The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
March 12th, 2009 - Haditha Prosecutor Argues for Release of Interview
From the Associated Press
March 12, 2009
San Diego, CA - Footage of a CBS "60 Minutes" interview with a Marine squad leader accused of killing 24 Iraqis should be disclosed because newsgathering protections do not apply to journalists within the military justice system, a prosecutor argued.
Marine Capt. Nicholas Gannon, who is pursuing charges against Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, argued during a Camp Pendleton court hearing Wednesday that there is no case law extending First Amendment protections to journalists in military court matters.
"The question is unresolved on reporter privilege and it's not for this court to decide," Gannon told Lt. Col. Jeffrey Meeks, who is presiding over the case.
Military prosecutors have said they believe the interview given by Wuterich contains admission of crimes in the attack in Haditha, Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2005.
CBS attorney Carl Benedetti, however, asserted that the portions of the interview that were not broadcast contain no material relevant to the prosecution and argued that a wide range of federal court case law protects journalists from being compelled to disclose all of their work product.
"The case does involve reporter privilege," Benedetti said. "This is a constitutional issue and freedom of the press is important. The First Amendment isn't novel."
The network did not oppose an appellate court ruling that directed Meeks to review the unaired material in private.
At the end of Wednesday's court session, Benedetti handed the judge eight compact discs containing about four hours of material the network did not broadcast.
Wuterich, 28, of Meriden, Conn., faces voluntary manslaughter and other charges in the Haditha deaths, which happened after a roadside bomb hit a Marine convoy, killing a Humvee driver and wounding two other Marines.