Know Who You Are!
The Pentagon has released a book of instructions on the “law of war,”
detailing acceptable ways of killing the enemy. The manual also states
that journalists can be labeled “unprivileged belligerents,” an obscure
term that replaced “enemy combatant.”
“Department of Defense Law of War Manual” explains that shooting,
exploding, bombing, stabbing, or cutting the enemy are acceptable
ways of getting the job done, but the use of poison or
asphyxiating gases is not allowed.
Surprise attacks and killing retreating troops have also been
given the green light.
But the lengthy manual doesn’t only talk about protocol for those
on the frontline. It also has an extensive section on journalists
– including the fact that they can be labeled terrorists.
“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 manual states.
The term “unprivileged belligerents” replaces the
Bush-era term “unlawful enemy combatant.”
When asked what this means, professor of Journalism at Georgetown
Chris Chambers told RT that he doesn’t know, “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 means that embedded journalists, who are officially
sanctioned by the military and attached to a unit, will be
favored by an even greater degree than before. “It gives them
license to attack or even murder journalists that they don’t
particularly like but aren’t on the other side,” Chambers
Even the Obama Administration’s definition of “enemy
combatant” was vague enough, basically meaning any male of a
military age who “happens to be there,” Chambers added.
The manual also deals with drones, stating that there is “no
prohibition in the law of war on the use of remotely piloted
aircraft (also called “unmanned aerial vehicles”)." Such
weapons may offer certain advantages over the weapons systems. It
states that drones can be designated as military aircraft if used
by a country's military.
The book includes a foreword from the General Counsel of the
Department of Defense, Stephen Preston, who states that “the
law of war is part of who we are.” He goes on to say that
the manual will “help us remember the hard-learned lessons
from the past.”
The manual is the Pentagon's first all-in-one legal guide for the
four military branches. Previously, each sector was tasked with
writing their own guidelines for engagement, which presumably did
not list journalists as potential traitors.
The Pentagon did not specify the exact circumstances under which
a journalist might 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