The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today released the 6th Edition of its “White Paper” chronicling the effects the War on Terrorism has had on the public’s right to know.
The 84-page report, called “Homefront Confidential: How the War on Terrorism Affects Access to Information and the Public’s Right to Know,” outlines actions taken over the last four years by state and federal government agencies that limit the ability of journalists to do their jobs.
“Since the 5th edition was released a year ago, it has become clear to us that secrecy has nasty byproducts,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy Dalglish. “When more secrets are kept, journalists are forced to report using confidential sources, which, unfortunately leads to more subpoenas served on journalists. The trend toward journalists like Judy Miller of the New York Times going to jail will only escalate unless Congress adopts a federal shield law.”
The report, first released six months after the events of September 11, 2001, is available in electronic format on the Reporters Committee Web site at: www.rcfp.org/homefrontconfidential/pdf.html
The report includes a chronology of federal government actions taken since September 11 that jeopardize the public’s right to know, as well as a compilation of actions taken by state legislatures and officials to respond to the terrorism threat. It summarizes problems journalists will have collecting information because of the USA PATRIOT Act, President Bush’s order for military tribunals, secret detention hearings in immigration courts and secret criminal proceedings in terrorism cases. The report also analyzes the effects of Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Oct. 12, 2001, directive on interpretation of the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is a voluntary, unincorporated association of reporters and editors that works to defend the First Amendment rights and freedom of information interests of the news media. The Reporters Committee provides representation, guidance and research in First Amendment and Freedom of Information Act litigation.