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American Military Press Censorship
during 1972 from representatives of the Office of Emergency Planning that cast official doubt on the need for WISP short of a nuclear attack. Because of that testimony and the nonemployment of WISP during both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, the House Committee on Appropriations directed in its 1974 Report on the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill that the reserve WISP units of the Army, Navy, and Air Force be phased out by June 30, 1974.65
On January 30, 1975, the letter states, the Department of Defense asked the Federal Preparedness Agency (now also part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency) to rescind the National Censorship Agreement.66 The Federal Preparedness Agency and the Department of Defense then became involved in discussions seeking to create another national WISP structure that could operate without the use of Department of Defense personnel, all national WISP units having been deactivated in fiscal year 1974 after appropriations for their existence were denied by Congress.67
Apparently, the discussions between the concerned government agencies were not productive because on June 3, 1981, William H. Taft, IV, general counsel, Department of Defense, wrote to David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, stating that the Department of Defense wanted to amend Executive Order 11490 in order to be relieved of responsibilities more appropriately assigned to civilian agencies.68 Subsequently, on November 27, 1981, General Richard G. Stilwell, (Retired), Office of The Under Secretary of Defense, sent a memo to each service secretary and to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stating that:
It should be noted that in 1974, the House and Senate Com-
The Stilwell letter is most interesting, particularly depending on how one interprets the phrase "any element of WISP," since the Army Reserve field press censorship detachments were operating until April 1977 and certainly funds were being expended for that purpose. In any event, it appears that the
65. Ibid. 66. Ibid.
68. Letter from William H. Taft IV, general counsel of the Department of Defense to David A. Stockman, Director, Office of Management and Budget, June 3, 1981. Memo from General Richard G. Stilwell, USA (Retired), November 27, 1981.
Communications and the Law
JACK A. GOTTSCHALK
use of military WISP in Korea and certainly in the Cuban Missile Crisis was ignored. There is no question that the 1972 hearings and the fiscal year 1974 appropriations decision, together with the Pentagon's questions (after Vietnam) as to whether field press censorship could again be effectively employed, led to the decision to eliminate America's only military censorship capability represented by the Army Reserve units in 1977. However, despite the Army's view that technology has made field press censorship obsolete, it has been used by Israel during its recent Lebanon campaign7o and by the British during the Falkland Islands fighting.
These recent and clearly perceived needs for media censorship by military authorities in democratic nations may well indicate that our own history of military press censorship is not yet complete. America's global commitments and the possibility that despite (or because of) nuclear weapons a Third World War might be largely or totally conventional require that we still heed the Supreme Court's words in Near v. Minnesota:
No one would question but that a government might prevent
In summary, the media and the public, respectively, must remain determined to inform and be informed. The media and public also must be aware that our national interests may at some future time again require the use of media censorship "consistent with security" by military and civil authorities.
Thursday, October 27, 1983
The Washington Post. All
U.S. Troops Remove 4 Reporters
Washington Post Foreign Service
Three American and one British journalists attempting to cover the invasion of Grenada by U.S. forces were evacuated from that Caribbean island in U.S. helicopters Tuesday afternoon when a local US. military commander decided they were in danger, Pentagon officials said yes. terday..
Edward Cody, Miami correspon dent for The Washington Post; Don Bohning of The Miami Herald; Morris Thompson of Newsday, and British reporter Craig Chamberlain were flown to the USS Guam, a helicopter carrier supporting the US. and ¡Caribbean forces on Grenada, where they remained last night, incommunicado and unable to contact their home offices.
Three other newsmen, Time Magazine correspondent Bernard Diederich, a New Zealand citizen; Time photographer Claude Urraca, believed to be a French national, and Hugh O'Shaughnessy, correspondent of the Financial Times of London, were still missing and presumed to be in Grenada.
The seven journalists flew from Barbados to Union Island, about 30 miles north of Grenada, on Monday
and chartered a fishing boat to take
them to Grenada, where they arrived on Tuesday morning, the day of the invasion.
A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Robert O'Brien, said last night in the first official word their offices had received, that the four taken aboard the Guam would be transported to Barbados "when feasible." He offered no explanation as to why their home offices had not been informed that they were in U.S. custody for more than 24 hours after they became, in effect, the first American citizens to be evacuated from Grenada.
O'Brien also said he had no answer to questions concerning why the correspondents had been taken off the island when they encountered U.S. forces, nor why they could not be put in contact with their offices or allowed to file dispatches from aboard the ship.
The Pentagon statement came on a day when American news organizations began to voice increasingly sharp' statements about Pentagon management of news from Grenada, and refusal to allow journalists to be on the island.
News about the four came after two days of inquiries from The Washington Post, The Miami Her
ald and Newsday at the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House. During that period, spokesmen for those agencies imparted var. ious items of information. One report received by The Washington Post from the State Department early yesterday morning-a number of hours after the four apparently were in US government handssaid that, according to a ham radio operator in touch with both State and American medical students on the island, the entire group of journalists were safe and in a hotel in St. George's.
Subsequent reports obtained by The Miami Herald from other ham operators said the journalists were in the custody of the Grenadan military. Reports of heavy fighting George's increased concern among the newspapers that the US. units engaged in taking the capital might not know of the journalists' presence, perhaps in enemy custody. A spokesman for the State Department's Grenada task force said at that time that the commander of the overall Grenada operation, as well as his military superiors, had been given a list of the names of the missing journalists and presumably had passed it down the line of command.
