, the public, closer to war.  This increases the dramatic events in these days."


"Pictures As Weapons"


Tina Hassel said on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late evening newscast Tagesthemen (4/8):  “When pictures are used as weapons, journalists run the risk of becoming combatants--or what is even more dangerous--opponents.  And this brings us to the center of the problem.   Were the shots at the international media center and the offices of the independent Arab TV station only an unfortunate mishap in the course of the fighting?....  I admit that I have difficulty believing this.  The Americans knew exactly where the press was staying....  But was it a clearly-targeted attack?  If this horrible assumption came true, then the killed journalists were not victims of the war but victims of a war crime....  Should the nation that was the first to include the freedom of the press in its Constitution really have fired at journalists, then this nation would have forfeited the thing for which it entered into this war:  confidence in democracy.”


“In the Line Of Fire”


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg stated (4/9):  “According to the Geneva Convention, journalists and civilians have a right to be protected by the war-waging parties.  But the United States of all nations, which wants to bring democracy and the rule of law to Iraq, is now raising doubts about the compliance with this principle.  America must remove the suspicion that, following a number of incidents, reporters are not only exposed to the general risks of war but are also made deliberately military targets to speed up the U.S. victory....  The media are today more important than ever for the psychology of war.  That is why pictures from an Iraqi perspective are considered an annoyance.  Nevertheless, the media are no weapon in the sense of the Geneva Convention.  If politics and the military leadership blur the limits of what are real military targets, then it is impossible for the troops on site to protect civilians.  The bombing of the Iraqi state-run TV station at the beginning of the war was already a violation of the Geneva Convention, as was the attack on Belgrade’s state-run TV station in 1999, and Al Jazeera’s office in Kabul in 2001.  Such attacks are jeopardizing America’s credibility.”


ITALY:  “A Tragic Mistake”


Franco Bechis commented in Rome's center-right Il Tempo (4/9):  “The American tank man who fired at the journalists’ hotel either wanted to erase freedom of press or made a tragic mistake....  The first hypothesis is pure folly, which however has found support in our Parliament and in some media....  Indeed, we would have liked to hear more words of apology from the Pentagon spokesperson, but that targeted shooting on journalists was not planned.”


RUSSIA:  "War Takes Heavy Toll Among Journalists"


Mikhail Zygar declared in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (4/9):  "Yesterday the Coalition forces destroyed the Al Jazeera office and shelled the hotel Palestine, where all the foreign journalists were staying....  This means that the military operation is drawing to a close--there will soon be no one to send reports from Baghdad, and the United States will announce a victory."


AUSTRIA:  “War Correspondent”


Hans Rauscher said in liberal Der Standard (4/9):  “Being a war correspondent always means risking your life....  The war in Iraq is proving this yet again with its death toll among journalists, unusually high for a 21-day war....  What is new, however, is that the American president is forced to protest against allegations that US troops are targeting journalists on purpose (not Americans, but international journalists, who report from the Iraqi side, so to speak). The truth is probably that the Americans don’t hesitate to open fire in city battles. This would explain why a US tank fired into the journalists’ hotel Palestine because real or imagined Iraqi snipers were firing from there. Thus journalists became the victims of understandably highly nervous and inexperienced 20 year-olds. Unfortunately, the same is true for the civilian population of Iraq.”


BELGIUM:  "Condeming The Attacks"


Laurent Raphael wrote in independent La Libre Belgique (4/9):  "The International Federation of Journalists--based in Brussels--condemned these attacks that it claims targeted non-military objectives--that is obvious for the Al Jazeera offices, and partially obvious for the Palestine hotel, which is known for housing the journalists who remained in Baghdad but also representatives of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services....  Reporters Without Borders also condemned these attacks, and pointed out that it is hearing more and more stories about the American troops’ increased hostility toward the journalists who are not embedded--and who are more critical.”


BULGARIA:  "The Revolution Murdered Its Children"


Leftist, stridently-anti U.S. Monitor remarked (4/9):  "Yesterday the U.S.' democratic war pointed its barrels towards Palestine Hotel, where, as everyone knows, the media covering the war is staying.....  Since yesterday no normal person in the world could find even the smallest reason to believe in the democratic character of this war, nor in the words of its instigators and leaders.  For the first time in the modern history of a country, the superpower America pointed its gun against journalists and fired.  Two people died.  But if Bush's army was truly as good as he claims it is, the number of victims would have been much larger."


GREECE:  “Killers Of Speech”


Popular, pro-government and anti-American Eleftherotypia editorialized (4/9):  "The answers to the relentless questions posed after the premeditated hideous crimes that were committed in Baghdad lead directly to the culprits....  The mafia of the raid on Iraq cannot exterminate the infallible evidence of its serial hideous crimes nor can it cover them up.  The journalists, who were shocked by the loss of their colleagues, were not terrorized.  They will remain in the trenches of ‘Palestine’ to keep open the eye that cannot be censored or fall victim of the killers of speech.”




