The Pentagon’s Dangerous Views on the Wartime Press

ROSE COVERED GLASSES

NYT Brian Stauffer NYT Brian Stauffe

“NEW YORK TIMES”

“The Defense Department earlier this summer released a comprehensive manual outlining its interpretation of the law of war. The 1,176-page document, the first of its kind, includes guidelines on the treatment of journalists covering armed conflicts

Journalists, the manual says, are generally regarded as civilians, but may in some instances be deemed “unprivileged belligerents,” a legal term that applies to fighters that are afforded fewer protections than the declared combatants in a war.

Equally bizarre is the document’s suggestion that reporters covering wars should operate only with the permission of “relevant authorities” or risk being regarded as spies.

Even more disturbing is the document’s broad assertion that journalists’ work may need to be censored lest it reveal sensitive information to the enemy.

In some instances, the document says, “the relaying of information (such as providing information of immediate use in combat operations) could…

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