Army Tells Stars & Stripes -Write It Our Way!

During the height of World War II, General George Patton became furious at the cartoons of the famous Bill Mauldin, “Willie and Joe” series and wanted to ban Mauldin from future writing. Patton was over-ruled by General Dwight Eisenhower who insisted the American enlisted men needed cartoonists who poked fun at their superior officers. In 2009, the United States army has barred a reporter for Stars & Stripes from covering an Iraqi-based unit operating in the still violent Mosul area because he “refused to highlight” positive news during an earlier visit. The Defense Department writes and oversees the broad operating policy for Stars & Stripes, but the newspaper’s editorial comment and functions are, by regulation, supposed to remain free of military influence or control.

The commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Col. Gary Volesky, complained that reporter Heath Druzin would “not answer questions about stories he was writing.” Sorry, Colonel, he does not have to tell you what he is writing. The Stars & Stripes story editorial director, Terry Leonard said Druzin’s reporting “has been consistently accurate and fair.” Perhaps, Colonel Volesky should check back to the Eisenhower defense of Bill Mauldin for guidelines on how officers should keep their noses out of the affairs of reporters who work for Stars & Stripes.

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