Sunday, January 10, 2010

Supporting Michael Yon, War Correspondent

I have followed the fine work of Michael Yon for some time now. As a war correspondent, he is far superior to most. Here's his web site:
When you click onto the site, you will see a photo taken of Michael Yon and a small child caught in battle. It received worldwide recognition and is used as the cover of Yon's book, "Moment of Truth in Iraq". I can wholeheartedly recommend the book.

Recently Yon was in the headlines due to an unfortunate incident upon his return to America, at Seattle-Tacoma international Airport. Upon moving through the screening process by TSA personnel, Yon was asked about the contents of his bag at a routine security checkpoint. Yon replied that it contained the standard stuff - clothes, toothbrushes, etc. He was completely fine with the question. Next he was taken to a screening area and the bag was examined. The next question was odd - the TSA agent asked Yon how much money he made. Yon objected to this question and then the TSA agent asked for whom Yon worked. Yon refused to answer this line of questioning. So, Yon was handcuffed and detained, though not arrested. Port Authority stepped in and released him.

Yon praised the Port Authority police as "completely professional". The TSA officials? Not so much. When did it become a part of standard questioning of returning Americans to ask a person's salary? For that matter, when did it become a part of standard questioning to ask for whom a person works? Yon is an American, a resident of Florida, and he has an American passport.

Yon cooperated and was in complete agreement that the contents of his bag should be questioned. He cooperated when he was taken for closer scrutiny. The personal questions on his salary was out of line. He reacted as I venture to guess most of us would respond. The questioning was inappropriate and unprofessional. From an interview with Big, Yon said, "If I am the guy on that passport and I don't have any contraband in my luggage, it is a matter for the FBI, not the TSA." He also tells of a friend being coerced by Homeland Security to give up her e-mail password so that "he could read private email correspondences between her and Yon", in an article titled "Border Bullies"

As Yon prepares to return to the battlefield, he leaves these entries on his Facebook page:

Michael Yon: "No journalist in this war can write more than a tiny fraction -- say 1/30th -- of what they see. It's incredibly dangerous out there and the situations are constantly intense. Far safer to go unembedded. If you go embedded you WILL be in combat and there is a high chance it won't turn out well. Just be ready. If you are ready, please go. We need more journalists there."

Michael Yon: "Journalists contact me nearly constantly about embedding with US or British forces. I cannot convey emphatically enough how dangerous this is. It's far safer to go alone than with combat forces. You definitely will be in combat; we are there to win. And that means it's ugly. Your chances of being maimed or killed are... HIGH. If you are ready to fight, please go. If not, please stay."

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