Newsday has this story on the killing of a Reuters cameraman by an American tank crew in a Baghdad suburb. It shows the utter stupidity of modern journalistic class when faced with the reality of war involving competent and well equipped troops The key passage from the story:
Mazen Dana, 43, was shot and killed by U.S. soldiers Sunday while videotaping near a U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad. The U.S. Army said its soldiers mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Press advocacy groups Reporters Without Borders and the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists demanded a full investigation into the shooting. Reporters Without Borders urged Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to conduct an "honest, rapid" investigation. The group also noted that there have been isolated cases in which soldiers in Iraq have been hostile to the news media. "Such behavior is unacceptable and must be punished. It is essential that clear instructions and calls for caution are given to soldiers in the field so that freedom of movement and work of journalists is accepted in Iraq," the group said in a statement. The film Dana shot showed a tank driving toward him. Six shots were heard, and the camera appeared to tilt forward and drop to the ground after the first shot. Dana was working outside the Abu Ghraib prison after a mortar attack there Sunday in which six prisoners were killed and about 60 wounded. Witnesses said Dana was dressed in civilian clothes. "We were all there, for at least half an hour. They knew we were journalists. After they shot Mazen, they aimed their guns at us. I don't think it was accident. They are very tense. They are crazy," said Stephan Breitner of France 2 television. Breitner said soldiers tried to resuscitate Dana but failed. A U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity that American soldiers saw Dana from a distance and mistook him for an Iraqi guerrilla, so they opened fire. When the soldiers came closer, they realized Dana was a journalist, the official said. "This is clearly another tragic incident, it is extremely regrettable," Central Command spokesman Sgt. Maj. Lewis Matson said.You see in that passage the utter incomprehension of the international journalistic class in dealing with American troops under combat conditions. It has been well known since 1982 that electronic news gathering equipment looks like a rocket propelled grenade launcher through military gun sights. This was demonstrated when a CBS news crew set up to cover an Israeli column advancing towards Beruit in an orchard after the Israeli column had been ambushed a number of times by PLO RPG crews. The CBS crew was turned to raw hamburger by Israeli firepower as soon as the Israelis came in range. There was a big stink by the international journalistic community until the Israelis produced a side by side picture of a news crew with a camera and an RPG crew through an Israeli tank sight. After that you saw a lot of long range telephoto pictures of Israeli troops. Most of the "combat junkie" international journalists of the current generation are used to being near third world fighting. The combatants being covered have little or no training, are often high on drugs and lack modern fire control on their weapons. The reporters can often bluff or bribe their way through these 3rd worlders to get the shots and quotes they need for the evening news. American soldiers on the other hand are well trained, stone sober and have the latest fire control on their weapons. They are also well disciplined and trained to deal with reporters as a matter of course down to the junior officer level and cannot be bribed. Those American troops that forget their training are dealt with by the American chain of command so reporters as a whole are given very little or nothing to work with. What these reporters refuse to take seriously is that their only protection from American firepower on a modern battlefield is to be part of an American embedded reporter program. Editors who came up through the same 3rd world battlefields of the 1980's and 1990's as their current news crews just cannot understand the orders of magnitude difference in killing power between western troops and 3rd worlders when the former are fighting with serious intent. Americans in Iraq are not Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza. The Americans are out to kill terrorists and anyone that looks like an armed terrorist in their line of sight is going to die. And Al-Qaeda terrorists like to look like reporters to get close to their targets. Massoud, "the Lion of the Panshir," found that out in the days before 9/11/2001. The penalty for stupidity on the modern battlefield in range of American troops is death. The only reason not to nominate Mazen Dana for the Darwin Awards is that he had four kids before he was killed. Any news organization that puts its reporters with camera's near American troops in combat outside of the embed program should be sued by the relatives of the dead cameramen for criminal negligence. UPDATE #1: Go to this link and see an animation that shows modern news gathering equipment nose on compared to modern anti-tank missile launchers. This is via the A.E.Brain blog. To quote one of our commentors: "...the No. 1 rule of engagement for covering conflicts involving American forces is quite simple. Don't Point Things At American Forces In Combat Areas." Update #2 One of the commenters over on Little Green Footballs noticed this picture on Yahoo. It is the body of Mazen Dana wrapped in a Palestinian flag plus what appear to be the the banners of Hamas, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, with a Hamas shaheed's head band. So much for Mazen's "Press Objectivity."