WASHINGTON (AP) — New Defense Department guidelines allow commanders to punish journalists and treat them as “unprivileged belligerents” if they believe journalists are sympathizing or cooperating with the enemy.
The Law of War manual, updated to apply for the first time to all branches of the military, contains a vaguely worded provision that military commanders could interpret broadly, experts in military law and journalism say. Commanders could ask journalists to leave military bases or detain journalists for any number of perceived offenses.
“In general, journalists are civilians,” the 1,180 page manual says, but it adds that “journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents.”
A person deemed “unprivileged belligerent” is not entitled to the rights afforded by the Geneva Convention so a commander could restrict from certain coverage areas or even hold indefinitely without charges any reporter considered an “unprivileged belligerent.”
The manual adds, “Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying. A journalist who acts as a spy may be subject to security measures and punished if captured.” It is not specific as to the punishment or under what circumstances a commander can decide to “punish” a journalist.
Defense Department officials said the reference to “unprivileged belligerents” was intended to point out that terrorists or spies could be masquerading as reporters, or warn against someone who works for jihadist websites or other publications, such as al-Qaida’s “Inspire” magazine, that can be used to encourage or recruit militants.
Another provision says that “relaying of information” could be construed as “taking a direct part in hostilities.” Officials said that is intended to refer to passing information about ongoing operations, locations of troops or other classified data to an enemy.
Army Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, a Pentagon spokesman, said it was not the Defense Department’s intent to allow an overzealous commander to block journalists or take action against those who write critical stories.
“The Department of Defense supports and respects the vital work that journalists perform,” Sowers said. “Their work in gathering and reporting news is essential to a free society and the rule of law.” His statement added that the manual is not policy and not “directive in nature.”
But Ken Lee, an ex-Marine and military lawyer who specializes in “law of war” issues and is now in private practice, said it was worrisome that the detention of a journalist could come down to a commander’s interpretation of the law.
If a reporter writes an unflattering story, “does this give a commander the impetus to say, now you’re an unprivileged belligerent? I would hope not,” Lee said.
“I’m troubled by the label ‘unprivileged belligerents,’ which seems particularly hostile,” said Kathleen Carroll, AP’s executive editor. “It sounds much too easy to slap that label on a journalist if you don’t like their work, a convenient tool for those who want to fight wars without any outside scrutiny.”
The history of war is replete with tension between military commanders and the journalists who cover them. War reporting is meant to train an independent eye on combat – its horrors as well as its heroics, as close as possible to the action without interference from commanders. That can place journalists, who sometimes rely on the military for their own security, at odds with officers who may see openness and access as potential threats to their troops’ security and to battlefield success.
The nature of the problem has evolved over time. In conflicts like World War II, in which each side fought under generally accepted rules like wearing uniforms, the U.S. military and the media worked out guidelines for coverage, which included official censorship. Today’s battlefields in Iraq and elsewhere are more complex and fluid, with front lines less well defined, greater ability for remote and instant communication, and combatants who are not always distinguishable from civilians.
A system of “embedding” journalists with U.S. military units was formalized during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, providing a measure of security for the journalists while imposing security restrictions and giving commanders control over the journalists’ movements. It’s unclear whether the Pentagon’s amended Law of War manual will change that relationship; Pentagon officials insist it should not.
Journalists working for The Associated Press and other news organizations have been detained or thrown out of embed arrangements for stories, video or photographs that the military found unflattering, even before the new manual was published on June 21. But the manual has raised concerns that commanders would feel even more free to find fault with reporting — or that other governments might use the U.S. rules to mistreat reporters working on their soil.
The Law of War manual pulls together all international laws on war applicable to the U.S. armed forces, and is designed as a reference guide for the military.
Defense officials said the manual describes the law for informational purposes and is not an authorization for anyone to take any particular action regarding journalists. The manual also notes that journalists captured by the enemy are supposed to be given the rights of prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.
“At a time when international leadership on human rights and press freedom is most needed, the Pentagon has produced a self-serving document that is unfortunately helping to lower the bar,” wrote Frank Smyth, senior adviser for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.
Orlando Scandrick’s season is over before it started after the Dallas cornerback tore two ligaments in his right knee in practice at training camp Tuesday.