The lead editorial in top-circulation pro-government influential Ta Nea read (4/9):  “Three murderous attacks in one day are no coincidence....  Journalists became targets because the allies wished to send a message out about their wars, current and future, that they will not tolerate independent journalism that discloses the slaughters of non combatants, schools, open markets, and hospitals....  It seems that history hasn’t taught them anything:  however many journalists they kill, however many media they bomb, however much censorship they impose, the atrocities of their wars will always be disclosed because they can simply not kill information.”


IRELAND:  "U.S. Sends World Mixed Messages"


Left-of-center Irish Examiner editorialized (4/9):  "The Jekyll and Hyde nature of America's dangerous balancing act on the world stage was plain to see yesterday as U.S. troops targeted members of the media covering the war in Baghdad while in Belfast President George W Bush was giving out a strong message of support for lasting peace in Northern Ireland....  After coming under intense pressure from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush has promised the UN would have a 'vital role' to play in post-war Iraq....  He is refusing to spell out in any detail what role it would have in the aftermath. Their marked reluctance to define how the UN would be involved reflects the determination of the hawkish regime currently controlling US foreign policy. Undeniably, the vast majority of people in and outside Iraq will applaud the collapse of Saddam Hussein's monstrous dictatorship....  Despite its many flaws, the UN remains the only agency capable of commanding respect and credence on a global basis."


NORWAY:  "Being Frightened Into Silence?”


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented (4/9):  "War will always cause suffering, and in a city like Baghdad it is the civilians who are hit hardest. Journalists are there of their own free will, and have greater resources than the rest of the city’s own inhabitants. It is a perspective we media folk must have clear. When there is anyway a reason to put up a strong protest when the media is attacked, it is because we know that there are many who wish to silence present, free and aware journalists. And it is only independent media that can tell with credibility about what now happens in Baghdad. Serious journalists could tell yesterday that there was no military target where the two centers for media reporting were hit. So the Americans must find that this raises the question as to whether this is a terror shooting meant to frighten international witnesses out of Baghdad before the final outcome for the city comes. It is not easy to believe that this is due to convenient bad luck and tragic wrong targeting. We are reminded that the Americans also attacked Al-Jazeera’s offices in Kabul during the war in Afghanistan, without succeeding in frightening the television channel into silence. They will not succeed this time either.”


“Grenades Against Cameras”


Aasne Seierstad held in newspaper-of-record Aftenposten (4/9):  "The headquarters of the American forces thinks the tanks had been shot at from the hotel, but journalists at the hotel find that hardly believable. Nobody had seen armed men or heard shots from the building that morning....  Every night the bomb room [at the hotel] is full of Iraqi families that think that the large number of journalists protects them from the Americans’ bombs. ‘They will never attack this hotel, Americans stay here,’ said an Iraqi woman who had taken her children with her down into the basement one evening. But it was exactly what the Americans did yesterday. Shot with grenades at cameras, that followed their battle efforts with telephoto lenses.”


PORTUGAL:  "They Didn't Mean to Kill Journalists"


Miguel Sousa Tavares asserted in leading financial Diário Económico  (4/10):  "I think the United States has had a hidden agenda in regard  to Iraq for a long time, long before the war had even started: to secure Iraq's oil.  Not directly...but they want to have a government that guarantees them the supply of oil....  They're worried that Saudi  Arabia is going to fall into the hands of the fundamentalists....   Therefore, they want to secure Iraq.  And this cannot in fact be done if they are there to truly democratize.  If the Iraqis choose whom they want, they are  certainly going to choose people who are not the Americans'  friends."


"Dead For All Of Us"


Jose Manuel Fernandes opined in influential moderate-left Público (4/9):  "The search for the truth of this war is being paid in a great deal of blood.  Journalists' blood....  Their sacrifice provides us with a tragic dimension of the conflict and, at the same time, expresses the power of the democracies we live in....  It is these legions of journalists [in Iraq] that allows us to have, in the Western press, a plural vision of events--exactly the opposite of what is happening in the Iraqi 'media', where the only 'truth' are the bald-faced lies of the Minister of Information.  But these journalists that have fallen are not the only victims these days of the freedom to inform.  On the other side of the world, in Cuba, an abominable regime took advantage of the media distraction provoked by the war to arrest journalists and sentence them to heavy prison terms....  It is at times like this, when some of us are dying while doing what they most want to do, and others are arrested for the crime of having an opinion, that we best understand the superiority of a democracy.  And how democracy, at times, also demands its tribute in sacrifice and blood."


SPAIN:  "Palestine Hotel"


Left-of-center El País remarked (4/10):  "Hiding and lies are the continuation of war by other ways....  The hypothesis of an express order to shoot journalists is not likely, and does not correspond with the credibility that a high military command of a country which respects freedom of the press deserves.  But the fact of that the same day Al Jazeera's and other Arab TV's office in Baghdad were bombed, makes it hard to believe that this was only an individual human mistake....  The access to real images of horror influences the central debate about the legitimacy of the war, and the proportionality of the evil that was trying to be avoided and the suffering caused.  That is why Al Jazeera was bombed and that is why they lied about what happened at the Palestine Hotel."


