British prince on the front line- agreed media silence.

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  • #1
matthyaouw
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Prince Harry has been fighting the Taleban on the front line in Afghanistan, the MoD has confirmed.

Harry, 23, who is third in line to the throne, has spent the last 10 weeks serving in Helmand Province.

The deployment was subject to a news blackout deal, which broke down after being leaked by foreign media.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7269743.stm
My emphasis.

This worries me. While I understand the potential security risk of letting the enemy know the whereabouts of the prince, I question the practice of an agreed media silence. Should the MoD, royal family or government have the power to stop the media reporting an important story? Not so much with regard to this circumstance, but in general. Who gets to decide what we find out and what we don't? I don't want to see the day when bad news is simply buried and denied.

What are people's thoughts?
 

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  • #2
f95toli
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I think the emphasis here should be on deal. The media was not forced to do anything. They merely agreed not to broadcast/print anything as long as Harry was in Afghanistan.
The "carrot" was of course the interviews he has been giving the whole time, which you can now see on TV, and which were orignally meant to be broadcast after his deployment has ended (April).
I find it VERY hard to believe that the tabloids would have agreed to this if it wasn't for the fact that they knew that they would be able to sell more copies in the long run.
I suspect Murdoch&co are as upset as the MoD about the fact that the news were leaked prematurely.
 
  • #3
russ_watters
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It is very common for the media to cooperate with a government during a time of crisis/war (it happens in the US, too). F95toli is right - the key is that they do it by choice, not by coercion.
 
  • #4
turbo
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The silence of the media was for good reason. They agreed that Harry would be a high-value target, and the Taliban might make special efforts to take him out. The concentrated attention on his unit would place all members of his unit at higher-than-normal risk for death and injury. I expect that they will send him back home or put him in some less-dangerous support position to reduce the risks to him and the members of his unit.
 
  • #5
Evo
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The silence of the media was for good reason. They agreed that Harry would be a high-value target, and the Taliban might make special efforts to take him out. The concentrated attention on his unit would place all members of his unit at higher-than-normal risk for death and injury. I expect that they will send him back home or put him in some less-dangerous support position to reduce the risks to him and the members of his unit.
My thoughts exactly.
 
  • #6
tiny-tim
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turbo-1 is right. Knowledge of his whereabouts by the Taliban puts the soldiers under him in great danger.
 
  • #7
Art
There's been a lot of media interest in Afghanistan recently in the UK following an award winning documentary 'Ross Kemp in Afghanistan' all of which would now seem to be a prelude to this story about Prince Harry. Was this documentary shown in the US?
 
  • #8
I think that him serving this way is so impressive next to all of the U.S. senators, etc. whose kids avoid the draft and military service so frequently. Way to go Prince Harry. Good choice of the Gurkhas too in a valiant effort to keep it under wraps…
 
  • #9
Art
When in Britain the security services go to great lengths to ensure nobody gets a sample of his DNA. I wonder if the same precautions were in place in Afghanistan or will some squaddy make himself a fortune selling it to the tabloid press.

The reason they were after his DNA was to establish if there was any truth to the rumour he was fathered by James Hewitt (Captain Underpants) with whom Diana was having an affair around the time of Harry's conception and who like Harry had striking red hair.
 
  • #10
lisab
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There's been a lot of media interest in Afghanistan recently in the UK following an award winning documentary 'Ross Kemp in Afghanistan' all of which would now seem to be a prelude to this story about Prince Harry. Was this documentary shown in the US?

Not that I know of, Art.

Like CQ, I admire him very much for not taking the easy road. Too bad this story leaked - it must be very frustrating for him.
 
  • #11
Ivan Seeking
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He was called the "bullet magnet" by his fellow soldiers. Yes, this is unfair and dangerous to the rest of the troops.

Prince Harry is a little scary. I heard him quoted as saying that now all of his dreams have come true. Given that he was only there for a few months, it sounds to me like his real motive was to prove himself to others rather than serving out of a sense of duty to country or cause - he was willing to risk the lives of others in order to impress his friends and family.

Note that he didn't travel with the rest of the troops. Instead, he rode around in a special helicopter.
 
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  • #12
matthyaouw
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I know the media agreed and weren't forced, but I wonder what else they could be convinced to agree on if it was deemed to be 'for the best'. I also wonder whether it would have been so bad to release the fact that he was going to the front line, but just keep quiet about the location and regiment. That would still make him impossible to target.
 
  • #13
To be honest, I feel bad for the guy. He obviously wanted to be there, and now because of the media attention, he is going to have to leave. He must be very angry, and I wouldn't blame him. He didn't ask to be born a prince and have the status he has. All the guy wants is to be normal and be treated like anyone else.
 
  • #14
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The silence of the media was for good reason. They agreed that Harry would be a high-value target, and the Taliban might make special efforts to take him out. The concentrated attention on his unit would place all members of his unit at higher-than-normal risk for death and injury. I expect that they will send him back home or put him in some less-dangerous support position to reduce the risks to him and the members of his unit.

Don't give Harry more importance than he has. His death would be purely symbolic... what does he worth aside of being known for being known? Is he aware of some kind of military secret? Is playing polo considered politic? Is he some kind of supersoldier than makes him more efficient than Sunderland's first yobs? His death would be totaly irrelevant and he is no more important than Paris Hilton's.


He could make a good bait though, how many terrorists would be ready to endanger their lives to kill him (and what for)?
 
