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Death of British journalist in Afghanistan

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Jon Williams Jon Williams | 10:42 UK time, Monday, 11 January 2010

Saturday was a grim day for all of us involved in reporting the war in Afghanistan. Since 2001, 246 British servicemen and women have died there. The death of the Sunday Mirror's Defence correspondent, Rupert Hamer, was the first of a British journalist.

Ruper HamerFigures published last week by the International News Safety Institute show that 132 journalists were killed in 35 different countries around the world in 2009 - one of the worst yearly tolls on record. Seventeen have died in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001.

Of course, the death of a journalist is no more significant than any other; a US marine was also killed alongside Rupert Hamer; five other marines were injured, with the Mirror's photographer, Phil Coburn.

However, the loss of Rupert Hamer serves to remind us of the dangers faced, not just by military personnel in Afghanistan, but also by those committed to telling the story of the conflict there - and the courage they display in doing so.

In Helmand, the journalists "embedded" with British and American troops share every aspect of life with those they are reporting on - the same accommodation, vehicles, food... and risk.

Rupert Hamer and the US marine were killed when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle. Two weeks ago, a Canadian reporter, Michelle Lang, was also killed with four Canadian soldiers in the neighbouring province of Kandahar - their vehicle was blown up by another "improvised explosive device".

The IED, the weapon of choice for those fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan, doesn't discriminate between soldier, civilian and journalist.

For the BBC, there is no more important story than the war there - to our audiences in the UK and around the world, particularly those in Afghanistan itself. If we, and other news organisations, are to report it accurately, then doing so from the front line is vital.

We try to manage the risk to an acceptable level - but tragically, as we have witnessed this weekend, the danger is real. For reporters in Afghanistan, there are no hiding places.

Rightly, the sacrifice of the service personnel who have lost their lives in Afghanistan is well recognised and respected. But the courage and commitment of the journalists who tell their story is every bit as great as the risk they endure. Without them, readers, listeners and viewers would be the poorer.

Jon Williams is the BBC World News Editor.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This death, like the others mentioned, is very sad.

    But I do question the way our media covers Afghanistan. We only get to hear about our casualties, rarely about our allies'. You'd barely know that Canadian, Dutch, and Danish troops are heavily involved in the fighting, too.

    You'd also get the impression that our troops are victims, just waiting around to be blown up by IEDs. Do they ever kill any enemy combatants? Or innocent civilians, come to think of it?

  • Comment number 2.

    #1 I've raised this very point many times.

    If the current BBC editorial policy was in place in 1940 we'd hear how many tons of bombs the Luftwaffe dropped on London, how many casualties we'd taken and how many Spitfires were shot down but there would be no mention of any Luftwaffe aircraft shot down at all. Why the BBC refuse to report any Taliban losses in Afghanistan is a mystery which I'd love to hear answered.

    This is why so many Brits feel we are losing this war badly.

    With the exception of the Canadians who have taken suprisingly heavy losses (and I had to google them to confirm) most other european nations have lost a dozen or so men in combat each since 2001, mainly because they're in less hostile parts of the country.

    Regarding the sad loss of Ruper Hamer.

    Although I feel very sorry for his family's loss how much extra danger does the prescence of unarmed civillians, thoughtfully wearing blue flak jackets to mark themselves out as 'being unusual and therefore worth shooting at' and desperate for some sexy camera shots put the troops they're enbedded with in? The journalists reporting from the front line are certainly brave, but they're also there out of choice unlike the squaddies and are paid a hell of a lot more for the job.

  • Comment number 3.

    Very sorry to hear of his death, the same as I feel for every "NATO" soldier there.

    Like many others, I am aghast at the exceptionally poor & biased coverage by the BBC of the Afghanistan conflict.

    Its not just the ommisions & the complete lack of reporting on certain actions & stories I object to, but the political "groupthink" at the BBC - it is now certainly getting in the way of the "truth".

    I truly believe the BBc News department needs to be cleared of all the recycled CND & Marxists, & journalists who are capable of living by the BBC Charter installed.



  • Comment number 4.

    #3 On the plus side its better than BBC reporting in the Falklands. At least this time they're not broadcasting troop numbers, equipment state, moral and intended attacks to the enemy via the world service before they happened.

    This is why many soldiers actively dislike and distrust journalists.

  • Comment number 5.

