Reuters has told the US government that American forces' conduct towards journalists in Iraq is "spiralling out of control" and preventing full coverage of the war reaching the public.
The detention and accidental shootings of journalists is limiting how journalists can operate, wrote David Schlesinger, the Reuters global managing editor, in a letter to Senator John Warner, head of the armed services committee.
The Reuters news service chief referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by US forces in Iraq".
Mr Schlesinger urged the senator to raise the concerns with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee this Thursday.
He asked Mr Warner to demand that Mr Rumsfeld resolve these issues "in a way that best balances the legitimate security interests of the US forces in Iraq and the equally legitimate rights of journalists in conflict zones under international law".
At least 66 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed in the country since March 2003.
US forces admitted killing three Reuters journalists, most recently soundman Waleed Khaled, who was shot by American soldiers on August 28 while on assignment in Baghdad. But the military said the soldiers were justified in opening fire. Reuters believes a fourth journalist working for the agency, who died in Ramadi last year, was killed by a US sniper.
"The worsening situation for professional journalists in Iraq directly limits journalists' abilities to do their jobs and, more importantly, creates a serious chilling effect on the media overall," Mr Schlesinger wrote.
Boy, are you unclear on the concept. Having a website where grunts show their trophy corpses is out of control. Systematically preventing journalists from reporting the full story in Iraq? That's one of the few goals Rumsfeld seems to be capable of accomplishing.
If you want to show the public what is really going on over there, well pal, you are the moral equivalent of Al Qaeda, and standing orders are going to have a chilling effect -- morgue-slab cold.