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Blog   |   Security, USA

In times of war, Pentagon reserves right to treat journalists like spies

A press briefing at the Pentagon in April. Worrying guidelines on how the military can categorize the press during conflict are contained in the Defense Department's Law of War Manual. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

The Pentagon has produced its first Department of Defense-wide Law of War Manual and the results are not encouraging for journalists who, the documents states, may be treated as "unprivileged belligerents." But the manual's justification for categorizing journalists this way is not based on any specific case, law or treaty. Instead, the relevant passages have footnotes referring to either other parts of the document or matters not germane to this legal assertion. And the language used to attempt to justify this categorization is weak at best.

Blog   |   Indonesia, Internet, Security, USA

Increased risks for filmmakers and sources in documentaries' Golden Age

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary 'The Look of Silence.' (Courtesy of Drafthouse Films and Participant Media)

Joshua Oppenheimer travelled to New York for today's premiere of his documentary "The Look of Silence," but one place he won't travel is Indonesia, where he says his work on this and an earlier film puts him at risk. Earlier this week, Laura Poitras, the Academy Award-winning director of the documentary CITIZENFOUR, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government seeking information related to border interrogations to which she was subjected between 2006 and 2012. These two cases represent the increased and varied risks facing filmmakers and their sources in what many critics have dubbed the Golden Age of documentary film.

July 17, 2015 1:27 PM ET

Blog   |   Internet, Security, USA

CPJ joins call urging White House to protect encryption for journalists

A wheel cipher invented by Thomas Jefferson and used to securely encode messages in the late 1700s. CPJ is calling on President Obama to ensure modern versions of encryption remain protected. (Jefferson Cipher Wheel by ideonexus is licensed under CC BY 3.0 US)

Journalists are safest when their devices are secure by default. That is why the Committee to Protect Journalists today joined a coalition of nearly 150 civil society organizations, companies, trade associations, security experts, and policy specialists in sending a joint letter to U.S. President Barack Obama. The letter urges the president to support the broad adoption of strong encryption and to reject any proposal that intentionally weakens the security of products made by U.S. companies.

May 19, 2015 12:31 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Security, USA

CPJ joins call for meaningful reform of US surveillance

Mass surveillance and the bulk collection of metadata by the U.S. government pose serious threats to journalists in the U.S. and around the world, which is why the Committee to Protect Journalists today joined a wide coalition of privacy, human rights, technology, and trade groups calling on Congress and the Obama Administration to include certain elements in U.S. surveillance reform.

Blog   |   Security, USA

US 'no-negotiation' hostage policy should be changed

Thirty years ago, when I was snatched off the street in Beirut by radical Shiites calling themselves "Islamic Jihad," the world took my plight and that of other Westerners kidnapped in Lebanon's long war to heart. During the nearly seven years I was held, countless demonstrations were staged on our behalf by churches, journalists, hometowns in America, France, Britain, Ireland and many other countries. Miles of yellow ribbon were tied to oak trees, and newspaper editorials ceaselessly demanded our release. When I finally emerged from the Lebanese gulag, the longest-held Western hostage, there were dozens of boxes of letters waiting for me, from school children and ordinary people across America, along with grand welcome home parties in New York and Washington.

March 13, 2015 11:01 AM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, USA

In fight against extremism, press freedom must not be compromised

President Obama speaks at the summit to counter violent extremism in Washington, D.C. on February 19. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

In an effort to counter extremists and militant groups who use a mix of violence and social media to spread their message, a summit was held in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss how to counter violent extremism. While there is little denying that these groups must be tackled, an approach must be found that will not justify restricting the press.

Blog   |   Iraq, Security, USA

Video: Bob Simon recounts 1991 capture in Iraq

When I heard the news last week that Bob Simon had died, I immediately thought back to an interview I had done with him in 2010. It was at an event called the "Courage Forum.," an ideas festival which took place the Museum of Modern Art hosted in New York City. It featured speakers who had demonstrated courage in various walks of life, among them tight rope artist Philippe Petit.

February 20, 2015 1:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Security, USA

TrollBusters app takes on those seeking to silence women writers

Eight years ago Michelle Ferrier was forced to quit her job as a newspaper columnist and move to a different state after being targeted by racist hate mail. But Ferrier has managed to turn a traumatic experience into an empowering one by inspiring a team of tech-savvy media professionals and entrepreneurs to create TrollBusters, a digital tool to combat online harassment, known as "trolling," of women.

Blog   |   Security, USA

Uneasy alliance: State Department and journalists discuss rise in violence

Doug Frantz spent more than three decades in the journalistic trenches covering wars, overseeing investigative reporting, and directing national security coverage. He did stints at The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Today Frantz works for the State Department, serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Alarmed by the rising tide of violence against journalists around the world, Frantz convened a conference of journalists and press freedom advocates in Washington yesterday to discuss the challenges faced, particularly by freelance and local reporters.

Blog   |   USA

Eight days in Hong Kong: Laura Poitras on documenting Snowden for 'Citizenfour'

Laura Poitras's highly anticipated documentary Citizenfour was shown last week in New York. (AP/Charles Sykes/Invision)

The world premiere of Laura Poitras's highly anticipated documentary "CITIZENFOUR" at the New York Film Festival occurred with the appropriate amount of intrigue for a film about last year's dramatic revelations of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. The press and premiere screenings were clocked to begin simultaneously on Friday so no breaking news could be leaked. The movie was a last-minute addition to the festival and the first complete screening even for film industry professionals, who had previously seen it only with crucial redactions. In a surreal touch, a 9-foot tall statue of the film's protagonist, Edward Snowden, mysteriously appeared in a park in New York earlier that day at the very moment--and apparently coincidentally--in which another principal character, journalist Glenn Greenwald, was there having breakfast.

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