Washington, D.C. – A new Pentagon legal guide, the “Department of Defense Law of War Manual,” which encompasses the legalities of war for all four branches of the U.S. military, explains legally acceptable methods of killing opposing soldiers.
Shockingly, the manual also notes that journalists can now be labeled “unprivileged belligerents,” a term that replaces “enemy combatant.”
The “Law of War Manual” details acceptable means of killing to include cutting, stabbing, bombing, exploding and shooting the enemy, while the use of poisons or suffocating gasses are strictly prohibited.
Surprisingly, the killing of troops that are retreating was deemed legally acceptable.
Perhaps the most troubling section of the manual relates to the manner in which journalists are treated in a designated war zone.
“In general, journalists are civilians. However, journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents,” the “Law of War Manual” asserts.
This new term, “unprivileged belligerents” is now used in the stead of “unlawful enemy combatant,” a catch all Bush-era term which essentially referred to any male over the age 16 in a designated war zone.
Ambiguous terms such as these are meant to provide legal cover, so that the U.S. military can essentially kill innocent people, without facing any legal repercussions.
In an interview with RT, Georgetown Journalism professor Chris Chambers explained why using these terms seemingly provide legal cover, explaining that the reason is “because the Geneva Convention, other tenets of international law, and even United States law – federal courts have spoken on this – doesn’t have this thing on ‘unprivileged belligerents’.”
This will result in journalists embedded with military units, who are already forced to abide by strict protocols censoring what they can show or report on, following the preferred military narrative even closer.
“It gives them license to attack or even murder journalists that they don’t particularly like but aren’t on the other side,” Chambers said.
The Pentagon failed to detail the specific circumstances under which a journalist would be declared an unprivileged belligerent, but Chambers says he is sure “their legal department is going over it, as is the National Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.”
One cannot mistake the government’s intent to tighten the control of the flow of information from the battlefield to the public at large, which raises some very troubling questions.
If wars are being fought in a just and forthright manner than what is there to be hidden from the public whose name in which you fight?
One thing is certain; when journalists are targeted, the truth dies!
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.