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The Embedding Apparatus

Media Surveillance during the Iraq War


Aimé-Jules Bizimana

When the war in Iraq began in 2003, the issue of the special status accorded to journalists covering the military operations arose quite naturally. Promising innovation, the Pentagon’s announcement that they would integrate hundreds of journalists into combat units—what has been known as embedding—attracted the attention of the international media and other observers. How would this be different from previous interactions between the military and the media?

The Embedding Apparatus explains the functioning of the informational control apparatus at work during the Iraq War and the relationships between embedded journalists and the military in the American army’s area of operations. The concept of the apparatus guides this case study, one that brings together the experiences of almost forty participants, journalists and military personnel. The study borrows Michel Foucault’s modern surveillance mechanisms of the disciplinary apparatus and the panoptic apparatus, bringing embedded journalism into close contact with the ubiquitous and flexible surveillance that characterizes the "control society." The author exposes a new embedding apparatus where the power relations between journalists and the military are at play, an apparatus operating within a circumscribed space where all of a journalist’s movements, reporting, behavior and communications are surveilled.

This book offers a fresh insight into this important issue and will certainly be of interest worldwide to scholars and students as well as media and military practitioners interested in this topic. Embedded journalism is studied from a new angle, one related to the broader context of surveillance in contemporary society.

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The outcome of this work owes to the generosity of my colleagues of the Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la communication, l’information et la société (CRICIS). My sincere gratitude goes to Gaëtan Tremblay for his advice and mentorship; thanks to my friend Oumar Kane for our permanent and fascinating discussion; thanks to France Aubin, Ndiaga Loum, and Éric George; to Christian Agbobli, Norman Landry, and François Demers. Thanks to Evan Light for the excellent translation of this work. Thanks to Michelle Salyga, Jerry Pubantz, Meagan K. Simpson and Bernadette Shade for their help at Peter Lang.

I am also thankful to Robert Comeau who always supported my research. I am also indebted to Paul Angers and Johanne Gauthier for their support. Thanks to Augustin and Dany Kamongi for their warm welcome during my data collection in Washington and Virginia. Thanks to Jean-Michel Laprise and to Pierre Bouthillier for their manuscript review. Thanks to Catherine Black for her meticulous transcription of the interviews. Thanks to Pauline Ngirumpatse for our friendship and her encouragements.

Thanks to the journalists and to the servicemen who participated in this research project and who agreed to share their experience of the media embedding program during the Iraq war. One special thank you to Alexandra←ix | x→ Angers, “Mama Anaïs,” for her indestructible support, her encouragements, her reminders that it is necessary to sleep to be able to carry on the next day and all the sacrifices...

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