Best practices for national-security reporting

With the recent surveillance leaks in mind, we want to call attention to a collection of “best practices” for journalists reporting on national-security issues which New York Times reporter Adam Clymer laid out as part of a larger report a couple years after the attacks of 9/11; this is a condensed version of Clymer’s summary (from SGI director Rick Blum’s recent Roll Call op-ed): Carefully consider the consequences of publishing. Take government concerns seriously. Check sources. Tell readers when making agreements with governments regarding what stays in (or is left out of) a story. Now, 2003 is a decade – [More]

More images of wrongdoing

The military appears ready to recycle arguments from last year, that photographic evidence of wartime abuses by American soldiers poses a threat to national security, the military, or both. An Army commander is imposing strict limits on photographs in connection with the deaths of three Afghan civilians earlier this year. Descriptions of the photographs and some of the military’s rationales for secrecy in this case are reminiscent of previous photographs and justifications: The pictures in question show “three dead Afghans with three different Soldiers posing, holding up the decedent’s head. (Each photo was one Afghan, one Soldier),” according to an [More]

In Wake of WikiLeaks, what does FOIA tell us?

In the wake of the cache of classified information WikiLeaks dumped into the public domain, how much does FOIA tell us about what’s happening in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and Iraq?  The thousands of files that WikiLeaks posted appear to show on-the-ground first-hand accounts of the war without broader context, according to news accounts.  In its “Day 2” story, The New York Times today points out the unauthorized disclosure may give ammunition for opponents to push to end U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. We turned to our own FOIA Files database for help.  (Okay, this is, in part, self-promotion.) The 23 stories [More]

Senate panel reviews espionage laws: uh-oh for the media?

Here’s a quick advisory for anyone interested in government-media tensions:  A  Senate panel will take a look at the Espionage Act this morning.  This hearing should be closely watched by media groups for any signs that the simmering tensions between the press over leaks will once again boil into direct conflict. In 2006, the government grew increasingly hostile to press reporting based on unauthorized disclosures.  This year has not seen the kinds of revelations similar to the government’s warrantless wiretapping, monitoring international banking transactions, and secret prisons in Eastern Europe, each of which drew criticism from Congress and the executive [More]