Destroying Journalism in Order to Save It

While fleeing an ambush in Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers reportedly opened fire on civilian cars and pedestrians and then destroyed photos and video taken at the scene by freelance journalists. Destroying the evidence was necessary, a military official explained later, to protect "investigative integrity" because photos or video taken by "untrained people" might "capture visual details that are not as they originally were." He added, "We are completely committed to a free and independent press, and we hope that we can help encourage this tradition in places where new and free governments are taking root." Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll remained unconvinced. "In democratic societies," she noted, "legitimate journalists are allowed to work without having their equipment seized and their images deleted."