Carol Platt Liebau: Response from Eason Jordan

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Response from Eason Jordan

Our friend, formerly of CNN, passed along this statement from Eason Jordan. It seems that he is making a semantic argument, i.e., that when he said that the journalists had been "targeted", he didn't mean to imply that the U.S. military realized that they were journalists. (That is, soldiers intended to shoot the people who were killed -- they just didn't know they were journalists.) Perhaps that's true. Perhaps. But why wouldn't he have made the point about mistaken identity clear in the original remarks?

Here is the statement:

"To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. I said so during the forum panel discussion. But, nonetheless, the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity. The reason the word "targeted" came up at all is because I was responding to a comment by Congressman Franks, who said he believed the 63 journalists killed in Iraq were the victims of "collateral damage." Since three of my CNN colleagues and many other journalists have been killed on purpose in Iraq, I disputed the "collateral damage" statement, saying, unfortunately, many journalists -- not all -- killed in Iraq were indeed targeted. When someone aims a gun at someone and pulls the trigger and then learns later the person fired at was actually a journalist, an apology is ppropriate and is accepted, and I believe those apologies to be genuine. But such a killing is a tragic case of mistaken identity, not a case of "collateral damage." That is the distinction I was trying to make even if I did not make it clearly at the time. Further, I have worked closely with the U.S. military for months in an effort to achieve a mutual goal: keeping journalists in Iraq safe and alive."


When our friend checked with Jordan in response to my inquiry about whether these remarks were for attribution, he received the following response:

"NBC, Reuters, and Al Jazeera have all complained to the U.S. military that their journalists have been wrongly detained, imprisoned, and abused by U.S. military forces. I am unaware of any transcript of the Davos panel discussion. My comments were part of a conversation, not scripted. It's fine with me if my comments here are posted on a blog."


Blogger PajamaHadin said...

Great scoop Carol. The response does indeed sound like backpedaling and semantic gymnastics. As a Linguist and Philosopher, I know that when I see it. I'll point my readers to this in my coverage of this. Thanks for the great work.

7:41 PM  
Blogger LB said...

Can you believe this guy Jordan? Semantical gymnastics. He should be very sore indeed.

Nobody's buying this. Jordan said what he said and meant it: journalists are being targeted. The implication was that United States soldiers were specifically going after journalists. Now he wants to backtrack and parse "collateral damage" and mistaken identity? Sorry. Too many fact-checkers on this case. The blog swarm has descended...

My post title stands: Eason Jordan Claims American Troops Targeted And Killed Journalists.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Daddypundit said...

Great scoop, Carol. This sounds like more of the same spin we received from CNN - that his remarks were taken out of context, he didn't say what he meant, he didn't mean what he said, etc. (pick your favorite excuse).

8:11 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Sounds like he just doesn't understand the concept of "collateral damage".

8:23 PM  
Blogger Svolich said...

Given this (and Eason's previous, similar comments) does ANYONE at Time/Warner wonder why CNN is bleeding out?

8:25 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Thanks for putting this up, but it does sound like Jordan's trying to lie his way out of the hole he dug with his own mouth.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Major Bill said...

In his attempt to explain his comments in Davos, Mr. Jordan employs a bit of disingenuous sophistry. In the context of the discussion in Davos, Mr. Jordan evoked the term "targeted" in a manner that clearly refers to the military planning process. In the targeting process of military planning, targets are identified, selected, and prioritized based on their military value with respect to the operation. However, in defense of his statements in Davos, Mr. Jordan defines targeting as the process that goes on in the heat of a battle wherein soldiers take aim at personnel that appear to be the enemy (or at least threatening to them). These are two very different activities. Mr. Jordan's comments are tailored for two different audiences. He may be able to slip his little trick past some people, but others will notice. I hope I have been able to add a little clarity to the discussion. Sincerely, Major Bill

8:49 PM  
Blogger Alec Rawls said...

