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US Military Censors Images of Soldiers Recorded by Miami Herald

A video posted to YouTube by the Miami Herald shows how the United States military is now imposing a greater regime of censorship on the press, who are credentialed to cover the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Since 2002, reporters from the media organization had been reporting on the facility. Rarely has it been easy to do reporting, but, when four senior journalists for the Herald traveled to Guantanamo in March to shoot video “with a staff videographer for the first time,” the Herald “encountered censorship of the sort” that they had “never experienced.”

What images the journalists were able to get past the military’s censors were cut together in a video narrated by Herald senior editor Dave Wilson. It notes, “For years,” the organization was “allowed to take pictures of troops who consented and we could name them.” A photograph of a soldier on duty from July 2013 is shown. They had also been permitted to photograph Guantanamo prisoners so long a “distinguishing features” were not shown.

“This time we had a whole new layer of restrictions and ended up with lots of footage of headless soldiers,” Wilson states.

Reporters for the Herald discovered later that the exact people they were told they could not photograph or video could be found in military pictures “taken by Army journalists.” These pictures could be found through a Google search and had been “posted as approved for release on public and Pentagon websites.”

Also, Wilson describes in the video how reporters were essentially denied opportunities to record video and conduct interviews by a public affairs officer. The military censored footage of “communications hardware.” They also were not allowed to photograph a presentation on “operational security” guidelines reporters are expected to obey as well as improperly informed it was prohibited to photograph and shoot video of a ferry crossing.

The censorship is what drove Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, the Herald’s executive editor, to send Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel an angry letter protesting conditions on April 4.

Published by The Huffington Post, it explained that the new rules “forbade the media” from “photographing the faces of anyone but the detention center commander, his spokesman and the contractor in charge of catering.” They had not been permitted to photograph any of the “other members of the 2,100-member staff of JTF-GTMO.” [cont’d.]

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."