Friday, Sept. 28, 2001
(Meeting with DoD National Media Pool Bureau Chiefs. Also participating: Richard McGraw, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs, and Army Col. Lane Van de Steeg, coordinator, DoD National Media Pool.)
Clarke: Thank you all very much for coming. If you haven't met me or spoken to me on the phone, I'm Torie Clarke, and I'm the assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. What I'd like to do just real briefly is introduce a few other members of my team, of our team, We're going to give you some handouts before you all leave, one of which will be a list of names, numbers, home, cell, every other which way we have of contacting us and encourage you to do so. Dick, why don't we start with you?
Clarke: Let me say at the outset we want this very much to be a conversation and a discussion and a dialogue, the first of many. Because I don't know if you heard the secretary say this last week and the week before I think from the podium or you've heard some of the things we have said, but we are in a whole new world here. We're trying to figure out the rules of the road. We are trying to figure out how to work with you, how to make sure you get what you need, you access the means to do your jobs which we think are vitally important while protecting the national security and the safety of the men and women in uniform.
Q: What are the rules for here today?
Clarke: The rules for here today are on the record. We'll make a transcript available afterwards if anybody wants it. We will post the transcript. And I'm glad you asked that because we want this very process about trying to figure out these rules of the road to be as transparent as possible, to be as open as possible. We aren't the be all/end all of anything. We certainly aren't on this because we are in such new territory. As the secretary has said again and again every aspect of this war, including how we work with you all, is very different. It's a very unconventional war in many ways. What happens on the military front will be very unconventional. So we have to think of new ways to work with you all.
A lot of the fundamentals will remain, but we've got to think outside the box and try to figure out the best way to work with you all in what will be some very different circumstances.
So the first order of business is everyone and anyone should ask questions, make comments, insults, jokes appreciated if we've got any.
I have to tell you, one of the things I did trying to get ready for this meeting was get the transcript of a meeting Pete Williams did with you all in January of 1991. A casual hands-up of who all was in that meeting. That was something! It must have been two or three hours. Must have been. On and on and on.
Q: There were a number of meetings with Pete within that, from Desert Storm, into Desert Storm.
Clarke: For some reason that was the one that stood out that people grabbed off the shelf. I called him this morning and he goes, "Yeah, are you having a lot of fun in your job yet?"
But this important. I hope this is the first of several gatherings. As the president has said and the secretary has said, we are talking about something that is going to go on for years, not months and weeks. As circumstances change, we want to be flexible as well.
The fundamentals remain the same. We are about making sure you can do your jobs as well as you possibly can do them. We think what you do is very important. We think providing as much news and information in as timely a fashion as possible is critically important. How we get that done is one of the reasons we're here today.
So I'll stop there for a minute and see if anybody has any questions or comments, and we'll next turn to Lane and have Lane just talk briefly about this is the existing state of play with regard to the pool and the kinds of things we've got set up and the kinds of ground rules we have and I'll kick that around for a bit. But I'll stop before we turn Lane on and see if anybody has any major burning issues or something they want to add to the agenda.
Van De Steeg: Most of you should have the ground rules. Most of you if not all of you have the ground rules. We sent those to you when we called and invited you to the meeting or provided them to you when we had the turnover briefing last, I guess it was Monday. We asked if you had any inputs to those or had any recommendations or suggestions to please let us know. They have withstood the test of time. They haven't changed, as far as I can tell, from the day they were written and codified, and probably, perhaps, they don't need to change. But we're in a new world, like Mrs. Clark said, this is a new war, and technology if nothing else has certainly changed over the past 15 or so years. So we'd like your input.
Right now we are very much in the process of making sure the pool is ready to go. I have had a meeting just this week with the group that starts, the deployers that come in on the 1st, at midnight on the 1st and run through December. And I also had the group in there running from January to March because, let's face it, it's more like you're going to be used now than in the last 10 years.
Q: Colonel, can you tell us the members of the pool.
Van De Steeg: It's in the blue book. The reason that I asked for both rotations to attend the rotation was because if the pool is called out, who's to say we won't have to call out two pools at the same time? And if the organizations that are in this rotation cannot fulfill the responsibility, I have a standby from the next rotation, and we are going to exercise this pool. We haven't actually moved the pool, deployed it, since 1997. So it's time we exercise it. We're all rusty. Andrews has done a --
McGraw: Shall I read them?
