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DoD: Probe of 2005 Reuters Staff Death "Flawed"
Inspector General Says US Troops Acted Lawfully; Reuters Disputes Conclusions
06/18/2008 1:42 PM ET

The US Army conducted a flawed investigation into actions by American forces in 2005 that resulted in the death of a Reuters staffer, and the injury of another, according to a newly released report by the Department of Defense Inspector General (IG). However, the DoD IG concluded in its report that the soldiers whose fire killed Waleed Khaled, a Reuters Television soundman, and wounded cameraman Haider Kadhem, did not act unlawfully.

The report responds to a 2006 Reuters independent investigation that found the US soldiers acted "unlawfully." However, the Pentagon IG most recently concluded that, in spite of the flawed investigation, the American forces that fired on the unmarked Reuters car in Baghdad's al-'Amil district on August 25, 2005 were acting reasonably in response to a perceived threat.

The full 82-page DoD IG report is available for download below.

Reuters has disputed the DoD's most recent conclusions, saying the agency is "disappointed (that) the Defense Department's inspector general, the Pentagon's watchdog agency, concluded the killing of soundman Waleed Khaled was justified."

Reuters also "welcomed the inspector general's recommendation the U.S. military work with the media in Iraq to improve safety for journalists." The DoD IG's report faults the safety procedures implemented by Reuters staffers in Baghdad at the time of the incident.

According to Reuters, a dispute remains over whether the wounded cameraman and sound technician had placed any recording equipment outside the window of their automobile during the 2005 shooting incident, which the US military asserts, and Reuters staffers deny. The military claims that the equipment allegedly protruding from the unmarked vehicle resembled a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, drawing lethal fire from American forces.

Moreover, the tape that the targeted Reuters staffers recorded during the incident -- the only evidence, per Reuters, that would establish the position of the recording equipment -- has disappeared after being taken into DoD custody.

The international advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has called for an investigation into the disappearance of the recorded evidence.

Seven members of the Reuters staff have been killed since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, according to the agency, which describes the circumstances of each casualty here.

Read the whole Defense Department Inspector General's report here: Reuters_Final_Print_Version.pdf

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