When news organizations make common cause with terrorists, they lose their protected status and make themselves legitimate targets.
This isn’t a question of differing viewpoints or editorial approaches, or of airing unpleasant news and opinions. It’s a question of collaboration.
If critics are correct, the satellite TV channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya aren’t protected news organizations any more. They allegedly have had advance knowledge of terrorist attacks on Americans and other Coalition allies in Iraq, and were in-place to videotape the killings. As such they became willing propagandists for the murderers who depend on such imagery to demoralize the US and the rest of the world.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that elements of the ousted Saddam Hussein regime and others have “called Al Jazeera to come and watch them do it [attack American troops], and Al Arabiya.” He told reporters that the terrorists’ approach is, “‘Come and see us, watch us, here is what we’re going to do.'”
“I’ve opined accurately that from time to time each of those stations have found themselves in very close proximity to things that were happening against coalition forces – before the event happened and during the event,” Rumsfeld said, according to AP. A case in point is the videotape of a man firing a surface-to-air missile at a DHL cargo plane over Baghdad.
The Iraqi Governing Council, with US support, recently took separate actions against the Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya bureaux in Baghdad, shut them down, banned their broadcasts, and promised further action against their correspondents.
A official of Al Jazeera protested that the actions are anti-free speech. Al Jazeera is owned by the Wahhabi regime in Qatar and by family members of that regime.
The US should offer no “free speech” guarantees to those who collaborate with terrorists, even if they are accredited news organizations. The United States should feel free to treat Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya as military targets in the war on terror. Secretary Rumsfeld has stated the case.
At the same time, the administration has failed to wage an effective war of words in Iraq and around the world. It must fix this problem, while it still has time.