Paper: Rumsfeld expels US media from Guantanamo Bay

John Byrne
Published: Wednesday June 14, 2006

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The United States military has ordered all independent media off the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base following the suicides of three detainees, RAW STORY has learned.

Writing for the Miami Herald, journalist Carol Rosenberg stated Wednesday morning that the military had "ordered all independent news media off the base by 10 a.m. Wednesday, and had arranged a flight to Miami to expedite their departure."

"A directive from the Office of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld," prompted a two-sentence email that was sent to reporters from the Herald and the Los Angeles Times, which stated: "Media currently on the island will depart on Wednesday, 14 June 2006 at 10:00 a.m. Please be prepared to depart the CBQ [quarters] at 8:00 a.m."

That was the entirety of the email, according to the Herald. An auto-reply email from Rosenberg after an inquiry from RAW STORY indicated that she was still en route from Guantanamo and could not be reached for comment, and the Herald news desk claimed that Rosenberg was the only one to receive the memo.

A Pentagon spokesman has since confirmed the order to Editor and Publisher, but has said it was not related to the journalist's news reports.

"While admitting that Gordon's piece had caused "controversy," he asserted that the move was related to other media outlets threatening to sue if they were not allowed in," Editor and Publisher wrote.

Essentially, the Pentagon says that it began receiving complaints from other news agencies who felt the Herald and the Times were getting more access than they were. Given two options -- to allow more reporters, or to remove the existing reporters -- they chose the latter.

Pentagon press officer J.D Gordon told the online trade publication that the Herald and Times reporters were invited to cover tribunals at the base but subsequently filed stories on the suicides after the tribunals were cancelled. A third journalist, a photographer for the Charlotte Observer, was on the island to produce a piece on the homegrown camp commander. After stories began appearing regarding the suicides, the Pentagon arranged the 10 a.m. flight to Miami.

"The correspondents came down to the base on Saturday to cover the aftermath of the suicides, at the invitation of the admiral in charge of the prison," Rosenberg wrote. "The Pentagon canceled the invitation Tuesday night, despite protests from the newspapers."

Rosenberg's full article is here.