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Reporters Committee warns of "severe" threats to the public’s right to know since September 11

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  1. Freedom of Information
Arlington, Va. -- A new "White Paper" by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press warns of severe risks…

Arlington, Va. — A new “White Paper” by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press warns of severe risks to the public’s right to know in the year since September 11.

The second edition of the 60-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 year by state and federal government agencies that limit the ability of journalists to do their jobs.

The report includes an “early warning system” based on the color-coded risk assessment created by the Department of Homeland Security. It concludes that there is a “severe” threat to coverage of the war; access to terrorism and immigration proceedings; and access to public records and meetings.

“We hope that the White Paper will be useful as background for journalists preparing September 11 anniversary stories,” said Lucy Dalglish, Reporters Committee Executive Director. “It is a comprehensive review of all actions taken by the government in the last year that have damaged the public’s right to know.”

The report includes a chronology of all federal actions taken since September 11 that threaten government openness, 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 and secret detention hearings in immigration courts. The report, first published in March, also analyzes Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Oct. 12 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 full text of Homefront Confidential may be found on the Reporters Committee web site at

The Homefront Confidential report was funded by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Scripps Howard Foundation, The St. Petersburg Times and the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation.