Archive for June 7th, 2008

The Washington Post

When Post reporters call government agencies for comment on an investigation soon to be published, it is not good news for public affairs officers.

Post reporters — or any reporters for that matter — don’t do investigations to report that everything is hunky-dory. They do investigations to highlight problems that need to be corrected.

Agencies and reporters look at investigations decidedly differently. Agency officials don’t like to see documents leaked, unhappy employees interviewed or major problems revealed. They resent reporters digging into problems that they may feel are being or have been corrected.

So it was no surprise that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials were upset about a four-part series that ran May 11-14, about the health care of immigrant detainees. Veteran reporters Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein detailed mistakes that led to some of the 83 detainee deaths in the past five years, showed serious gaps in mental health treatment, suicides that could have been prevented and the medically unnecessary drugging of deportees for the trip back to their home countries. Immigrant health care is managed by ICE’s Division of Immigration Health Services.

ICE press secretary Kelly Nantel said that the series was “unethical, adversarial . . . misleading and highly editorial in nature” and “more harmful than helpful.” She said in an interview that DIHS health professionals were “devastated” by it.

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