freedom-of-press

Washington, D.C. — Newly adopted Department of Defense guidelines will allow military commanders to “punish journalists” and treat them as “unprivileged belligerents.”

The DoD’s 1,180 page Law of War Manual outlines provisions for military commanders to violate the rights of journalists who they disagree with in vaguely written legal speak.

In June, the Free Thought Project first reported on this ominous manual. However, it has been updated now, and its use delegated to all branches of the military.

According to the Associated Press:

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The Law of War manual, updated to apply for the first time to all branches of the military, contains a vaguely worded provision that military commanders could interpret broadly, experts in military law and journalism say. Commanders could ask journalists to leave military bases or detain journalists for any number of perceived offenses.

“In general, journalists are civilians,” the 1,180 page manual says, but it adds that “journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents.”

A person deemed “unprivileged belligerent” is not entitled to the rights afforded by the Geneva Convention so a commander could restrict from certain coverage areas or even hold indefinitely without charges any reporter considered an “unprivileged belligerent.”

The manual allows for the stripping of due process and reporters who are deemed “belligerent” could be carted off to Gitmo and never heard from again.

The manual states that they are not ruling out torturing journalists either. According to the manual:

“Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying. A journalist who acts as a spy may be subject to security measures and punished if captured.”

If a person is suspected of being an enemy combatant, then that person should be treated as an enemy combatant. Adding in this vaguely written language that specifically mentions ‘journalists’ can only be interpreted as a means to silence dissent.

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The Mainstream Media is already heavily controlled by state interests. Antiwar protesters are portrayed in a negative light while the horrid atrocities carried out by the US government overseas are completely blacked out.

If Americans were shown the violent reality of US-led drone attacks on villages across the Middle East in which innocent women and children were slaughtered by remotely fired Hellfire missiles, you can rest assured the support for the war would have been waning long before now.

The fact is that anyone who does show the public the reality of war is already treated as an enemy combatant. If you doubt this claim, simply look at how fast Wikileaks was attacked after releasing the video Collateral Murder.  The video showed a team of two US AH-64 Apache helicopters in Al-Amin al-Thaniyah, New Baghdad gunning down an unarmed Reuters reporter and children.

Instead of launching an investigation into more instances of collateral murder, Wikileaks was declared an enemy of the state and the US began attempts to extradite Julian Assange.

“I’m troubled by the label ‘unprivileged belligerents,’ which seems particularly hostile,” said Kathleen Carroll, AP’s executive editor in regards to the Law of War Manual. “It sounds much too easy to slap that label on a journalist if you don’t like their work, a convenient tool for those who want to fight wars without any outside scrutiny.”

With the scrutiny from mainstream media all but non-existent, measures like this manual could prove to be a damning blow to anyone who attempts to shed light on the atrocities committed by the US.

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As the AP reports, prior to the manual’s release, its own journalists have already been detained or thrown out of embed arrangements for reporting on issues that were not in lockstep with the official narrative.

“At a time when international leadership on human rights and press freedom is most needed, the Pentagon has produced a self-serving document that is unfortunately helping to lower the bar,” wrote Frank Smyth, senior adviser for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists.

America is quickly becoming the very thing that it supposedly stands against. As politicians pay lip service to ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty,’ Americans are being locked in cages for possessing a plant, innocent children are blown to bits by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and now the military says they can “punish” people for exposing it.

The next logical step for these tyrants is to begin rounding up and killing its dissenters. But that could never happen, not in the land of the free, right?

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Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Facebook.