New York Times reporter and blogger Stephen Farrell is being criticized in the wake of his rescue by British commandos, a rescue that claimed the lives of a woman, child, and a British soldier, Corporal John Harrison, 29. Commanders are expressing anger that Farrell not only ignored repeated warnings not to go to the site in hostile territory, but was specifically told by a local man that the Taliban was coming.
The soldier was a member of the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, Special Forces Support Group, which did a magnificent job in the rescue of Farrell, 46, and his interpreter, Sultan Munadi, 34. Farrell was investigating the scene of a US air strike on fuel tankers which the Taliban alleged was a massacre of innocent civilians. Once there, an elderly man ran up to warn him to flee because of the approaching Taliban.
Both police and intelligence officers repeatedly told Farrell that it was too dangerous to go to the site. This is the second time that Farrell has been taken hostage. The herefirst time was in Iraq five years ago.
A British officer was understandably upset with the loss of this true hero: “When you look at the number of warnings this person had it makes you really wonder whether he was worth rescuing, whether it was worth the cost of a soldier’s life. In the future special forces might think twice in a similar situation.” Another officer joined in: “This reporter went to this area against the advice of the Afghan police. So thanks very much Stephen Farrell, your irresponsible act has led to the death of one of our boys.”
It is a tough call for journalists who cannot always comply with restrictions by local police or the military — which may not want independent review of such areas. However, it is also a lesson for reporters that, if you are captured, it is possible that others may pay the price for a risky journalistic mission. Frankly, as a stronghold of the Taliban, this area seemed far too risky for such a venture, particularly given the fanaticism of Taliban.
For Farrell’s account, click here.
For the full story, click here.
5 thoughts on “British Express Anger Over Deaths in Rescue of New York Times Reporter Who Ignored Repeated Warnings Not to Go Into Taliban Stronghold”
Mostly off topic but not out of the ordinary for other posts on this blawg regarding the British government.
The British government has now found a way to oppress 11 million of its citizens in one fell swoop and make them pay for having it done to them- and if they don’t pay, they’ll be fined 5000pounds. Amazing.
What margarita said.
He was there doing a job, just like the soldiers were. He appears to have exercised poor judgment in this instance, just like soldiers do on occasion. Undoubtedly, the Special Forces officer would not have publicly criticized one of his own in the same circumstances, poor judgment or no. That said, a journalist ought not to expect heroic measures to effect their rescue, and I don’t see that this one did. They assume the risk, as do the soldiers if they choose to undertake a rescue. The British officer giving the statement here is out of line, albeit understandably. We need more journalists in war zones, not fewer. Between them and the soldiers, after all, who is responsible for more collateral damage?
He was both irresponsible and just plain stupid. While I agree we need to maintain jounalistic integrety and they, therefore, cannot take orders from police or the military, journalist need to act responsibly and avoid risking others. Personally Idon’t think he was worth that soldiers life. These young men and women have enough to do without having to worry about journalist seeking a “Pulitzer”.
I don’t know if I can agree that this was such as bad ideal. Would we have had the respect for Walter Cronkite if he has stayed behind the enemy lines.
The only reason this is news worthy is because the Bushes has to keep there Oil Buddies happy and Cheney was more than thrilled I am sure to mastermind the whole damn thing.
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