Blaze researcher in hot water for fighting ISIS

Jason Buttrill, a Marine veteran working for The Blaze in war-torn Iraq last week popped off a half-dozen rounds from an SVD at ISIS fighters and has now been recalled from overseas.

Classified as a “researcher” by The Blaze after walking back copy that originally labeled him a correspondent, the website posted a piece with Buttrill in the thick of the action and leading with the story of him taking shots at ISIS on the front line.

“Major bucket list completed. Shoot at #ISIS ? Check!” posted Buttrill to social media on Dec. 8, with an image of him parked behind the optics a SVD-ish rifle, using a battered press-board desk as a shooting rest as two local fighters look on.

“I got off 6 shots. ISIS looked like ants on that scope, but…my USMC PMI [Primary Marksmanship Instructor] was exceptional,” he wrote.

As reported by Military Times, Buttrill served as an intelligence specialist in the Marine Corps from January 1999 to January 2003.

The tweets brought harsh criticism from other journalists who argued Buttrill crossed a line that could end up putting targets on the back of correspondents in war zones.

“Jason, journalists are detained and killed all over the world over false accusations of being combatants. This doesn’t help,” wrote Jason Stern with the Committee to Protect Journalists, following it up with, “Like with doctors, humanitarian workers and other civilians, the journalist’s best defense is their noncombatant status.”

Stern’s group contends there have been 40 journalists killed while working in the Middle East so far in 2016 including 6 in Iraq.

Scottish writer Matthew Vickery was even more harsh, writing, “Thanks for putting all of us in more danger where we can be accused of being combatants. esp. us who are based here fulltime.”

Lindsey Snell, who writes for VICE, MSNBC, ABC and others pointed out that “this makes you a foreign fighter, and it endangers real journalists covering conflict in the Middle East,” and, “pic is in opposition-held Syria. But I’ve managed to film in Iraq many times–without shooting anyone.”

Now, Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts, who owns the The Blaze network, issued a statement Friday pulling Buttrill back home.

“Given his military and security background, Mr. Buttrill was offered the opportunity for an important research assignment in Iraq,” noted the network. “Due to his conduct, Mercury Radio Arts has recalled him back to the US. He has been suspended from further field research assignments.”

It’s not the first time reporters covering ISIS got in hot water for rocking some hardware. In August a reporter for the UK based Daily Mail, Mark Nicol, was blasted for images of him holding an AK47. The Mail later pulled the pictures.

However, Buttrill is far from the first American journalist who picked up a gun in a war zone.

As covered extensively in Terry Mort’s “Hemingway at War” the novelist’s adventures as a World War II correspondent included engaging in combat several times, on one occasion even tossing in three grenades on a French cellar reportedly full of SS troops while saying “divide these among yourselves.”

In Vietnam, war correspondent Joe Galloway, who later helped write the non-fiction work “We were Soldiers” often carried an M16 and during one prolonged attack on a remote base manned a .30 caliber machine gun for three days.

Still, the war against the Islamic State is neither WWII nor Vietnam, and Buttrill is repentant.

“I am truly sorry. As a former Marine, I am hardwired to want to shoot at the bad guys,” he posted to social media this week. “As a member of a media organization, I should have known better. I do now. In the future, I’ll leave the shooting to the combatants.”

Buttrill, is of course still armed to one degree or another.

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