Dana Priest Chats It Up

Yesterday, Dana Priest held an online chat where she covered such issues as the Post’s coverage of the conditions at Walter Reed Hospital, Judith Miller’s security status, and the PBS documentary “News War.” Some excerpts:

    Rockville, Md.: Great stories this week. Do you really believe that Bush, as he has said, didn’t know about any of this until he read it in The Post?

    Dana Priest: Frankly, I doubt that Bush or the Army brass at the Pentagon were aware of the conditions at Building 18. But it is very hard for me to believe that they or their top staffs were unaware of the larger, debilitating bureaucratic obstacles that wounded soldiers face.

    Santa Cruz, Calif.: Is it true that Judith Miller obtained a Security Clearance when she was a reporter on WMD for the NY Times and do other NYT reporters working on the same issues like Michael Gordon have Security Clearances? Finally, what effect does this have on self-censorship by the press?

    Dana Priest: There’s no such thing as a security clearance for a journalist, at least not in my experience.

    Washington: I saw part of your interview in the News War documentary on Frontline where you said you’re willing to go to jail to protect your sources. If I understood correctly, had AG Ashcroft not recused himself from investigating Plamegate, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald would not have entered the picture and subpoenaed so many reporters to testify before the grand jury. Ironically, Ashcroft’s justice department was more amenable to allowing reporters to protect their sources. Do I have that right?

    Dana Priest: That’s a fascinating question. I do think Ashcroft turned out to be more conventional than Gonzales in his understanding of the role of journalism. But, remember, everything’s relative.