Rumsfeld Suggests bin Laden, Zarqawi Manipulating U.S. Press

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By: E&P Staff

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appeared on Rush Limbaugh’s talk radio show on Monday, his remarks defending himself from calls for his resignation drew wide attention. Generally overlooked were a couple of questions and answers on the subject of press coverage in Iraq.

For one thing, Rumsfeld said it was important to “recognize that the terrorists, Zarqawi and bin Laden and Zawahiri, those people have media committees. They are actively out there trying to manipulate the press in the United States. They are very good at it. They’re much better at (laughing) managing those kinds of things than we are.”

Asked why fewer reporters were embedding in Iraq, Rumsfeld said he’d talked to one journalist, and “there was a kind of impression left that ‘Well, if you got embedded then you were really part of the problem instead of part of the solution and you were almost going over to the other side,’ argument. I think that’s an inexcusable thought, and I don’t know if that’s the case.” He did not explain why he mentioned that, not knowing if it was true.”

Here is the transcript, from the Limbaugh Web site, of that portion of the interview.

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LIMBAUGH: Let me amend it. Let me ask you one final question. Somebody on my staff is curious to know what your opinion is of embedding reporters with the military. Has that worked? Has that worked as you had hoped?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, it has. It worked during the Iraq conflict, and a lot of people who are reporters and journalists were able to work with our troops and see precisely how terrific they are, the wonderful job they do, the kinds of people they are, how professional they are — and the rest of their lives they’re going to have an impression of the American military that will be good for journalism, in my view. Furthermore, they were able, because they were embedded, to see and then give the world and the people of the United States a slice of what was actually happening, real reality, and it was a good thing. More recently, very few people had been being embedded. We’re still offering that opportunity, but there have been far fewer journalists who have stepped up to become embedded.

LIMBAUGH: Why do you think that is?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, it’s a funny thing. I asked one reporter about that, and there was kind of the impression left that, “Well, if you got embedded then you were really part of the problem instead of part of the solution and you were almost going over to the other side,” argument. I think that’s an inexcusable thought, and I don’t know if that’s the case.

LIMBAUGH: That’s outrageous.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: It is. (Laughing.)

RUSH: I can’t believe that.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: (Laughing.)



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