    Peter Sym

    You ask 'Why the BBC refuse to report any Taliban losses in Afghanistan is a mystery which I'd love to hear answered.'

    And you give the right answer.

    'This is why so many Brits feel we are losing this war badly. '

    The BBC wants to be able to say 'I told you so' to any defence minister or forces' spokesman it interviews. It basically wants us to lose. It puts the most negative spin possible on everything our side does in Afghanistan, and fails to realise the harm its doing to our troops and its own credibility in doing so.

  • Comment number 6.

    #5 Thats who I see it too. I've been giving the BBC the benefit of the doubt but reading the successes of 'Panthers Claw' on other news sites (non-British... even Sky seem reluctant) tells a totally different story to what the BBC are telling (and these other news sites have been New Zealand and Canadian not FOX). I'd rather the BBC checked the facts and wait until they know whether the dead Afghan is a Talib or a 'wedding guest' but it does appear that if he's a Talib it didn't happen and if he's a 'wedding guest or fuel looter' then its front page news and that sadly leads me to your conclusion that the BBC want us to lose.

    The same thing happened in the US too.... the Tet offensive was an amazing US victory. 40,000 VC dead for a few hundred US troops. The Vietcong smashed as a fighting force plus they helpfully carried out mass executions of S.Vietnamese civillians that should have bolstered S.Vietnamese support for the US forces and killed any well meaning but idiotic support in the west for the VC as 'freedom fighters' but the US media chose to portray it as a disaster and the war was lost from then on.

    Of course if any BBC staff member will come on this blog and explain why they only report our losses I'll be happy to listen.

  • Comment number 7.

    The main annoyance for me in the BBC's reporting is this very fact that journalists are given special recognition because they're one of their own. It reaks of bias.

    One of the most prominent examples in recent times was the kidnapping of the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza. The BBC had weekly reports on this and had a permanent section up throughout his kidnap. I understand it's hard when this happens to a colleague but to the rest of us, it gives an appearance of the BBC doing what they want, rather than what they're paid too. Perhaps what was most frustrating was that Johnston was there getting paid, he knew the risks and yet during the same period an aid worker had also been kidnapped in Afghanistan who was there voluntarily trying to do some good and yet not a peep about it from the BBC.

    I agree what journalists do is important, but their story is no more important than that of aid workers, soldiers and civilian reconstruction teams. This special note from the editors alone is evidence enough that the BBC puts fellow journalists above all others. If the BBC was a commercial operation then we'd have little right to complain, we could go elsewhere, but the BBC is meant to be better than this, it's a public service, it's not meant to follow personal agendas against the will of the license payers.

  • Comment number 8.

    Firstly I would like to say that it is very sad to hear of a journalists death in a war zone. It's been a growing problem and I would highly recommend the Al Jazeera documentary "Shooting the messenger" which covers the topic in some depth.

    "Saturday was a grim day for all of us involved in reporting the war in Afghanistan. Since 2001, 246 British servicemen and women have died there."

    Don't the countless thousands of Afghan civilians get a mention?.

    "Rightly, the sacrifice of the service personnel who have lost their lives in Afghanistan is well recognised and respected. But the courage and commitment of the journalists who tell their story is every bit as great as the risk they endure."

    Apparently they don't, unless you count the one-liner mentioning that IEDs do not discriminate between soldiers, civilians and journalists.

    "In Helmand, the journalists "embedded" with British and American troops share every aspect of life with those they are reporting on - the same accommodation, vehicles, food..."

    And this is a big problem. It compromises objectivity. Journalists become public relations tools for the military rather that independent reporters. Of course this is the very intention behind the military's backing of embedded journalism.

    "The IED, the weapon of choice for those fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan, doesn't discriminate between soldier, civilian and journalist."

    The airstrikes which are killing so many Afghan civilians don't seem to be particularly discriminating either. I would point out though that some IEDs are manually triggered and are therefore targeted.

    "If we, and other news organisations, are to report it accurately, then doing so from the front line is vital."

    But does embedded reporting present an accurate view or a distorted one? Like other media outlets you present the war as a conflict between NATO whose benevolence is implicitly assumed, and the evil Taliban. Even US intelligence admit that 90% of the fighters are "a tribal localized insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power."

    That sounds a lot like what we used to call "resistance" doesn't it? The term Taliban serves only to disguise the fact that it is ordinary Afghans taking up arms in their own country. They are not all religious maniacs who want fundamentalist rule. Far from it. Isn't it time the media becomes a little bit more honest about the people we are fighting?

