Authors William Styron and E. L. Doctorow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and nine news organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon's control of news coverage in the Persian Gulf crisis.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court seeks a court order blocking the government from enforcing the rules - which establish pool coverage, restrict descriptions of combat and require military review of combat dispatches - unless the Pentagon shows a "bona fide security justification."Included in the suit are the Pacific News Service and eight publications often critical of government policy: The Nation, Harper's, In These Times, The Guardian, The Progressive Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, The L.A. Weekly and The Village Voice.
Doctorow, author of "Billy Bathgate" and "World's Fair," and Styron, who wrote "The Confessions of Nat Turner" and "Sophie's Choice," say they plan to write about the gulf crisis for The Nation.
Also suing are Newsday columnist Sydney H. Schanberg, who won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting from Cambodia and Vietnam for The New York Times; and Michael Klare, defense correspondent for The Nation.
The lawsuit claims that the Pentagon adopted the rules "to control and manipulate information available to the American public," not for security reasons, as the government says.
"They don't want us to have a front-row seat because they're worried that if we bring the public to that front-row seat, they'll lose public support and congressional support," Schanberg said.
Lt. Col. Steve Roy, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, said the government had not yet heard of the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.
Named as defendants are the Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Pete Williams, Gen. Colin Powell and President Bush.