Van De Steeg: Go ahead, sir.
McGraw: For October-December is CBS Radio, NBC for TV, Time Magazine, AP and KRT for wires, AP and KRT for wire photographers. Newspapers, the Baltimore Sun, Christian Science Monitor, and Media General.
Do you want the next quarter? January to March Quarter, Radios -- AP Radio Network, TV is ABC, magazine is US News and World Report, wire correspondents is AP and AFP, wire photographers AP and Reuters. Newspapers are Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, USA Today.
Van De Steeg: We are going to exercise the pool. Andrews Air Force Base Public Affairs Office there that supports this has had 100 percent turnover of personnel just this last summer. We've turned over everybody at least once since '97. We need to exercise this. It doesn't mean we're going to fly any place necessarily, but we are going to exercise and make sure that we can do all the things we're supposed to do and that you guys can do all the things that we're pretty confident you can do. But please don't think we're just doing it out of spite. If we've got to get up at 2:00 o'clock, by God you do too. No. (Laughter)
Clarke: Or your people do.
Let's stop there for a second and see if there are any major questions or issues in your heads about the pool as it currently sits.
Q: On this exercise, will we have a chance to exercise with the equipment that we bring with us?
Van de Steeg: This is not going to fly you any place.
Q: Well not to fly, but to make certain that the equipment that we have works. Will that be a part of the exercise?
Van de Steeg: I hadn't anticipated doing that, no, sir.
Clarke: I think that's a great idea. To make sure things get up on the web site for all the media. That's a good point.
Q: On that point, one of the biggest differences in the pool since we had meetings in '91 is the use of the Internet. The web site, a lot of us don't have passwords that are operational now. The web site hasn't been changed, I don't believe, since '97.
Male Voice: It has. We should have gotten a copy, if you don't I'll make sure you've got a copy of this.
Have you got a copy of the handout? She was at the deployers meeting. It's got the new web site and we handed out the passwords, the IDs and the passwords. I didn't bring them with me here; I didn't anticipate that being an issue.
Sir, if you will call me...
Q: I can read it out to everyone.
Van de Steeg: Go right ahead.
Van de Steeg: Those who have tested it, you bureau guys who called and asked for their IDs and stuff to confirm it, it's worked.
Q: Nothing's been changed on it. Or has it been changed this week?
Van de Steeg: No.
Q: No new information.
Van de Steeg: No.
Q: Just to clarify on the test. Only those who are on the pool for the last quarter will be called for the test, or will everyone be called...
Van de Steeg: Just the guys who are in this rotation for October through December.
Q: And the password?
Van de Steeg: You call me, sir.
Q: Deployers needing to e-mail the information you needed on who will be in the pool, but I don't know who to e-mail. You or Captain Player or Mr. Cooper? Who --
Male Voice: Any one of us. Me certainly.
Q: But just one would do?
Male Voice: Yeah, we all work together on a continual basis every day.
Q: I sent a message the other day and never heard back, just to make sure of the right -- If I send one to you, do you have your e-mail handy?
Van de Steeg: Lane.Vandesteeg -- it's my ancestors' fault, I had nothing to do with that -- @osd.mil. [ email@example.com ]
Q: One other question, and if this is jumping ahead tell me, but are you also talking about establishing perhaps regional pools in addition to pools that will come out of here?
Van de Steeg: That would not be from OSD/PA. That would be the CINCs' responsibility and that would be the CINCs' decision.
Clarke: -- conversations with some of them, sort of working through and having conversations with some of them. And very much inclined to the extent possible, whether we're talking about the national media pool, regional pools, or issues in general, that we have some broad policies, philosophies, principles if you will, and make sure that the decisions get driven down to the local level where they can be driven better. Quite honestly. So we're having conversations with them about just that.
Q: Should people who are already out in the field either in the region or in say Bahrain for example, be in touch with --
Clarke: Yep, and if you're not getting a response, let us know.
Van de Steeg: Anything else for me?