  • #15
Astronuc
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I suspect because of who he is, Taliban and insurgents/terrorists would try harder to kill him than others. On the other hand, for the most part, he is no more danger than any other soldier in the field.

I'm puzzled as to why it seems acceptable to put any young soldier at risk as opposed to a celebrity.

I admire him for serving as opposed to avoiding service like so many political leaders. At least he can argue that he would not be asking a soldier to do something he hadn't done himself, which is not case for politicians like Bush or Cheney.
 
  • #16
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I suspect because of who he is, Taliban and insurgents/terrorists would try harder to kill him than others. On the other hand, for the most part, he is no more danger than any other soldier in the field.

I'm puzzled as to why it seems acceptable to put any young soldier at risk as opposed to a celebrity.

I admire him for serving as opposed to avoiding service like so many political leaders. At least he can argue that he would not be asking a soldier to do something he hadn't done himself, which is not case for politicians like Bush or Cheney.

I guess some talibans could focus on him (which would expose them more because he is certainly well defended) but I guess talibans with brains would rather try to get his commander.

PS: at least Cheney and Bush are deciders in that their loss could bring confusions in the states, at least for a moment. That cannot be said about Harry.
 
  • #17
It is not only that they would want to kill him,;more likely they would want to capture him for ransom. The British government doesn't want to deal with the scenario of Harry being held hostage by the Taliban. Talk about a media circus, that would be insane!
 
  • #18
Evo
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Harry has been removed. What is wrong with the media that leaked this, do they have no brains or scruples? That's a rhetorical question, btw.
 
  • #19
lisab
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Harry has been removed. What is wrong with the media that leaked this, do they have no brains or scruples? That's a rhetorical question, btw.

It was reportedly leaked on the Drudge Report. :rolleyes:

I don't think silencing the media in a war theater is the same as muzzling the press on other issues. Even without a prince on the front lines, there may be information that the media have access to which needs to be kept secret...troop positions and numbers, weapon capability...that sort of thing.
 
  • #20
Astronuc
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Prince Harry Finds Anonymity in Afghanistan
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87792380
Morning Edition, February 29, 2008 · The Drudge Report broke a news blackout that had been in effect for two and a half months about Prince Harry's deployment to Afghanistan. Michael Evans, defense editor for the Times of London, talks to Renee Montagne about why the British media had kept his deployment a secret.
 
  • #21
mheslep
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I think that him serving this way is so impressive next to all of the U.S. senators, etc. whose kids avoid the draft and military service so frequently. Way to go Prince Harry.
Ridiculous. There is no US draft, nothing to 'avoid.' Many members of Congress and officials in the administration have children in the service including Iraq and Afghanistan. Notably, Sen McCain has a son in the USMC who served in Iraq, as has Sen Webb.
 
  • #22
mheslep
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I suspect because of who he is, Taliban and insurgents/terrorists would try harder to kill him than others. On the other hand, for the most part, he is no more danger than any other soldier in the field.

I'm puzzled as to why it seems acceptable to put any young soldier at risk as opposed to a celebrity.
Because, if its know he's in A, a) his celebrity would draw concentrated enemy forces against his small unit in which case he would be in greater danger, and b) the enemy could do great political damage to the fight in A. by holding him hostage - not the case w/ the average soldier.

I admire him for serving as opposed to avoiding service like so many political leaders. At least he can argue that he would not be asking a soldier to do something he hadn't done himself, which is not case for politicians like Bush or Cheney.
Arg. The logic of this argument is that no one can hold executive office in the US unless they fought in a combat zone (not even just served), so out go Sen's Clinton and Obama.
 
  • #23
Ridiculous. There is no US draft, nothing to 'avoid.' Many members of Congress and officials in the administration have children in the service including Iraq and Afghanistan. Notably, Sen McCain has a son in the USMC who served in Iraq, as has Sen Webb.

I wasn't talking about a present U.S. draft, of course. Thanks for presuming I was so that you could call me ridiculous.

As far as the “many” members of Congress with children in the service, are you talking about the kind of numbers like http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=73976" (USA Today, 2007) children of members of Congress who go to war? Out of the 535 individuals who are the ones who decide to send us to war, to send my relatives to war? Exactly as I pointed out, that is not a very high frequency. It is not “ridiculous” to be underwhelmed or even a bit pissed off about that.

Yeah, I know McCain has a son who's a Marine. As I've said elsewhere on PF I think he's an upstanding guy and I've voted for him before.
 
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  • #24
Astronuc
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Arg. The logic of this argument is that no one can hold executive office in the US unless they fought in a combat zone (not even just served), so out go Sen's Clinton and Obama.
Not all. Anyone can become president by meeting the particular requirements and being elected to office.

If I was president, I wouldn't ask someone else to do what I wouldn't do myself.


The president should not be so cavalier about risking the lives of other people, especially when the use of military force is based on a personal agenda, not a real threat to the nation.
 
  • #25
mheslep
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I wasn't talking about a present U.S. draft, of course. Thanks for presuming I was so that you could call me ridiculous.
The statement as worded was nonsense. Clarify if you wish.

As far as the “many” members of Congress with children in the service, are you talking about the kind of numbers like http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=73976". Second, the number nine is only kids that have served in Iraq, that doesn't count Afghanistan nor the rest of the armed services; not all of the ~800,000 US service folk can go Iraq. Third, just how many is a good number? Even the ratio 9/525 (1.7%) is higher than the population at large (~0.08%); given the high average age of congressional members its likely far higher.
 
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