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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

News from the ‘not quite front line’

In today’s Times, war correspondent Anthony Loyd reports on the current counter-insurgency sweep through an ‘undisclosed’ valley in Afghanistan by British Royal Marines of the 45 Commando battlegroup, called Operation Ptarmigan.

He also moans at some length that [emphasis added]:

Whilst promising greater detail on the operation after it has finished, the coalition’s information policy has been a mixture of assumption and contempt. Morning press briefings at Bagram begin with a US officer stating how many days have passed since the September 11 attacks. He then gives the name and family details of one attack victim. A short statement follows and relevant questions by journalists are quashed as glibly as they are by Pentagon spokesmen in Washington with the words: “I won’t answer that.”

The justification for this silence is “operational security concerns”. In reality it appears that the US and Britain are using the ferocity of the September 11 attacks as carte blanche to be all but unaccountable to press and public.
This policy will probably work admirably until official silence is revealed to have hidden an unpleasant truth.

So he thinks the US and British military are accountable to the press? Interesting concept. Now Tony Loyd is actually a reasonable reporter (he is certainly a million miles from the ludicrous Bob Fisk and his ilk), but such petulant foot stamping on his part is unbecoming. The newspapers have been roasting the US for allowing Al Qaeda and ex-Taliban forces to slip away, and for failing to achieve operational surprise during Operation Anaconda… and now they are going to roast the coalition military for taking operational security seriously?

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