|Donald H. Rumsfeld,
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000
|April 9, 2003|
Dear Mr. Secretary,
As leaders of unions representing thousands of U.S. journalists, including several hundred now situated in and around Iraq, we are gravely concerned about recent incidents that have resulted in the injury or death of media staff covering the war.
Journalists everywhere were horrified by reports of an attack on April 8th by U.S. forces on the Palestine Hotel–the unofficial headquarters of international press in Baghdad. As you are aware, two media representatives were killed in this incident.
Equally disturbing are reports that U.S. air attacks destroyed the offices of the independent Arab media Al Jazeera Television and Abu Dhabi Television resulting in the death of another journalist there.
These unfortunate occurrences come on the heels of two other questionable situations involving U.S. troops and journalists. During the first days of the war in Iraq, Terry Lloyd, a reporter for ITN, was killed by what may have been a “friendly fire” incident. The National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland has asked the UK Ministry of Defense to investigate that incident.
Also early in the conflict two Israeli journalists and a Portuguese television reporter allegedly were roughed up and then detained for 48 hours by U.S. troops. The journalists were not officially embedded with forces but were traveling alongside American convoys. We understand the Sindicato dos Jornalistas of Portugal has protested.
As you can imagine, reports like these can easily inflame anti-American sentiments in the foreign press. They also raise serious questions for us about the safety of our own members on the ground in Iraq.
Therefore, we respectfully request that you immediately convene an independent investigation into these incidents to determine what went wrong and the extent to which they may have been avoidable events. We also urgently request a meeting with Pentagon representatives to discuss how to prevent tragedies such as these from occurring in the future, including identifying specific measures necessary to ensure the safety of the hard working and courageous U.S. and international journalists and media staff who are covering this war.
With regard to these requests, we would ask that your response be directed to Linda K. Foley, President of The Newspaper Guild, 202-434-1261.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.
Linda K. Foley,
President, The Newspaper Guild-CWA
President, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
John C. Clark,
President, National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians-CWA
President, National Writers Union
President, Writers Guild of America, East
Paul E. Almeida,
President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
cc: Victoria Clarke, Assistant Defense Secretary for Public Affairs