Clarke: Anything on the ground rules you want to talk about?
Q: I have one question. Going back to the review we had after the Gulf War and the principles that we reached at the time were that open and independent reporting would be the principal means of covering the U.S. military in the field.
Can you talk about that, Torie? I know we'll talk a lot about pools today, but how much of a commitment are you getting from the top, whatever --
Clarke: A very strong one. Let me talk about that for a minute.
Pools are not the ideal by any means, it's almost a last resort. We would much rather have open reporting. We would much rather have you all go out there and do your business the way you do it because we know you're going to do it very very well.
We go through this process because we have to because it may be one of the only ways we have to help you do your jobs and communicate to the American people what's going on. But the absolute ideal is to get you in places and get you in situations where you can cover this to the greatest extent possible. So this is just something we have to do. It is not the ideal; it is not our first choice. It is just one of many contingencies we're trying to plan for.
I've had conversations with many of you on the phone, we're working on this process. We're also working on how can we come up with a variety of situations of scenarios in which we can help medias get embedded in various operations. How can we encourage the CINCs to do more of those sorts of things? Just being as creative and open minded as possible about getting you all out there and getting your people out there so you can do your business.
Q: That comes to the basic question of access to information and how we are going to get access to information and whether we're going to know that it's accurate information. Not that you're not going to give it to us, but that if inaccurate information is out there it's detected. So can we talk a little bit about access to information?
Clarke: Sure. What's the question?
Q: The question is, if we're going to do any unilateral coverage we're going to need some sort of guidance as to what kind of an operation we're looking at, where the likely places might be, what's going, etc.
Q: At the end of the day you don't know for certain, because what we're doing, and these are things the president has talked about, the secretary has talked about is, we're preparing ourselves and we're organizing ourselves and we're positioning ourselves in a variety of places, in a variety of ways, to prepare for what could be a variety of operations. When I read the transcript last night, and Pete's go-around of January of '91, he said the same thing then. He said this is not Vietnam, this is not World War II. This will not be the Persian Gulf War. The secretary has said repeatedly, we are going after people who don't have armies and navies and air forces, so from a military perspective it's much more likely you're going to see a much more sporadic level of activity. And obviously everyone has talked about and heard about the Special Forces. It's very hard in terms of coverage.
But what we're doing, what we're trying to do with you all, the same way we're doing from a military perspective is, prepare for a variety of contingencies and put as many things in place to try to make something happen, but knowing full well at the end of the day if there are eight things that we prepared for, maybe two of them actually occur.
So there are a lot of unknowns. We're just trying to be as open minded as possible and prepare for many different things so something comes through.
Q: Regarding the CINCs, General Franks is not the world's most press-friendly guy. CENTCOM Public Affairs took down their web site last week. Even with the basic housekeeping information. He won't let his people post his testimony on his web site, unlike a lot of other CINCs.
He won't tell us if he's married, he won't tell us how many kids he's got. We can understand that. But getting access to his congressional testimony and stuff like that, if you could encourage him that that's not risking national security. It would make our job a lot easier.
Clarke: I had a conversation with him this morning, I've had conversations with him before and will continue to talk with him and the others.
There is a lot of stuff that comes under the category of easy and obvious, and that's all the way on one side of the bright line. There are some things, and you all know what they are, that fall on the other side of the bright line that we'll never talk about, we will never discuss under any means.
What we're trying to do is put as many things as possible on this side of the bright line. It may not be as clear as name, rank and serial number, but we're trying to find a way to put as many things over on that side of the bright line as possible. And it is part of my job. I will continue to work with him and the others to try to be as forthcoming as possible.
Q: Can you define what -- be as specific as possible, Torie. What are the areas that you will not talk about? Right now we're in preparation for this conflict. The experience of my reporters is that they're getting nothing from the Pentagon. That everything is on the dark side of that bright line.
Clarke: I'll tell you what we believe and what we're saying, and I will also say fully, we're trying to come up with the new vocabulary and we're trying to come up with the new guidelines, if you will. But anything to do with operations, anything that has to do with classified information, we are not going to be talking about. It's just not useful, it's not helpful, and it quite honestly can be quite harmful. And quite honestly, and perfectly understandably, 75-80 percent of the questions we get are who, when, where, how. We can't answer those and we won't answer those.