Invasion Secrecy Creating a furor ; Speakers Complained in memo
By Lou Cannon and David Hoffman
Washington Pest Staff Writers
supported in private meetings Tues- by reporters whether there would be day by White House communica- an invasion."
tions director David R. Gergen and Sims said that he was tired and then by Baker and Deaver, but that overworked from responding to the Joint Chiefs of Staff resisted questions about Lebanon, and didn't until it was clear that the invasion make further inquiries, as he might have done under other circum
was a success.
In its efforts to keep the invasion of Grenada a surprise and then to present it in the most favorable light, the Reagan administration has engaged in a campaign of secre- both the White House and Gen. The formal explanation given by cy and news orchestration that has created conflict inside the White House and a bitter confrontation with the media.
John W. Vessey Jr., chairman of the joint chiefs, was that reporters were barred for their safety. However, ofWhite House spokesman Larry Speakes. ficials acknowledged that no such described by one official as "furious" after action had been taken in Vietnam, being misled about U.S. plans to invade the El Salvador or Lebanon, where the Caribbean island, complained in a memo to danger was greater.
White House chief of staff James A. Baker The conflict between the admin-
Three of them are Americans who were on
the island at the time and were picked up by ing a blanket of secrecy around the
The four include correspondents for The
Three other journalists, including a correspondent and photographer for Time mag-, azine and a reporter from the Financial Times of London, had arrived with the four
"The policy of the White House is tell the truth." he said. He admited, however, that his answer to the invasion question could have caused Confusion.
Neither Speakes nor Gergen was
am. Tuesday, when the invasion was
by boat Tuesday morning. They became sep- posterous," Speakes said, came from
tained it from John Poindexter, the
High administration officials said
Meanwhile, media representatives objected to the Pentagon policy of refusing to allow reporters into the war zone in Grenada. Responding to this outcry, the administra tion decided last night to allow reporters had been instructed to give the misonto the island.
leading guidance by national security "It's our view that this should be covered adviser Robert C. McFarlane. Neiby the press from now on." Baker said.
ther Poindexter nor McFarlane re
Officials said that access to Grenada was sponded to requests for comment.
See SECRECY, A14, Col. 1
Using "preposterous" to refer to a landing on Grenada first came from Poindexter in guidance to Sims, who was responding to a query from CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer.
"No one put it to me in the future tense." Sims said. "I was never asked
Several officials said that the preoccupation of the news media with Lebanon, where more than 200 Marines were killed in a suicide bombing Sunday, contributed to the White House effort to shroud the Grenada invasion in secrecy.
"Everyone was overworked and focused on Lebanon," said one official, "including the press, the White House staff and probably even the president."
But after the invasion occurred, the administration promptly launched a largely successful campaign to persuade the American public that the invasion of Grenada was a measured response to a request from neighboring nations.
Their primary weapon was Eugenia Charles, the articulate prime minister of Dominica, who appeared with Reagan in the White House briefing room Tuesday morning when he gave his reasons for the invasion.
A White House official said with pride last night that Charles had been on all the evening network ABC's news shows Tuesday, on "Nightline", on two network talk shows the next morning and had been interviewed by USA Today and U.S. News & World Report.
In addition, the White House supplied a number of spokesmen, including Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, to explain the administration's position on television. "We had a whole phalanx of people out there," Gergen said. "It's part of the process, and there's nothing unusual about it, though it was intense."
Although the orchestration of the administration's position was not untypical of past efforts, this time it occurred against the background of the news blackout in Grenada, which meant that virtually the only vew coming out on the invasion was the official White House version.
Administration officials at even level defended the orchestration and expressed pride, as Weinberger did at a news conference, that the ma sion had been carried out in secrecy
Grenada News Orchestration Hit by Media, Press Aides
SECRECY, From A14
But some officials said that the White House may pay a long-term price for, as one of them put it, “advertising that our press officials just aren't told what is going on."
The official reason for Speakes and Gergen being kept in the dark about sensitive information is that then neither is thus put in the position of lying. In practice, it has meant that these and other officials sometimes give out inaccurate information because they obtain their guidance unofficially and are not informed by Baker or Deaver.
Speakes made this point in his memo to Baker, describing what had happened and concluding: "This comes from having too little information." It was learned that Speakes, press office foreign policy spokesman Les Janka and Sims were so frustrated by the incident that they actively discussed resigning.
Gergen, who was not involved in the Grenada guidance but was an
active participant in the effort to change the policy excluding reporters from Grenada, was also reported to have considered quitting.
But there was no indication that White House officials, who have often dealt with their own communications officials on a need-to-know basis, and sometimes less than that, would change their policies.
At the early morning briefing yesterday Speakes held up several typewritten pages of questions from the previous day's briefing that he said he was trying to get answered. Later Janka said, "We don't have all the facts."
Weinberger defended the decision not to let reporters on Grenada as the decision of commanders in the field. "Their conclusion was they were not able to guarantee any kind of safety to anyone," he said. "We just didn't have the conditions under which we would be able to detach enough people to protect all of the newsmen, cameramen, gripmen and all that."