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DOD Kicks Out Gitmo Reporters for Reporting Publicly Available Information

Spencer just tweeted:

Pentagon BANS Michelle Shephard, Paul Koring, Steven Edwards & @carolrosenberg from #GTMO for reporting Interrogator #1’s name #solidarity

And Al Arabiya’s Muna Shikaki tweeted:

Office of Sec of Defense issues statement barring reporters @carolrosenberg, and 3 canadian reporters from covering future trials in gtmo.

What appears to have happened is that DOD has banned Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg, Toronto Star’s Michelle Shepherd, Globe and Mail’s Paul Koring, and Canwest’s Steven Edwards from future trials because they used the name of Joshua Klaus–Omar Khadr’s first interrogator–in their reports this week.

Yet, as skdadl explained today, Klaus’ name is widely known in Canada.

Interrogator #1’s name is well known in Canada, and in fact it’s in Wikipedia.


Joshua Claus is the guy. Omar apparently calls him “the skinny blond.” Interesting, given that one of the other interrogators we’ve heard from, a great hulking guy who has “Monster” tattooed on his chest (or somewhere — need to look that up), turns out to be a sensitive fellow (now has PTSD) whose testimony should work to help Omar. (I do have sources for all this stuff, but I’m a bit cross-eyed at the moment.)

Basically, the government is banning journalists for using a name they’ve used in reports in the past, a name that is publicly known.

Is this an attempt to prevent the public from making the connection between two Afghans who died in 2002–Dilawar and Habibullah–and Khadr’s treatment? And/or just an attempt to intimidate the press so the people who know the most about the Gitmo show trials (and particularly Khadr) don’t bring that knowledge to bear on their reporting?

Update: Spencer has more here. He also included the text of the letter sent to the reporters:

Cc: Whitman, Bryan Mr OSD PA
Subject: Ground rule violations

Lady and gentlemen:  I am writing to inform you that reporters from your news organizations violated established and agreed-upon ground rules governing reporting on Military Commissions proceedings at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Media Policy and Ground Rules for Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were provided to each member of the media at Andrews Air Force Base before departure to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on April 26, 2010.  Paragraph 2a delineates the following restriction:  “To not publish, release, discuss or share information identified by commission’s personnel as being Protected Information or otherwise protected from disclosure by these ground rules.” Paragraph 2.g. of the ground rules states “The identities of all commission personnel, to include the Presiding Officer, commission members, prosecutors, defense counsels, and witnesses, will not be reported or otherwise disclosed in any way without prior release approval of OSD(PA).”

Specifically, your reporters published the name of a witness whose identity was protected in court.  The attached Word document is a collection of four news articles written AFTER the Military Judge clearly stated on May 5 that media covering Military Commissions are expected to comply with the protection orders.  All four (4) articles mention “Interrogator #1? by his real name.

In accordance with paragraph 2 of the same policy, failure to comply with these ground rules or the Presiding Officer’s instructions could result in permanent expulsion from the courtroom area and may result in the removal of the parent news organization from further participation and could subject the (NMR) to criminal prosecution.

As a result of these violations, these individual reporters are barred from returning to cover future Military Commissions proceedings.  Your news organizations may continue to cover the proceedings with other reporters. However, future violations of the ground rules and/or military judge’s protection orders will result in your news organization losing the ability to send reporters to Guantanamo Bay.

If you desire more information, please contact me via e-mail or phone.  If you wish to appeal this decision, you may contact the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations, Mr. Bryan Whitman, at 703-697-6647 or


Col. Dave Lapan, USMC
Director, Defense Press Operations

So DOD is basically saying that once a reporter agrees to go to Gitmo, they lose the ability to report on stuff they have already reported on.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.