Quigley: You might mention the USA Today story as an example of something that is not helping other correspondents.
Clarke: I got eight, nine phone calls last night from several of your very hard working reporters who said my boss is beating up on me, there's this USA Today story, and can you help me on this, and I would say no. And they would go well, can you steer me? Are they in the right direction or not the right direction? I said we're not talking about that.
Talking about a story that talks about operations is talking about operations so we're not going to do it. We spent, we were in the secretary's office a half an hour today making sure that everybody is clear about this, and making sure our colleagues in the Administration are clear about this.
Q: Poll people here, that is not what everyone heard off the record or on background.
Clarke: I'm sure that's true.
Q: I'm just saying that what you say people are supposed to say and what they actually say on background or off the record is all over the line.
Clarke: I know. There are only so many people that we can really --
Q: I wanted to address the issue of the pool. To me, my understanding is that the pool system, the activated pool system, is kind of a last resort thing. I thought that the next generation of that was the so-called embedding system.
I guess I would be interested to hear why reporters couldn't be embedded as part of some of these military operations that --
Clarke: That's what I said. We're looking at -- first of all, we all need to get our heads wrapped around the notion of we need to be thinking about new things. The tradition, the conventional wisdom, everything that has come before us that you do the best thing you can the best ways you can to get everybody out there and cover things the way they want to cover things, have them on the ground, have them there, whatever. Use the pool as the last resort. That's conventional wisdom. We're looking at that.
What I'm saying to you all, we're really looking for ideas and suggestions. Are there other things we should be considering? We're looking really hard and how and where you could embed media. We're looking hard at how could we make the pool work better if we have to activate it. But what I'm saying is, and we are not the end of the line here, we're not the experts on this, are there other things we should be thinking of? Are there other creative things we should be thinking of to help you and your people do the job?
And the pool as the last resort. Maybe it's the last resort. In these circumstances maybe it's a very good thing to be considering.
Q: I think if we're talking about that, I don't think that it's the best way for us. I don't think it works the best way for the press. I think that if reporters were planned into your operations and understanding that that would create some very serious constraints on us that some news organizations might not be willing to go along with, but I think in some cases people would like to get the up close and personal look.
For instance, I don't see any problems with Air Forces or Navy forces, and it's clearly, in this case it's the ground forces. I know that the Special Operations Forces are not going to put reporters on the ground. But perhaps they might consider it in certain circumstances since this is a new situation, or at the very least, consider putting reporters at the logistics tail of what they are so that if they were going to go into an operation that reporters could be at the same place there that would be say on an aircraft carrier or an air base.
Clarke: I think they're great ideas, all of which we should consider. Ideas like that, the secretary himself was sitting down the other night sketching out some possibilities. And I encourage you all, he is thinking way outside the box on this stuff, and I encourage everybody in this room to do the same. And things like that, things we have not thought of before.
Q: Then my key suggestion would be that for certain operations that you would consider integrating reporters with Special Forces on the ground which would be definitely a quantum leap, at least for them.
Clarke: Yeah, because most people say Special Forces, completely off limits, never will happen. And I can't tell you today that we can make that happen, but I can tell you that's certainly something we would consider is having them on the tail.
Q: Torie, when would this embedding start?
Clarke: It's a very good question, it's a logical question, it's also an interesting one. When does it start, when does it finish?
We're talking years, not weeks. We're talking marathons, not sprints. So that's something to keep in mind as we're all trying to figure this out. Myself included. It's not that necessarily there will be one big bang, one big wave, and then it's all over.
Q: You've got people moving now --
Clarke: That would be talking about operations.
Just kidding. Go ahead.
Q: You've got people moving now. Are you talking about in the near future embedding reporters with --
Clarke: We're talking about in the near future. I can't tell you how many days or weeks near future is. But yeah, if you've got ideas or suggestions. If you guys are willing to, in this group, get above and beyond talking about the pool we're happy to do it, but that's what we're doing here. But that's fine. But yeah, ideas, suggestions --
Q: Is there a process or even a contemplated process at this moment for how you're going to go about reinventing?