A person with knowledge of the injury told The Associated Press that an MRI exam revealed tears to the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the injury.
Video showed Scandrick’s leg bending awkwardly under rookie receiver Lucky Whitehead at the end of a play in Oxnard, California. Scandrick, who was carted off the field, had recently returned to practice after sitting out with soreness in his left knee.
“He said immediately, ‘It’s my ACL. I know it. It’s gone,'” secondary coach Jerome Henderson said.
The other defensive backs formed a circle for a prayer when practice ended.
“I heard it in his voice,” said cornerback Morris Claiborne, a top-10 pick in 2012 who has had injury issues, including a torn patellar tendon in his left knee that limited him to four games last year. “After just sitting there and looking at him and just holding his hand, squeezing. I know that feeling.”
Whitehead said he bent down when he thought Scandrick was going to hit him as the receiver came out of a route.
“I kind of felt it,” Whitehead said. “I heard him make a noise.”
Scandrick became the team’s best cornerback as Brandon Carr struggled in coverage the past two seasons and Claiborne underperformed when he made it to the field. The eighth-year player has 48 starts among his 102 games, with a career-high two interceptions each of the past two seasons.
His injury will test a position that has much more depth than it did going into training camp last year. The Cowboys picked up fourth-year player Corey White on waivers from New Orleans, and he has been solid in camp along with undrafted second-year player Tyler Patmon.
Dallas also drafted Byron Jones in the first round this year.
“It’s next man up if he is out,” Henderson said of Scandrick. “You hate that it happens to such a great player. We have to keep moving.”
Tony Romo was among several Cowboys who tweeted their support of Scandrick not long after practice ended. “Sending prayers out to Orlando Scandrick,” Romo wrote. “Fear he has a torn acl. Your (sic) the best bud.”
The Cowboys have brought Claiborne along slowly in camp, keeping him out of both preseason games even though he reported to California much further along than expected in his recovery. And Jones returned to practice Tuesday after an injury earlier in camp to his left shoulder, the same one that required surgery when he was at Connecticut.
“Injuries are a part of football, but it’s an awful feeling when it happens to one of your guys,” Jones said. “I just hope the best for him. He’s a veteran, been here a long time. He was looking forward to the season.”
All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant had his most extensive work at practice since injuring a hamstring Aug. 2. He missed the offseason in a contract stalemate with the Cowboys.
Tuesday’s practice was the first of three this week before the Cowboys break camp ahead of their first home preseason game against Minnesota on Saturday night. That could be Bryant’s only chance to get on the field with Romo before the season opener Sept. 13 at home against the New York Giants.
“There’s a heightened sense of urgency every day,” coach Jason Garrett said earlier Tuesday. “Nothing to do with three days.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP—NFL
PHOENIX (AP) — Three weeks after he took a line drive to the face that nearly killed him, relief pitcher Evan Marshall was back at Chase Field on Tuesday night, hugging his teammates and recounting what so far has been a remarkably fast recovery.
After a strong season with the Diamondbacks in 2014, Marshall struggled this year and had been sent to the minors, where his game had improved greatly.
He was pitching for Triple-A Reno in El Paso on Aug. 4 when Jason Haggerty unleashed a vicious line drive up the middle.
“I never saw the ball but I knew it was coming,” Marshall said at a news conference before the Diamondbacks faced the St. Louis Cardinals. “I kind of flinched and it hit me pretty firm on the right side of my face. It ricocheted all the way to first base. He picked up the ball and stepped on the bag to end the inning. Poetic justice for what happened.”
The ball was traveling at an estimated 105 mph when it hit him.
The 25-year-old right-hander was able to walk off but started getting sick in the dugout. Within minutes, he was in a hospital, where a scan was taken that showed a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. He was rushed to the University of Texas-El Paso and immediately into surgery.
“It was a very severe brain injury,” said Dr. Christina Kwasnica, director of rehabilitation at the Barrow Neurological Institute of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. “I hate to talk about it in front of patients, but it was a hit right in the wrong part of the skull, where the skull is thin. And right below there is an artery, so he had immediate bleeding.”
Every second counted.