"Death Of Journalist In Baghdad; Shocking Coldness"


National private TV Telecinco carried a report from special correspondent Vincente Valles saying (4/9):  "This morning and with shocking coldness we have heard Col. Vincent Brooks say that they only can control the journalists that are embedded, but they can't know where the rest of the journalists are.   In fact, anyone who is even minimally informed about this war knows that journalists are in the Palestine Hotel.  So this is something that one really can't understand." 


"U.S. Responsibility For A Journalist's Death"


Independent El Mundo declared (4/9):  "The explanations that the allied command gave about the shots against the Palestine Hotel are confused, contradictory and unacceptable....  Without denying that journalists assume a risk when they decide to stay in a war zone, what is really monstrous is that a press hotel could be considered a military objective....  Apart from the pain of losing this Colleague...what is most important is to ask if the loss of human life serves some purpose.   And the answer is yes.  Yes, because thanks to the work of people who are risking themselves at the front, public opinion is, in this war, so much informed on what is happening than ever before."


"A High Price"


Left-of-center El País declared (4/8):  "With the death of Julio Anguita Parrado, a young and competent journalist working as an El Mundo correspondent...the number of journalists killed in Iraq is now eight....  One can criticize many things about the way that the information about the war is being treated and above all the military filters of the British-American forces....  But there is no doubt that the embedding of journalists among the British-American troops has allowed all to know about incorrect actions, mistakes and horrors, which otherwise would not have been seen by Western public opinion....  War is horror.  But horror must be told to the citizens who elect and judge the governments that have decided to wage it.  And in this war we are having more and better means than ever before."




WEST BANK:  “American Assassination Of The Story And The Witness”


Hassan el-Kashif wrote in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (4/9):  "Perhaps, the Americans may apologize for the intended killing of journalist Tarek Ayyoub, Al-Jazeera correspondent in Baghdad, along with two other journalists. Such an apology, if it happens, will not be a confession of a sin or any wrongdoing. The colonial invaders will continue the intentional killing of Iraqi civilians, including children and women, in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. They will also continue to threaten the lives of the Arab and foreign journalists, who may report on the war crimes committed by the colonial invaders....  Journalists are being targeted by the colonial invaders because they do not want any witnesses to their crimes. Also, in its current state of deterioration towards a new era of colonialism, the United States wants to be the sole military and media pole in an effort to make the world hostage to its side of the story.”


ALGERIA:  "A Planned Act"


Indpendent, French-language Liberte editorialized (4/9):  “It is not a secret for anybody that it was a premeditated act planned to silence the voice of troublemakers disrupting a scenario written and enacted by the Pentagon. America is prompt to react and denounce obstacles to freedom of speech and to take the defense of journalists who died in conflicts. America can be proud today of its trophy: eleven journalists killed in twenty days. It is a record.  America's record."


"Private Massacre"


Independent, economic-oriented French-language La Tribune declared (4/9):  "Curiously, at a time when things had begun to go better for the Americans, they seem to be disoriented.  Which is just a manner of speaking, since the coalition forces, from the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, have never ceased progressing from south to north. The very serious aggressions committed deliberately yesterday against people enjoying great immunity and protected by the Geneva Convention, would tend to prove the contrary: that things are not as clear and simple as implied by the CENTCOM communications center. The coalition forces have rendered themselves guilty of new war crimes on real-time TV.  Recent 'live' images [of journalists in the Palestine Hotel] met with a much more savage resistance than the ones permitted to be heard, those of 'enrolled' colleagues, as some journalists on the American side are."


"Filth Of Criminals"


Independent Arabic-language Sawt Al Ahrar commented (4/9):  "The American criminal murderers and their allies have not abstained from killing the journalists who present American barbarism in voice and images. One of the spokespersons of the mercenary forces said impudently that the aggressors know only the sites where their journalists are staying....  The great power has become a group of murderers that want to exterminate every voice that does not repeat the lies of the Pentagon and American intelligence. This power that used to praise its conquering armies, is today revealing its real face, and its cowardly soldiers are just war criminals without dignity. They do not shrink from killing civilians or killing those who witness their crimes. It was necessary to silence the voices of TV channels that have chosen to present the acts of aggression freely, without being turned into mere trumpets for American propaganda, like some Arabic and Foreign media that marched with the bands of murderers from the south."   


EGYPT:  “Killing Eyewitnesses In Baghdad”


Dr. Mona Al Hadidi observed in aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar (4/9):  “Killing media correspondents in Iraq was the fast solution by coalition forces to blemish facts and cover for the horrors committed against the innocent Iraqi people.”


