Linda Foley

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Linda Foley was president of the Newspaper Guild and vice-president of the Communications Workers of America from 1995 through 2008.

She was a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Kentucky before turning to full-time work at the Guild in 1984. She was elected its secretary-treasurer in 1993 and its president in 1995. She received a bachelor of science in journalism degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., in 1977.

In May 2008, Foley was defeated for re-election by Newspaper Guild Secretary-Treasurer Bernie Lunzer. [1]

Ms. Foley drew criticism after May 13, 2005 for stating that the U.S. military is responsible for journalists being targeted - "not just being targeted verbally or, politically. They are also being targeted for real, in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number, and the brutality and the cavalier nature of the US military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal. They target and kill journalists from other countries, particularly Arab countries like Al Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios with impunity." [2]

On May 19, 2005, in an article appearing in the newspaper industry trade publication Editor and Publisher, Foley is said to have claimed that her words were taken out of context, that her intent was to discuss the scapegoating of journalists. "This was almost an aside," she said. "But it is true that hundreds of journalists are killed around the world, and many have been killed in Iraq." [3]

In August 2005 trade publication Columbia Journalism Review stated in an editorial: "Target and kill? Foley has been under attack since she said those words. And should be. Even the infamous killing of journalists by tank fire at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad was found not to have been deliberate, in an extensive investigation by Reporters Without Borders. Some facts: according to The Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 36 journalists have been killed in action in Iraq since March 2003, along with 18 media support workers; insurgent actions account for 34 of those 54 deaths; U.S. military fire accounts for at least 11. The committee says the record shows that "the military seems indifferent and unwilling . . . to take steps to mitigate risk." But target and kill? The committee finds "no evidence to conclude that the U.S. military has deliberately targeted the press in Iraq. So on that subject here's what Foley should have said: nothing." [4]

In fact, the International Federation of Journalists has long argued that the events of April 8, 2003 when a US tank attacked the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, killing two journalists, were in fact part of a targeting process. This incident was not properly investigated by any group, largely because of the refusal of the US authorities to co-operate with investigators, including judicial authorities in Spain, for instance, who said there was prima facie evidence that required questioning of US troops involved.

More light was cast upon this murky affair in 2008 when a US army veteran spoke to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!.org and revealed that, in fact, the Palestine Hotel had been a target, at least for the purpose of communications interception by Army Intelligence and the NSA.

Adrienne Kinne at an anti-war protest in New York City

Adrienne Kinne is a former Army sergeant who worked in military intelligence for 10 years, from 1994 to 2004. Trained in Arabic, she worked in the Army translating intercepted communications. She told Goodman in an interview that she saw a signals intelligence interception target list that included the Palestine Hotel. She knew that it housed journalists, since she had intercepted calls from the Palestine Hotel between journalists there and their families and friends back home (illegally and unconstitutionally, she thought).

Said Kinne: “[W]e were listening to journalists who were staying in the Palestine Hotel. And I remember that, specifically because during the buildup to ‘shock and awe’ ... we were given a list of potential targets in Baghdad, and the Palestine Hotel was listed. [P]utting one and one together, I went to my officer in charge, and I told him that there are journalists staying at this hotel who think they’re safe, and yet we have this hotel listed as a potential target, and somehow the dots are not being connected here, and shouldn’t we make an effort to make sure that the right people know the situation? And unfortunately, my officer in charge ... basically told me that it was not my job to analyze ... someone somewhere higher up the chain knew what they were doing.” (See Democracy Now! May 15th 2008 “Whistle-Blower Points to Target List in U.S. Attack on Hotel”)

She said the officer in charge was Warrant Officer John Berry.

In contrast with the opinion on the Columbia Journalism Review Linda Foley had good reason to speak out says Aidan White General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists. Some 19 journalists died at the hands of US and allied troops in the Iraq conflict, says the IFJ, and no proper, independent and exhaustive investigations have taken place.