Skip to comments.Canadian military yanks embedded journalists-(due to protests of the allied armies)
Posted on 12/31/2006 7:21:33 AM PST by Flavius
OTTAWA (CP) - Canadian military officials removed four journalists accompanying troops on an Afghanistan operation earlier this year after complaints from allies, newly released documents show.
The abrupt end to the so-called embedding of the reporters, who were extracted by helicopter in early April, suggests the vaunted program is creating friction among Canada's fighting partners.
"Media embedded with Canadian troops conducting operations with coalition forces generate discomfort amongst allies," Maj. Marc Theriault, a public affairs officer in Kandahar, warned Ottawa hours before the journalists' removal.
In a later communication, he added: "Despite our explanations, most allied nations consider our media posture as very progressive and risky."
Documents related to the incident and other aspects of the embedding policy were obtained under the Access to Information Act.
Theriault's report indicates the problems arose April 2 when the Canadian unit began joint operations with allied forces.
A defence official later identified the media members as Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford, photographer Louie Palu, Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno and Ontario-based freelance filmmaker Richard Fitoussi.
They were with The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry battle group, which was operating with U.S. Special Forces at the time.
In an interview, Fitoussi said "it's pretty well known that Canada has the best embedding program there, and most of the NATO countries there are giving Canada a hard time about it."
He said he was told by officials at the time he and the others were being evacuated for their own safety, but beyond that "everything I know is hearsay," said Fitoussi.
Military officials in Ottawa have indicated that placating Canada's allies will always take precedence over the embedding program.
"Our allies having full confidence in working with Canadians in all operations trumps embeds being on those operations," a public affairs officer, Lt.-Col. Rita LePage, says in one document.
Two weeks before the April 2 incident, Canadian officers nixed a Dutch journalist's request for a five-day visit to Kandahar airfield after "investigating the comfort level of the Dutch" and learning the Dutch Ministry of Defence did not support it.
On April 11, an unidentified foreign journalist's request to be embedded with Canadian troops was passed to a Canadian officer at the multinational brigade headquarters to determine "whether or not this could be sensitive within the greater Coalition."
A military spokesman says it is up to the local commander whether to continue with an embed mission.
"This is a national program, and when a commander is dealing with other national contingents during operations, their concerns have to be factored into decisions affecting the mission," Maj. Luc Gaudet, a public affairs officer, said in an interview.
Gaudet said the decision to pull the journalists from the April mission was made by Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser, then commander of the multinational brigade in volatile south Afghanistan. Fraser has generally been a supporter of Canada's embed program.
The program is a product of the openness and transparency policies issued by National Defence in 1998 in the aftermath of the Somalia scandal, which marked a low point of relations between the media and military, Gaudet said.
"We consider our client to be the Canadian public, and we aim for maximum transparency," he said, acknowledging the policy rankles some coalition partners.
Even so, the 15 openings in the Canadian embed program are booked solid and it has become the largest and busiest in Afghanistan, outpacing the U.S., British and Dutch programs.
Between mid-January and the end of November, 175 journalists from 37 media outlets have embedded with the 2,500 Canadian soldiers headquartered in Kandahar, military statistics show.
On average, 13 journalists embed each week, and each journalist's stay at Kandahar Airfield is 25 days. Ten different broadcast and print media are represented at any one time.
Does that mean what I think it do?
well one can you know think for oneself
April to December? Why is this story out now?
its amazing its out at all
"but beyond that "everything I know is hearsay," said Fitoussi."
Wow, a journalist who doesn't report hearsay.
if they quote another "journalist" its becomes a fact
It's time the US did the same. The imbed program was meant to allow a truthful reportage of the war. But some of our own have used it to promote the terrorists. It's well known that they interview and interview until they find someone who is against the war and the troops, while ignoring all the good accomplished by our troops. Get the terrorist-loving libs out of there.
Are these chaps referred to as the "Patties"?
I believe they are called The Princess Pats.
With exceptions like reporters Ernie Pyle and Willam Bradford Huie aside, the old vets say that if our military had tried to fight like we do now with reporters in tow then we could never have won that war, quite simply because our boys had to do some pretty ugly things to bring the Nazis and the Japanese to their knees.
And I agree with you. Anyone who's over 12 years old knows war is hell, and videotaping it in progress doesn't improve it. What I'd like to see is more about the progress being made on humanitarian, medical, schools, infrastructure, etc. programs.
Hmmm. My history texts tell me that atom bombs brought Japan to her knees. Any American atrocities on the ground would have just made Japan more reluctant to surrender.
One of George S. Patton's dicta stated that "Prisoner of War guard companies, or an equivalent organization, should be as far forward as possible in action to take over prisoners of war, because troops heated with battle are not safe custodians."
He said this for a reason...