Saturday, June 17, 2006

Military Probe: Were Secrets Disclosed To Expelled Reporters at Gitmo?


Military Probe: Were Secrets Disclosed To Expelled Reporters at Gitmo?

By Joe Strupp

Published: June 15, 2006 11:40 AM ET

NEW YORK Military officials at Guantanamo Bay have launched an investigation to find out if officers at the prison there revealed "classified or sensitive material" to reporters, according to the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.

**like maybe information that prisoners were tortured, or that those three suicides were something else altogether?**

The Observer, as E&P explored in several stories on Wednesday, is one of three newspapers whose journalists were expelled from the prison base Wednesday after spending five days at the site covering the aftermath of three prisoner suicides. The Observer's reporter Michael Gordon and photographer Todd Sumlin were directed to leave, along with Carol Rosenberg of The Miami Herald and Carol Williams of the Los Angeles Times.

In a story in today's paper, the Observer reported that the "investigation was ordered the same day that an Observer story from Guantanamo ... caused controversy within the Defense Department. The story reported on the details of an officers' staff meeting at the prison in the wake of three detainee suicides."

The paper noted that Gordon had been "allowed to listen in and report on that meeting Monday by the detention center commander, Army Col. Mike Bumgarner." It said that the story was published Tuesday and quoted Bumgarner saying the prisoners had lost trust in the officers. "There is not a trustworthy son of a ----- in the entire bunch," Bumgarner said in the story.

Later Tuesday, the four journalists were required by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office to leave the base. They reached Miami via a military aircraft on Wednesday.

A Pentagon spokesman. J.D. Gordon, has said the Observer story was not the reason that the journalists were forced to leave. But he acknowledged that some Pentagon officials were uncomfortable with some of the details that the Observer published, telling E&P that the story caused "controversy."

The Observer also reported that it had received a Pentagon statement on Wednesday that said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris -- Bumgarner's superior -- had called for the inquiry "to determine if classified and/or unclassified sensitive information about detention operations with respect to recent detainee suicides was disclosed to the public."

An Army brigadier general has been appointed to run the investigation, the Observer reported, and will report his findings to Harris within 15 days, the statement said. Military spokespeople would not confirm to the paper if Bumgarner or any other individuals were the target of the inquiry.

The Observer reports that the Pentagon was expecting a "puff piece" from Michael Gordon and Sumlin, who were initially at the camp on Saturday to profile Bumgarner when the suicides occurred.

Instead, the Observer stated, Gordon -- with the permission of Bumgarner and his superiors on the base -- "provided an insider account of how the prison's officers handled the suicides and their aftermath, including details that the Pentagon says are creating bad press around the world."

"Detainee lawyers seized on them and used them for a P.R. campaign in Europe to say their clients are being mistreated," J.D. Gordon told the Observer.

Related column:

Reporter on 'Suicide Watch' in Gitmo

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