    Perhaps the bigger problem is not that journalists are embedded with the military but rather that the media are "Embedded with Power" (a term coined by the journalist Pepe Escobar)

  • Comment number 9.

    #8. There's no such thing as an 'Afghan' in Afghanistan. The Taliban are mostly Pashtun who are spread across Southern Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. The border dividing the two is of interest to them only because NATO forces can't cross it in pursuit.

    You might also want to read up on military law. 'Resistance groups' even ones on 'our side' like the French resistance in WW2 are illegal groups. The correct term is 'partisan'. The reason the geneva convention bans civillians taking up arms and demands that soldiers fight in uniform is to stop innocent civilians being killed by accident. Rather than being 'indiscriminantly killed' the civillians caught up in airstrikes are being used a human shields by the insurgents who are more than happy to suicide bomb market places etc and kill as many afghan civillians as possible because it makes good headlines. You may wish to recall that the pashtuns fought a ten year civil war with some of the other Afghan tribes before NATO went in in 2001, leaving 1 in 10 Afghan kids maimed and people hijacking airliners to get out of the country.

    The Pashtun don't care if 'civillians' from other tribes are killed (and vice versa). This is why the idea of a stable 'Afghan' govt is highly unlikely. Even in Iraq which has more sense of nationhood the tribal & religious divisions are stopping co-operation. These divisions exist whether NATO is there or not.

    Incidentally the military like embedded journalists because it stops people like Terry Lloyd driving through the middle of a battlefield and getting shot (which then gets blamed on the media) or like Daniel Pearl being taken hostage and executed live on Talib-TV (which gets blamed on the military for not rescuing them). When the military DO have to rescue journalists (like Stephen Farrel) it almost always leads to loss of life among the rescuers and inevitably loss of life among the kidnappers (which is then criticised by idiots on HYS demanding the soldiers be tried as war criminals). Embedding also stops journalists broadcasting information that will lead to the soldiers being at even more risk. Even the most right-on left wing military hater can probably understand why the military wouldn't want plans for tomorrows offensive being broadcast in advance.

    Incidentally good reporting doesn't have to be objective either. Its perfectly valid to tell a story from the POV of a unit you're with as long as your news organistation then tells the personal stories in context with other sources.

  • Comment number 10.

    Typo in post #9. It should say "blamed on the military" not "blamed on the media" in the sentence mentioning Terry Lloyd

  • Comment number 11.

    #7 'One of the most prominent examples in recent times was the kidnapping of the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza. The BBC had weekly reports on this and had a permanent section up throughout his kidnap.'

    Indeed. There was massive overcoverage of Johnston, because he was one of their own. They overcover the Mid East situation anyway, and that event in particular.

    But in Afghanistan, the things that I notice are

    - no mention of Dutch, Danish and Canadian troops
    - no mention of the fact that our casualties, though regrettable, are still amazingly light considering how long the troops have been there (and certainly compared to the Soviets, or the US in Vietnam)
    - no mention of Taliban casualties
    - all Afghan dead are 'wedding guests' (how many weddings do they have over there?)

    And the problem is, I just don't believe the BBC's reporting, on this, as so many other, issues, because it clearly has an agenda.

    I hope someone from the BBC is reading this, and would care to comment.

  • Comment number 12.

    It is very sad that more six more soliers (international) have been killed in Afghanistanas reported today.

    How can this be the deadliest day in two months, when in December four Canadian soldiers were killed and a reporter.

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Four Canadian soldiers and a Canadian journalist have been killed in a powerful blast in Kandahar city.


  • Comment number 13.

    Tragic to hear of a journalist's death, without people like him and his colleagues we'd have even less of an idea what's happening out there.

    To those questioning why the beeb (although its not just the beeb, its all media) don't mention enemy casualty numbers that frequently, i think its because definitely america and possibly the other NATO nations very rarely confirm those numbers, quite often they simply don't know.

    So the broadcasters are vague because the information they are given is vague.

  • Comment number 14.

    As we mourn every single death of a person fighting to end the obscenity, the effrontery of war, mayhem, anarchy, atrocities -- fighting in different ways, with different skills, including as a professional journalist or reporter -- we must remember where the blame for these unnecessary deaths & traumas lie: with the lunatics & hate-obsessed militants who would compel everyone on earth to submit to their exceedingly rigid fanaticism, to an utterly ignorant worldview that is kept alive in the most primitive of minds, in the most primitive & resolutely, arrogantly, narcissistically backward of backwaters...

