» Monday, February 20, 2006

Media and Troops

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with John Reid that media organisations should exercise restraint when reporting about "what our troops got up to", the PMOS it was important to distinguish between what John Reid was and was not saying. What the Defence Secretary in no way was saying was that we should condone, or that we did condone abuse. Equally, however, what he was saying was that we should keep those cases in perspective, and the fact that there were 5 cases of abuse in Iraq. That was 5 cases too many, but given the number of troops, that was the perspective it should be seen in.

The PMOS said it should not become the only thing that people thought our troops were up to in Iraq, as our troops were helping Iraqis achieve democracy. The allegations of abuse, were serious, and quite rightly should be investigated, and if people were found guilty, then the appropriate action would be taken. That should not, however, obscure the greater part of what our troops were up to. Equally, we needed to be aware that the terrorists that we were up against did use the media to manipulate not only public opinion in Iraq, but also in this country. Therefore, we had to be aware of that, and that was modern day reality. It was quite right and proper for John Reid to point that out as something that we had to address in all seriousness.

Put that if journalists had asked the question two weeks ago, the PMOS would have told people that only 4 cases of abuse in Iraq were being investigated, and rather, did the PMOS mean that there were 5 cases of abuse that were known about, the PMOS said that that was precisely an example of the problem. Nobody was trying to downplay, obscure or hide where abuse came to light, and it was investigated seriously.

Equally, however, what we asked was that people equally recognised that abuse was only one part of the story of what our troops were doing in Iraq. They should be equally aware of the rest of that story and that there was a conscious effort to bring democracy to Iraq, and there had been three elections, and that we did have a new democratic government in place performing in Baghdad. Therefore, we should look at the picture as a whole, not to condone any abuse that took place, not to deflect attention away from abuse that took place, but to get it into perspective.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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