Here’s an important story that I should have noted earlier in the week. As the Fayetteville Observer reports here:

The Fayetteville Observer was denied access to a soldier’s arraignment Wednesday on Fort Bragg because a reporter refused to sign military ground rules that legal experts say appear to violate the First Amendment.

The rule contested by the Observer required media outlets to agree not to name any victims in the case of Spc. Aaron Pernell as a condition of entry to his arraignment.

Why would the Army even try to limit the freedom of the press in this manner?

The article explains:

The Observer’s policy is to not publish names of victims of sexual crimes. But in the Pernell case, not every victim is a sexual assault victim. The 82nd Airborne Division’s ground rules prohibited naming any of Pernell’s alleged victims, no matter the crime, even though some have testified at a previous hearing.

Wednesday’s arraignment was open without restriction to anyone who was not a reporter.

11 Responses to “82nd Airborne Division excludes reporter from ostensibly public court-martial arraignment”

  1. Rob M says:

    The military in general, and the Army in particular, continue to be really dumb when it comes to the press. Somewhere along the way Army culture developed the strange idea that if you act like a jerk to a reporter they won’t print their stories. A newspaper reporter has x column inches to fill and he’s going to fill with something, whether you talk to him or not. I don’t get why we are so press-averse (and then usually complain about how they get the story wrong, and how no one knows what it’s really like).

  2. Anonymous says:

    So I’m confused. What’s to keep the paper from getting someone to go in and take notes? Heck, get a journalism intern. How’s the army going to know?

  3. Ama Goste says:

    The Army will know because someone has to escort a non-DoD ID card holder onto the base at most locations. Now, if that intern/reporter happens to have an ID card, the joke’s on the Army.

  4. Eastbound says:

    At Ft. Bragg no one escorts non-DoD card holders anywhere. Once a person has cleared the entrance gate security check point that person is free to travel/drive anywhere on base – alone.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think the point is whether or not the paper could have snuck someone in with a notepad.

    My question is, did the 82nd Airborne lawyers who were consulted speak with the prosecutors on this case? I can’t imagine the TCs on the case were too keen on infringing upon this defendant’s right to an open trial.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps they’re trying to make all trials like the kangaroo commissions down at gtmo. Everyone gets the Carol Rosenberg treatment.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I dont think that is true at all, I’ve never seen anyone escorted merely because they didn’t have an ID card. The vendors/suppliers alone would require dozens of Soldiers to do nothing but escort folks all day.

    I think there was an agreement that the reporters would be escorted, an agreement that they likely follow for both good will and to keep from being barred from post for not following the arrangement.

  8. Dew_Process says:

    Does anyone know which MJ was presiding or whether the DC was aware of this?

  9. Keith Hodges says:

    The public trial right belongs to the public, not just the accused. So even if the accused wanted the trial closed, that doesn’t end the inquiry.

  10. Omar says:

    MJ is COL G. Brockington, DC aware.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Never pick a fight with someone who buys his ink by the barrel. This is a very unfortunate development, and indicative of how non-military folks obtain their often negative opinions of the military justice system. Aside from the exclusion itself, the worst fact for the government here is that anyone other than a reporter could attend. Singling out one’s ink-barrel detractors makes them spend more ink, not less.