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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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Chapter 1. Apparatuses and Surveillance



What type of surveillance informs the relationships between different military personnel and the accredited reporters at the heart of the embedding program? To what extent is the organization of embedding in Iraq a space for rendering individuals visible, a surveillance machine? What power relations are at work when it comes to journalistic coverage of the war? To respond to these questions, this first chapter presents the analytical framework upon which this text has been constructed. The mechanisms at work in the apparatuses I examine are closely connected to the analysis of military-media relations that lie at the center of embedding.

In the conceptual development of the concept of the apparatus, philosopher Michel Foucault is considered, hands-down, a forerunner whose analysis is one of the most finely detailed and profound. The concept of the apparatus evolves across Foucault’s immense body of work and we will trace this development in its close and unavoidable relationships with other major concepts in the Foucauldian theoretical constellation. Gilles Deleuze and Giorgio Agamben, by asking a question that could not be more clear (What is an apparatus?), provide an update of sorts to Foucault’s analysis and propose, in their own fashion, new points of orientation.←1 | 2→

The Disciplinary Apparatus

The central work of Discipline and punish is to demonstrate how the disciplines have been established as general forms of domination throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. There have of course been similar examinations...

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