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"Administration Limits News of Genada"
By PHIL GAILEY
Special to The New York Times WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 For the last two days, the Reagan Administration has barred reporters from Grenada and imposed extraordinary restrictions on news coverage of the military invasion of that Caribbean island.
As the military operation by United States and Caribbean forces continued for a second day, President Reagan said through a spokesman that reporters would be allowed onto the island when American military commanders determined that conditions were safe for them. Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said he hoped the island could be opened to reporters as early as Thursday.
Until late this afternoon, when Secretary Weinberger and Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided the first detailed briefing of the operation at a news conference, reporters here and elsewhere had found themselves relying heavily on ham radio operators and Radio Havana for reports on conditions on the island.
It was ham radio operators who reported today that six journalists, including four Americans, had landed on the island in a chartered fishing boat. First reports said the journalists had been taken to the St. James Hotel in St. George's, the capital, but later reports said at least four of them had been taken from the island by American forces to the carrier U.S.S. Guam.
Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission moved to clamp down on ham operators, who have been providing much of the information to the press and the public about the situa tion in Grenada. William Russell, a spokesman for the commission, said some of the operators had been using unauthorized frequencies to pick up broadcasts from the island, and that the commission had started monitoring operators for such violations.
Defense Department officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named, said that Britain's tight control over press coverage of its war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands last year had made an impression on some American military commanders, particularly General Vessey. He has told reporters in the past that he be lieves there is too much news coverage of the military.
"The President and Secretary Weinberger are backing their commanders on this thing." one Defense Department official said.
During the war over the Falklands, British reporters were allowed aboard British ships and were allowed onto the islands with the invasion force. Their reports, however, were censored by British authorities.
There was no United States censorhip in the Vietnam War. To get creden tials from US military authorities, reporters had to sign a pledge not to disclose in advance troop movements, exact casualty totals and certain aspects of military operations.
At today's news conference, Mr. Weinberger said the operation's military commanders had decided they did not want reporters along, and he added that he wouldn't ever dream of overriding a commander's decision."
He added, "Their conclusion was that they were not able to guarantee any kind of safety of anyone" because of uncertainty over what kind of conditions they might encounter.
'Need for Surprise'
Asked if there was concern about how the public might react to television coverage of the fighting, the Secretary said: "I think one of the most important reasons that we didn't is the need for surprise in this operation. We were going in there very quickly and we needed to have surprise in order to have it successful."
Some of the country's major news organizations, including most of the television networks and wire services, had protested the news coverage restric tions in letters to President Reagan and other Administration officials.
In a letter to Mr. Weinberger, Edward M. Joyce, president of CBS News, wrote, "I would like to protest the attitude expressed by your Public Affairs office as indicated in the statement to our correspondent Bill Lynch that we learned a lesson from the British in the Falklands."
"I'm screaming about it because writing letters takes too long," said Howard Simons, managing editor of The Washington Post. "I think a secret war, like secret government, is antithetical to an open society. It's absolutely outrageous."
Mr. Simons said one of his newspa- ! per's reporters, Edward Cody, was among the six journalists who reached Grenada by boat. He said he had been told that Mr. Cody had been taken off
Television news organizations this week made the events in Grenada and Lebanon the subjects of instant foreign policy analysis. Page C31
the island to the carrier Guam. Also reported to be on board the carrier were Don Bohning of The Miami Herald, Morris Thompson of Newsday and Bernard Diederich of Time magazine The identities and whereabouts of the other two journalists in the group could not be established.
Seymour Topping, managing editor of The New York Times, said, "We have strenuously protested to the White House and the Defense Department about the lack of access to the story in Grenada by our correspondents who are waiting on Barbados. We also are disturbed by the paucity of details about the operation released by the Pentagon at a time when the American people require all the facts to make judgments about the actions of our Government."
President Reagan said reporters will be allowed on Grenada as soon as conditions there are calm enough to be "consistent with safety requirements agreed to be the Defense Department," according to Larry Speakes, the chief White House spokesman. Mr. Speakes relayed that word this afternoon, after he had agreed to take a request directly to the President from the White House press corps that reporters be permitted into Grenada.
Mr. Speakes said that another concern had been that "the presence of media there could distract commanders." That view was echoed by a senior Defense Department official who said that the invasion was a commando type operation that does not lend itself to what he called "the tender loving care and feeding of the press."
Mr. Speakes' afternoon briefing was no less acrimonious than the morning session, as reporters asked for details on the invasion and were referred to the Pentagon. In particular, the reporters were frustrated in their attempts to track details of the Administration's reported eleventh-hour diplomatic re sponse to possible attempts by the revolutionary council on Grenada to discuss safeguarding the Americans
Confusing and fragmentary information was offered, and Mr. Speakes, complaining about the accuracy of some news reports, ultimately refused to take additional questions from one reporter he considered annoying "I'm tired of dealing with you," he said
"You're carrying your manage ment's water on this thing." he said to another reporter, who had asked why reporters could not go to the island.
