Terrorists in Iraq have been getting
more aggressive in trying to control the international media. For the last
three years, it's been too dangerous for Western journalists to wander freely
around central and southern Iraq. So Iraqis, and other Arabs, were hired to go
and to do the interviews and get the video images TV news demands. The terrorists
quickly made these agents of Western media know that survival depended on how
cooperative the journalists were with terrorists goals. Journalists responded
by trying to hide their identities, and working closely with the Iraqi army and
national police for protection.
However, in many parts of Iraq, especially the Shia
south, the police are heavily infiltrated by members of secular (Shia)
militias. The police keep records of who is a journalist, and even in central
Iraq, you can usually get the information out of the cops with a sufficient
bribe. Once the identity of an Iraqi journalist is known, you can threaten him,
and his family, to get the kind of reporting you want.
Many journalists resist the pressure, but some will
simply back away, rather than outright lie, when the terrorists come after
them. That works, because what the terrorist want to do is get stories out that
makes the government and American forces look bad. It doesn't have to be true,
it just has to be reported. And followed up with more reports and videos to
back up the lie. Many media outlets want to believe, and report, the worst
about American efforts in Iraq, and the terrorists are eager to help out. This
takes heat off the terrorists and demoralizes both Iraqis and Americans.