Article Overview:   Is embedding journalists in American fighting units good or bad for the war?  Does it give Americans a clearer or foggier look at what's happening?   Can it shift an anti-war, anti-American attitude into a pro-military one?  Find out.


Wednesday--April 2, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 567
Embedding Vigilance,
Ejecting Terror

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Apr. 2--I am impressed with the word "embed," as used in the "embedding" of journalists with coalition forces.  I am impressed because I think we are embedding Vigilance and ejecting Terrorism in America's generally liberal, anti-military, often anti-American press.   Let's find out if there's any hint of truth to my theory.   First, let's look at what the word embed conjures.

Are we embedding Vigilance and ejecting Terrorism?

        The embedding process sounds like a tic burrowing its way into a fat vein on a dog.
        It sounds viral, like some disease locking its way into a host.
        Embedding is not a flattering word.   It suggests the host is  unwilling or reticent to accept whatever is embedded.   It makes me think that whatever is embedded enslaves its host, like a pacemaker, which is small, but the heart doesn't work without it, and the body can't function without the heart.

Dirt can be embedded in fingernails

        I think of dirt being embedded in things, like the soles of jungle boots, or under fingernails after working on a car engine.  
        Embed also connotes propaganda.  I have visions of the Manchurian Candidate where the queen of clubs(or is that spades?) flashes and triggers the embedded message of assassination to kick in.  Or, as in the most recent Alias spy television series, where the star, Jennifer Garner, cuts into the wrist of a prisoner played by Christian Slater to remove an embedded transponder set to release cyanide into his blood stream.   Jennifer (Sydney) saves Slater at the last minute.

"Embedded"  makes me think of leeches

         I also think of leeches when I hear the word, "embedded."   I imagine them shoveling their heads deep into the flesh, sucking off the blood.  

      Embedding conjures up a grave for me

        Embedding also means a grave for me.  I sense myself in a deep hole, covered  with dank dark dirt, moss, musty leaves and branches.   I am embedded in death.
          Embed also implies that whatever is embedded is more alive than dead, like embedding an idea in someone's mind.  I think of a worm or a termite, wriggling its way through the grey matter, embedding certain thoughts, prejudices, opinions on this synaptic and that synaptic bridge.   Sometimes these thoughts form a freeway, but not easily, since there are an estimated 5 billion such synaptic bridges in a human brain.
           So when I hear the words:  "Embedded Press," or an "Embedded Reporter," or an "Embedded Journalist," it seems oxymoronic to me.  It suggests to me you are embedding a Terrorist into a Sentinel of Vigilance's bloodstream, or injecting a cancer cell into a healthy body.

Embedded reporter Peter Arnett was fired by NBC and National Geographic - see yesterday story (link here)

             Shoving a reporter into a war machine is putting a square block in a round hole.   It's like having a proctologist hidden under the outhouse.   Or putting a minister in brothel.
             Having the press look over your shoulder and report everything you do and how you do it isn't a relaxing way to fight a war.   You are forced to keep an eye out for the enemy in front of you, and the one behind you, disguised as a reporter.  The camera lens is a much a weapon of mass destruction as a rifle or a rocket filled with Vx.
              The oxymoron of "embedded reporter" means that journalists, news persons, reporters, are bound by being embedded to not disclose the truth.   The truth is the sum of the good and the bad, but an embedded reporter can't express the bad and remain embedded.   If he or she attacks the host, the host will eject the reporter.   
           The firing of Peter Arnett for giving an interview to Iraqi television that cast doubt on America's tactics and strategy is one example.  Vigilance has little tolerance for Terrorism.  
           The rumor that Geraldo Rivera was ejected for drawing maps in the sand, considered an act of exposing a military location, is another example of round hole and square peg conflict between "embedded" and "reporter."  They are opposites, unequals, unless forced to coexist.
           When a reporter accepts being "embedded" into a unit, both the host and foreign object (the reporter) must give up something for there to be peace.   The reporter must give up the desire to attack the host, to Terrorize it from within.  And the host must give up the desire to keep secret its actions, and open itself up to inspection.
            The two--the press and the military--have been foes for many years.   Nothing irks the liberal media more than expenditures for the military versus the domestic needs of the country.  The military is also the iron-fist of America's power, its brass knuckles, its club, and is treated with wariness by the press, as a rabid beast might be given a wide swath.
             Now, the two are married.  
            Symbiosis exists between the reporter and the military unit he or she is attached to.   The link between the reporter and the military unit forms a life or death umbilicus.  In combat, the reporter relies on the troops to help keep him or her alive.  When the bullets stop flying, the troops count on the reporter to report the truth of war, not the lie. 
            And this is the great benefit of the embedded reporter.   For the embedded reporter faces the truth as never before witnessed.