Clarke: There's a lot of consideration, a lot of thought being given to it.
Q: Is there anything you can share with us now about how you might go about, how people would apply to do it, how people would be staged...
Clarke: Talk to us. Talk to the CINCs.
Q: Can't this group be the nucleus of the embedded group? We're all, we've been in this for years. And start with this as the core group. Consider us I think all on the list.
Q: When we talk about embedded, we're talking about embedded pool members, is that -- embedded unilateral.
Clarke: Uh huh.
Q: You have to talk a little at us and if we are, although we'd all love to be able to do this unilaterally, if you were to say to us, look, you'll have a much better chance if we formed 10 pools. I'm not talking about the deployment pool, I'm talking about a pool that -- kind of operations. Most of us obviously would like to do something sooner rather than later. And if that means that we have to start with some sort of pool, talk to us about that. Although we'd all love to send someone, whether it's network or print, to rule this all out for the first wave, let's say, because you have too many people to deal with, if you give us some of those parameters maybe then we can come back at you. Do you see what I mean?
Clarke: Yeah, I see what you mean. I'll be perfectly honest and tell you we haven't figured that out yet.
Q: But I guess we all have the sense that it's going to happen, it's happening, and we're all sitting in this room waiting to get some idea as to how we can cover this.
Clarke: Well, come to us with ideas, suggestions, requests. You all in this room know more about these things than I do in terms of the range of possibilities of what might happen from an operational standpoint, and quite honestly your reporters have come to us and have been since September 11th and have said I'm really interested in this, I'm really interested in that --
Q: Has anyone been embedded? Is anyone about to be embedded?
Clarke: We're working 48 hours a day as it is. We're trying very hard --
Q: -- embedded with a unit.
Clarke: No, not yet.
Q: That's not correct. We've asked at Norfolk and we've asked overseas, and they're taking requests.
Q: I want to go back to operations again. By your definition you don't have to say anything as everything you're doing now is operational. So we find, we ask you a question about movements of forces and you don't comment. But our reporters call around to different units around the country and they get answers about movements. Yeah, we're deploying or whatever.
The Uzbek government says U.S. forces have landed on their base. We ask you for confirmation. You don't comment.
It seems to me even on background to give some guidance when there's kind of (inaudible) in the public arena seems that it's in the public's interest to at least have some credible support for claims by governments that are saying either troops are or they aren't here, or they are using a base or they aren't. I do not understand how the public is served by claming up and allowing other official sources around the world to say this or that is going on, which may be true or may not be true, in some cases where lives are not in any kind of jeopardy, but simply to give the public as accurate a picture as possible. Why do you take the position of no comment?
Clarke: I think it depends on the issue, and believe me, I wish we could find simple categories for all of these things, but simple categories don't exist yet. But it depends on what's going on.
For instance, as you have heard every senior administration official say, in terms of the coalition, the coalitions are going to evolve and they're going to change and different countries will do different things depending on the circumstances. Some of the things they will be happy about people knowing and (inaudible); other things they want to be helpful but it can't be known publicly. We just think as a general practice it is better for the countries themselves to decide about what they want to talk about publicly or not publicly and continue to maintain it's just better as a general principle for us not to be talking about operations, whether it's here or abroad.
Q: But once they announce it or say something publicly, don't you think it's in your interest and in our interest and the public's interest to be able to confirm that information?
Clarke: It probably gets into the category of easy and obvious to confirm, and that's what we're working with here, is trying to find which of those things fall on that side of the fence.
I fully admit, we may go overboard in one direction or another. We are in completely new territory here, and completely new concerns. The secretary was talking to us about this this morning. Three weeks ago, four weeks ago, unfathomable that we would be talking about commercial airliners flying into the sides of buildings. Unfathomable. So it's such an incredibly different environment. We're doing our best, but I fully admit, we may err. The pendulum may swing too hard in one direction and we've got to send it back the other way. But we're trying to find our way through this.
The secretary himself the last three nights that I can remember, I've been up in his office, and he's sketching some of this stuff out and he's writing things down, and then he puts a line through it and he starts again. He's trying to help us figure out how we do these things.
Q: Will he meet with us about this?
