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JACK A. GOTTSCHALK
inferior U.S. equipment, and South Korean civil corruption were published, censorship became inevitable.
Once censorship headquarters was established at Eighth Army, the previous practice (under the voluntary system) of having correspondents file their copy and photos with Tokyo either by military communications channels or via cable directly to the United States was stopped. All news material, including film, had to be passed by the Eighth Army's censors. The Air Force followed the Army's lead, operating through a security division in its Korean public information office. Both the Army and Air Force censorship organizations were headed by lieutenant colonels, 50
It did not take long for jurisdictional problems to develop. On January 11, 1951, Far East Command in Tokyo, which had been part of the censorship program along with Eighth Army, bowed out of the picture, leaving censorship completely to field army control. Apparently, during the ensuing sixty days, the field army did not censor enough, because on March 13, Tokyo headquarters announced that it was going to review all news material passed in the field for publication. This "multiple censorship" concept, which had been carefully avoided (except for MacArthur's South Pacific Theater) during the Second World War, remained in effect until Far East Command finally relieved the Eighth Army completely of its censorship duties in the spring of 1951.51
The final organizational structure of Korean military press censorship was based on a letter of instructions issued by Far East Command on January 6, 1953. In that document, a Joint Field Press Censorship Group (JFPCG), Far East Command (composed of military press censorship detachments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force) was created. The head of the group (the Chief Field Press Censor) was responsible to the Public Information Officer of the Far East Command and was assisted by deputy chief censors representing the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The chief censor's duties included supervision and implementation of field press censorship with regard to all United Nations and Far East Commands. 52 In order to carry out its function, the Joint Field Press Censorship Group stationed detachments at Far East Command, Eighth Army and Fifth Air Force Headquarters and at the Panmunjom armistice negotiation site.
Some examples of political censorship used in Korea were noted by Robert C. Miller, who wrote in the Nieman Reports that the news media were not permitted to:
50. FIELD PRESS CENSORSHIP, FM 45-25, OPNAVINST 5530.5, AFM 190-5, at 58 (Washington, DC.: Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, 1954). VOORHEES, KOREAN TALES, 112-113.
52. FIELD PRESS CENSORSHIP, 45-50.
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...mention the actions of South Korean police who black-
The Korean censorship was so political in tone and so rigidly enforced that deliberate covert efforts were made by some reporters to avoid it. In the book Korean Tales, Melvin B. Voorhees, who as a lieutenant colonel headed the Eighth Army's censorship operation, recalled how correspondents employed a technique called the "Twenty Questions Trick" (a telephone code used between Korea and Tokyo, where the news media bureau offices were located) to get past censorship.54
In July 1953 the armistice ending the Korean War was signed. The Army created a field press censorship capability in the reserve even before the conflict was over. At the Department of Defense level, the responsibility for supervising military press censorship was given to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, and in August 1954 the Department of Defense published a joint service manual entitled Field Press Censorship with the following designations:
Department of the Army Field Manual FM 45-25
Department of the Navy OPNAV INSTRUCTION 5530-5
This joint service manual was to be the standard procedural document for censorship organization and operations should the military again be required to implement a media security program.
During this period each of the service departments moved ahead independently with information security planning. In the Air Force, an Office of Information, reporting directly to the Secretary of the Air Force, was designated as the top-level public relations authority, with censorship being accorded a minor role. The Navy's information program was set up within the Department of the Navy's Office of Information and headed by the Chief of Information, who was also the public affairs adviser to the Chief of Naval Operations. Neither the Air Force nor the Navy maintained a manned press censorship organization within their respective active or reserve components.
53. PAUL BLANSHARD, THE RIGHT TO READ, 120-21 (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1955).
54. VOORHEES, KOREAN TALES, 106-107.
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Public information planning and organization had been refined (with the Army having-the only media censorship capability) by the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Within an hour of President Kennedy's October 22 address to the nation in which he announced the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the Army's field press censorship detachments were partially and quietly mobilized. 55
In terms of manpower, these units included less than three hundred officers and men. Of that number, only five officers were requested to report for immediate active duty at Headquarters, Continental Army Command (CONARC), located at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. While all members of the units unquestionably would have been called to duty had hostile action occurred, only these five officers were initially contacted. Three of them remained on duty for the three days of the crisis and two stayed with CONARC for five weeks.56
The decision to alert these units was based on the determination of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Army be ordered to prepare for possible field press censorship in the southeastern United States. A headquarters had to be organized for this purpose together with field press censorship teams of sufficient size to meet the needs of an estimated two hundred fifty correspondents. In the final analysis, contingency plans were developed that envisioned only the southern half of Florida as an active combat area. 57
Planning for this potential censorship task included the designation of Orlando, Florida, as the location for processing and censoring of still news photos, with motion picture and television film to be flown to the Department of Defense in Washington, DC., for censorship action. All news copy submissions were to be handled by field press censorship teams located within the combat area. The reserve officers were ordered to prepare censorship plans for use by the Army of the Atlantic (ARLANT) and the air and naval forces in the area (CINCLANT). 58 Had these plans been used, military press censorship would have become a reality on American soil for the first time since the Civil War. The crisis ended, of course, and the censorship planning involved with it became a largely unknown part of history.
