I posted a note earlier asking just who’s in charge down in New Orleans. Yesterday we heard that CNN had won its brief court battle for reporting access in New Orleans. Today we see this report that reporters are again getting orders not to take photos or write stories.
But one of my right-leaning friends points out that a closer reading of the piece may be in order and, perhaps a more serious issue at stake.
The article contains this passage (emphasis added) …
The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had a policy that requires media to be 300 meters — more than three football fields in length — away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations.
This is a description rather than a direct quote. And the specifics of just what was said matter. But if the account is accurate, the contention seems to be that an US Army policy — presumably intended for warzones — trumps the decision of a US federal court on American soil. And I don’t think you’ve got to be much of a wild-eyed civil libertarian to find that a tad problematic.
There are good reasons why we place such copious restrictions on the use of combat troops on American soil — not because there’s something wrong with the Army but because the training for war-fighting and policing civilians and/or disaster relief are quite different and the two don’t easily mix.
Let’s get to the bottom of this.