Submitted by Diane Farsetta on
U.S. Army officials have barred a reporter with the military newspaper Stars and Stripes "from embedding with a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division that is attempting to secure the violent city of Mosul" in Iraq. In the refusal letter to Stars and Stripes reporter Heath Druzin, an Army public affairs officer wrote that "Mr. Druzin refused to highlight" good news about "Iraqi Army leaders, soldiers, national police and Iraqi police display[ing] commitment to partnership." The newspaper has "spent more than three weeks appealing Druzin's banishment to senior commanders in Iraq as well as public affairs officers at the Pentagon, but had been repeatedly rebuffed." In his appeal of the decision, Stars and Stripes editorial director Terry Leonard wrote, "To deny Mr. Druzin an embed under the reasons stated ... is a direct challenge to the editorial independence of this newspaper ... an attempt at censorship and it is also an illegal prior restraint under federal law. ... The military cannot tell us what stories to write or not write." The Army would only allow a different Stars and Stripes reporter to embed with a different military unit in a different Iraqi city, Kirkuk. The president of Military Reporters and Editors blasted the decision, writing to Army and Pentagon officials that barring Druzin "violates both the spirit and the letter of the embed guidelines that Military Reporters & Editors and many other journalists have worked so diligently to implement."