War Journalists Labeled Spies, Unprivileged Belligerents. That’s What A New Pentagon Manual Calls Some War Reporters

 

imageedit_3_4673052415First published on August 26, 2015

By | on August 26, 2015

By Lorra B. Staff Writer

US defense Secretary, Ash Carter, is being asked by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) to amend a new Pentagon manual that is labeling war journalists as spies, unprivileged belligerents and saboteurs.

Is this new manual an indication the U.S. government is openly marking journalists who challenge Washington’s objectives?

An open letter was published by RWB to Carter about the Law of War Manual. The manual has infuriated reporters “for saying war reporters may be held liable for ‘engaging in hostilities’ or spying, sabotage and similar acts behind enemy lines’,” according to The Guardian.

The War Manual, was published on June 24 and is 1,176 pages of revisions, the first revisions since 1956.

The revisions include terminology marking journalists stating “in general, journalists are civilians,” and that in some instances these reporters may be viewed as “unprivileged belligerents.”

But what does unprivileged belligerents really mean? Well, ‘unprivileged belligerents,’ according to veteran war corresponded Don North, simply replaces the term ‘unlawful combatants’ and that journalists, therefore are looked upon as nothing more than those in the ranks of Al Qaeda.

Based on this assessment, broad interpretation and hazy wording, journalists could not only be asked to leave military bases but they could also be detained for perceived wrongdoings.

Secretary General Christophe Deloire of Reporters Without Borders stated, “This terminology leaves too much room for interpretation, putting journalists in a dangerous position.”

“Liking journalistic activity to spying is just the kind of ammunition certain repressive countries like Iran, Syria and China would seek out to support their practices of censorship and criminalization of journalists.”

Columbia Journalism Review’s managing editor, Vanessa Gezari, stated, “It’s very threatening. I believe it contradicts at least the spirit of customary battlefield relationships, if not the letter. The relationship between journalists and combatants has always been complicated. The way the language about spying is placed in there is alarming to me in that is says, ‘journalism is a lot like spying’ and then it leaves that to people to make up their own mind. It gets at the commonalities but not the differences.”

The craftily worded manual sets journalist in a whole new category. Journalists will not be classified as either civilian or soldier and therefore have no protections. The manual states that ‘like other civilians, civilian journalists who engage in hostilities against a State, may be punished by that State after a fair trial.”

The “relaying of information,” according to the new manual, may be construed as such an act.

Governments, according to the manual, “may need to censor journalists’ work or take other security measures so that journalists do not reveal sensitive information to the enemy.”

Censor journalists’ work? Really? This does not sound like the ‘America The Free’ I remember. Press freedoms are vitally important to America remaining free. Without them we will become no better than a dictator state.

When the Pentagon begins to crack down and round-up all journalistic work to be reviewed and possibly censored then we will be playing in a whole new ball game and not one for the betterment of American citizens.

Will we become nothing more than the New China or New Russia? When we begin to censor and impede on journalistic freedoms then we start chipping away at the very fabric this great nation was built on. Just where that chipping will lead is a road I, for one, don’t wish to travel.

By Lorra B.

Silent Soldier News

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Rationing Drugs For Sick Veterans. Did The VA REALLY Plan To Do That?

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The Department of Veteran Affairs has known since January that the cost of medications was rising and that it would cause a tremendous financial loss. They have even discussed rationing expensive drugs “after asking Congress for $500 million to pay for the same drugs,” according to Washington Examiner.

VA officials have given Congress the notion that hospitals throughout the nation would be closed unless ‘swift action’ was taken.

Hepatitis C, one of the most expensive medications given to veterans, is one of the drugs the VA is allegedly planning to withhold from some veterans. The Hep C drug can be as much as $1,000 a pill, a price the pharmaceutical company, Gilead, believes to be fair considering what it cost for them to develop the treatments, Sovldi and Harvoni.

Hep C is caused by the HCV virus:

  • It is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
  • It can be a mild illness lasting a few weeks in up to 15% of individuals. • It can lead to chronic (lifelong) illness that can cause liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and liver cancer.
  • It is spread mainly through contact with the blood of an infected person.

Commendably, Gilead has already negotiated discounts for the VA, as much as 40%.

The VA, however, is still in need of funding, for Hep C drugs, and more but Congress doesn’t seem happy with the tactic the VA is using to go about getting this funding.

Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran told the Examiner,  “It’s another instance of the VA telling Congress, the Veterans committee and others about how, if we give them money, it would be spent, and then it’s a different plan once we give them the money.”

Moran went on to say, “If the VA tells us there’s a crisis and tells us to respond to that crisis, I would expect them to use the money as they told us they would. A question would be, then how are you spending the money if you are refusing to treat all the veterans that are suffering from this condition?”

Deputy VA secretary Sloan Gibson stated to the House Veterans’ affairs Committee that they “don’t expect to do any rationing of care with Hepatitis C.”

An internal plan, however, had already been made by the VA to do just that, according to the Examiner.

VA Employees had apparently warned Gibson of the possible financial issues in January but Gibson denies these allegations.

Chief VA financial officer, Kathleen Turco, according to Examiner, “dismissed those concerns on Jan. 21. Six months later, VA officials stood before Congress and claimed they were essentially blindsided by the largest budget shortfall in the agency’s history.”

The VA, once again, finds itself in the spot light and has some explaining to do. Rationing needed medications for our veterans…Really? VA, did you really plan to do that?

First published by Lorra B.

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