'Iraq invasion was not questioned by media'

A serving British Army officer has appealed to the media not to swallow the ‘official line’about the war in Iraq.

In an anonymous letter to media watchdog Medialens, addressed to BBC Newsnight’s diplomatic editor Mark Urban, the officer speaks of concern among the military about ’embedded coverage”.

Highlighting broader concerns within the British military about US motives for going into Iraq, the officer also speaks of low morale over ‘loathsome six-month tours during which they led patrols with dread and fear, reluctantly providing target practice for insurgents, senselessly haemorrhaging casualties, and squandering soldier’s lives, as part of Bush’s vain attempt to delay the inevitable Anglo-US rout until the next US election”.

The officers remarks were highlighted in a recent report on Newsnight by Urban. But the officer also speaks of the media’s ‘skewed’coverage of the conflict.

‘The intentions and continuing effects of the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq have been questioned by too few people in the mainstream media and political parties, the officer writes. He cites The Guardian and The Independent as the main exceptions.

Expressing hope that Tony Blair’s handover to Gordon Brown will herald ‘a change of policy, and rapid withdrawal’the officer claims that ‘skewed pro-US coverage inhibits proper public debate, and is deeply unhealthy – lethally so to many of us deployed in Iraq”.

The officer’s letter followed correspondence between media watchdog website Medialens and Urban, in which Urban defends his reporting.

The officer responded to those comments, challenging Urban’s assertion that it is only Medialens users who are ‘concerned about embedded coverage with the US Army”.

Making it clear that he was aware the dangers made independent reporting from outside the ‘green zone’ ‘nigh on impossible”, the officer asks that the ‘official line/White

House propaganda’be handled with an ‘appropriate degree of scepticism, and be caveated accordingly”.

A spokeswoman said the BBC would not comment on private correspondence.

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