Embedded Blogger Claims He Was Canned For Showing Dead Marines

Bloggers that are embedded within the military of the United States have to deal with censorship. If they fail to paint all with rose colored glasses they can be told to cease their blog. That is what happened to Zoriah Miller from his side of the story.

Miller is a photojournalist and blogger who was embedded with a Marine unit. Miller was there on June 26 when a suicide bomber attacked a meeting of tribal sheiks in Iraq’s Anbar province and killed 20 people. Three of the dead were U.S. Marines.

Miller takes pictures for a living. Those pictures were included in his account of the incident, including one that was of a fallen soldier. That lone picture is the root of him being “disembedded” from the Marine unit he was with.

The military ordered Miller to be placed on the next plane to Baghdad. A dust storm scrubbed that plan so a security guard was assigned to keep him in place.

“Tuesday [Jul. 1] I awoke to a call in their combat operations centre, and the person on the phone told me they were a PAO (Public Affairs Officer) at Camp Fallujah, and he wanted me to take my blog down right away,” Miller told IPS. “I asked them why, and was told then called back after five minutes by a higher ranking PAO who claimed I had broken my contract by showing photos of dead Americans with U.S. uniforms and boots.”

Miller said the PAO claimed he was not allowed, by the embed contract, to show dead or wounded U.S. citizens or soldiers in the field. “I never signed any contract for that,” Miller said.

Miller thought because the soldier was unidentifiable he was within the rules and regulations set forth by the United States military on what journalists are allowed to post. He even waited four days until after the widely covered incident took place to post the photo.

The military seeing that it had a weak case back stepped on the reasons of Miller’s dismissal. The new reason is that he detailed information on the effectiveness of the attack putting all military members in greater risk for harm.

“The bottom line is that the thing they cited as the reason for my dismissal was ‘information the enemy could use against you’. They realised, probably from keeping track of my blog, that I was not showing identifiable features of a soldier…and they couldn’t find a reason to kick me out. Because it was a high ranking person who got killed, they were all fired up.”

Miller concluded, “Up to that point they said it was because I showed pictures of bodies with pieces of uniform and boots. The letter, though, doesn’t mention that at all. I checked the document I had about ground rules for media embeds, and I followed them.”

The photojournalist is headed back to the United States. He’s not going with his tail behind his leg however, he’s on a mission.

“You’re a war photographer, but once you take a picture of what war is like then you get into trouble,” he said.

The Pentagon has made no comments on this case.

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