“Damage was being done with the pressure that was building in the skull,” Marshall said. “They got me opened up and they relieved the pressure really fast and stopped the damage from being done. Twenty staples up the side of my head. If those scars are the price I have to pay to continue to play, that’s fine.
“The speed of which they did everything is what prevented the damage from being done. I was minutes away from not making it.”
His wife Allie was back in Reno, watching the contest on “Game Tracker,” and all she saw was a routine out. Then came the awful call from Andrew Hauser, the Diamondbacks’ minor league medical coordinator.
“Ev was in critical condition, had a fractured skull,” she said he told her. “His brain was bleeding. They didn’t know if he was going to make it through the night.”
The Diamondbacks immediately flew her to El Paso.
“The doctors in El Paso and the staff, they saved my husband’s life,” she said. “It was terrifying, absolutely terrifying. We’re going on two years of marriage. I’ve known this kid for six years and to be told you may lose your spouse.”
When he awoke, Marshall could feel the effects of the injury. Two weeks ago, he was transferred to Barrow, one of the country’s top neurological facilities. His improvement has been dramatic.
“At first it was a little cloudy behind my eyes,” Marshall said. “Thinking was a little hard, even carrying a conversation on. But they explained to me that the more that I talked and conversed with people, the more math and problem solving that I did, the connections would rebuild.”
Dr. Kwasnica has marveled at the speed with which Marshall has improved. A week ago, he was sent home.
“Right now he’s in outpatient therapy,” she said. “The focus of therapy right now is brain recovery and making sure everything is back to baseline. Then the focus will shift to returning him back as an athlete, which he wants to have happen as quickly as possible.
“It’s remarkable we’re even having this discussion and are talking about this kind of thing three weeks after it happened.”
If Marshall played a contact sport like football or hockey, his career would be over, Dr. Kwasnica said.
But she believes he can return to baseball, with some protective wear.
Marshall said he isn’t worried about that day he climbs back on the mound.
“When this happened I never saw the ball,” he said. “I haven’t seen the video, either. It was like I got blindsided with 105 (mph) and just have to deal with it. I’m not worried or scared about that day. And if the worst thing that happens from all this is I have to a wear a funny-looking hat to continue my career, I’ll take it.”
And his wife wants him to go back to work.
“This guy has shown a ridiculous amount of strength these past couple of weeks,” she said. “I can’t wait to see him back out there.”
Marshall quickly added, “We’ll get her a funny hat to wear, too.”
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:
1. EARLY RALLY FADES IN WALL STREET
The initial rise came after China lowered interest rates to try to boost its slowing economy, but by the end of the day the Dow had lost 200 points.
2. WHAT SUSPECT WAS DOING SHORTLY BEFORE FOILED ATTACK ON FRENCH TRAIN
Ayoub El-Khazzani watched a jihadi video on his cellphone minutes before he slung an assault rifle across his chest and barreled through the passenger car until he was tackled.
3. WHY A JUDGE TEMPORARILY HALTED LETHAL INJECTIONS IN MISSISSIPPI
The decision comes amid a lawsuit by inmates who say executions amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
4. HOW MUSLIM RADICALS ARE WIPING OUT HISTORIC RELICS
The Islamic State group has destroyed ancient buildings and artifacts — looting some for profit — all in the name of purging what it considers symbols of idolatry.
5. TRUMP RENEWS FIGHT WITH MEGYN KELLY
The Republican presidential front-runner says the Fox anchor is “really off her game,” prompting the TV channel’s president to demand an apology.
6. FIREFIGHTERS KEEP WARY EYE ON RISING TEMPERATURES IN WASHINGTON
The smoke was so thick in the north of the state that firefighting aircraft were grounded.
7. COLOMBIANS FLEE VENEZUELA AFTER IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN
Wading knee-deep through a river separating the two countries, men, women and children abandoned their ramshackle homes after being told to leave.
8. COMPANY IN NAPA VALLEY APOLOGIZES TO BLACK WOMEN AFTER THEY WERE EXPELLED FROM TRAIN
The women, who belonged to a book club, said they were booted from a tasting tour because of their race.
9. AFTER HACKING, USERS SUE ASHLEY MADISON WEBSITE
Eight subscribers of the infidelity site claim negligence, breach of contract and privacy violations.