    God rests the souls of those who die in the service of Justice & Enlightement. Our hearts go out to the bereaved innocents, especially the very youngest ones. They are our common wards now, and we will not allow them to feel bereft of sustaining love & the compassionate interest of their departed parent's colleagues & peers.

    "God bless us, every one!"

  • Comment number 15.

    It is tragic when people die doing their jobs. For those in Afghanistan and other conflict areas the risks are especially high and Rupert Hamer was well aware of that. He died doing what he passionately believed in, and, in that, he had an indelible link with his killers.

    In Cabinda, last Friday, we saw another example of people dying doing their jobs. Once again this happened in a notorious conflict zone but this was a football team on its way to a game. Those who died were the victims of poor advice, not because of living "on the edge" of danger.

    If the media, in particular journalists, is to practise its profession without cant then it must acknowledge every death of someone doing their job in the same way; so how about it BBC? Is there to be a blog for every person who dies, "doing their job"? And when do you start demonstrating your even handedness?

  • Comment number 16.


    "You might also want to read up on military law. 'Resistance groups' even ones on 'our side' like the French resistance in WW2 are illegal groups."

    You might want to read further ahead than WW2. Protocol I (Pt1 Article 4), the 1977 amendment to the Geneva Conventions changes things. Legal protection encompasses people...

    "fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations..."

    However, it basically comes down to politics as to whether combatants are viewed as legitimate or not.


    "Rather than being 'indiscriminantly killed' the civillians caught up in airstrikes are being used a human shields by the insurgents..."

    Really? In all cases? Are they tying these people up and leaving them in homes they know will be bombed? Western governments often like to vaguely claim that the enemy are hiding amongst the civilians but the truth is that both sides regularly move through civilian areas, thus putting people at risk. Airstrikes are a tactic that minimizes the risk to soldiers, but simultaneously maximizes the risk to civilians. If it were westerners being killed in these airstrikes, just one of these "mistakes" would be enough to end the practice.


    "You may wish to recall that the pashtuns fought a ten year civil war with some of the other Afghan tribe..."
    I am well aware of the facts surrounding the civil war. Atrocities were committed by all sides, not just Pashtun groups. Of course one of the tactics most deadly to civilians is car-bombing and that was taught to the Mujahideen by the CIA. Not a very good legacy.

    "The Pashtun don't care if 'civillians' from other tribes are killed (and vice versa)."
    That is a rather sweeping and dubious statement. When western forces kill Afghans there are widespread protests across the board.

    "Incidentally the military like embedded journalists because it stops people like Terry Lloyd driving through the middle of a battlefield and getting shot"

    There are still many questions that remain unanswered about his death, but that is another issue. Your take of the military's reason for using embedded journalists pretty much parrots the official line. However, if you dig a little deeper you will find that the military are fairly honest about the whole thing. It's not about protecting the media, it's about managing them. It's about managing the message.

    For example, US Central Command Policy from 2003 says that

    'Media coverage of any future operation will, to a large extent, shape public perception of the national security environment now and in the years ahead. This holds true for the US public, the public in allied countries whose opinion can affect the durability of our coalition, and publics in countries where we conduct operations, whose perceptions of us can affect the cost and duration of our involvement'

    You can find similar honesty in many different military documents.

    "Even the most right-on left wing military hater can probably understand why the military wouldn't want plans for tomorrows offensive being broadcast in advance."

    "Left Wing military hater?" Oh dear. Anyway, if the reporters were not embedded, they would have far less idea what tomorrow's offensive was going to be anyway. Another issue of course is that if it is so dangerous for western journalists to operate (due to sticking out like a sore thumb) why not make more use of Afghan reporters? The BBC might like to have a western face on screen, but perhaps we would get a better picture of what is going on if we left the reporting (and perhaps even investigating) to the indigenous people.

    I'm sure they would give the recent (apparent) execution of schoolchildren by western forces more coverage that we have had. The incident happened during a night raid on Dec 27 in a village near Kunar and western media have pretty much buried the story.

    "Incidentally good reporting doesn't have to be objective either. Its perfectly valid to tell a story from the POV of a unit you're with as long as your news organistation then tells the personal stories in context with other sources."

