Reporters Seek Clarification of Pentagon Anti-Leak Policy

07.23.12 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

After the Department of Defense issued a statement last week saying that it would “monitor all major, national level reporting” for evidence of unauthorized disclosures of classified information, Pentagon reporters wrote to the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ask whether such monitoring extended to surveillance of the press.

“We are asking you to clarify in writing what is meant by ‘monitor all major, national level reporting’,” wrote reporters Robert Burns (Associated Press), Kevin Baron (National Journal), Luis Martinez (ABC) and Barbara Starr (CNN) on behalf of the Pentagon Press Association.

“The phrase ‘monitor all major, national level reporting’ could be interpreted by some as authorizing intrusive actions aimed at members of the news media who report on defense issues. We have received no answers as to specific monitoring authorities, and ‘reporting’ is much broader than ‘published reports’,” they wrote.

In particular, they asked, what specific authorities does the Pentagon claim for monitoring the media?

“Do you have authority to do the following:  *tap phones at work or home?  *intercept or monitor emails?  *conduct monitoring or surveillance of Pentagon press workspaces?”

“Are you authorized to monitor phone conversations, emails or press workspaces without our knowledge?”

See the July 20 letter from the Pentagon Press Association here.

The letter was first reported by Austin Wright in Politico on July 20.  As of last night, no reply from DoD had been forthcoming.