So according to Jordan, Pat Tillman's death was NOT collateral damage, rather he was "targeted" by his fellow Rangers. Both reinterpretations of existing terms are absurd. Jordan must have stayed up all night looking for a way out of his bold-faced lies.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

Despite what Rumsfeld and the bombing cameras tell us, a military force (even America's, could you believe) lacks what some might call "finesse," what others would call "discernment," what still others would call "regard for the lives of non-fellows in combat." Aka, all of Iraq is a free-fire zone.

Which is why Iraqis, no doubt, should be understanding when loved ones become collateral damage. As should dead journalists. In Iraq, if you're not onboard the embed program, as far as the military is concerned, you are fair game.

And then people complain that all they do is sit in their hotel rooms all day and don't go to nice Iraqi school openings! Nice armchair quarterbacking guys.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Busch said...

This man has been involved with journalism for years. Does he really expect us to believe that he doesn't know the meaning of the words he is using? Are we to understand that he wasn't aware of the nature of those to whom he was speaking?

If the journalists he is speaking of were "targeted" in the military sense, what were they doing standing opposite American forces during a fire fight? Were they acting like the stringers who just happen to be around for events such as the murder of election officials on Haifa Street?

While I have sympathy for those innocently caught in a cross-fire, I have none for those who give voice to, and act as a propaganda tool for, the enemy. Such people get our people killed. I'm not saying that this is the case here, but there are enough reporters over there that fit the bill, that I have to ask the question.

2:28 AM  
Blogger Some Guy said...

Re: the idiot above's comments on "all of Iraq being a free fire zone"...what planet are YOU from?

No standing orders or rules of engagement for personnel in Iraq have designated ANY areas as "free fire zones". In fact, standing orders and the rules of engagement in Iraq FORBID any personnel from returning fire from armed combatants when civilians are present or likely to be injured. American personnel know they are in a battle for hearts and minds, and so do their commanders. Only an unbalanced Lefty with no military experience would think they could be stupid enough to turn the suburbs of Baghdad into a shooting gallery just for kicks.

The American military has not designated a "free fire zone" since Vietnam, and EVEN THEN, engaging the enemy in a "free fire zone" simply meant that OPENLY ARMED individuals were so likely to be the enemy, that personnel were permitted to fire on them. These zones were usually designated in response to confirmation of large enemy forces in the vicinity. No personnel were EVER cleared to fire on civilians, and aside from a few sick individuals, American boys did not do so. The concept of the "free fire zone" was twisted and distorted by anti-American protestors and media then, and apparently, the Left hasn't lost its love of misinformation even today.

In short, Mr. "No Name Twelve Year Old", take your "Americans killing babies" propaganda somewhere where people know a little less about the operation of the military. I suggest DemUnderground, you'd be unlikely to run across a single veteran there who point out how full of it you are.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Louis said...

The term "free-fire zone" raises your hackles, since it was an official policy during the Vietnam war. I know that it is not official policy in Iraq... it is de facto, however. Do you think our soldiers are being prevented from shooting whoever they want anywhere in the country? Convoys go through every town with machine-guns trained on everything that passes... one false move, one IED blows and civilians get caught in the crossfire. They're not fighting in the wilderness over there- it's an urban society.

Acknowledging the reality of what a foreign army does while in hostile territory isn't treason, especially since they do it "to protect America." Sorry if you'd like to keep living in your patriotic dream world where an American soldier has never killed an innocent Iraqi or foreign journalist.

I think you, and Rumsfeld, take the concept of collateral damage a little lightly.

9:23 AM  
Blogger ExNukeSailor said...


French perhaps? The idea of every military situation being a "free-fire zone" is ridiculous. The very term "free-fire zone" brings about numerous negative connotations associated with, let me guess from the left winger, Vietnam! Still toeing the party line on that point huh?

You are right, nothing is stopping our people from shooting whoever they want, except of course their buddies, the idea of right and wrong, the UCMJ, and common decency, all of which they of course do not have according to you because they are in the baby killing military in the first place right?