News reporters were concerned at having been misled by the White House's flat denials of initial invasion reports, a situation Mr. Speakes said was not intentional. He was asked whether the Administration policy was to be selective in telling the truth. "The policy of the White House is to tell the truth," Mr. Speakes replied. former Jerry W. Friedheim, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said "there are damn few precedents" for continuing the news restrictions beyond today Mr. Friedheim, who is now executive director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, said news coverage of the invasion would make it easier to the Administration to win public and Congressional support for the operation.
A former senior Defense Department official in the Carter Administration, who spoke on the condition he not be named, said, "I can't recall an overt military operation of this sort not involving some sort of press coverage, at least a press pool. This is very upusual."
By Edward Cody
Butington Post Foreign Brie
ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada, Oct. 27-A group of seven journalists, including reporters for four American news organizations who arrived here Tuesday morning as US invasion forces land. ed. tried unsuccessfully until today to report what was happening on Grenada. But their efforts were thwarted, first by technical communications blackouts on the island and later by the invading force itself.
We had left Barbados Monday by chartered aircraft to Union Island, north of Grenada, traveled by boet to Carriacou, another island that is a Grenadan possession, and arrived on a separately rented small boat in Grenada just after the landing
Initially detained by Grenadan forces, by the time we reached telephone and telex facilities in the town, the lines were dead.
It was early yesterday when, while wandering through the relatively peaceful Grenadan capital, three of us-myself and correspondents for The Miami Herald and Newsday-made our first contact with US troops. By 2 p.m., a good-hearted marine colonel who had listened to our pleas to allow us to use American com. munications facilities to reach our home offices, arranged to have us flown to the USS Guam offshore on one of a number of helicopters ferrying back and forth to his position.
But by 10 am today, we three reporters, who had been joined by a British colleague in the meantime, were being helicoptered back to the same landing zone we had left 18 hours earber-still without getting our stories back to our newspapers
The intervening time was a series of frustrations, pleasant conversations with sailors and marines aboard this helicopter carrier and repeated pleas to be allowed to use shipboard communications or to be transported to Barbados to use commercial telephone service from there. It was also a period in which we were constantly watched, even as we slept in crewmen's bunks with a sailor detailed to stay awake sitting beside us
Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf III-Second Fleet commander running the Grenada operation-first dispatched Cmdr. Tony Hilton to announce that the task force's communications were so busy with military traffic that we reporters had no chance of using them. After a request, be said he would do his best to get a message to at least one newspaper with a list of those of us who had landed on Grenada-including we four and the two reporters and one photographer who remained on the island.
Disappointed, we then suggested that we be carried on one of the frequent military flights between Grenada and Barbados to use the telephone there. Hilton, the fleet public affairs officer, said he would do his best
A short while later, we were led aboard a helicopter and flown down from Point Salines, the Grenadan peninsula where a Cuban-built airport was being used by the US invasion force. But just before the helicopter was due to take off from the busy flight deck, we were ordered to get out and were led back inside the ship to the commodore's wardroom.
Metcalf then came to greet us, apologizing for the switch and explaining it was because he was reluctant to risk sending civilians into a high-risk area. It was not clear whether be meant Grenada as a whole, where we had just spent two days, or Point Salines specifically, where the US military was landing and taking off regularly.
In any case, we said we needed to file our dispatches and wanted to use shipboard facilities the reason we had first come aboard-or go to Barbados. Metcalf replied he had to have the request cleared with Washington. By the time darkness fell, when Hilton said civilians could no longer fly on helicopters, the clearance had not yet come and dinner was served.
Reinforced by fried ham and a promise that we would be flown to Point Salines for a flight to Barbados at the first light," we bunked down for the night. Up at dawn, we were told we would depart at 8:30 am. At 7:30 am, we were told we would leave at 10 am
At 9.30 am, Metcalf appeared again to say
we reporters could accompany marines on to Fort Frederick, where he said "an operation" was due to take place against remaining Grenadan defenders, then fly to Barbados. Or, we could fly immediately to Barbados.
Seeking to complete our stories, we opted to accompany the Marines in the hope of catching a later flight to Barbados. On arrival back in Grenada, however, we met the Time magazine correspondent we had left on the island along with a photographer and another British reporter, who told us the fort had been undefended since the previous afternoon. At this point, we insisted on continuing to Barbados, where we arrived shortly after 2 p.m. today.
