TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: US Lags in Propoganda War According to Rumsfeld

US Lags in Propoganda War According to Rumsfeld

Daniel Trotta (
Fri, 17 Feb 2006 15:37:52 -0600

By Daniel Trotta

The United States lags dangerously behind al Qaeda and other enemies
in getting out information in the digital media age and must update
its old-fashioned methods, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on

Modernization is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims
worldwide who are bombarded with negative images of the West, Rumsfeld
told the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Pentagon chief said today's weapons of war included e-mail,
Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and Web logs, or

"Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media
age, but ... our country has not adapted," Rumsfeld said.

"For the most part, the U.S. government still functions as a 'five and
dime' store in an eBay world," Rumsfeld said, referring to
old-fashioned U.S. retail stores and the online auction house,

Rumsfeld said U.S. military public affairs officers must learn to
anticipate news and respond faster, and good public affairs officers
should be rewarded with promotions.

The military's information offices still operate mostly eight hours a
day, five or six days a week while the challenges they faces occur 24
hours a day, seven days a week. Rumsfeld called that a "dangerous

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy of the opposition Democratic Party
immediately criticized Rumsfeld as missing the point.

"Clearly, we need to improve our public diplomacy and information age
communication in the Muslim world," Kennedy said in a statement. "But
nothing has done more to encourage increased Al Qaeda recruitment and
made America less safe than the war in Iraq and the incompetent way
it's been managed. Our greatest failure is our policy."

Rumsfeld lamented that vast media attention about U.S. abuses at Abu
Ghraib prison in Iraq outweighed that given to the discovery of
"Saddam Hussein's mass graves."

On the emergence of satellite television and other media not under
Arab state control, he said, "While al Qaeda and extremist movements
have utilized this forum for many years ... we in the government have
barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences."

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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