Yes, unfortunately, others are killed when the bullets fly. The jounalists over there know what they are getting into, and if they don't, then whose fault is that? But as an American, to come out with an unsubstantiated statement to appease the anti-americans and Bush haters, CNN's obvious target audience at this point, that our fine troops are intentenally "targeting" reporters is so far down the slime scale that he is now below protoplasm. This from the man who covered up Saddam's atrocities, just keep his "news" agency there to spew propaganda is sickening.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Louis said...

12:38 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

...Which proves what exactly, Louis? If you're going to judge the entire U.S. military by a single unconsidered comment by one unsavvy and insensitive individual, should we, in turn judge the entire Left according to your words? I think the Left would come out the worse in that bargain.

1:23 PM  
Blogger BurtB said...

You need to hit back with Geraghty’s comment

What's perhaps most disturbing - and clearest - is that the Arab attendees definately heard what they wanted to hear out of Jordan's remarks, even if it was only implied or was a misstatement. And there's no indication that Jordan attempted to make clearer what he meant — there's no reports of him saying, "Hey, fellas, wait, you're putting words in my mouth."

Why is Jordan trying to explain here, to you, but not in front of the Arab attendees? Does the truth change depending on the audience? Who really misunderstood him, you or the Arabs?

3:33 PM  
Blogger BurtB said...

Re: U.S. General Says It Is 'Fun to Shoot Some People'

If you look at the context, the General was talking about shooting bad guys, not journalists, not innocents. He just spoke roughly. Remember,
Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. -George Orwell

6:16 PM  
Blogger Captain Mainline said...

No, to say a journalist was targeted is to claim they were targeted AS journalists- there is no wiggle room there. Otherwise what is the point in saying they were targeted?

Such sophmoric wriggling is pathetic.

"I targeted a journalist because I did not know they were journalists" makes as much as saying Eason Jordan was not targeting the military with his comments- just a group of people who happened to be soldiers. No no no... the word "target" means, implicitly, with conscious intent.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Stripes said...


9:58 PM  
Blogger Al said...

So the man is backpedaling. And we can fault him for not having the strength of his convictions in sticking to the exact words of what was said in the forum in Davos. Shame on him, blah blah blah.

Enough, already.

How'bout focusing on the actual allegation that journalists who've been killed were done so, deliberately -- yes, targeted. Is it true?

Someone decided to go find out for himself:

Personally, I'm convinced that some journalists have been killed despite the soldiers knowing they were journalists. I can see it happening in the heat of battle and the fog of war, if you will. It's entirely plausible that they'd think, "screw it. Kill these guys. They're in the way."

Is there a high-level effort to do this? I have my doubts. (But then the death of Tariq Ayoub ( during the airstrike of two Arab-run media stations in Baghdad precludes me from rejecting that notion entirely.)

Is Jordan wrong for suspecting that these deaths were deliberate? He's entitled to his opinion. But did he screw up to bring these thoughts to fore in such a public and international forum? Insofar as it appears that he did not anticipate the S storm that it has created, yes. And having made those comments, he should have realized that this would happen. And he should be able to have the courage to back up his results with data and let the chips fall where they may.

We can argue on and on about this man's gaffe, but I'd rather we look back on the fate of the dead journalists he references as well as the many civilians killed in battle, to learn what happened. Out of respect for the dead, and out of respect for this nation's belief in a transparency and open-accountability in all things. We're already trying to uphold Jordan to this standard; how about carrying it forward to what goes on in the battlefield?

12:32 PM  
Blogger Stripes said...

Oh Al, now you've done it and I have to go barf again. Thanks a lot.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Stripes said...

The following is from

"'Actions speak louder than words. The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the US military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by US forces,' Mr Jordan told an audience of news executives at the News Xchange conference in Portugal."

How exactly are we going to explain this little item. Actually, if the "torture" was nudity, girls panties, g-string, mini-skirts, and topless girls, well may be he was right. What do I know?

2:33 PM  
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7:10 AM  

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