The Sunshine in Government Initiative strongly objects to Intelligence Community Directive 119 (ICD 119), which bans all but pre-approved contacts between the intelligence community and journalists and others who disseminate news and analysis. The Directive has the practical effect of discouraging interactions with the media about unclassified issues that have nothing to do with national security and are the basis for the daily news about what is happening around the globe. Such conversations routinely take place without risking intelligence sources and methods. The Directive cuts the flow of everyday news and leaves the public with fewer tools to understand and [More]
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]
In Guest Commentary on RollCall.com this morning, we give concrete ways the government should better engage with journalists on stories based on unauthorized disclosures (“leaks”). We argue that when reporters bring stories to agencies on national security and foreign affairs where they may be some sensitive information in the story, the reporters take seriously their obligation to mitigate against possible harms from any disclosures. The government, too, has an obligation to engage the press when these stories are brought to officials to avoid possible harms from such stories. The entire commentary is available here.
The nine members of the Sunshine in Government Initiative are pleased Senate negotiators dropped controversial proposals in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (S. 3454) that would have harmed news reporting on national security and foreign affairs. The media takes seriously the obligation to consider potential harms from disclosures of sensitive information while reporting the news. These proposals simply went too far in cutting off vital information to the public about world events and national security issues and had not been subject to adequate consideration by Congress.