Almost as soon as the United States entered the Vietnam War on a massive scale in August 1964, media censorship for purposes of military security became a Pentagon planning consideration. Early in the war, the Army placed a colonel from its reserve field press censorship detachments on active duty and sent him to South Vietnam for the purpose of assessing the situation and reporting on the feasibility of implementing field press 55. Carl M. Justice, former Commanding Officer, 211th Field Press Censorship Detachment, USAR, Conversation with author, November 10, 1981.
American Military Press Censorship
censorship. Concurrently, discussions on the subject were held between the Department of Defense and General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam.
Barry Zorthian, who later became a senior member of Time, Inc., served in Vietnam as director of the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) and as minister-counsellor for information in the American embassy in Saigon. He has revealed that censorship was often considered in Vietnam and that the idea was rejected each time for practical reasons. 59 Zorthian is on record as having been personally opposed to media censorship there, although he acknowledges that his views may have represented the minority position.60
Zorthian's views seem justified by the fact that the press voluntarily observed the military security rules that were established even though the conflict was unpopular with the media and the public. In over four and onehalf years and in dealing with approximately two thousand news media representatives, only six security violations were considered by the military to be serious enough to involve the loss of Department of Defense accreditation, Zorthian has noted.61
Obviously, given the government's desire for censorship as compared to its repeated decisions not to employ it, there had to be some very cogent reasons for the lack of implementation. It is submitted that these reasons were political and logistical.
During the Vietnam War, television film was shot, processed, and shown to American audiences within twenty-four hours. Even if all combat film had been censored by the military, the war-which was being fought without a clear purpose or goal-would eventually have become a target of severe public criticism. Censorship would simply have delayed an inevitable reaction.
In addition, the military did not control the movements of civilians in South Vietnam. Each day, airliners landed and took off from Saigon airport, and anyone with the desire (and money) could hire a private plane to fly over the country. Unless all movement and means of transportation had been stringently controlled by the military (as in the Second World War), nothing could have prevented news correspondents from going anywhere in South Vietnam on their own. Similarly, any media representative with a news story stopped by censors (had censorship been in effect) could have boarded a civilian plane for the United States (or any other place) and filed the story regardless of censorship. As long as the reporter was no longer individually subject to military jurisdiction, the only possible punishment was the loss of Department of Defense press accreditation.
59. Barry Zorthian, The Dimension of Communication, PERSPECTIVES IN DEFENSE MANAGEMENT, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, 5-6 (February 1969). 60. lbid., 5. 61. Ibid., 4.
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In June 1971 the Department of Defense moved to disassociate itself with the word "censorship" when it issued Directive 5230.7 wherein the Pentagon replaced "censorship" with the less provocative term "Wartime Information Security Program” or “WISP." The directive defined both the National Wartime Information Security Program and the Field Press Wartime Information Security Program as follows:
National WISP. The control and examination of communica-
Field Press WISP. The security review of news material sub-
The document provided for the implementation of National WISP, i.e., censorship, through the National Censorship Agreement entered into on October 1, 1963, between the Department of Defense and the Office of Emergency Planning (now the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Under its provisions, in any national emergency where domestic censorship was invoked, an Office of National WISP (similar to the Office of Censorship during the Second World War) would be activated. Initial personnel for this censorship organization would be provided by the Department of Defense and subsequently augmented by members of the National Defense Executive Reserve (NDER), civilian public information executives pre-assigned to perform the public media censorship task. 6:
In a letter dated May 15, 1978, from the Office of the General Counsel, Department of Defense, to William M. Nichols, General Counsel, Office of Management and Budget, the reasons were set forth for a modification of Executive Order 11490. Executive Order 11490, which had gone into effect on October 28, 1969, assigned the Department of Defense responsibilities under the terms of the National Censorship Agreement. 64 According to the letter, the House Committee on Government Operations heard testimony
62. Arthur J. Simpson, Jr., Wartime Public Media Censorship at 10 (Unpublished essay, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: U.S. Army War College, 1971). Ibid., 11-14.
64. Letter from general counsel of the Department of Defense to William M. Nichols, general counsel, Office of Management and Budget, May 15, 1978.