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DoD manual labels journalists possible targets.

The Pentagon has released its new book of instructions for waging war legally, wherein it outlines acceptable ways of killing the enemy. The manual reveals that the term "enemy combatant" has been replaced by the designation "unprivileged belligerent," and that journalists labeled as such are legitimate targets. The Department of Defense Law of War Manual, released June 12 by DoD General Counsel Stephen Preston, serving as an all-in-one guide for all four branches of the military. Prior to this manual, each branch was responsible for writing its own guidelines for engagement.

The section on journalists struck some as peculiar. The manual reads, "In general, journalists are civilians. However, journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents." Army Lt. Col. Joseph Sowers, a Pentagon spokesman, defended the inclusion of journalists in this section. As he told the Washington Times on June 21, "The manual does not, itself, create new law."

Chris Chambers, professor of journalism at Georgetown, told Russia Today (RT) on June 24 that the new terminology is rather confusing 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 called 'unprivileged belligerents.'" According to Chambers, the Pentagon has created a new category for journalists without providing an explanation. "I don't understand where this is coming from or what empirical data they're basing this on," he told RT.

Chambers voiced concerns over how this terminology can be used against journalists. "It gives them license to attack or murder journalists they don't like.... It can also mean people who are there observing as neutrals," he noted. He added that he was not surprised by the vagueness of the new language considering the ambiguity of the Obama administration's definition of the previously used "enemy combatant," which seemed to include basically any male of a military age who "happens to be there."

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Title Annotation:Inside Track; Department of Defense Law of War Manual
Publication:The New American
Date:Jul 20, 2015
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