The embedding reporting process may promulgate fair reporting

            Historically, the media is liberal, anti-war, anti-military, anti-violence, anti-American in nature.   To support the principles of America's military might seems to most news media a violation of free speech.   The media therefore strikes out against patriotism and militaristic movements almost as a knee-jerk reaction.  The editorial slant is usually, "O.K., let's find out what these people are doing wrong, where they are violating the rules, and expose all their faults.  And, by the way, no flag waving.   We want to make a point here that the military is bad.  That government is oppressive.  That power corrupts.  So don't let up in your corrosive journey to demean America."
           The embedding process has altered this caustic approach
            It takes little talent to chide and issue recriminations against America, or its policies.   Most of those are one-sided, shallow arguments pitting the small, crushed individual up against the Big Heartless Brother.
              However, embedded journalists are forced to live in the bloodstream of the warrior.   They breathe the same sandy, dirty air;  eat the same cold food; are fired upon by the same enemy; and  live in the same pools of fears and rivers of courage that drive the men and women of America's military machine forward.  The reporter no longer stands back, afar, detached from the threat of death, but is now part of the organic nature of the warrior.  He or she becomes a true "combat correspondent," no longer seeking to find the fault, but instead overwhelmed by the glory of individual courage, and the substance of personal constitutions.
              Being embedded in the viscera of America's most powerful machinery of Freedom--the military--opens the eyes of many reporters who once threw rocks at the idea of America's might and power was a wasteful tool of oppression.    Prior to being embedded, many saw the military as an extension of America's imperialistic, capitalistic arm, a club used to bully the world.
             Now, they see it in a different sight.
             Inside the bowels of the military, they watch young men and women willing to give their lives for the freedom of a strange people in a far off land.   They don't see mindless, uneducated, underprivileged youth with nothing to do dying for no reason at the whim of emotionless commanders who wantonly send them to their deaths.   Protestors and the press often tout the military is a haven for minorities, used as Hitler once did on the front lines as canon fodder.
             Embedded reporters know how false this is.

Some have dreamed of donning a uniform since they were children

            On the front lines are sharp, bright young men and women who fight for honorable reasons.   Some have dreamed of donning a uniform from the day they were old enough to choose a future.   Others believe their duty as a citizen is to fight for the freedom of others, and can't fathom how anyone would question that responsibility, or take honor in dodging that duty.  
             Embedded reporters witness the courage and heroism of American troops daily, from the scene of a young man or woman kneeling and praying over a dead enemy, to the recent Special Operations rescue of American POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch.  They see the military is composed from the ground floor up, not the generals down.  They see the military is the ultimate form of democracy, for it is the belief of the troops in the foxholes in the flag and its principles that motivates them to die for their country, not the generals who issue such orders.   Embedded reports quickly realize the generals of war are the privates and sergeants who form the front lines.
              The embedded reporter becomes part of the flow that pumps through the unit.  He or she realizes that the many parts make up a whole, and that each soldier or Marine is as important as the other, all bound together to fight an enemy whom they collectively believe is the Beast of Terror, bent on Terrorizing the world if left alone.
               The embedded reporter starts to see America from a vista that is impossible to see from a detached view.   Inside the body, the embedded reporter learns what it is like to be willing to die for a principle.   They learn that the sacrifice of life being offered is not blindly given, but offered from a rich reservoir of beliefs handed down from one generation to another.

Journalists will see American Courage overcoming Fear....

           The embedded reporter begins to see the true America is represent by the willingness of hundreds of thousands of America's finest young people to die for the freedom of others.    They realize that true patriotism isn't more complicated than the willingness to die so others might be free.
            When the reporters live and eat and breathe with the young Warriors of Vigilance, and ask the same question hundreds upon hundreds of times:  "Why are you here?" they will get the same core answer--"to free the people from Terrorism."
             At first, skeptical, caustic, wary journalists flinch at such an answer.   It seems like a platitude to them.   It sounds like they've been brainwashed.
         But after living with the troops day after day, taking the enemy fire, fighting back, freeing people, suffering losses and casualties, the embedded journalist begins to morph into the body.   That which was one different from, becomes similar to.    Barriers and walls that separated the two--military and press--now crumble for both sides are soaked in each other's blood.

Pfc. Jessica Lynch was rescued

             As the journalists see American Courage overcoming Fear, American Conviction battling Intimidation, and American Right Action fighting to preserve the rights of the Children's Children's Children the skin of the onion is peeled.   Inside is the pulp of the warrior.  It is a man or woman, willing to die for others for no other reason than to give them freedom. 
              The American warrior is not after spoils of war, not after conquests.   He or she only wants to go home, safely, and hope that the blood spilled during the war will fertilize freedom.
              The embedded journalist sees this.  Feels this.  Becomes part of this simplistic belief in fighting for freedom.  
              Now, the journalist faces a dilemma.
              What is the truth?
              Is the truth an effort to find fault with America?  Is it to promote the errors of American strategy or tactics?  Is it to demean and understate the power of American resolve?  Is it to attack the institution of power?
              Or, is the truth the simple truth--that the overriding reason why American troops are fighting the war in Iraq is for their flag--so that the Iraqis might one day enjoy the freedoms they enjoy?  
             Could it be so simple?
             Could it be the embedded reporter learns that America's will to fight and win the war in Iraq is directly proportional to the belief each of the soldiers, marines, airmen and navy personnel have in dying for the freedom of others?
              Perhaps the essence of the war in Iraq can be summed up with the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch.   Perhaps all the news that fit to print can be the answer to the question asked of Pfc. Lynch:  "Why were you willing to die for America in a foreign land?"
              The answer will amaze you, if you're not already amazed.
               Embed yourself in Vigilance.  Take the Pledge of Vigilance today.



Apr. 1--How Walter Cronkite Ambushed Peter Arnett In Iraq

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