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Peter Arnett

Peter Arnett (born 1934) is a New Zealand-born journalist. Arnett worked for National Geographic magazine, and then for television. He is well known for his coverage of war, including the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. He was awarded the 1966 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting for his work in Vietnam, where he was present from 1962 to 1975, most of the time reporting for the Associated Press news agency. He became respected as someone who did not trust anything he had not seen with his own eyes.

In 1994, Arnett wrote Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad, 35 Years in the World's War Zones.

Table of contents
1 The Gulf War
2 Operation Tailwind
3 Interview in Iraq
5 External links

The Gulf War

Arnett worked for CNN for 18 years ending in 1999. During the Gulf War he became a household name worldwide when he became the only reporter with live coverage directly from Baghdad. Together with two other CNN journalists, Bernard Shaw and John Holliman, Arnett brought continuous coverage from Baghdad for the 16 initial intense hours of the war (January 17 1991). Even though 40 foreign journalists were present at the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad at the time, only CNN posessed the means to communicate to the outside world. Very soon the other journalists left Iraq, including the two CNN colleagues, which left Peter Arnett as the sole reporter remaining there. His reports on civilian damages caused by the bombing were not received well by the coalition war administration, who by their constant use of terms like smart bombs and surgical precision had tried to project an image that civilan casualties would be at a minimum. On January 25 the White House said Arnett was used as a tool for Iraqi disinformation, while CNN received a letter from 34 Members of Congress accusing Arnett of unpatriotic journalism.

The week after that start of the war, Arnett was able to obtain an uncensored interview with Saddam Hussein.

The Gulf War became the first war seen truly live on TV, and Arnett was in many ways the sole player reporting from the "other side" for a period of five weeks.

In March 1997, Arnett was able to interview Osama bin Laden, as the first western journalist to do so.

Operation Tailwind

In 1998 Arnett narrated a joint venture between CNN and Time Magazine called NewsStand, which described what he called "Operation Tailwind." The report said that the US Army had used Sarin against a group of deserting US soldiers in Laos in 1970. In response, The Pentagon commissioned another report contradicting CNN's. CNN subsequently retracted the story after conducting an internal investigation, and a number of the persons responsible for the report were fired or forced to resigned. Arnett was reprimanded by his employer, and his contract was not renewed.

Interview in Iraq

On assignment for NBC and National Geographic, Arnett went to Iraq in 2003 to cover the U.S. invasion. After a press meeting there he granted an interview to state-run Iraq TV on March 31, 2003, in which he stated, "Now America is reappraising the battlefield, delaying the war against Iraq, maybe a week and rewriting the war plan. The first plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another plan... So our reports about civilian casualties here, about the resistance of the Iraqi forces, are going back to the United States. It helps those who oppose the war when you challenge the policy to develop their arguments."

When Arnett's remarks sparked a "firestorm of protest", NBC initially defended him, saying he had given the interview as a professional courtesy and that his remarks were "analytical in nature". A day later, though, NBC, MSNBC and National Geographic all severed their relationships with Arnett.

In response to Arnett's statement on Iraqi TV, the corporation stated, "It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an interview with state-controlled Iraqi TV, especially at a time of war and it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions." Arnett responded, "My stupid misjudgment was to spend fifteen minutes in an impromptu interview with Iraqi television...I said in that interview essentially what we all know about the war, that there have been delays in implementing policy, there have been surprises."

Later that day, Arnett was hired by the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror, which opposed the war. A couple of days later he was also assigned to Greek television channel NET television, and Belgian VTM.


"We had to destroy the village in order to save it." "I don't care of the consequences, Allah is beside me in this struggle." "There's a small island, inhabited in the South Pacific, that I will try to swim to."

External links