    Well objectivity is exactly what the BBC claims in it's reporting. Nonsense of course, but that is the official line. I would not object to reporters offering opinion pieces as long as we get a broad spectrum of views. The problem is, a broad spectrum of views is exactly what we do not get.

  • Comment number 17.

    In supporting #16 please let me add some further thoughts.

    I recall the BBC and ITV closely monitoring the actions of the Taleban during the struggle with the Soviet Army. Correspondents were at the sides of these brave "freedom fighters". But the enemy has changed and now the Taleban are "a fanatical group with poor human rights records".

    There is no "war" in Afghanistan - we invaded on the pretext that Osama bin Laden was there. When intelligence suggested he was in Pakistan we changed our minds and went about sorting a regime change. This is not, and never has been the UK's fight. Britain has painful form in Afghanistan and we do not learn very quickly do we?

    It would be nice to believe that the BBC would show this conflict from both sides, given that a very large group of British people do not believe we should be in Afghanistan. But, instead of supporting its license payers, the BBC supports the governments of those Nations who continue to act in a reckless manner. What do the Afghan people want, I mean really want? It isn't a government corrupt to the core. So, as in Iraq, are there many who wish the "invaders" had never shown up in the first place?

  • Comment number 18.

    I have no wish to hear about the good work being done by journalists in Afghanistan. I think you should report his death in the same way you report the death of soldiers.

    The death should be reported as another 'embarassing failure' by the media organisations. After all, that is how you are reporting the recent death of the CIA officers. Do you people not provide adequate training and protective equipment? Why are so many of you are being killed in this embarrassing way?

    His death should be reported, at least five times - when he dies, when he is named, when he is repatriated, when he is buried, when the inquest is held. But no mention should be made of any good work the media have done or any contribution they have made.

    Clearly the media coverage of Afghanistan is failing and deteriorating day by day. (I have no evidence of that but I thought I would keep saying it anyway)

  • Comment number 19.

    13 - Gold Caesar writes "To those questioning why the beeb (although its not just the beeb, its all media) don't mention enemy casualty numbers that frequently, i think its because definitely america and possibly the other NATO nations very rarely confirm those numbers, quite often they simply don't know.

    So the broadcasters are vague because the information they are given is vague."

    I'd suggest that if they wanted to, they could give a lot more information. Certainly the BBC has to know about Dutch, Canadian and Danish casualties. It just chooses not to report them, probably because it is not interested in anyone but the UK and the US.

    As for taleban casualties, I can appreciate it must be difficult to give exact figures, and am not asking for them. The BBC could show that our troops are in action, killing taleban, though. It did do that recently, in a general documentary about troops' attitudes to killing the enemy. It has journalists in the country, among the troops. It could report on their contacts with taleban, in which taleban would tend to end up dead - it just chooses not to.


  • Comment number 20.

    Jon Williams states that reporters have to get into the front line to report the war accurately and their courage is to be admired.
    But their work is undermined by features such as the one on BBC News At Ten last night which claimed that, according to a BBC commissioned poll, a great majority of Afghans believed that life would get better over the next 12 months.
    This poll, commissioned by the BBC and ABC, was carried out by the Afghanistan Centre for Socio Economics and Opinion Research (ACSOR).Only certain elements of the poll were used in the broadcast.
    I have glanced through the entire questionaire which was used by the pollsters and even a cursory examination if its findings throws up glaring inconsistencies.
    What is truly remarkable is the alleged mass of support for President Karzai and his regime.
    ACSOR has strong links with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Germany which itself has powerful connections among Washington's politicians, lobbyists, Centre staff and think tanks.
    It may or may not carry out its ballots and analysis in independent fashion but I believe it is inherently dangerous for the BBC to commission a poll from such an organisation.
    However, having done so, surely the BBC should then thoroughly investigate and analyse how the poll was operated and how its findings have been presented before blithely broadcasting them to the world as unaldurated fact?
    Only 1534 Afghans were interviewed 'at random' in this poll. As far as I can see there is nothing to show thst they are representative of the Asghan nation as a whole.
    The BBC have a duty to get the truth. This is why Jopn Williams and others risk their lives. How can they possibly be sure that the ACSOR poll is the truth?

  • Comment number 21.

    20. At 12:59pm on 12 Jan 2010, Bald Eagle

    The poll is interesting in other ways too.

    What effect does selective media coverage have on perceptions?

