Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
This lesson from the Constitutional Rights Foundation engages students in a simulation in which small groups represent a Presidential Commission on Press Rules for a War on Terrorism. In addition to procedures for introducing and using the simulation, the lesson presents historical background on freedom of the press during wartime and suggests a method for evaluating policies.
America Responds to Terrorism: Press Freedom
vs. Military Censorship
Much of the war on terrorism involves gathering highly sensitive information about terrorists. In addition, the U.S. and other governments are developing new strategies to contend with terrorism at home and abroad. There has been considerable discussion about what information about terrorists and the strategies to combat them should--or should not--be released to the press. Is it important for people in a democracy to know what the government is doing? Can the media print or broadcast all information they receive? What press policy should the military use in wartime?
Throughout the Persian Gulf War of 1991, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein permitted only one foreign journalist to remain in Baghdad--CNN's veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett. Arnett had to obey Iraqi press-censorship rules. "From the beginning," Arnett later revealed, "I accepted the constraints that the Iraqis laid down. They said, 'Anything you do, you put on paper. We go over it, and we alter it. We change it if we wish to, and that's what you're going to use.'" Once the war began, the Iraqi government selected Arnett's reporting locations and monitored his interviews. As a result, many of Arnett's stories dwelled on bombing damage to civilian areas and the suffering of the Iraqi people.
Many Americans, including members of Congress and even fellow journalists, severely criticized Arnett for reporting material provided or censored by Iraq. But at the same time, hundreds of American reporters sent to Saudi Arabia had to deal with attempts by the U.S. military to control information.
Press vs. Military
When the war in Southeast Asia finally ended, many in the military blamed the press for “losing Vietnam.” Some Pentagon officials resolved to restrict press coverage of future American wars. In 1983, the Pentagon barred all journalists from the initial invasion of Grenada. Then, in 1989, the Pentagon selected a dozen reporters to cover the invasion of Panama and restricted them to an airport in Panama until nearly all fighting ended.
Policy #1: Press Pools
The Pentagon accredited all American journalists and required them to observe the following battlefield press rules:
Violations of the above rules could result in arrest, detention, revocation
of press credentials, and expulsion from the combat zone.