Commando Solo to Broadcast Pentagon Briefings to Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2003 The citizens of Iraq received a taste of democracy in action as the news briefing today by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers was broadcast via Commando Solo aircraft to Baghdad.
Rumsfeld, speaking at the Foreign Press Center here, said the department is doing this "because the truth matters."
He said the Iraqi people should know and hear the truth. U.S. Central Command used Commando Solo II aircraft to broadcast into Afghanistan at the start of operations in that nation. Commando Solo aircraft are modified C-130s capable of broadcasting radio and television on a real time basis. The aircraft are part of the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. They are based at the Harrisburg International Airport.
DoD officials will say only that the crews are operating "somewhere in the Gulf."
Rumsfeld said broadcasting the news briefings shows democracy and freedom at work. Public officials in democracies are held accountable and must explain their actions to the people, he said.
"Every week, General Myers and I stand in the Pentagon in front of independent journalists -- professionals -- and try to answer their questions," Rumsfeld said. "Some of the questions are tough, many are insightful and all add to the information available to the American people and the people of the world."
Rumsfeld said that once the reporters leave the studio they do not fear for their lives. "They know that they and their families will not be threatened and that no one will be beaten or punished."
Truth matters in a democracy, he said, it is the foundation of justice.
He contrasted that with Saddam Hussein's regime, which, he said, is built on "terror, intimidation and lies."
In 1991, Hussein agreed to give up his weapons of mass destruction. "For more than a decade, his regime has refused to live up to his promises," Rumsfeld said. "Instead, it has fed the world a steady diet of untruths and deceptions."