    After an undiluted diet of 'british soldier dead' 'civilians bombed' 'Kabul about to fall to the taleban'(!) 'another british soldier killed', but never a single article on the positive changes over the last year, that poll must come as a big shock to people.

    Just like the surge in Iraq - also only reported in terms of deaths, not progress - there comes a day when the positive effects can't be hidden anymore.

    It comes as a big shock and people can't understand it. Afghans are optimistic? Afghans happy with progress? Afghans support their government? How can that be true when everything in Afghanistan is bad?

    The explanation is simple. Everything in Afghanistan (or Iraq) is not bad. It's just that no one is ever told about the good things.

  • Comment number 22.

    Bald Eagle "The BBC have a duty to get the truth."

    Yes it does - and it often fails miserably to do so, because it works to an agenda. Its agenda in Afghanistan is basically anti-Nato.

    The picture the BBC normally paints is designed to show our military and its efforts in the most negative light possible. That's why we only hear about our troops' casualties. Never about them killing their enemy. Never about casualties, or successes, for the Dutch, Danes and Canadians. The coverage is designed solely to portray the Brits as on their own and getting nowhere.

    The striking thing about this poll is how out of kilter it is with the BBC's normal editorial stance. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd realised that their stance was being questioned, and decided to rush out a headline to make it look as though they were being balanced.

    Of course it could just be that things were never as bad as the BBC was making them out to be, and they've decided to start telling the truth. My bet would be that they were telling porkies before, and are now just telling different ones.

    "How can they possibly be sure that the ACSOR poll is the truth?"

    Indeed - but if the poll showed the taleban were popular, would you be questioning it?

  • Comment number 23.

    The ACSOR poll has been used in previous years. Last year it 'revealed' that 'people in Afghanistan have far less confidence in the direction rheir country is taking than four years ago'.
    Now 'they' have far more confidence than 12 months ago.
    My specific concern relates to commissioned polls, not just by the BBC but by anyone. They are often slanted, never truly representative, yet the media portrays their findings as solid fact.
    As far as questioning such findings, I would question anything which came from such a source.

  • Comment number 24.

    23 - But were you querying the poll last year, or only now, when you don't like the findings?

    And what about my general point, which is that the BBC only normally portrays the Brits as being on the run and on their own. Hence no mention of them being involved in fights with the taleban, or taleban casualties, and no mention of the Dutch, Danes and Canadian who are also heavily involved in the fighting.

    Of course, the BBC, for all its claims about the breadth of its news coverage, and to be the opposite of the supposed Little Englander Mail readers, has got a curious blind spot about mainland Europe and Canada, which it rarely really mentions.

  • Comment number 25.

    It is distressing to hear of another casualty in Afghanistan, but there will be many more. Ms. Clinton, or someone similar, expects the US to be there for 40 years. It is clear that the purpose in being there is to enable the transport of oil through Afgahnistan. If people do not know that, I respectfully suggest they do some research and open their eyes.

    Simply, the Western corportate interests are there for commercial purposes which became 'necessary' because the Taliban would not 'negotiate' the pipeline.

    If the Taliban had negotiated, the US would not (and does not) have given a fig about their domestic activities.

    Any system/dictator that is on 'our' side is a good system/dictator and the people can be dammed. I am sure readers know of some, after all, Sadam was a usefull dictator for quite some time and well armed by the West.

    Now about the news reports, there are some whinges about the BBC. Paricularly from Peter Sym (at 6) who wants more information on taliban being killed and examines various news sources to find out.

    Well there are plenty of other news sources. One of the many I peruse is the [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] site.

    Some casualty reports for today from the ICH:
    Saudis kill hundreds of Yemeni rebels.
    Yemen killed 19 Houthis.
    4 Saudi soldiers killed near Yemen border.
    Since November 82 Yemeni soldiers killed fighting rebels.
    2 'Al-Queda' killed in Yemen.
    Yemeni losing againts 'Al-Queda'.
    16 'Taliban' killed in drone attack in Afghanisatn.
    'NATO' kill 13 'civilians' in Sth Afghanisatn.
    Western troops fire upon and wound Afghans demonstrators
    6 killed in Quaran protest over destroyed quran
    6 NATO memberes killed in Afghanisatn last Monday.
    1 soldier, 3 injured in Pakistan tribal area.
    Jordanian with US forces killed in drone attack in Afghanistan.
    Pakistan counts 12,600 violent deaths in 2009, half were militants killed by drone strikes.

