Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

One War Picture You Will Not Be Watching. We've Grown Accustomed to TV Images of Exploding Tanks and Wrecked Buildings. It's Not like That This Time, Explains Peter Almond

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

One War Picture You Will Not Be Watching. We've Grown Accustomed to TV Images of Exploding Tanks and Wrecked Buildings. It's Not like That This Time, Explains Peter Almond

Article excerpt

Byline: PETER ALMOND

THE TV cameras were there when the airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. They were there when the cruise missiles blasted off in retaliation from ships at sea. But will they be there when the SAS or US Delta Force drags Osama bin Laden out of his cave and frog-marches him off to justice? The answer is almost certainly no.

Viewers tuning in to watch cruise missiles flying down the streets, as they did in Baghdad in 1991, or nightly explosions and missile strikes as they did on Belgrade in 1999, will probably be disappointed.

Behind Taliban lines, the only information for Western news agencies is coming from just three Afghan journalists.

Afghanistan is a black hole for news of US and British military operations, and both the Ministry of Defence and the Pentagon say there is almost nothing they can do about it. This is, they insist, an air and Special Operations war, where secrecy prevails and the media just isn't wanted.

So confused is the situation that the British and American militaries selected their "media pools" of journalists to take to the "front" of military action, but then paused because there is nowhere to take them.

The military refuses to let journalists go into Afghanistan with Special Operations Forces because that ruins the whole point of secret operations.

There obviously isn't room in any of the strike planes to report on air strikes, and sitting with logistics or support troops on a lonely airfield in Uzbekistan is of limited appeal.

"This is not the kind of war we have been used to, like the Gulf War or Kosovo," says Bill Wheatley, vice president for news at NBC, in New York.

"Viewers have gotten used to us having extensive coverage from all over the place. But not this time."

NBC is the designated TV outlet for the Pentagon's media pool for the period October to December.

From January to March it will be ABC-TV, which means that for the next six months all TV film made available to the world from inside US military operations in the terror war will come from these two TV networks. …

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