Tags: Pentagon | Law of War | Policy | Revise | Journalists

Pentagon Revises Law of War Policy Treating Reporters Like Spies

Image: Pentagon Revises Law of War Policy Treating Reporters Like Spies
The Pentagon is seen in this aerial view in Washington, in this March 27, 2008 file photo. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

By    |   Friday, 22 Jul 2016 12:26 PM

The Pentagon is changing the U.S. military's manual of war after listening to criticism of the language regarding journalists, which seemed to let commanders treat reporters as spies, The Huffington Post reports.

The U.S. Department of Defense manual was released in June 2015, and quickly drew attention from The New York Times, which pointed out the guidelines on journalists and called for their repeal.

Under the 2015 version, journalists could be treated as "unprivileged belligerents," which entails fewer legal protections than those afforded to prisoners of war and combatants.

"The new language is a seismic shift for the U.S. military," said Frank Smyth, senior adviser for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists. "This affirmation of journalists' right to report armed conflicts freely and from all sides is especially welcome at a time when governments, militias, and insurgent forces around the world are routinely flouting the laws of war."

The committee raised concerns over the 2015 version, which it said, "would have risked more journalist imprisonments by putting most of the burden on the journalist to avoid behavior that could be construed as a hostile act. The revised language seems to put more of the burden on military commanders to distinguish between the journalistic and enemy activities."

The new manual contains comprehensive revisions to the section on journalists, with only small changes elsewhere, according to a Pentagon press release.

"The Department of Defense is a learning institution," Peter Cook, the Defense Department press secretary, said in a statement. "We appreciate the willingness of journalists to constructively share their concerns with the department's lawyers. The changes to the manual reflect the department's concerted effort to address those concerns and clarify specific language."

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The Pentagon is changing the U.S. military's manual of war after listening to criticism of the language regarding journalists, which seemed to let commanders treat reporters as spies, The Huffington Post reports.
Pentagon, Law of War, Policy, Revise, Journalists
285
2016-26-22
Friday, 22 Jul 2016 12:26 PM
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