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Of Foreign Fevers, Shot, and Shell: Constitutional Rights of Media Access to the Battlefield after Flynt v. Rumsfeld

09/17/2015

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September 17, 2015

Professor Tom Terry’s most recent article, “Of Foreign Fevers, Shot, and Shell: Constitutional Rights of Media Access to the Battlefield after Flynt v. Rumsfeld,” was published this past summer in the National Security and Armed Conflict Law Review. The article addresses the constitutional controversies balancing reporters’ desires to be present at the scene of American combat operations against Pentagon and White House interests in conducting overseas military operations beyond the glare of publicity.

Dr. Terry believes a free press, largely unfettered in its reporting activities, best fulfills the imperatives of the First Amendment as a watchdog on government behavior. He quoted Supreme Court Associate Justice unequivocal statement in New York Times v. United States (the 1971 Pentagon Papers case), “[P]aramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.” Dr. Terry concludes, however, that both military and media need to resolve the constitutional access dilemma between them, rather than risk an unambiguous Supreme Court decision that could prove ruinous to either or both sides.