WASHINGTON – The Pentagon returned a videotape that military police confiscated Tuesday from a Fox News Channel cameraman, who was detained and handcuffed after he was discovered documenting a traffic stop of an Iranian man along the highway that runs outside the building.
"A disturbing development tonight, possibly reflecting on the restrictive information policies of the Defense Department. A Fox News cameraman was accosted by Pentagon Police outside the building this afternoon as he was shooting pictures of an arrest being carried out by Virginia State Police on a highway that runs alongside the Pentagon but outside Pentagon property," Fox News' Brit Hume reported Tuesday evening. "Fox News has protested to Assistant Secretary of Defense Victoria Clarke."
The Pentagon returned the videotape on Wednesday afternoon to the Fox News bureau in Washington, D.C., where cameraman Gregg Gursky is employed.
In a Pentagon briefing Wednesday afternoon, spokeswoman Clarke said the incident was typical of the irregular circumstances the country has been thrust into since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
"Prior to Sept. 11, I don’t think it occurred to us that a plane could fly into your building. We need to figure out what the policies need to be when news breaks out right in front of someone," she said.
Clarke said currently notices are posted all over the Pentagon reservation announcing that photography is not permitted unless cameramen are accompanied by an escort, but Pentagon personnel will continue talks with news agencies about revising policy regarding videotaping of spot news.
"I think the constructive thing to do, not to belabor this too much, but we're constantly talking with you all, the bureau chiefs, saying that unusual circumstances, unconventional things happen, how are we going to handle that and how are we going to deal with that," she added.
Gursky, who has security clearance and credentials to shoot at the Pentagon, said he had finished filming a police stop of a white pickup truck on a Virginia public highway from what he thought was public property near the Pentagon, when military personnel stopped him and asked for his tape.
Gursky was told he was on government property without a permit. He refused to give up the tape, after which officials frisked him, handcuffed him and said he was being arrested for disobeying a police officer, the cameraman said Wednesday.
After the tape had been taken away, he was let out of the handcuffs and was free to go without arrest, he said.
Virginia State Police told Fox News they had stopped a man driving a pickup truck on Route 110, which runs near the Pentagon and is Virginia state property. Such six-axle trucks are now restricted on that road.
The man was of Iranian descent and did not speak clear English, said the police official. The man's identification cleared with state and federal agencies and the truck swept for explosives by dogs before police let him go without incident.