    Not bad Peter, for one days report on one site?

    Maybe the BBC is not reporting too much because the public might wonder whatreallyhappened.com. (try that site too!)

    By the way: "IRAQ WAR WAS ILLEGAL, DUTCH PANEL RULES", was also reported. I wonder what the UK inquiry will come up with?




    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 26.

    RE 25.

    Some editing has been done, but I did not put in a link, nor intend to, to the site that I referrd to with the casualty figures. Nor did I put a link into any other site.

    People can go to 'the information clearing house' site, put it all together and put a dot com at the end. Should work.

  • Comment number 27.

    25 - "Now about the news reports, there are some whinges about the BBC. Paricularly from Peter Sym (at 6) who wants more information on taliban being killed and examines various news sources to find out."

    No, Peter Sym's complaint is valid. The BBC radio and tv news don't carry stories about taleban casualties, or Nato making progress. It's always about British casualties. Any Afghans killed seem to be wedding guests, almost invariably.

    And there's virtually no mention of Canadian, Danish or Dutch troops, even though they are involved in the fighting.

    The BBC attempts to paint a picture of the British army as on its own, losing, and having no effect whatsoever. I would be interested to know how the taleban feel when they get into combat with the Brits? Do they take casualties? Is it easy for them?

    And really, why no mention of our European allies? Don't Danes and Dutch people count, for the BBC?

  • Comment number 28.

    Every death in this 'war' - or, rather occupation - is a tragedy.

    Where is the BBC headline coverage devoted to reports that American-led troops dragged Afghan children from their beds and shot them during a night raid on December 27 last year in eastern Kunar province, leaving ten people dead? Afghan government investigators said that eight of the dead were schoolchildren, and that some of them had been handcuffed before being killed. Jerome Starkey, the Kabul-based correspondent for The Times, reported the shocking accusations about the joint US-Afghan operation:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6971638.ece

    But the rest of the UK news media have buried the report.

    It is true that the BBC had a short online piece here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8432653.stm

    where the children were euphemistically described as having been 'killed in fighting involving Western troops'. What happened to prominent coverage and analysis on BBC television and radio news programmes?

    The BBC thus appears to have devoted but 300 words online to credible claims that US-led forces massacred children. And even then the BBC's account is highly sanitised. For example, there is no mention of children being handcuffed and executed. Additional details that portray the horror of what happened are omitted - compare with The Times report which cited a local elder who said: "I saw their school books covered in blood." The ages of the victims are missing, as is the fact that the UN has backed the Afghan investigation.

    It's clear that the BBC has made no serious attempt to investigate the alleged atrocity. We, and our readers, have asked BBC news editors, including head of news Helen Boaden, to describe and explain the extent of their reporting and they have dodged the question. Perhaps under public pressure they will yet respond properly.

    David Cromwell
    Co-Editor, Media Lens
    http://www.medialens.org

  • Comment number 29.

    At 28 David Cromwell makes an increasingly relevant point. Simply, the controlled mass media with their weapons of mass deceit are simply not to be trusted as authorative sources of information. That includes the 'UK Government's BBC', notwithstanding some excellent reports now and then and mostly in the dim past.
    Distributing the occasional truth and balanced report now and then does not excuse the blatant misinformation and omissions by the BBC. (try the military grade 'nano thermitic' and molten metal spheres found in the WTC dust by Niells Harrit and his team..never reported!!!?)
    One is; either credible in all respects or distrusted if there are only ocasional truths.
    David; Medialens.org is listed by me for the occasional visit. As Mike Rivero has stated, from what really happened (dot.com) "I am blogger, hear me roar". About time BBC that your controllers opened their ears!
    The time of the 'controllers of public information' hopefully is comming to an end and some genuine democratic principles recognisedd and practised.
    That is why Governments are trying to introduce censorship of the net under the guise; in Australia by the labor government, of protecting children from Pedaphiles.
    Yet what is worse than a pedaphile?
    How about military and warmongering apologists, when the results are the murder of children, maimeing them, orphaning them, jailing them and destroying their infrastructure and expectations of their social inheritance.
    In one respect Peter Sym is correct, it is time the BBC reported all the killings in Afghanistan and Iraq, to not do so means we have to go to sites like Davids to find out.
    To not fully report, suggests that regretably, Rupert Hamer's sacrifice was in vain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Re 28: Afghan atrocity.
    I referred to this on my News Off Line blog (wwwsnoopyscoops.blogspot.com/) on January 6 in this way.

