Rumsfeld faults enemy media manipulation
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday he is deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in ''manipulating the media'' to influence Westerners.There have been numerous examples of that manipulation in this blog over teh last few years, but the NY Times could cite no examples. One of the obvious ones is the enemy's deliberate targeting of non combatants in order to generate headlines. If these stories were buried inside the paper, or if they were condemned as teh war crimes that they are, he would be denied his propaganda, but instead the media generally runs them under a theme that blames the US and Iraqi forces for not stopping them rather than high lighting the wickedness of the enemy.
''That's the thing that keeps me up at night,'' he said during a question-and-answer session with about 200 naval aviators and other Navy personnel at this flight training base for Navy and Marine pilots.
Rumsfeld was asked whether the criticism he draws as Pentagon chief and a leading advocate of the war in Iraq is an impediment to performing his job. He said it was not and he knows from history that wars are normally unpopular with many Americans. ''I expect that,'' he said. ''I understand that.''
''What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is,'' he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror.
''They are actively manipulating the media in this country'' by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
''They can lie with impunity,'' he said, while U.S. troops are held to a high standard of conduct.
''The enemy lies constantly -- almost totally without penalty,'' he told the veterans group, which presented him with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award. ''They portray our cause as a war on Islam when in fact the overwhelming majority of victims of their terrorism have been the thousands and thousands of innocent Muslims -- men, women and children -- that they have killed.''
He added, ''While some at home argue for tossing in the towel, the enemy is waiting and hoping that we will do just that.''
''The enemy is so much better at communicating,'' he added. ''I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say -- all of which are not true -- is harmful. It's cumulative. And it does weaken people's will and lessen their determination, and raise questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it,'' he said alluding to Americans and other Westerners.
In the recent war with Hezballah, the enemy manipulated images as part of its "victim offensive." In a post linking a Michael Totten report from Israel, one of the Palestinians responsible for firing rockets into Israel admitted that they had stopped during the Hezballah conflict because they was was sucking the oxygen out of their racket attacks, i.e. they were getting no media coverage. There appears to be very little self awareness on the part of the media as to how it is being manipulated. Most stories about the manipulation are coming from blogs like this one.