U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Pentagon revokes embed opportunity for Washington Post reporter following critical coverage

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 2018

Denial of Access

Government agency or public official involved
Type of denial
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., is seen from aboard Air Force One, on March 29, 2018.

— REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
May 1, 2018

After Washington Post reporter Dan Lamothe wrote a critical piece about Afghan commandos in April 2018, the Pentagon revoked a previously-offered opportunity to embed with U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan.

Lamothe wrote an article on April 28 about how the Afghan military was increasing its number of elite commando troops and decreasing the size of its conventional military troops. Politico reported that officials took issue to the tone and some of the quotations used, his opportunity to embed was revoked.

“During a reporting visit in April to cover U.S. troops in Afghanistan, I was offered a rare opportunity to embed with U.S. Special Forces fighting Islamic State militants in Afghanistan,” Lamothe told Politico. “While preparing for that assignment in May, I was told that the Special Forces embed offer was revoked. I traveled back to Afghanistan a short time later, and instead accepted offers to embed with the Army’s new security force adviser brigade and U.S. military advisers who train the Afghan air force. I stand by my reporting, and thank the units that allowed me to spend time alongside them.”

Some Pentagon reporters have said that press access is becoming increasingly limited, and that individual reporters and news organizations are targeted for retaliation for stories they write.

Lamothe said that he does not know whether there is any connection between the Pentagon’s retaliation against reporters and the withdrawal of his embed opportunity.

“Decisions like the revocation of my embed have happened under numerous administrations, and can be driven by a general officer or public affairs officer in theater,” he told Freedom of the Press Foundation. “I am unclear if recently reduced access at the Pentagon in any way contributed to my situation.”

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].