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[] Journalisten protestieren gegen Beschränkungen in Afghanistan,

Invisible Casualties: Journalists Protest Lack of Access

Las Vegas Sun - December 05, 2001 

News Media Protest Lack of Access to Injured

WASHINGTON--U.S. military officials in Afghanistan prevented
journalists from witnessing the transfer of injured soldiers who were
victims of the errant B-52 bomb that killed three special forces
soldiers on Wednesday.

Several news organizations questioned the restrictions on the
journalists, the only media that have been allowed to accompany and
cover U.S. forces based in Afghanistan.

The incident is a troubling example of the news media's "lack of
direct contact with American forces who've actually participated in
the war," said Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of the Washington

Downie criticized the Pentagon for "locking those reporters up today
rather than figuring out how to make information available to them in
a way that didn't compromise security."

The top Pentagon spokeswoman said there was no policy to prevent news
coverage of American casualties. But spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said
she did not have enough information to comment on Wednesday's
restrictions at a Marine base in southern Afghanistan.

The casualties occurred when a bomb launched from an Air Force B-52
bomber missed its target north of Kandahar. Some of the wounded
soldiers were initially taken to the Marine base in southern
Afghanistan before being transferred to another facility.

Journalists at the base were confined to a warehouse as the injured
American and Afghan soldiers began arriving and while they were being
treated, according to several reporters at the base.

The journalists were not permitted to approach the medical area at
the center of the base.

The journalists who went into the remote desert base in southern
Afghanistan with Marines on Nov. 25 were the first reporters the
Pentagon has allowed to accompany U.S. troops into the country.

Journalists at the base represented The Associated Press, the
Baltimore Sun, CBS, CNN, Newsweek, the New York Times, Reuters, the
Wall Street Journal, Gannett, the Washington Post and AP Television
News. They were pulled out of Afghanistan on Wednesday night. Another
group will rotate in, although it was uncertain what day that would

The journalists operate under guidelines not to provide coverage that
would endanger the security of an operation, or put service members'
lives at risk. Clarke said she could not comment about Wednesday's
restrictions until she spoke with officials at the base. Asked at the
Pentagon briefing if it were Defense Department policy to prevent
television footage or other news coverage of American casualties,
Clarke said no.

"The journalists were kept from reporting on the casualties, and
we've questioned the restrictions," said Jonathan Wolman, the AP's
executive editor. "The policy allows for coverage of casualties, but
it was subverted in this case."

As part of their reporting arrangements, journalists have agreed not
to specify where in Afghanistan the airstrip is located or divulge
plans for future operations. The Pentagon requires those news
organizations to share, or "pool," their reports with other news

The Defense Department has not organized broader access for reporters
to go into Afghanistan to cover the U.S. military's anti-Taliban
operations or its search for terror suspects.

Eight journalists from Western news organizations have been killed in
Afghanistan covering other aspects of the current conflict.

American reporters have been allowed on U.S. aircraft carriers and
other ships in the Arabian Sea involved in the war. The Pentagon has
not allowed reporters to visit bases in Uzbekistan, Pakistan and
other countries where U.S. forces are working.

Media executives have urged the Pentagon to provide wider access as
U.S. military operations unfold, saying that the public in a
democracy needs information to evaluate the policies and progress of
the war.

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