BEIJING, Oct. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- The Pentagon is taking aim
at the Internet and Web logs, the so-called "new media," in a campaign to
deflect mounting criticism of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by a U.S.
public that is becoming increasingly disenchanged with the conflict in Iraq.
Rumsfeld has often criticized media for concentrating too
much on bad news coming out of Iraq, and not enough on progress being made
there. Earlier this year during a trip to Nevada he said he was deeply troubled
by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence
"That's the thing that keeps me up at night," he said
during a question-and-answer session at a naval base.
"If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a 'D'
or a 'D-plus' as a country as to how well we're doing in the battle of ideas
that's taking place in the world today," Rumsfeld said during a visit to the
Army War College in March. "I'm not going to suggest that it's easy, but we have
not found the formula as a country for countering the extremists' message."
The Associated Press obtained a memo by Dorrance Smith,
assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, that said new teams of people
will "develop messages" for the 24-hour news cycle and "correct the record."
The memo describes an operation modeled after a political
campaign -- such as that made famous by Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential race
war room -- calling for a "Rapid Response" section that quickly answers
Another branch would coordinate "surrogates."
In a political campaign, surrogates are often high-level
politicians or key interest groups who speak or travel on behalf of a candidate
or an issue. It also would include new workers to book civilian and military
guests on television and radio shows.
Despite repeated requests for details on the cost and
scope of the program, which has been in the works for months, Pentagon press
secretary Eric Ruff would not provide the exact number of people to be hired,
how many would be transferred from other Pentagon jobs, or how many would be
political appointees or contractors.
It also was unclear where the funding would come from,
considering the Defense Department is struggling to pay for wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, as well as repeated requests from Army and Marine Corps leaders to
repair and replace equipment lost and damaged in battle.
Ruff said the effort was not initiated in response to
eroding public support for the war. He said it was not aimed at helping in next
week's elections. He also said he would not call it an "information operations"
program, which generally refers to a propaganda-type campaign.
Ruff said the effort grew out of Rumsfeld's criticism of
the department's communications capabilities, which the secretary compared
unfavorably to how quickly and effectively terrorists can get their message out.
The Pentagon changes come as Americans prepare to go to
the polls next week with the war in Iraq as a key issue. Polls suggest the
Republicans could lose their majority in the House, and perhaps the Senate, too.
U.S. congressman announces bid for
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- U.S. congressman Duncan
Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, announced Monday that he
plans to make a long shot bid for the Republican party's 2008 nomination for
Hunter, who represents California in the House, said his
campaign will feature the two issues that are his trademarks: support for the
U.S. military and opposition to illegal immigration, the Los Angeles Times
reported on its website. Full Story
U.S. protesters call for end to Iraq
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of people
marched in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to press for an end to the war in
Carrying red signs that read "Stop Bush," the protesters
called on the Bush Administration to bring the troops home from Iraq and other
countries they said were victims of American imperialism, and to start focusing
on the welfare of people in the United States. Full Story
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