Uh Oh. Rummy’s Pissed at the Press

One of the military’s new wartime challenges is dealing with global media that can instantly spread around the world information that may be false or damaging to U.S. interests, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

The United States needs to respond to anti-American messages with greater agility and speed if it is to win the ideological struggle with Islamic extremists, Rumsfeld said in a speech to members of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

“We’ll need to develop considerably more sophisticated ways of using these new means of communication that are now available to reach the many and diverse audiences,” he said.

Rumsfeld didn’t delve deeply into specifics in his brief talk with members of the civic group. But in the recent past, news outlets have broadcast messages from terrorist groups, or reported stories that have fueled rage against Americans in the Muslim world.

“This is really the first war in history that is being conducted in an era of multiple global satellite television networks, 24-hour news outlets with live coverage of terrorist attacks, disasters and combat operations,” Rumsfeld said.

He said U.S. officials must also deal with “a global Internet with universal access and no inhibitions, e-mail, cell phones, digital cameras wielded by anyone and everyone” and “a seemingly casual disregard for the protection of classified information, resulting in a near continuous hemorrhage of classified documents, to the detriment of the country.”

The defense secretary was among those who complained earlier this month following deadly riots in Afghanistan after Newsweek published a story that U.S. interrogators desecrated a copy of the Quran at Guantanamo Bay. The magazine later retracted the story amid questions about its truthfulness.

© 2005 The Associated Press