Journalists Ask Defense to Declassify Friendly-Fire Investigations

Broadcast journalists are joining with their print counterparts to demand that the Defense Department declassify its investigation into the friendly-fire deaths of seven journalists in Iraq.

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians/Communications Workers of America sent out e-mails to its members asking them to sign a petition that will be presented to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and congressional armed-services committees April 8. That's the one-year anniversary of the bombing of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad that killed two journalists and wounded three. To date, all info on the tragedy has remained classified, they say.  
"To date, the Pentagon's internal 'investigation' of the Palestine Hotel tragedy, as well as other 'friendly fire' incidents involving journalists in Iraq, has remained classified," the petition letter says. "No details of these incidents have been released to their families, news organizations, or the American public."
The groups say the Pentagon has also ignored "repeated calls" by journalists and others for 1) an independent investigation into the deaths and 2) a detailed accounting of what it is doing to "assure the safety of war correspondents."
A Pentagon source counters that an executive summary of the Palestine Hotel investigation was made public, and a redacted version of its findings can also be obtained with a FOIA request. At least two of the other investigations, he says, are ongoing.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.