Clarke: He actually has said, when we were talking about this meeting and meeting with the individual reporters in our hallway and trying to make this happen, he says why don't I sit down with them sometime and talk about it. He says I need to get my head wrapped around this as well, and it's very much the Rumsfeld way, I would say, to take a 360-degree view of these things and really draw out of the people involved. In this case it's you and it's your reporters, what it is that you're thinking about, what your needs and your desires are. I think we do a pretty good job of communicating it, but there's nothing like steeping yourself in it.
Q: Was that a yes?
Clarke: I think so, but I'll have to consult his schedule.
Q: I'm a little bit at a loss as to figure out how to present ideas to you. Do you want structured ideas from us about how to run an embedding operation? I mean we don't know enough to give you that. We can say that we want to have people with units, we want to have people with every branch of the military that's there. We want to be on ships, we want to be with ground forces, we want to be on air bases. If there are flying missions that can accommodate a journalist, we'd like to be with that. But the mechanism for doing that once we tell you that we want to do that, the mechanism for doing that it seems to me has got to be yours to at least come back to us with --
Q: Logistics are beyond our ability to understand. So I'm not clear where you are on that process.
Q: I would hope, Torie, that once -- that there would be equal opportunity access from us, not just the Washington Post that gets to go.
Q: That's the point I was going to make.
Q: If a past exercise with Bosnia on this, there was a wide discrepancy not just from the Pentagon but from the regional command as to who got what position. So that some news organizations got to go with the first tank units, other news organizations got to go with the medical brigade in Hungary.
I think it would be very important if there were some fairness and equity in that process.
And most importantly, I think that one of the problems in the Pentagon public affairs bureaucracy is the division between the military and the civilian and that these two have tended to play off each other and if one doesn't want to answer they'll tell you to talk to the other, and I think that we'll see that with the CINCs.
If the CINCs are going to organize regional pools as opposed to the Pentagon organizing a regional pool, there's going to be a lot of inequities.
Clarke: I hope this is reassuring. I think even before September 11th, I think we were doing an awfully good job of the civilians and the military working together. We had already started to lay the foundation, if you will, for more integration and coordination with the CINCs and their staff. I think it's a good thing when I'm now calling upon these CINCs or talking with people it's not the first time of talking with people. So I'm not saying everything will work perfectly, but I think we're a lot better integrated, coordinated, you guys can tell me if I'm wrong, than maybe in years past. So I think that will help. But I totally hear what you're saying.
Q: The U.S. military has a long tradition of not having any secret casualties. Can you assure us that if anybody is killed or injured that we will hear about it?
Clarke: It's one of the things that we have definitely put down on paper is try to be as forthcoming as possible about casualties.
Q: Try. Will you tell us when men are lost? Or women.
Q: Promptly and under what circumstances?
Clarke: Promptly. Under what circumstances we're still wrestling with. I'll ask you guys about Special Forces. I just don't know the answer to that.
Male Voice: I guess the only thing we might fuzz is the specific location of the person when their injury or death occurs. We may not be clear as to the exact location.
Q: But notification --
Male Voice: You'll also have a timing issue on next of kin notification where our priority always lies. The time to do that varies. But when next of kin have been notified, then yes. I mean we have -- the only issue I can think of, just sitting here thinking real fast, is the specific location where that might occur.
Q: Just to make sure I understand, so you wouldn't, for instance, if something had happened in the last week and you had notified next of kin, you wouldn't not tell us because that would be talking about operations.
Q: You would tell us.
Clarke: We would tell you.
Q: But you might not say where it happened.
Clarke: Might not.
Q: Would you say what happened? In other words, you wouldn't say someone died of an automobile accident, for example, it would be --
Male Voice: Lying, and the answer is unequivocally no.
Q: Is there any --
Male Voice: Let me follow up on this gentleman's question right here about where individual -- we have said publicly that we have ordered a variety of military units to deploy to a variety of places around the world.
Now in your example you had a specific country acknowledge that some mixture of U.S. units was on their soil. Now if I was trying to build a mosaic on that and I confirmed that, I've got that X in the box. And if another country does it, I've got another X in the box. And pretty soon, after some number of days have gone by, I have a complete lay-down of U.S. forces, where they are, and inherently their capabilities. We are not going to be helpful to help fill in those boxes.
