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[] WPO 27.03.03: Unembedded Journalist's Report Provokes Military Ire,

Washington Post
March 27, 2003
Pg. C1

Unembedded Journalist's Report Provokes Military Ire

By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Staff Writer

A reporter who never signed up for the Pentagon's embedding program in Iraq 
has run afoul of the military.

Phil Smucker, who writes for the Christian Science Monitor, told his paper 
yesterday that military police were going through his belongings and were 
concerned that he had disclosed too much information in an interview, 
according to Monitor Foreign Editor David Scott.

Despite repeated attempts to contact Smucker, "that's the last we've heard 
from him," Scott said. "He was upset. I don't think he felt like he'd done 

"Some general in Qatar blew a fuse and said, 'Get rid of this guy,' " said 
Smucker's father, John, who lives in Alexandria.

Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said she is looking into the report but 
could not confirm that Smucker had been detained. "Our overwhelming 
experience to date is that people are trying very hard to be very careful, 
very responsible," she said. "There have been less than a handful of 
incidents in which someone revealed information they shouldn't."

Smucker has been traveling with the 1st Marine Division even though he is 
not one of the 600 "embedded" journalists who formally agree not to 
disclose information deemed too sensitive by military commanders. Since 
Smucker is independent, said Bryan Whitman, Clarke's deputy, local 
commanders can "treat him as any other civilian on the battlefield." A 
spokesman at the U.S. Central Command in Qatar had no immediate information 
on the situation.

Smucker, 41, is a freelance reporter who has also worked for the Washington 
Times, U.S. News & World Report, the Miami Herald and the San Francisco 
Chronicle, according to his father. He added that Smucker was detained by 
Syria for two days while trying to enter Iraq without a visa.

Scott said Smucker told him about 6:30 a.m. that he "got a general mad" 
with an interview he gave to CNN 90 minutes earlier and that the reporter 
said he was told that "I gave out information I shouldn't have given out."

In the interview, Smucker told CNN's Carol Costello: "We're about 100 miles 
south on the main highway. It's an unfinished highway. It goes between the 
Tigris and Euphrates River in the direction of Baghdad."

Smucker continued to provide more geographic details about the Army and 
Marine forces, prompting Costello to interrupt him:

"Well, don't be too specific," she said. "We don't want exact specifics."

"Okay," said Smucker, who gave a similar description yesterday to National 
Public Radio.

Scott said he suspects that the Marines "have his gear and are not letting 
him call out." He said Smucker might be expelled -- or forced to join the 
embedding program, "which would be fine by me."

While Smucker has been writing about the warfare in Iraq, his 75-year-old 
father has been trying to stop it. John Smucker said he has been arrested 
twice in recent weeks, once for kneeling on the steps of the Pentagon and 
again for blocking traffic on King Street in Alexandria.

As for his son, Smucker said: "I'm torn. Someone's decided to take his 
income possibilities away. But we want him back in the country anyway."

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