“Separating Lines”


Small-circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya opined (4/9):  "Our hearts are bleeding of grief over Baghdad.  Saddam eluded us that Baghdad will remain steadfast against invaders.  We admit that the success of the aggressors to reach the presidential palaces at the heart of a bad omen....  Iraqis are being burned and mutilated, while President Bush is declaring in Belfast that his troops care for the lives of civilians.  The cards are ashamedly mixed, where occupation becomes liberation in the eyes of the American masters....  The rapid and humiliating surrender of Iraqis was astonishing, and Saddam’s statements that his army, the guards and the volunteers will slay the aggressors [proved untrue].  Not a single plane confronted the enemy....  Obviously, the traitors succumbed to the devil’s temptation....  The American Constitution stipulates freedom of opinion and absolute right for journalists to obtain information.  However, when the American masters realized that information on their tyranny, brutality, and repression will destroy the masks of lies, they immediately, without a second thought, killed the [journalists] who conveyed this information....  The theory of killing for the sake of killing has been proved and there is no aim other than occupation.”


JORDAN:  “A Crime In Baghdad”


Nahed Hattar maintained in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (4/9):  “The Americans are going to pay a political price for committing the murder of our colleague, the martyr Tareq Ayyoub.  All efforts exerted by the American Embassy in Amman to establish relations with Jordanian journalists died with the death of Tareq.  The martyrdom of Tareq Ayyoub is a heinous crime against Jordanian journalists.  The American invaders have outdone the Nazis and the Zionists by cowardly targeting representatives of the Arab and international media in Baghdad.  Is it enough to say that it is a flagrant and barbaric violation of international accords that ban the targeting of the media during wars?  And yet, this aggressive and colonialist war was launched in the first place out of a clear violation of international legitimacy and of the right-wing recklessness with international and Arab public opinion.”


“Tareq Ayyoub: A Martyr Of The Battle Of Baghdad”


Chief Editor Taher Udwan contended in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (4/9):  “The martyrdom of colleague Tareq Ayyoub confirms the fact that the media is not neutral, and that, particularly in this war, should not be.  Tareq Ayyoub, the correspondents of Al-Jazeera and other Arab satellite stations in Baghdad, are enemies in the eyes of the invading forces, because they are Arabs and because the public opinion that they belong to and seek to address is an Arab public opinion....  The fall of Tareq Ayyoub as a martyr at the hands of the invading forces must push Arab media representatives and the representatives of Arab satellite stations to take the side of their nation and of the blood of the martyrs of this nation.  Baghdad today is not much different from Ramallah or Gaza or Hebron or Jenin or Nablus when they fall under the fire of Israeli bombing.  Just as Arab journalists and media professionals who belong to their nation and their doctrines must not stand ‘neutral or objective’ when covering the crimes of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, this ‘neutrality or objectivity’ would neither be understood nor accepted when in it comes to covering the crimes of a foreign invasion of an Arab country, so that an American General can rule and lays the foundation for an American-Zionist empire over the lands of Arab and Islam.”


“Tareq’s Blood Is On The Hands Of The Invaders”


Urayb Rintawi wrote in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (4/9):  “The blood of Tareq Ayyoub, who fell a martyr yesterday, is on the hands of the leaders of the coalition in London and Washington.  No words of sorrow or apology will do, not ready-made accusations that try to acquit those responsible for his blood or the blood of hundreds of Iraqis who fell victims by the bullets of guns and by the shrapnel of the American missile attacks all around Iraq.”


“The Enemies Of The Press, The Enemies Of The Truth And Tareq Ayyoub, The Symbol Of The Noble Profession”


Semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai editorialized (4/9):  “We did not need all this terror, targeting and recklessness with which the reporters covering the American-British invasion of Baghdad were faced, to prove that the invaders have had it with the media, apart, of course, from that media that is with them, who abide by their strict and programmed instructions....  For the killers to say that they were shot at from the Palestine hotel that was targeted by the bombing, while all the journalists were denying that, is a mark of shame to be added to disgrace that they afflicted upon themselves when they shed the blood of innocent media people.”


“Tareq Ayyoub: Your Role Harassed Them And So They Killed You”


Sultan Hattab opined in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (4/9):  “Killing our colleague Tareq Ayyoub is a clear message against the new changes in the Arab media that are represented by the active Arab satellite stations, such as Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TVs.  What Tareq Ayyoub said in his last report from Baghdad was sufficient for the circles of American aggression to kill him....  Tareq exposed them and so they killed him, because whoever is not with them is their enemy.  Bush said that and now his forces are saying it too.”


