Rumsfeld Greets Young Visitor to Pentagon Press Room
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2003 What started out as a simple visit with her aunt who works in the Pentagon, led to access most Washington reporters only dream of for an aspiring young reporter from New York.
Following a media briefing this afternoon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld granted an exclusive to 9-year- old Katie Hanks, who had accompanied her aunt, Air Force Maj. Anne Skelly, a speechwriter for Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to the briefing.
Hanks, from Ogdensburg, N.Y, had been sitting in the back of the room, quietly observing Rumsfeld's briefing with Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command. After telling reporters he was through answering questions for the day, Rumsfeld made a beeline to the back of the room.
"Who is this young lady with a smile?" Rumsfeld asked the shocked girl.
"Katie Hanks," she replied, and without missing a beat, added, "I've got a question for you."
The secretary asked her to make it an easy one, saying he'd had a tough day. Referring to her notebook like any seasoned reporter, Katie shocked everyone within earshot.
"Can you please describe the most unreported eventful progress in Iraq?" the girl asked. Abizaid responded, "That's the hardest question you've gotten all day, Mr. Secretary."
After listening to the secretary explain progress in electing city councils and economic improvements, it was Abizaid who came up with an answer most children Katie's age would approve of: television dishes.
"There are television dishes literally everywhere in Baghdad that Saddam Hussein wouldn't let be in there," the general, desert camouflage uniform and all, told the young girl.
Katie later admitted her aunt had helped her with the question but that it was a thrill to meet the secretary.
"I never get this much attention," she told reporters after Rumsfeld had departed.