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RTNDA Targets Provision Blocking Access to Satellite Imagery

Sep 8, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The Radio-Television News Directors Association on Wednesday asked Congress to ax a provision in a major defense authorization bill that could prevent journalists from gaining access to unclassified satellite imagery generated for the U.S. government.

News organizations currently routinely get access to the imagery, using it to cover wars and other disasters. But now the Pentagon, partly because of national security concerns, wants lawmakers to impede access to the material by exempting its disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

In a statement, RTNDA said satellite imagery that raises national security concerns can always be placed off limits by government classification. Barbara Cochran, RTNDA president, said of the provision to bar access to unclassified imagery, “This overbroad and unnecessary provision would severely compromise government accountability and the public’s right to know. Congress should reject this provision, as it is ripe for misuse and abuse.”