LEBANON:  "The Forbidden Image"


Sahar Baasiri stated in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (4/9):  "The U.S. military spokesman had no response to a question related to what international reporters were subjected to yesterday in Baghdad, except that 'we only know the locations of reporters embedded with us'....  What is worse than the crime that was committed yesterday against the journalists, is the U.S. attempts to justify it, in the sense that the U.S. is increasingly appearing as if it has no human values.  Furthermore, it appears that it does not value this career itself, i.e. journalism. A mistake?  How? The TV office of Al-Jazeera was shelled, the TV office of Abu-Dhabi was shelled and Hotel Palestine was shelled.  Mistakes do not occur in this routine fashion....  They don't know where the offices of journalists are located?  Of course they do.  Al-Jazeera and Abu-Dhabi's TV offices are close and well known and everyone knows that Hotel Palestine has changed into a headquarters for Arab and foreign journalists in Baghdad.  The U.S. command was informed of the locations of journalists.  The battlefield is dangerous, but these journalists were in their offices.  They were deliberately targeted.  They were targeted because they are reporting the other face of the war, the face American wants hidden.  The only face of the war America wants to see is that which is reported by the reporters embedded with its forces....  The U.S. wanted to destroy this power of being able to report on the forbidden face of the war."


MOROCCO:   "Aimless Bombings Are 100 % American"


Pro-government, Arabic-language Al Alam opined (4/9):  "Now, the U.S. Ambassador in Morocco may propose to her supervisors to present compensations to our colleague journalists who were killed while on duty, in the service of freedom and democracy. In fact, no one could trust U.S. official claims that Iraq was behind the bombing that had targeted those journalists. Aimless bombings in the past were one hundred percent American and the killing of children and civilians and destruction of historical sites and popular areas were all American one hundred percent....  Of course, those who don't accept bribes in dollars while alive won't accept dollars from the killers."


"Patriot Act Or Death"


Amina Talhimet noted in pro-government, French-language Liberation (4/9):  ”To get hold of Baghdad, the key city of this 'democratization' folly, the main obstacle is not only Saddam but also the media that is based in the city. Journalists, who since the beginning of the war, have given more credible information than their 'embedded' colleagues. The attempt on the part of the coalition to silence any voice that is discordant another evidence that freedom is only an empty word for the leaders of this war. Ferocity of the strike against Baghdad overcomes any sensible political or military strategy. Sharon's brutality and hatred are present."


"U.S. Forces Target Journalists: Hunt Of Witnesses"


Jamal Hajjam, Editor-in-chief of pro-government, French-language L’Opinion, declared (4/9):  "Impartial journalists who cover the war constitute priority targets of U.S. forces. Within several hours, three journalists were killed. As usual Americans will mention 'non intentional error' carried by weapons whose precision has always been underlined. The power logic is the privileged procedure of U.S. decision makers and through fire and steel they impose their will. All the rest is solely words."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Another Struggle In The Media War"


Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (4/9):  "Doubts will arise regarding the motives behind bombing the international journalists media offices, whether to conceal what the party is doing, or set up the arena for its ongoing plans, or just to silence the media from revealing the war facts. These doubts will remain floating, in addition to other matters that have arisen along with launching this war....  On the other hand, there was an insistence on going to war, and an insistence also to silence any one who tries to oppose the war, or to expose the war's brutality, its high cost, and high losses, and its stepping over the noble human mind, which values peace and rejects violence."


"No Matter If It Is A Child, A Woman Or A Journalist"


Riyadh's conservative Al-Riyadh carrried a commentary by Editor-in-chief Turk Al-Seder saying (4/9):  "Nobody before the U.S. has killed journalists and reporters.  The U.S. did so. It has also overstepped international laws related to human rights and the UN charter governing the freedom of nations, because it does not want to allow the pen of a journalist or voice of a broadcaster in any satellite TV channel to report on the indiscriminate, reckless and irresponsible killings inside the land of Iraq....  Where are the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?  Who is actually conducting the mission of total destruction of human life in Iraq?" 


SYRIA:  "An Aggravating U.S. Impasse"


Ahmad Dawa commented in government-owned Al-Thawra (4/9):  "With the US failure to control Baghdad within a short time, the possibility that US forces will fake announcement of finding WMD in Iraq becomes more likely, as many analysts and international observers maintain, even saying the US forces might import WMD into Iraq [for that purpose]....  America, which has violated international legitimacy and was the first to use WMD, is likely to take this step very soon....  But the U.S. warplanes started targeting journalists' offices and representatives of news agencies--those who are conveying the truth about the invading forces' deliberate shelling of civilians--this will be a prelude for bloodier and more savage U.S. action against Iraq. The U.S. will use WMD against the Iraqi people whose fierce resistance might deepen the coalition's impasse so dangerously that America might find itself under pressure, and, under its illusion of hegemony, might find itself forced to use these WMD."