10. JUSTIN WILSON’S DEATH THRUSTS PERILS OF CAR RACING INTO THE SPOTLIGHT
IndyCar heads into Sunday’s season finale reeling from the loss, and facing questions on how to improve driver safety.
NEW YORK (AP) — Pharrell and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will perform at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, where Kanye West will receive a special award.
West will earn the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for his memorable music videos and live performances.
The Weeknd, Demi Lovato, A$AP Rocky, Tori Kelly and Twenty One Pilots also will perform during the two-hour show.
Miley Cyrus will host the event, which airs live at 9 p.m. Eastern time on MTV.
Taylor Swift is the top contender with 10 nominations. Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and Mark Ronson also are up for multiple awards.
Additional performers and presenters will be announced later this week.
WASHINGTON (AP) — An unforeseen flood of revenue is shrinking federal deficits to the lowest level of President Barack Obama’s tenure, Congress’ nonpartisan budget adviser said Tuesday. But in a report that will fuel both parties in their autumn clash over spending, the analysts also warned that perilously high shortfalls will roar back unless lawmakers act.
Two weeks before Congress returns from recess, the Congressional Budget Office said it expects this year’s federal deficit to fall to $426 billion. That’s $60 billion less than it expected in March, thanks to greater-than-expected individual and corporate income tax collections, and less than a third of the record $1.4 trillion gap of 2009 as the government tried fighting off the Great Recession.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Congress should prevent cuts in agency budgets and fund highways and other projects, saying, “We need to stay focused on this route and avoid self-inflicted wounds” like a government shutdown.
Annual deficits should fall to $414 billion next year before an aging population and swelling health care costs ignite shortfalls that should sail past $1 trillion in 2025, the budget office said. That would push the government’s accumulated debt that year to $21 trillion, or 77 percent the size of the country’s economy, threatening higher interest rates, surging government debt costs and other problems.
“That’s 77 percent and growing,” budget office director Keith Hall told reporters. “This is an unsustainable path here for federal debt.”
Republicans said the report underscored the need to curb spending. Congress has already approved a blueprint claiming a balanced budget in a decade by squeezing savings from Medicare and Medicaid, and they want to retain caps on agency spending enacted in a 2011 budget deal.
“Without control over spending, our nation will lose control over its own future,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga.
Democrats say such cuts are unneeded. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, top Democrat on the budget panel, said lawmakers should make “necessary investments” in education and other programs and said “serious negotiations” will be needed to avoid a government shutdown this fall.
Though GOP leaders have said they won’t let the budget clash spark a government closure as the 2016 elections approach, they may have a tough time winning conservative votes to pass needed spending bills.
One major complication is conservatives’ demands to halt federal spending on Planned Parenthood, whose officials were secretly captured in videos describing how they provide medical researchers with fetal tissue. Blocking that money would lead to likely clashes with Democrats and Obama.
The budget office lowered its projection for 2015 economic growth to a modest 2.3 percent, down from its 2.8 percent forecast in January and reflecting a weak first quarter. It projected that growth will return to around 3 percent annually in 2016 and 2017 before dipping again.
Those numbers, locked in last month, did not reflect the steep world financial market drops of recent days. Hall said those reductions hadn’t yet weakened the world’s economy, adding, “I don’t feel too worried about it.”
This year’s $426 billion projected deficit would be the smallest since the $161 billion budget gap of 2007. The fiscal year runs through Sept. 30.
The analysis also said that though the government has reached its legal borrowing limit, this year’s unexpected extra revenue means the Treasury Department should be able to use accounting maneuvers to free up cash and avoid breaching that ceiling until mid-November or early December.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress last month that he can use bookkeeping moves to prevent exceeding the borrowing limit until late October or early November. Those include temporarily taking cash from certain federal pension funds.
Congress often tries using the debt limit fight as leverage with the White House. Wary of angering voters, GOP leaders want to avoid an unprecedented federal default, which could result should the parties deadlock.
Hall also contradicted what has been dogma for some Republicans, saying, “The evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves.” Hall was appointed by GOP leaders.
Some Republicans say tax cuts generate economic growth that produces new revenue and outweighs the money the government loses by cutting taxes. That is contested by Democrats and many economists.