CNN and Fox are really going after each on human shields in Libya. What are your thoughts? asks a reader in Milwaukee.
It’s complicated because the reporters themselves may have been the unwitting human shields.
I’ll quote from the relevant part of Deborah Haynes’s dispatch, since the Times has a paywall and makes for a more condensed snippet:
The Times and other foreign media effectively became temporary human shields on Sunday night when we agreed to be bussed in by officials to Colonel Gaddafi’s main compound in Tripoli to visit the site of an allied missile attack. The presence of journalists and other civilians so close to the target area prompted the Ministry of Defence to order its Tornado fighter-bombers to abort a mission to hit the compound again.
NATO’s accusing the Libyan government of using human shields on a wider scale: civilians protecting military targets, and also positioning soldiers and equipment in populated areas. On that point, Haynes adds:
The Government denies such allegations, saying that all human shields are there of their own free will. It was not possible to verify the news from Misrata because the regime has prevented the media from entering the city.
My response: I don’t put it past Gaddafi to use journos like that. Whatever the case, you can be sure the Hamas and Hezbollah media relations people are taking notes for the next war.
It also strengthens the case for Israel’s press restrictions during the Gaza war.