TUNISIA:  "A War With No 'Ethics'"


Hajer Jeridi wrote in independent French-language Le Temps (4/9):  "In its total illegality, the war against Iraq could not keep a minimum of ethics....  The work of the media well-received by TV spectators around the world seems to seriously bother those who want to do their jobs quietly, far away from outside commentary from 'parasites' that can cause great embarrassment.  By attacking the journalists, the coalition forces are attacking freedom of information, a value they brandish as an inalienable right. Journalists are symbols. They are the eyewitnesses of what is going on in the different Iraqi cities. Their witness, sometimes harmonious and sometimes discordant, will be very important to the history books that will review a posteriori the responsibilities in this war--unless they are not allowed to leave any mark on this conflict. If not, how can we explain this will to muzzle the media by making attempts on journalists' lives, the ones whom the coalition forces could not rally to their cause?" 


UAE:  "Regrettable"


Dubai-based business-oriented Arabic-language Al-Bayan noted (4/9):  "It is regrettable to see the American military spokesman, Frank Thorpe tell CNN that 'we have told them from the beginning that Baghdad has become a very dangerous place, a war zone.'  This statement reveals the facts behind the war operations.  The shelling does not take into consideration unarmed civilians, a fact revealing the hidden face of the war.  No one can deny that what happened was deliberate to hide reality and stop any revelation of what is occurring in Iraq."


"Has The War Against Reality Begun?"


Semi-official Abu Dhabi-based Arabic-language Al-Ittihad editorialized (4/9):  "It was interesting to see that the war promised as a clean war has killed a large number of journalists and photographers with many others wounded....  The tragic bloody scene of the journalists in Baghdad yesterday opens the door for many allegations about a desire to silence the voice of truth and prevent the heroic journalists in the battlefield in Baghdad from transmitting what happens and what tragedies might occur as the war enters its decisive stage in the streets of the Iraqi capital."


"Turning Off The Lights To Hide The Crime"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al-Khaleej observed (4/9):  "Targeting journalists in besieged Baghdad, under fire this very hour, is a new crime that must be added to the list of crimes committed by the aggression (Coalition forces).  It represents part of the larger crime committed against the Arab people of Iraq before the entire world...a massacre needs to be committed to allow the aggression to achieve its goals in Iraq.  This massacre needs to be implemented in complete darkness, and this explains why all lights must be switched off to avoid further scandals."




CHINA:  "U.S. Action Nothing Short Of A Crime"


Yan Xizao wrote in the official English-language China Daily (4/10):  "If the Americans are truly serious about their hunt for war criminals, they should have a look in the mirror.  The havoc invading US troops wreaked on the international press in Baghdad on Tuesday was nothing short of a war crime....  The Pentagon did express regret over the tragedies. But there was no indication of willingness to assume liability.  Instead, as always, they tried to evade and transfer the blame to Saddam Hussein....  If the strikes were not aimed at chosen targets, were the Americans conducting indiscriminative bombings on innocent civilians?....  American GI's are seeing their enemies everywhere, but their hysteria is no excuse for indiscriminative killing.  Beyond various American attempts to explain away their responsibilities, there is the suspicion of a US intention to silence unfavourable media voices....  Whatever the case, the US military should be held accountable by international humanitarian law for its attacks on civilians."


INDIA:  "Usurping The Media" 


Left-of-center Mayalayam-language Mathrubhumi said (4/10):  "The attack on Al-Jazeera TV and Abu Dhabi TV in Baghdad and hotels where journalists stayed proved that America had a pre-meditated plan to kill truthful reporting....  The truth is America sees journalists also as its enemies....  America probably wants to control the dissemination of news from Iraq.  They probably are afraid that these reporters would paint the true pictures of the war especially the attack on civilians. These moves by America once again clearly indicate that along with the war it is having a parallel agenda to usurp the media world. This agenda of America should be thwarted by not just the fourth estate but by the entire international community."


"Truth As Casualty" 


An editorial in the centrist Indian Express read (4/10):  "The Second Gulf War-like innumerable wars before-has already notched up a long list of journalists killed in accident or in combat. Many more are said to be missing. It is, however, the frequent attacks specifically on hotels and offices housing journalists in Iraq that is worrisome....  Incidents such as these raise two concerns: That independent reporters are being chastened into subservience and that targets are being finalized with little thought to the possibility of civilians being put in harm's way....  The war is as much to conquer minds as it is to mop up territory. The targeting areas of operation of unilaterals-especially of Arabic language reporters-is bound to fuel suspicion that some trigger-happy military planners cannot countenance reportage with an anti-US spin. Al Jazeera....  By targeting reporters, the U.S.-led coalition stands to lose its bid to win hearts and minds."


"Independent Press, RIP" 


The nationalist Hindustan Times declared (4/10):  "An American tank fires on a Baghdad hotel killing

three journalists and what's the response from the US military? Sorry, but tough luck. In another American offensive...three Al-Jazeera journalists were killed. The spokesperson in Washington regretted the casualties and added in a 'we-told-you-so' tone:....  American arrogance and determination to wrap up the war quickly have taken care of all that. Tuesday's 'casualties' were by no means a part of 'collateral damage'. They seem to have resulted from what one hopes was a blunder of epic proportions.  Or were they meant to silence voices giving a perspective of the war that Washington doesn't want the world--and more importantly, Americans back see?....  So who do we believe in this information smog? Quite clearly, the US has much to gain if it manages to stop embarrassing or downright 'bad' press.  The management of the information war has become a higher priority than ever before....  The non-embedded journalists who died on Tuesday were standing in a dangerous no-man's land that was neither 'with us nor with them'. The American action against them--inadvertently or otherwise--may spell the death of 'independent witnessing of war'."


