Letter to Representative Duncan Hunter Regarding Journalist Safety in Iraq

The Honorable Duncan Hunter
United States House of Representatives
2265 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0552
April 15, 2003

Dear Representative Hunter:

Amidst the euphoria surrounding the overthrow of the Hussein regime in Iraq, the undersigned national organizations feel it necessary at this time to interject our grave concerns regarding the recent deaths and injuries suffered by members of the international press corps that were covering the war. Our organizations represent over 100,000 media professionals and technicians in print and broadcast journalism including correspondents, news writers, reporters, photographers, camera operators and other U.S. news staff many of whom also covered the war in Iraq.

We are deeply troubled by reports of U.S. attacks upon facilities in Baghdad that housed press staff. Other incidents which endangered media professionals have also been reported. We are concerned first and foremost because of the loss of life and the serious injuries that were sustained. In addition, given the tenor of world opinion regarding our actions in Iraq, reactive belligerence which endangers these news crews—whose work shapes and influences the reactions of citizens everywhere—runs the risk of doing serious short and long term damage to both the general credibility of our nation as well as the stated purpose of our efforts in Iraq and elsewhere.

Given these concerns, we wrote to the Secretary of Defense to request that he initiate an independent investigation of the incidents that have occurred. We also asked for a meeting with Pentagon representatives to discuss these matters. A copy of that letter is attached.As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, we wanted to advise you of our views about these issues in the hope that members of the Committee share our concerns. We urge that the Committee, at the appropriate time, give some consideration to the efficacy of employing deadly force responses in situations that unnecessarily put at risk the lives and safety of members of the foreign press.Should you or a member of your staff wish to discuss these concerns, please contact Linda K. Foley, President of The Newspaper Guild, 202-434-7177.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Linda K. Foley,
President, The Newspaper Guild-CWA

John Connolly,
President, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

John C. Clark,
President, National Association of Broadcast Engineers and
Technicians-CWA

Jonathan Tasini,
President, National Writers Union

Herb Sargent,
President, Writers Guild of America, East

Paul E. Almeida,
President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO