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September 9, 2009
Reporter freed, captivity reportedBy Greyhawk
Stephen Farrell, whose captivity Western media refused to acknowledge (and news of which the New York Times actively suppressed), was rescued today by men whose deaths must be photographed and displayed worldwide to show Americans the true cost of war.
A British commando was killed in the raid, The Associated Press quoted a military official as saying.
Two military officials told The Associated Press that one British commando died during the early morning raid. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the death had not been officially announced.
Even in reporting the rescue of a reporter whose captivity they'd helped cover up they couldn't resist announcing the death of one of the rescuers before the families had been notified. I guess they know a "scoop" when they see one; it's been repeated, with credit to the AP, in every other report on this story - including the New York Times.
Farrell told the New York Times "he had been "extracted" by a commando raid carried out by "a lot of soldiers" in a fierce firefight with his captors."
Apparently Farrell left his colleague's corpse at the scene (see Reuters report in update below).A conflicting report on the troops involved via the London Times:
"Last night in a US special forces operation in Chardara district, they managed to free Stephen Farrell but the Afghan journalist Sultan Mohammad was killed by Taliban during the operation," said Kunduz governor Mohammad Omar.
Although the story of Farrell's capture by the Taliban was well known and widely reported in the region, the New York Times had effectively suppressed reporting in the Western media. "We feared that media attention would raise the temperature and increase the risk to the captives," said Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times.
In spite of those efforts, however, the news was reported outside central Asia. A South African news source had an English language report on the situation by Saturday evening, although that report has subsequently been deleted from the web. (Google cache here.)
"The journalist, who works for New York Times, and his translator were blindfolded by the militants and taken to unknown location" the governor said, adding that Afghan security forces have began a search operation in the area to track down the kidnappers.Bill Roggio's Long War Journal broke the Farrell story in America on Sunday the 6th.
According to reports from Afghanistan, New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell and his driver/interpreter have been kidnapped while attempting to cover the story of the NATO airstrike on the two Taliban-hijacked tankers in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
We've been reporting the situation here, too. (Links below.)
Even as they successfully kept the American public ignorant of Farrell's captivity, the New York Times did publish an AP photo of the death of 21-year old U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard on their web site, under the (obviously answered) headline: "Behind the Scenes: To Publish or Not?." Corporal Bernard's father had requested the photo not be used (audio interview with John Bernard here).
And credit yet again the great work of those rough men, who once more rode while America slept.
The final word (for now) goes to the New York Times:
An Afghan journalist who spoke to villagers in the area said that civilians, including women and children, were also killed in the firefight to free the journalists.
Update: The New York Times report of children killed may be premature - see Reuters report below. (Update to update - the New York Times has now changed their story to read "..said that civilians were also killed..." - "women and children" have been deleted.)
Bill Roggio reports "Last weekend The New York Times requested the report of Farrell's kidnapping be removed from Threat Matrix. We did not honor the request."
And at Patterico's Pontifications, a reminder that PFC Bowe Bergdahl didn't get quite the same consideration from the press that a NYT reporter did.
This certainly seems worth revisiting:
Guardian story published 14:12 BST, the official confirmation of the death of a soldier:
Farrell describes how he survived his previous capture in Iraq - by revealing he was a journalist:
NY Times At War blog: Hell No. I Won't Go (by Sultan M. Munadi)
If that's the full story, it would appear the New York Times report of children killed could be premature.
The kidnap and deaths underscore the increasing danger of reporting in Afghanistan, where another New York Times journalist, David Rohde, was kidnapped last November.
Andrew Exum, Abu Muqawama: A Freed Reporter -- and Blogging Ethics
Josh Foust, Registan Excellent News
Nathan Hodge, Danger Room Of Kidnapping, Milblogs and Blackouts
In other news from Afghanistan not making the major papers:
Posted by Greyhawk / September 9, 2009 12:59 AM | Permalink
In The New York Times today: "Afghan Insurgents Seize 2 French Journalists." We hope they're released soon - and unharmed. ***** It's hard to read that account in the Times without recalling another story found only in milblogs this year, ironically in... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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