Pentagon Loosens Restrictions for Press in Guantánamo Bay

The Pentagon has agreed to revise some of the rules that have restricted what journalists are free to report on from Guanta’namo Bay, resolving a conflict that peaked in May when four reporters were expelled from the naval base there. The military informed news organizations of the new rules on Friday after lengthy discussions between the Pentagon’s public affairs division and lawyers for media outlets including The Associated Press, The New York Times and The Miami Herald. In a compromise, the public affairs office has agreed not to ask reporters to withhold information that has been deemed privileged by the military if such information has already been in the public domain. This was the central issue in the case involving the four reporters who were barred after they printed the name of a former Army interrogator who was a witness against a Canadian citizen accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan and detained at Guanta’namo. The interrogator’s name had been mentioned in many press accounts of the case, but a military judge had declared his name protected information. The revised policy now specifies that reporters will not be considered in violation of the rules if what they report “was legitimately obtained” in the course of newsgathering done outside Guanta’namo. The Pentagon has also agreed to work more closely with journalists before deleting photos and video taken at the naval base. Every image brought to Guanta’namo on a camera — regardless of whether it was taken there or not — is subject to review by military censors. The Pentagon has also agreed for the first time to allow journalists to formally challenge in writing decisions by the public affairs office. Previously, there was little recourse for journalists if they were denied information from the Pentagon or told they could not report something.


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