PAKISTAN:  "Media Murders"


The centrist national News observed (4/10):  "The death in Baghdad of an Al-Jazeera reporter and two other cameramen was no accident. All three were killed when the American troops fired on the Palestine Hotel, where foreign journalists are known to be staying. The flimsy excuse by the American commander of retaliating to firing from the hotel lobby has been debunked by the journalists present there, who have also asked why the upper floors were targeted if the provocation had come from the lobby. Al-Jazeera, in fact, has been in the American crosshairs for a long time. The wanton murder of its reporter, Tareq Ayub, follows a number of earlier 'shots across the bow' targeting its vehicles, offices and reporters. The American grouse against Al-Jazeera is that the Arabic TV channel exaggerates Iraqi successes and focuses unduly on the human cost of the conflict. These 'charges' seem bizarre considering that a whole battery of international media networks is working overtime to project Anglo-American successes, even manufacturing these when needed, and purging all the time the horrible war of its inevitably tragic human cost....  Recalling the moral huff in which Britain and the U.S. had unfurled the otherwise forgotten Geneva Conventions when Al-Jazeera had shown picture of their PoWs, it is ironic that they should themselves now be violating international law....  The reality is that the U.S. is afraid of any reporting of the horrendous human cost its massive bombardment of Iraqi cities is exacting and would do anything to stop it--even killing journalists."


"Killing Of Journalists In Baghdad"


Second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt contended (4/10):  "The Pentagon has offered token condolence to the families of journalists killed in Baghdad.  These crocodile tears shed by the U.S. cannot wash away the crime it has committed. No amount of condemnation of this incident is sufficient.  The Nawa-e-Waqt Group offers heartfelt sympathies to the families of journalists who became victims of American madness in Baghdad and praises them for their professional courage and sacrifice."


"Killing Of Journalists: A Shameful Aspect Of The Coalition War"


Popular Urdu-language Din (4/10):  "It is unfortunate that those who kill journalists in this manner strut around the world as the sole champions of freedom of thought and expression.  The killing of journalists shows how much freedom they allow journalists to have.  One crime of these journalists is said to be that  they had started sending out factual reports of civilian casualties at the hands of the coalition troops....  In short, these journalists lost their lives fulfilling their responsibilities and serving a higher cause.  One shameless aspect of the unlawful and immoral war imposed by the coalition on the Iraqis is that where they targeted civilian areas for bombing, they did not spare the journalists either."


"A Cowardly Attack On Press Freedom"


Center-right Urdu-language Pakistan opined (4/10):  "Targeting civilian areas and journalists is shameful in the extreme and worth condemning.  The UN must take note of the ploys the coalition is using to meet its objectives and conceal its crimes. In this connection, it is not wrong to say targeting journalists deliberately constitutes a war crime. Protests by journalists around the world at this barbarity are but natural.  Such open violations of international rules and regulations will increase hatred for the invaders around the world."


"One Side Of The Picture"


Karachi-based right-wing pro-Islamic unity Urdu-language Jasarat opined (4/9):  "Americans' image of human feeling, morality, decency, civilization and adhering to the principles of war has been severely tarnished at each and every step in Iraq. The bombing by the U.S. on the hotel where different journalists were stationed could not be termed as an accident.  This is a deliberate and well thought out attack.  The attack on the Al-Jazeera television team was carried out after both the U.S. and Britain had launched a campaign against the channel since the beginning of their aggression. This is the punishment for showing American POWs and bodies of American troops on the channel."




CAMEROON:   "Dictatorship"


Yaounde-based pro-opposition French-language Mutations commented (4/9):  "American soldiers fire on everything that moves. The courageous Qatar TV was bombed in Baghdad....  Al-Jazeera is now going to compete with CNN elsewhere, but not in Iraq...which became this week the 51st state of the American federation....  With the refusal of the Bush administration to comply with international laws under U.N. authority, it is clear that the second war in the Gulf will inevitably be a dirty war."


SOUTH AFRICA:  "The Media And War"


The liberal Natal Witness commented (4/10):  "Lives are inevitably being lost....  Alarmingly this now includes as many as 12 media personnel....  The media has an extraordinarily difficult task in covering any military conflict Moreover there is a limit to what can or should be conveyed though the media on the horrific actualities of war....  It will always be tricky in such situations to get the reporting right....  The human shields have left and come home; the reporters have remained."


