Pentagon mounts media campaign to defend Rumsfeld 2006-10-31 14:42:06

    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 Westerners.

    "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 opponents' assertions.

    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 presidential candidacy

    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 president.

    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 war

    LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of people marched in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to press for an end to the war in Iraq.

    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

More Related Stories >>>

Editor: Gareth Dodd
E-mail Us  
Related Stories