Below is a letter that the PPA has asked be sent directly to Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey in the wake of the guidelines to monitor press reports for unauthorized disclosures of classified information.
Bob, Kevin, Luis and Barbara
Mr. Secretary and Chairman Dempsey:
The Pentagon Press Association is taking the unprecedented step of writing to you directly regarding George Little’s July 19, 2011 statement on limiting disclosures of classified information. George and Col. David Lapan helpfully discussed the matter at length during the July 20, 2011 gaggle with the Pentagon press corps, but we have specific questions for which we need precise answers.
We have an excellent relationship with George and David, but we need a more detailed understanding of the meaning of the following part of George’s July 19 statement:
“The Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, will monitor all major, national level reporting for unauthorized disclosures of defense department classified information.”
George and David have said this means “internal monitoring” -- reading and listening to media reports to look for instances of unauthorized disclosures. But the phrase “monitor all major, national level reporting” could be interpreted by some as authorizing intrusive actions aimed at members of the news media who report on defense issues. We have received no answers as to specific monitoring authorities, and “reporting” is much broader than “published reports.”
We are asking you to clarify in writing what is meant by “monitor all major, national level reporting.”
We would like to know:
1. What specific authorities are granted to OSD-PA and USDI for monitoring the media?
2. What media do you monitor?
3. Do you have authority to do the following:
*tap phones at work or home?
*intercept or monitor emails?
*conduct monitoring or surveillance of Pentagon press workspaces?
4. Are you authorized to monitor phone conversations, emails or press workspaces without our knowledge?
5. What are the rules for monitoring foreign press stationed at the Pentagon?
6. What are the rules for monitoring press while we are traveling overseas?
7. Do you need probable cause before engaging in any of these activities and get a court’s authority to do so?
We all believe the July 19 statement is open to varying interpretations by Defense Department officials and to potential abuse. We would appreciate the earliest possible response to our questions.
Robert Burns, PPA President
Kevin Baron, PPA Vice President
Luis Martinez, PPA Secretary
Barbara Starr, PPA member-at-large