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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 2. The Apparatus of Enclosure



My analysis of the functioning of the embedding apparatus is premised on the assumption that its identifying characteristics are those of a disciplinary technology.1 I thus aim to examine the working conditions of embedded journalism, the relationships between journalists and military personnel and between these individuals and their immediate environment, and the relationships between journalists themselves.

To best follow the evolution of the embedding apparatus during the war in Iraq, it is worth making an immediate distinction between the first phase—invasion—and the second phase—occupation. During the first phase, the majority of journalists were in constant movement with the invading forces. This period began March 19, 2003 and culminated with the taking of Baghdad on April 9, 2003 and was characterized by the massive embedding of journalists by the US military. It was followed by the second transition-occupation phase marked by Iraqi insurrection and counterinsurrection measures. This second phase was a longer period of time (2003–2011) and journalists were only embedded occasionally with a notable increase in 2007 during the military reinforcement strategy known as the “Surge.” An agreement signed by American and Iraqi politicians led to the disengagement of combat forces at the end of 2011.←19 | 20→

Camp Life

The embedding apparatus is primarily a military distribution space that places embedded journalists within different military units. As stipulated in the Pentagon’s directives, the media are embedded into the operations of the area...

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