Rumsfeld Asks Editors to Tell Whole Story of War
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 22, 2004 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld appealed to American newspaper editors here today to tell the whole story about the global war on terrorism.
Rumsfeld spoke at a conference of U.S. newspaper editors, and told the group their publications are uniquely posed to help debate in America because they have the room for detail and nuance.
"To know the whole story about what's going on in Iraq today, America and other nations need to hear not just the truth that there are attacks and setbacks, but also why these attacks are happening and why the terrorists and the regime remnants are lashing out," Rumsfeld said. "And this is where the print media can play a special role. You have the space to give context -- to inform the public about things that don't make the sound bite on evening news. Terrorists and bomb-throwers get headlines, to be sure. The good people of Iraq and Afghanistan do not."
Nor do the courageous men and women of the coalition who have deployed to the countries, Rumsfeld added. Military and civilian personnel have deployed to help Iraqis and Afghans get on a path to self-government and to self-reliance, he said. "They do not make headlines, but they are making a difference," the secretary told the editors.
"The vast majority of the Iraqi people are not rioting, they're not looting, they're not shooting, he continued. "For every bomb that goes off in Baghdad, there are many bombs that are defused as a result of coalition soldiers acting on information they receive from Iraqi people.
"For every building that's damaged by mortar fire, there are many schools and hospitals and clinics that are being built and repaired," he continued. "And for every Iraqi soldier who was reluctant to fight in the past few weeks, there are tens of thousands of Iraqi security officials who are fighting every day for the Iraqi people, and there have been over 300 Iraqi security forces that have been killed in recent months."
The secretary had harsh words for the Arab television news services Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah. He said the two media outlets "are routinely telling the world lies about coalition actions."
He said that as the Arab population becomes used to freedom, it will be able to discern truth from lies. "Afghans and Iraqis are now free," he said. "After decades of being fed lies by dictatorial regimes and the controlled press, they are starting to thirst for the truth.
"Just as Americans have, so too free Afghans and Iraqis will eventually develop their own sense of balance, their own inner gyroscopes, and an ability to absorb what they hear," he said.