by Stuart Wilk | Associated Press Managing Editors | 12 November 2003
Mr. Larry Di Rita
Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
Dear Mr. Di Rita:
We are writing to protest actions being taken by U.S. troops that appear intended to discourage journalists from covering the continued military action in Iraq. During the past three months, journalists have been harassed, have had their lives endangered and have had digital camera disks, videotape and other equipment confiscated.
These actions are unacceptable and contrary to the Pentagon's own guidelines distributed to troops in the field. The effect has been to deprive the American public of crucial images from Iraq in newspapers, broadcast stations and online news operations. Because of these actions, it is more difficult to distribute vital, timely information about ongoing developments.
The Associated Press Managing Editors, an association of editors at AP's more than 1,700 member newspapers in the United States and Canada, requests that the Department of Defense immediately take the steps to end such confrontations and to allow journalists to fully cover a story of vital interest to U.S. citizens, servicemen and -women and their families, and the world community at large.
We join the leaders of news offices in Washington in asking for your assurance that troops and officers in the field have been told that they cannot confiscate journalistic tools or otherwise harass journalists.
President, Associated Press Managing Editors
Vice President/Managing Editor, The Dallas Morning News