Tag Archives: Sean Froelich

White House: less force, more diplomacy in Syria

White House Press Secretary discusses national security after Islamic State attacks. (Sean Froelich/Medill).

White House Press Secretary discusses national security after Islamic State attacks. (Sean Froelich/Medill).

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that no amount of U.S. military power will solve the chaos in Syria.

Earnest answered questions regarding President Barack Obama’s recent and upcoming meetings with world leaders to discuss how the Syrian civil war and threats posed by the Islamic State are being confronted.

Earnest assured reporters that international resources are being funneled together in order to meet the current U.S. plan of “degrading and defeating ISIL.”

“The success of this mission is dependent on 65 nations coming together, recognizing the common interest they have here and dedicating significant resources,” Earnest said.

Obama meets with French President Francois Hollande Tuesday as part of the international outreach.

Reporters asked Earnest about the ongoing efforts to snuff out terrorist threats in Belgium, which is currently on high alert against potential attacks following the massacre in Paris.

Earnest was mum on safety procedures in Belgium to ensure their secrecy, but suggested that security improvements Europe can make it easier for those allies to better defend their own national security.

Earnest said it is important to expand intelligence sharing within the European Union and with the U.S.

“That is certainly something we are committed to,” Earnest said. “And we are committed to helping our allies in Europe deal with this rather urgent threat.”

Congress voted last week to increase the security measures for Syrian refugees coming into the U.S. due to GOP fears that Islamic State operatives would sneak into the country.

“I think those who voted to further encumber the refugee process are accountable for their vote…it’s not likely to do much to improve the national security of the United States.”

Veteran journalists prepare you to survive hostile environments

National Security Reporter Lydia Randall engages in a first aid scenario. (Sara Shouhayib/Medill NSJI)

National Security Reporter Lydia Randall engages in a first aid scenario. (Sara Shouhayib/Medill NSJI)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The danger for journalists covering conflict zones has grown more volatile, according to a number of veteran reporters. The beheadings of James Foley and Steve Sotloff by the Islamic State show that reporting in under-covered areas torn apart by war, terrorism and poverty can be deadly.

Updated safety and security measures are needed in order to better ensure the safety of journalists as they head out to cover chaotic regions like Africa and the Middle East where groups such as the Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and the Taliban operate.

Frank Smyth, founder of Global Journalist Security, has spent several years advising journalists, human rights defenders and NGOs on how to better care for themselves in hostile environments. Smyth himself was held captive for 18 days while covering Iraq in 1991.

For years, in cases of terrorist abductions, Smyth advised against attempting an escape because terrorist organizations were “well-organized militias” and usually took hostages in order to get ransom money or information. But the extremism shown by today’s terrorist groups has caused Smyth to tell trainees to consider escape. But even then, “the chances are slim,” he said.

Smyth’s program has grown more relevant in the industry of journalism over the past several years. Representatives from TIME, NPR and VICE were attending a recent training. Smyth said that wire services and many major news organizations are requiring hostile environment training for their journalists before sending them to conflict areas.

The team at Global Journalist Security is diverse. Sara Salam is a self-care practitioner and a level 5 Krav Maga instructor. Salam guides trainees to develop risk-assessment skills when going into new and potentially dangerous settings. Salam also teaches procedures that can help reporters de-escalate or escape situations as large as a riot or as small as street harassment.

Most people have an intrinsic power of “gut instinct,” the Global Journalist Security instructors said, and they encourage the ability to listen to your gut, because it might be the difference between safety and harm.

Journalists in the course run through increasingly intensified scenarios such as being in terrorist captivity or needing to provide emergency first-aid.

The need for professional training to be better prepared for hostile environments like conflicts areas has become a bigger movement in the world of journalism as a whole.

David Rohde, an editor at Reuters and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was abducted, is among a group of international journalists who published a call to action for reporters and news organizations to better equip themselves for what he called “historic highs” for reporter abduction, imprisonment and killings.

“We call on governments, combatants and groups worldwide to respect the neutrality of journalists and immediately end the cycle of impunity surrounding attacks on journalists,” Rohde said.

Rohde also said that it important for news organizations executives who are not in the field with their reporters to hold themselves to a higher degree of accountability when overseeing the safety of their reporters.





Army responds to tragic hospital bombing

WASHINGTON– Gen. John Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, sat before lawmakers Tuesday and responded to burning issues facing the war in Afghanistan.

U.S. forces bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz and killed more than twenty innocent people after Afghan forces called for air support. Gen. Campbell called the airstrike an accident and promises transparency as three separate investigations begin.

Taliban forces also raised concerns after the terrorist organization carried out attacks in the city of Kunduz. These issues will extend the mission as the U.S. seeks a transition into an embassy state in Afghanistan, Campbell said.

Vimeo / Medill Washington – via Iframely