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How soon we forget
The Recurrent Casualty
Pentagon Goes J-School

The military—any military—has never been known for subtlety, let alone journalism. Machines trained to fight and destroy generally aren’t. Here’s an example. Today’s top story at the Pentagon’s web site transcribes Donald Rumsfeld’s latest fabulism and begins with this remarkable line: “Terrorists operating in Iraq are staging attacks that garner negative press coverage so that the American people become soured on the war.” Hubris is a characteristic of the current administration, but this is quite the leap. The entire insurgency, it turns out, is just a media ploy, a play for attention in the United States. It has nothing to do with an occupation force in Iraq facing an indigenous and wildly, popularly supported uprising. So, “As concern in the Defense Department mounts over eroding public support for the Iraq war,” The LATimes reports, “the Pentagon has launched a rapid-response public relations effort to rebut news stories that officials believe are inaccurate or misleading.” This from the Pentagon that gives us invented and planted news stories in the foreign press, the embedded-reporter program, and the occasional “oops! We bombed the press by mistake again” refrain. But look at its inspiration: “The Defense Department's rapid-response efforts echo an initiative called "Setting the Record Straight," in which the White House identifies what it says are news reports' inaccuracies or quotations out of context. Among the first results of the Pentagon response is a new "For the Record" section of the Defense Department's website, http://www.defenselink.mil . Some examples of alleged myths, according to the Pentagon: The Defense Department has pursued a “stay the course” strategy that does not allow for adjustments in strategy.” And “Secretary Rumsfeld ignored military advice to increase troop levels in Iraq .” Pour yourself some French roast and have a read. It would be funny if the consequences haven’t been so tragic, if the piled-on lies don’t lead straight to every community graveyard in the United States and Iraq.

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