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The Embedding Apparatus

Media Surveillance during the Iraq War

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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 7. The Informational Apparatus

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·7·THE INFORMATIONAL APPARATUS

The emergence of the society of control and security apparatuses relies upon a model of continuous and subtle control tightly tied to real-time communication. Seen from the perspective of a global historical cross-section, the model of the society of control succeeded the society of discipline thanks to permanent surveillance based on complex, modular, and interdependent networks. Impregnated with the security paradigm, Western society resorts to various surveillance apparatuses aimed at biopolitical management or the mastery of “delinquent” individuals or states. These surveillance apparatuses are also related to the state of exception1 and the state of emergency,2 two concepts that characterize a new world order dominated by informational and communicational networks.

Media use is a parameter that is critical to technologies of control. Transposed onto military terrain, accounting for the media during the conduct of warfare is defined as the “information warfare.” This phrase emerged from a “media war based on strength, permanence, and the ubiquity of the media and their capacity to influence.”3 The effects of media coverage of war thus constitute a variable accounted for in military strategy and the introduction of the embedding apparatus at the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 was envisioned from this perspective.←99 | 100→

Among many other informational-communicational apparatuses, the embedding apparatus was used to take the information war into the Iraqi conflict. For Victoria Clarke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, embedding journalists at a level never before...

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