July 14, 2008

No US Soldiers Dead in Falllujah???

IRAQ: Journalist Charges Censorship by
U.S. Military in Fallujah
Sunday, 13 July 2008
by Dahr Jamail
(IPS) - U.S. journalist Zoriah Miller says he was censored by the U.S. military in the Iraqi city of Fallujah after photographing Marines who died in a suicide bombing. On Jun. 26, a suicide bomber attacked a city council meeting in Fallujah, 69 kms west of Baghdad, between local tribal sheikhs and military officials. [...] Miller ran with the Marines he was with to the scene of the attack. "As I ran I saw human pieces...a skull cap with hair, bone shards," he told IPS during a telephone interview from the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad. "When we arrived at the building it was chaotic. [...] "I went in and there were over 20 people's remains all over the place," Miller continued, Of the Marines I jogged in with, someone started to vomit. Others were standing around, not knowing what to do. It was completely surreal." [...] "I thought, 'Nobody in the U.S. has any idea what it means when they hear that 20 people died in a suicide bombing.' I want people to be able to associate those numbers with the scene and the actual loss of human life. And to show why soldiers are suffering from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]," Miller told IPS.
In an Iraqi Police station in Karmah, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) was brought in to investigate the bombing. Millers' photos were the only ones of the scene, so the NCIS team asked for them. "I made them copies, but then one of the Marines came in and told me to delete my memory card after I give them the photos, and I refused," Miller told IPS, "I told the NCIS that if they forced me to delete them, I would stop sharing them. So they stopped pressing that issue." [...] Miller explained to IPS that he meticulously showed his photos to the Marines he was with to make sure he was not going to show any photos that would upset the family members of the deceased Marines. "They were all okay with them, so then about 96 hours after the bombing I published the photos on my blog." [...] "Tuesday [Jul. 1] I awoke to a call in their combat operations centre, and the person on the phone told me they were a PAO (Public Affairs Officer) at Camp Fallujah, and he wanted me to take my blog down right away," Miller told IPS. "I asked them why, and was told then called back after five minutes by a higher ranking PAO who claimed I had broken my contract by showing photos of dead Americans with U.S. uniforms and boots." [my bold] Miller said the PAO claimed he was not allowed, by the embed contract, to show dead or wounded U.S. citizens or soldiers in the field. "I never signed any contract for that," Miller said. He was called back after another five minutes and told his embed was terminated and they would send him back to Baghdad on the next flight. He was then taken back to Camp Fallujah where he said, "Everyone was extremely angry and fired up at me."
[...] Miller explained that he g
rew nervous when the flight was cancelled due to a sandstorm, and then a security guard was assigned to him.
"I started to feel uncomfortable with this," Miller explained. "The next day, Gen.
Kelly, [Major General John Kelly, who is the Commanding General of the I Marine Expeditionary Force] wanted to have some words with me. I was to meet with him at 3 pm, and we sat outside in the sun for two hours and he never showed."
Miller was told he would be flown out that night, but he was deleted from the flight and told that General Kelly wanted to see him, so he waited again until Thursday, Jul. 3.
Again the general did not appear, so Miller was given an official letter about the grounds for the termination of his embed, signed by Gen. Kelly, and flown to Baghdad.
"Now, as I think about it, I think they needed the extra time to figure out what they were going to say about my dismissal," Miller said. "Their original reason ended up being
bogus, so they had to figure something else out." [...] Miller was given an official letter about the grounds for the termination of his embed, signed by Gen. Kelly, and flown to Baghdad.
[...] The letter he was given stated reasons for his dismissal as "you photographed the remains of U.S. soldiers", "you posted these images along with detailed commentary", and "by posting the images and your commentary you violated 14 H and O of the news media agreement you signed".
In addition, the letter, which Miller read to IPS, stated, "By providing detailed information of the effectiveness of the attack and the response of U.S. forces to it, you have put all U.S. forces in Iraq at greater risk for harm." [my bold] [...] The Pentagon would not comment on the story when contacted by IPS, saying they had no information on Miller's case beyond what Central Command had already posted.

See his work here: http://www.zoriah.com/

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