[The Washington Post made repeated inquiries for information about the whereabouts of the journalists who had last been heard from when they departed Barbados Mondaythroughout Tuesday and Wednesday to the Pentagon, State Department and White House. [At about 2 pm Wednesday, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Desver told Post publisher Donald E. Graham, in response to a request from Graham for any information US forces might have about Cody's whereabouts and safety, that the four newsmen were safe, aboard the Guam
[Half an hour later, White House Director of Communications David Gergen telephoned The Post to say that he had been asked by other news organizations if a Post reporter was missing in Grenada
(At-9:30 p.m. Wednesday-eight hours after the journalists had arrived on the Guam-Col Robert O'Brien of the Pentagon said in response to inquiries from The Post that the newsmen had been evacuated on Tuesday afternoon by the local commander for their own safety because they had wandered into a fire fight. A sketchier version of this erroneous report also had been relayed to a Post reporter by Deaver earlier in the day and was repeated to another Post reporter by a senior Pentagon offical at midday yesterday. During this time the correspondents were not permitted to have direct communications with their offices.)
TWAS inexcusable of the Reagan administra tion not to permit firsthand American media coverage of the Grenada invasion until yesterday, the third day, and then only by brief and escorted nool reporters. We say this out of more than mere pique at the theft of our journalistic function dur ing the interval by the Pentagon, Radio Havana and the island's ham radio community. If the American media can be excluded by their own government from direct coverage of events of great importance to the American people, the whole character of the relationship between gov ernors and governed is affected. It should not have to be left to the press to issue what inevitably sound like self-serving complaints about offiial censorship.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1983
Censoring the Invasion
This is an administration already well known for ts tendency to use the national security label to imit the flow of information to the public in various ways. So it is perhaps not so surprising that the convenience of the military-or its insistence on the primacy of its convenience-triumphed over good sense, healthy democratic practice and the strong
standing tradition of press-government cooperation in coverage of unfolding military events.
In this operation, the military had valid consider ations of surprise, the security of vital information, the efficiency of fast-developing operations and the safety of journalists. The press knows, however—as do plenty of experienced Pentagon hands-that these are all things that can be worked out.
Some in the administration are said to have envied and hoped to emulate the way the British military held off the British press during the Falklands war last year. Actually, what the British did was worse. they brought the reporters along and used them for strategic deception, feeding them bad information Notwithstanding some early official confusion, no deception of this sort is being alleged here.
What happened is bad enough. The government set aside tried-and-true rules for ensuring that the media and through them the people would nee, know and understand in the most timely and credible way how it was exercising military power in their name. This was done in an excess of cautionand with a trace of arrogance.
Robert J. McCloskey Mr. Speakes don' sharpe fal die
Acknowledging that he was kept the dark about what had been planne
sembling by his source. Which leave-
whether that person was led to Mr
It ought to be an iron law that govern ment spokesmen be there, as it was once mach at the takeoff as well as the landing Regrettably it, and too often those preparing the takeofs stubbornly more the extens to which government's cred ibility rides on how the guy out brant responds to press inquires.
I've been there i one can unefully be, that's what I once did to the State Department, press corps in response to a specific question as to whether wome CIA joumeymen had attempted to subvert of ficials of another governsent. The charpe came from no ke than the prime min les ter. I tried those who assured me in writing that the allegation ould be derund, and did so. I shortly learned they dadin know what they sad they did. The only one at the time who knew the truth was Dean Runk, but he was not available to me that day. He later showed me a les of spoke over the air from John Kennedy to the prime minister. I apolo
gland to the press corp and after doing established procedures insuring the wouldn't be humiliated nor would the government's credibility be tarnished cvy such incidents apin And they worked This came to mind while was read ing about White House spokesman Larry Speakes' problem the other day
after reporters asked about rumo that American forces had gone ashore in Grenada He fatly denied it It barely 12 hour before the landing took place The anatomy what occurred the White House sounds diestrema familiar and ham been recounted in in sorm by Past reporters ters Lou Cannon and David Hoffman Described as "furioa" Mr Speake complained in a memo to senior White House that the "the credibility of the Reaper admuta adminstration is at stake at make One hopes it reached the president Earlier Mr. Speaker was told by; National urity Council official who Security said he had already "knocked down the report in response to a separate in quiry, that it could be denied "Prepo" Lerous" is the way it was described. Mr. Speaken source claimed he was given the denial by his superior on the NSC
Speake says he unwisely acted on the bass of a "narrow question" neglect. ing to pursue the obvious next use an' happening now, will it tomorrow" CBS correspondent Bill Plante con tends that question lao was denied.
Obviously things are bad when ro porters know more about what's going
on inside than authorized spokenmer Same who cover the White House thes in the case all woo frequently and
that policy-makers appes obruk the consequenom The notion, what evidently nine in the upper reaches of the White House, that the press offices who doesn't know can't get you trouble was discredited long The need-to-know should include the spoken man, and if the mue demands that he rempore to an informed inquiry be be won't decuss that let it be it 129 cause mamentary discomfort, but it doe a lot for credibility I've been there, tas
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