Dana Priest

Author and National Security Correspondent with The Washington PostDana Priest

The Media as Junkyard Dog: One Journalist’s Journey From Secret CIA Prisons to the Walter Reed Scandal

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
4:30 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

Dana Priest, Pulitzer Prize winner, and the reporter who “broke the story” on Walter Reed Hospital. What is the role of the mainstream media during a time of war and growing government secrecy? Priest takes us through the obstacle course, with all its trapped doors and moral dilemmas she encounters everyday in reporting during a time of great national angst and fear of terrorism. Co-sponsored by the United States Army War College and the philosophy department.

Issue in Context
While the “War on Terror” and the debate about its constitutionality continues, concerns about the system of American democracy and its morality are at the center of our national life.
As the link between the government and the American public, the media are responsible for informing American citizens about Federal policies and practices, and the government’s actions and inactions. But what happens if the government withholds such information from the media? Does the Bush administration have the right to operate in secrecy? The treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, Guantanamo Bay and CIA “black-sites,” and of wounded American soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. raises questions about what can happen when the government functions without a great deal of oversight.
Reporting on national issues has rarely been as difficult as it is today. As network news anchor Dan Rather put it, “There has never been an American war, small or large, in which access has been so limited as this one.” (BBC Newsnight, May 2002)
In this time of war, what role should the media play? Is there a conflict between legality, ethics, national security and defense? And what exactly does having freedom of the press really mean?

About the Speaker
Dana Priest is the national security correspondent for The Washington Post. For the past 20 years working with the Post, she has reported on the intelligence community and national security issues. She was the Pentagon correspondent for seven years, during which time she covered the invasion of Panama, reported from Iraq, covered the Kosovo war, and traveled widely with the Army Special Forces.
Ms. Priest received the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting in 2006 for her articles on CIA secret prisons and counterterrorism operations. Her other awards for the same articles include The George Polk Award for National Reporting and The Overseas Press Club’s Bob Considine Award for interpretation of international affairs. She also received the first Distinguished Social Sciences Alumni Award from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2006. Priest’s widely acclaimed book THE MISSION: Waging War and Keeping Peace With America’s Military, released in 2003, won the prestigious New York Public Library Bernstein Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Priest earned a B.A. in political science from the University of California at Santa Cruz. In 2001, Priest was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Research and Writing grant. She also received the 2001 Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the National Defense for her series “The Proconsuls: A Four-Star Foreign Policy?” and the State Department’s Excellence in Journalism Award for the same series. She was also a guest scholar in residence at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Related Links
Article: “CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons”
Article: “Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army’s Top Medical Facility”
Beat Reporting Pulitzer Prize
2004 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award