"I hung around a war and got fired at" shock

The Guardian reports on another shooting of a cameraman by US troops. The focus of the story is again not on the shooting, but on the allegations being made by Reporters Sans Frontieres, who suggest the shooting was deliberate. At least, that's the impression you get from their comments:

RSF called the shooting "unacceptable" and called for a "thorough and transparent investigation".

"Once again the US forces have targeted a journalist just doing his job," the press freedom organisation said.

"We again call on this same army to be more vigilant and discerning in order to avoid these unacceptable blunders."

Now hang on a minute. First the RSF say the US forces "targeted" a journalist. But then in the next sentence they call it an "unacceptable blunder". But if it was just a blunder, then it wasn't a deliberate targeting. They're saying that it was both deliberate and an accident, which doesn't add up. Which is it?

Now, it may be that this is deliberate obfuscation, designed to allow RSF to retract their claim when convenient. "We never said it was deliberate -- we said it was an unacceptable blunder". Or it may be that RSF are just confused (they're left-wing journalists, after all, not really the brightest stars in the intellectual firmament).

Or it may be -- and I hope this is the true explanation -- that there is a confusion of language going on here. Perhaps by 'targeted' some French-speaking RSF member meant something like 'shot at'. So all they were saying was that once again US forces have shot at a cameraman just doing his job, which is an unacceptable blunder. If so, while it's a strong statement, it's not an accusation that the shooting was deliberate.

But if this is the explanation, I note that the al-Guardian makes no attempt to clear the matter up. Instead, The Guardian leads with RSF's call for an investigation, and ends with this claim from the International News Safety Institute:

"Most disturbingly, we know of no one prosecuted for the killing of any journalist this year. This is in line with a sustained worldwide culture of impunity for the killers of journalists - an appalling failure of many governments which can only encourage more of the same."

So there doesn't seem to be any doubt in The Guardian's mind that these organizations are alleging that these killings are more than just the inevitable casualties of war. The Guardian doesn't even appear to notice the inconsistency in the RSF's claims. They also take the opportunity to bring up the Giuliana Sgrena case again, to reinforce their reader's suspicions that the US is out to kill lefty journalists. But, of course, they never killed Sgrena. And despite the headline, they didn't kill this journalist either -- he "sustained a hip injury". If they are out to kill these journalists, they're not doing a very good job of it.

So what happened to this journalist? According to The Guardian itself:

The cameraman during an exchange of shots between Iraqi insurgents and members of the 1st brigade of the US 25th infantry division.

The Pentagon issued a statement saying that during the incident "an individual that appeared to have a weapon who was standing near the insurgent was shot and injured.

"This individual turned out to be a reporter who was pointing a video camera. Regretfully, the reporter was injured during the complex and volatile situation."

So far as I can understand this -- the first sentence in this extract makes no sense to anyone except the sub-editor who took this opinions expressed by RSF seriously -- the cameraman was caught in the middle of a gun-battle, pointing something at troops that looks like a weapon? As I've said before, it is not the troops' job to be looking out for possible cameramen. If you're a cameraman in the middle of a gun-battle and you look like the enemy, it's their job to shoot you. For a soldier to delay firing at you because of the (very small) likelihood that you might turn out to be a cameraman risks that soldier being killed himself. So where's the story? What possible justification is there for giving these claims of deliberate murder such credence? Do INSI and The Guardian really think a jury would take their claims seriously?

Cross-posted at Blithering Bunny.

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