08 July 2008

Can You Handle Reality?

This is a picture of today's suicide bombing in Kabul targeting the Indian Embassy which left 41 dead. Some might find the picture offensive to the senses and grotesque. Well, too bad, this is the reality of modern conflict. While the media often gets mired in domestic politics and their traditional adherence to leftist ideology, photojournalism in the combat zone has provided a unique pathway for folks on the outside to comprehend the imagery of war and the brutal nature of the enemy. When murderous thugs like Zawahiri claim that there agents don't target Muslim civilians, photojournalists like Zoriah Miller are there to provide concrete evidence contrary to the propaganda of the enemy.

That's why, IMHO, the Marines in Anbar are making a huge mistake by kicking out this embedded photojournalist. From Ventura County Star (h/t Blackfive):

The Marine commanders who saw the photograph were not happy, saying it violated a "trust" between the military and journalists. Zoriah was immediately "disembedded" from a Marine unit and barred from working with the military in Anbar.

Zoriah is in hot water for publishing graphic photos from an Al-Qaeda claimed suicide bombing in Anbar province in late June, which resulted in numerous civilians and three Marines KIA. His side of the story is here. While the pictures of our troops killed may be unnerving, it doesn't violate OPSEC by providing the enemy information on the attack (the death toll would have been published anyways). Out of respect for the families of the fallen, the MNF-I ground rules for embedding reads:

DOD will release names of KIAs. In respect for family members, names or images clearly identifying individuals “killed in action” will not be released prior to notification of next ot kin and in accordance with current legislation. Names of KIAs may be released after the DOD announcement has been made – journalists may check the Defenselink.mil Web site for those announcements.

The Marines need to realize that independent journalism will publish information that may not read like a Pentagon Press Release. At a time when news from Iraq is at an all-time low, we cannot afford to "censor" information.