Posted on Fri, Jul. 09, 2010
Pentagon allows banned reporter to return to Guantánamo
The Pentagon on Thursday reversed its ban on a Miami Herald reporter from covering military commissions at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and said the reporter can return to the naval base there to cover a hearing next week.
In an e-mail sent Thursday, Bryan G. Whitman, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said that Carol Rosenberg "will be permitted" to attend a hearing scheduled for Monday.
The decision comes a week after a coalition of major news organizations protested as unconstitutional the rules that were used in May to ban Rosenberg and three Canadian reporters from the commissions.
On Wednesday, officers of the Pentagon Press Association, whose members cover the Defense Department, met with Whitman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson and the head of the Pentagon press office, Marine Col. David Lapan, to complain about the ground rules and other restrictions placed on reporters covering Guantánamo.
In a response to a request for comment, Whitman said in an e-mail
In June, Whitman had upheld the ban, saying that "officials of the Department were correct to take the actions" but said that the department would consider lifting the ban if the reporters applied individually. He later agreed to lift the ban on
It was unclear if the other reporters would be returning to Guantánamo next week as well.
The case stems from a hearing for Omar Khadr, a Canadian who has been accused of throwing a grenade that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. Khadr has been held at the offshore detention camp since he was seized in
Before a May hearing,
Claus also had been convicted by a
David Schulz, an attorney for McClatchy Newspapers, which owns the Miami Herald, noted in the news organizations' complaint to the Pentagon that Khadr's Wikipedia biography identifies Claus as Khadr's main interrogator.
"We don't dispute their authority to restrict information to protect national security and witnesses, but they can't exercise that authority to prohibit reporters who happen to be in Guantánamo from reporting information that is known to the rest of the world," Schulz said last week.
The hearing the reporters were covering was on a motion Khadr filed requesting that any self-incriminating statements he made during his interrogations be ruled inadmissible because he'd been abused by his interrogators. What will happen next week is unclear; however, Canadian newspapers reported this week that Khadr has fired his attorneys.
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