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Report Says U.S. Did Target Media Outlets In Gulf War II

 

A newly released report notes that during the coalition air assault on Iraq, Central Command “authorized” bombing strikes against “media facilities” in which a number of journalists were killed and employed weapons that human rights groups want banned.

 

Exclusive to American Free Press

By Christopher Bollyn

 

A detailed analysis of the coalition air campaign done by Michael Moseley of the U.S. Air Force says there were 10 authorized strikes against “media facilities,” including the bombing of the Baghdad office of the Qatar-based al Jazeera Arabic television news network, according to an article in The Age, an Australian newspaper that obtained an unclassified version of the report.

In Baghdad three journalists were killed on April 8 when their offices were shelled or bombed by U.S. forces. Two journalists died when a tank shell struck the Reuters office in the Palestine Hotel and the third died when the offices of the Qatar-based al Jazeera were hit by a single missile fired from a U.S. aircraft. A third office belonging to a news network from Abu Dhabi was also hit on the same day.

Robert Fisk, a British journalist reporting from Baghdad for The Independent, said that U.S. claims made by Gen. Buford Blount that there had been sniper fire coming from the Palestine Hotel were false.

“I was between the tank and the hotel when the shell was fired,” said Fisk. “There was no sniper fire—nor any rocket-propelled grenade fire, as the American officer claimed—at the time.”

In a scathing article titled “Did the U.S. murder these journalists?” Fisk wrote that Mohamed Jassem al-Ali, managing director of al Jazeera, had written to Victoria Clark, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, at the Pentagon on Feb. 24 informing her of the precise coordinates of al Jazeera’s office in Baghdad. Al-Ali’s letter informed the Pentagon of the location of the office and the fact that civilian journalists would be working in the building.

When al Jazeera’s office was bombed on April 8, killing the station’s reporter Tareq Ayoub, al-Ali wrote again to Clark: “We find these events unjustifiable, unacceptable, arousing all forms of anger and rejection and most of all [in] need of an explanation.”

The explanation seems to come in Moseley’s reported analysis of the bombing campaign, which states there were 10 authorized strikes against “media facilities.” Moseley’s assessment, titled “Operation Iraqi Freedom —By the Numbers,” is based on military records from March 19 to April 18.

American Free Press sent the Pentagon a copy of the June 3 article from The Age with a few questions. In reply to the question whether it were true that the bombing of al Jazeera’s office in Baghdad had been authorized, came a terse statement “attributable to Defense officials: Coalition forces did not deliberately nor specifically target news media.”

There was no response to the question: Is it true that al Jazeera provided the Pentagon and/or Centcom with the exact coordinates of their Baghdad office in order to inform the U.S. forces of their location as a precaution?

However, the fact that al Jazeera had informed the Pentagon of its coordinates and the code of its signal to the satellite transponder was reported in The Guardian on March 24.

Al Jazeera’s office in Kabul was also bombed in November 2001, despite having provided U.S. authorities in Washington with the coordinates of its location as a precaution. The Kabul office was destroyed by U.S. “smart” bombs two hours before the Northern Alliance took over the city.

It was the fact that al Jazeera was broadcasting “blood-and-guts images from the invasion of Iraq” around the world that angered the United States, according to The Guardian. “Millions of viewers throughout the Middle East saw pictures of Iraqi and American victims . . . that many western news organizations would consider too shocking to publish,” it said.

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld denounced al Jazeera for broadcasting images of captured U.S. soldiers, Jihad Ballout, a spokesman for the network responded: “Look who’s talking about international law and regulations. We didn’t make the pictures—the pictures are there. It’s a facet of the war. Our duty is to show the war from all angles.”

The assessment of the coalition air campaign also reported that 240,000 cluster bombs were dropped on Iraq. Because cluster bombs spread hundreds of “bomblets” over a large area they are not meant to be used in civilian areas. Due to a high frequency of unexploded bomblets, areas bombed by cluster bombs are “contaminated” and dangerous for years.

A leaked map of unexploded cluster bombs dropped by coalition aircraft was recently revealed in The Observer, a British newspaper. The map shows “an appalling level of contamination,” according to Richard Lloyd, director of Landmine Action. Lloyd, who visited Iraq to assess the danger, said about the map, “It confirms that American and British forces attacked built-up areas in cities with cluster bombs.”

Asked about the use of cluster bombs in Iraq, Defense officials told AFP, “Coalition forces conducted meticulous targeting techniques and used highly accurate weapons systems in order to minimize harm to Iraqi civilians and their infrastructure,” adding that they were “still working on information on the use of cluster bombs.”

“Operation Iraqi Freedom—By the Numbers” also said that the U.S. used 800 Tomahawk missiles. AFP asked the U.S. Navy’s office of Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aircraft about the approximate cost of each missile.

The Tomahawk Block 3 missiles used in Iraq were produced by Raytheon’s missile division in Tucson, Ariz., and cost $1 million each, according to the Navy, but today’s replacement cost for the missiles used would be $1.4 million “per copy” or about $1.2 billion.