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Flynt: Pentagon rules restrict war access

Hustler head plans 'girls of Afghanistan, or something'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An attorney for Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt asked a federal judge Friday to throw out Pentagon guidelines for media coverage in Afghanistan -- rules Flynt says have prevented him from sending correspondents to the front lines.

"I'm the first to concede that the mainstream media can probably do a better job of covering the war than we could," said Flynt, who has fought a series of First Amendment battles through the years. "But nobody from the mainstream media was willing to step up to the plate and file this suit.

"I'm sure that if we get access, we could provide an unusual perspective to the war -- maybe the girls of Afghanistan, or something," he said.

Nothing prevents Flynt from sending correspondents to Afghanistan, said John Giffiths, an attorney for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who is named in Flynt's suit. Reporters from several news organizations are on the ground, Giffiths noted, operating independently of the U.S. military.

At the same time, Giffiths said, nothing in the First Amendment requires the government assist the media in gathering news.

Flynt sent two letters to the Pentagon, asking permission to send his magazine's correspondents to accompany U.S. troops in combat operations. Giffiths said that both requests came before ground operations began in Afghanistan -- when the only official U.S. military action involved high-altitude bombing runs and humanitarian air drops.

Paul Cambria, Flynt's attorney, said Pentagon guidelines require correspondents have military-issued credentials to enter combat areas -- a process, he said, that amounts to "uncontrolled discretion" with officials arbitrarily deciding who gets access and who does not.

"The guidelines that have been put together by the Department of Defense cannot be, as they currently are, without standards," Cambria said. "The guidelines ... say that you must have their permission in order to be in a combat zone. And we asked for that permission, and they did not grant it."

Flynt said that if "people are sending their sons to fight and die in a war, they have a right for this war to be documented by a free press."

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman did not issue a ruling at Friday's hearing on reporters' First Amendment rights to cover battlefield combat, saying he may do so early next week.




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