"Iraq War Coverage Has Tragic Cost"


The liberal Herald editorialized (4/10):  "A unique feature of the Iraq war has been the intensive and extensive coverage by the media....  Inevitably, this has come at a price.  The tragic deaths of newsmen...has starkly brought home the fact that the danger faced by newsmen is not confined to the front line....  The appetite of modern, hi-tech media is insatiable, and feeding this appetite has exposed an unprecedented number of journalists to the danger of war."


"Democracy A Dirty Word"


The liberal Daily Dispatch declared (4/10):  "The deliberate targeting of journalists and civilians in wartime is a shocking and extreme contravention of international law.  To accuse the Americans of what amounts to war crimes of this nature would also be extreme....  It's true that there is a war going on and that journalists involved must expect the danger that goes with that.  It is also true that in a chaotic war situation there will be civilian and other casualties.  But there is an obligation on the forces involved to limit such casualties....  The war on Iraq is giving 'democracy' a bad name."




ARGENTINA:  "An Action Aimed At Concealing The Truth"


Marcelo Cantelmi wrote in leading Clarin (4/9):  "This distortion was powered by the actual conflict due to the underlying illegitimacy of this war. But the paradoxical issue is that this is one of the conflicts with the largest number of journalists on the battlefield, and with a technology that allows immediate access to what's taking place in the front line. This is so because the Pentagon took for granted that this war would be short, and that the Iraqi people would quickly turn against the Iraqi tyrant, and would receive the liberation troops with flowers....  The unexpected and stubborn resistance of Iraq...made the coalition lose all scruples in their effort to achieve, without delay, their initial goal of taking over the country and eliminating Saddam....  The allied command meant to control a good portion of the press 'embedded' in the military campaigns....  But a legion of journalists evaded these controls and installed in Baghdad to report in an independent way....  The recent attack by coalition troops against three journalists was precisely against this group of independent reporters... The immediate perception is that it was a deliberate action poorly counter-attacked by the allied command, which resorted to the idea of self-defense at an alleged attack of snipers, an issue that was outrageously denied by a group of correspondents....  The fact that these incidents are taking place in what seems to be the final stage of this war is no minor issue. Particularly when everything indicates that the final surge will face a mountain of dead bodies....  The strategy seems to be aimed at eliminating the group of journalists who are covering this Gulf conflict without restrictions."


"'War Is Dangerous,' Says The Pentagon"


Ana Baron opined in leading Clarin (4/9):  "First they said the attack against the Palestine Hotel, where the international press in Baghdad is located, was an accident; then they explained that coalition tanks had been attacked by snipers posted in the hotel. The truth is the Pentagon managed to convince no one. Yesterday, in Washington, there were waves of requests from different governments and organizations (defending press freedom) to investigate the episode....  How is it possible that, on the same day, allies attack independent Arab TV Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi's TV and the Palestine Hotel, this is to say, independent press?  Even if there had been a sniper on the roof-top of the building, as the Pentagon says, is it legitimate for the forces to fire back at a hotel where everybody knew there were independent journalists?....  The U.S. press covered the attack against the international press reflecting the Pentagon's viewpoint."


MEXICO:  "'Friendly' Fire"


Business-oriented El Financiero held (4/9):  "If there were not enough elements to criticize the war against Iraq already, the number of casualties and the fact that journalists have become a target for the coalition--led by President Bush--confirms that world public opinion is correct when it rejects this adventure, where the goals have been confused, if there ever were any goals.  Operation Liberation contradicts itself; it forgets about human rights.  It is covered with the blood of innocent people, even with 'friendly fire' that exterminates freedom of expression when searching for war plunders, where the brightest jewels are oil and a geostrategic position.  Saddam Hussein's perversity and justice are secondary.  The fact that a journalist has died every 48 hours during the past 20 days of this war is painful, and the fact that the 'friendly fire' slaughters society and liberties is painful as well."


“Bush, A Murderer Of Journalists”


Left-of-center La Jornada maintained (4/9):  “American forces murdered three journalists yesterday, wounded another four, and destroyed the offices of Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi Television; these attacks are unjustifiable and criminal, they can be regarded as terrorist attacks because they are not isolated actions, but decisive steps by Bush to impose silence on any information that does not fit his official propaganda--the American and British military commands provide information to the embedded journalists who travel with the aggressors--Bush also tries to hide atrocities perpetrated in Iraq and chases away international journalists who stay in the devastated Iraqi capital. On Sept. 11, the Bush administration declared war on an uncertain enemy called international terrorism and also against the practice of professional, critical and honest journalism. Washington authorities have acted to silence journalists and to bind them to official discourse.”


GUATEMALA:  “The Other Victims Of War”


Conrado Alonso observed in leading, moderate Prensa Libre (4/8):  "The number of deaths in the armed conflict in Iraq is rising.  Soldiers...and war correspondents of different nationalities and diverse media outlets have died....  When a journalist becomes a victim while fulfilling his is our obligation to recognize that he or she died to be able to tell us about the war.  We must honor these people who undoubtedly deserve it.”



Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home