Pulitzer winner talks U.S. security

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Dana Priest gave a presentation about how a free press, constitutional values and the internet as new media will make the democracy stronger.

Sponsored by The Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement and Community Connections and funded by the Seasongood Foundation, the event was originally scheduled for Jan. 27 but was cancelled due to inclement weather and rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30.

Priest said the background story to President Obama’s initiative to close Gauntanamo Prison was first a story about the Constitution and second about how journalism brought deep secrets out into the open where they could be debated.

‘It is also a tale about the power of the new media and the power of old values,’ Priest said. ‘The new media being the internet as a tool for journalists and old values that question government actions, even secret government actions.’

Her story is set against a thick black wall of classified government information.
Before Sept. 11, the U.S.’ government did not use torture techniques such as water boarding for intelligence gathering. There was no distrust of the media or firing of government officials who questioned how the United States treated prisoners of war.
The congressional war resolution gave the president what ever means necessary to ensure national security.

Priest began uncovering the secret operations of our government with her expos’eacute; on Black sites, CIA prisons that were scattered across the globe as early as November 2005.
The questions of legality and morality contributed to America’s foreign policy and prestige throughout the global community.

When Priest released pictures in Walter Reed Hospital of veteran’s living quarters being infested with mold and mice droppings, e-mails and blogs over the public’s outrage swamped the Internet and her own personal Blackberry. The internet was faster than print in response to those images. The change of media, YouTube, blogs, and multimedia options on news Web sites are a new, exciting way to deliver our news, Priest said, but should never be a substitute for the content.

As news publications face the brunt of the current recession, companies are downsizing and non-profit organizations such as ProPublica may be an alternative source for investigative news. Priest addressed the importance of the public’s interest in investigative journalism, ‘It’s righting a wrong.’