Rumsfeld defends planting stories in Iraqi media
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended a Pentagon program to place information in Iraqi media while slamming U.S. media on Friday.
In late 2005, media outlets reported that employees of the Washington-based Lincoln Group, a defense contractor, had posed as freelance reporters and advertising executives to help push pro-America stories to Iraqi news editors.
Speaking Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Rumsfeld said terrorists are skilled at spreading false information quickly, such as allegations that U.S. troops flushed a Quran down the toilet at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But the U.S government “still operates for the most part on an eight-hour, five-days-a-week basis, while world events, and our enemies, are operating 24-7, across every time zone,” he said.
Rumsfeld said the government tried to adapt to the relentless news cycle by seeking “nontraditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people,” but the press has portrayed this as “buying news.”
“The resulting explosion in critical press stories then causes everything — all activity, all initiative — to stop,” Rumsfeld said.
He said the bad news also has a “chilling effect” on military public affairs personnel.
“The conclusion is drawn that there is no tolerance for innovation, much less any human error that could conceivable be seized upon by a press that seems to demand perfection from the government, but does not apply the same standard to the enemy or even sometimes to themselves.”