U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
July 18, 2002 [excerpt on detention of reporter]
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, I have a two-part question. As the Spokesman for the Department of State, I presume you are acquainted with its history. So could you tell us of any time before in history that any accredited reporter has been detained by State Department police who gave this order --
MR. BOUCHER: Sir, if you don't mind --
QUESTION: -- to your police, and that was so extensively reported by The Washington Post and Washington Times?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me answer your question quickly.
MR. BOUCHER: We do have a habit -- reporters like to stay on one subject for a while, and then we jump around. But let me just take a moment and I'll answer your question.
QUESTION: Good. I have a follow-up.
MR. BOUCHER: I've been up here hundreds of times to brief. I'm only aware of one incidence where somebody said, "I have with me here a classified cable." And the action taken in that instance was therefore unique. It's our job to keep people, whether it's me -- it's the guard's job to keep people from wandering out with classified material.
The fact that something's been in the newspaper doesn't declassify the material. Something that's been selectively quoted in the newspaper doesn't declassify the material. Every reporter in this room at one time or another has written a story purportedly based on classified documents. But nobody has ever said in here on-camera, on-the-record until last week, "I have it -- I have a classified cable with me right now, right here," and gotten up to leave the building. What the guards did was entirely appropriate.
QUESTION: Given that that detained reporter's Washington Times report -- in the Washington Times this morning that all 19 of the 9/11 terrorists came to this country on visas, so that the Select Committee on Homeland Security is considering stripping visa authority from the State Department, is reporter Joel Mowbray in danger of being surrounded and detained by your police again?
MR. BOUCHER: I think today marks the third day that he has wandered into this room, come maybe to ask questions, maybe not, and gone on his way as he wishes.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: It was only that particular instance and that particular circumstance that led to a very unique set of circumstances. But I have to make clear, people don't wander out of this building with classified material if we can stop them.