    TEN young people killed by US led troops in an Afghan village, seven or eight of them still of school age. Initial reports that some were dragged out of their beds, handcuffed and shot because the Americans believed them to be working for terrorist groups. The story was carried by UK media over the New Year weekend but very little has been seen about it since. Why?
    Arguments are raging on various forums about the legality and the morality of this atrocity. Here I intend to focus on it from a journalist's viewpoint. Callously. Cynically. So the question I ask myself is this: Is it a good story? And without hesitation, I say YES!
    Why? Because they were defenceless children. Simple as that. Despite the military's claims there is no proof that they were working on behalf of terrorists. No weapons of mass destruction were found on the premises.
    So why so little in the media about it? I don't trawl through every newspaper and website,admittedly, but I'm trying to view as much as possible and the last major items about it appear to have been on January 1.
    It's a story which should be investigated and reported on much more thoroughly. But, sadly, the UK media can afford to drop it because, well, because it's in Afghanistan where bad thing are always happening and where British and American soldiers are being killed far too regularly. How can you give space to the deaths of some Afghan children, labelled as terrorists, when young Brits are being brought home in coffins?
    Well, you could and you should because it's important that the media searches for the truth and publishes it. Isn't that its main function?

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Any body doing anything there, is at risk of life and foriegn media personnel in particular.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    At #28 Media Lens gives us the kind of report impartial BBC journalists themselves should be writing.

    Why are there such blatant holes in BBC journalistic output?

    If British or American children were handcuffed and shot by foreign soldiers, would the BBC not be all over the story with wall-to-wall coverage?

  • Comment number 35.

    You state:"Of course, the death of a journalist is no more significant than any other"
    If that were the case I'm sure the executions of Afghan children on 27th December in Kunar would have been subject to investigation by the BBC and reported extensively on all platforms.
    What do we get? A single sanitised report online. I cannot think of a story more shocking or newsworthy and yet the BBC in its wisdom has deemed these victims unworthy of mention.

  • Comment number 36.

    34, but we know Medialens is a propaganda outfit that selectively uses information to demonise UK and US and help its enemies. The last thing anyone would want is for the BBC to take note of such a group.

  • Comment number 37.

    Remember too that Medialens want Nato forces to pullout of Afghanistan, against the wishes of the people there, which would cause terrible humanitarian hardship. Such cruel people are in no position to leacture the BBC on Afghan children.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    I was wondering if anyone could explain to simple British boy who has read his history books, understood the geography, grappled with the English language but knew why he needed to, is supposed to figure out why we have troops in Afghanistan?
    And why are we fighting the Taliban?
    What have they done to us?
    Oh, sympathised with some of us.
    How about we talk before we shoot.
    Especially since we probably supplied them with their guns.
    Can we not find some common interest?
    Some common good?
    Can't we be human any more?
    Or are we too obsessed with being right?
    Maybe it was Crusade after all.


  • Comment number 41.

    I agree that the death of anybody is sad, however I am sure he was being paid a lot more to be out there for a couple of weeks compared to the Military on less money for a lot longer. Lets not forget it is a war zone.

    I agree that proper reporting would be nice within the constraints of the reporting protocols, Proper figures, if known, of Taliban dead and Injured (when they don't transform into civilians on death as no uniform) as well as Military deaths and bad injuries from all participating nations.

  • Comment number 42.


    This was a death in vain. Why embed journalists in such units and then sanitise their reporting to the extent that they may as well beeen tucked up safe and sound in the Kabul Hilton ?

    I agree they get the personal perspectives of the troops they travel with, but we here nothing of the daily battle to function within an alien culture, nothing of the civilian/insurgent casualities.

    War is a chaotic, unholy mess, a mess in which young men and woman undertake complex missions requiring that they show judgement way beyond their tender years. This needs to be reflected in war coverage if embedding journalists and the associated risks both to the journalist and troops is going to be justified.

  • Comment number 43.

    Those who fail to learn from history, are condemned to repeat it. This is the ultimate lesson of Afghanistan, particularly for the British. Here in Amerika, many of us think that Afghanistan and Iraq... are really Afghanistan-NAM and Iraq-NAM.

 

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