Q: Are you going to allow press to go with any of those units?
Male Voice: That's the issue we're discussing today.
Clarke: That's what we're looking at.
As we're sitting in this room --
Q: I thought that's why we were doing this so that the media could join the military on these operations.
Clarke: It's true, and in some places we can make it happen and some we won't be able to. It's going to be very difficult, anything with Special Forces, to make that happen.
Q: Do you really --
Q: -- right?
Clarke: Certain other ones will be available, but that's what we're working hard on as we sit here trying to figure out these aspects of it, the people who are putting this together are looking at a wide variety of options and plans and contingencies and trying to figure those out. So we're trying to run a couple of tracks at the same time.
It would be very easy if we knew right now, September 28th, exactly what was going to happen and where it was going to happen and with whom, but we don't. So we are trying to put things together.
Q: Days, weeks, months --
Q: Let's say we actually do get some of our people out there. Two issues. One would be censorship. What kind of censorship do you think you'd be imposing in terms of what we can see, what we can't see, what we can report, what we can't report.
Clarke: I don't think the choice of the word is correct. Let me say why.
I happen to think that everybody in this room understands and supports, and I happen to believe every one of your reporters understands and supports that you won't be writing about, talking about national security, operational matters, any kind of classified. I have found overwhelmingly people act very very responsibly. And I think it is totally, totally safe to say that 99.9 percent of the people who are out there doing their jobs are going to do it well and they're going to do it responsibly. That is not a concern. When we have people who try to point out, and the folks who have been on these can weigh in here, they have more experience than I do, there will be circumstances in which someone will point out hey, what you just saw is classified information, I'd appreciate it if you don't do that, and I think most people will respect that.
Q: Fine. I think we're in agreement on that. But beyond that.
Clarke: There is no beyond that.
Q: During the Persian Gulf there was something called security review. And it was in the field and then back at the Pentagon. Are you saying that will not happen this time?
Clarke: I think we have to come up with a new vocabulary. In the security review, you help me, it seemed to be very sporadic. There didn't seem to be a lot of consistency of how it was administered and by whom and those sorts of things.
Again, I just firmly believe that everybody knows the responsibilities, everybody knows the principles up front, and I think we can count to a great extent that your people will act responsibly. It's just not a concern on my part.
Q: I would be very worried there because clearly my definition of national security is going to be different from the U.S. Army's definition. I think in peacetime it's usually not a problem. But when the balloon goes up it is very much a problem. I think there should be an effort made to try to refine it a little bit, rather than just saying we're all concerned about national security because my experience has been that the military would err on the side of extreme non-disclosure and --
Clarke: I don't think that's a fair generalization to make. I just don't.
Q: Well, that's been my experience.
Q: Torie, whatever the vocabulary, are you saying that neither in the field nor at the Pentagon will anybody review news material produced by pools before it goes out?
Clarke: We probably will review it, but just for these very narrow aspects.
Q: But there will be --
Q: Where will it be reviewed?
Q: On that point, weren't people told at the meeting this week that you won't even allow the use of the last names and home towns of service people that are being interviewed for stories?
Clarke: That gets to the safety of the men and women in uniform. That really does. Things have changed considerably since the Persian Gulf War that makes their safety even more of a challenge.
Q: Torie, can you explain to us what the issue is here? I'm hearing this for the first time.
Male Voice: I have been told, because I was ignorant in my ways, that that's not necessarily true. However, in Kosovo we had some rules come out because of the terrorist threats against family members, that you don't talk about the family members, etc., etc.
As Ms. Clarke has said, this ain't Kosovo. This is nothing we've dealt with before. There are going to be limits when we get to the pool -- when any of you guys get to the scene to cover a story there are going to be some limits that we'll say please don't discuss location, because of the nature of this organization don't discuss last names. There are going to be other situations where they're not going to care if you say this is Joe Schmedlock from lower Podunk. It's going to be situationally dependent, and that is something that you should be briefed on before you cover the story so you at least know what the parameters are and will at least know going into it what your limits are.
Q: Are you saying, for example, a Special Ops person you wouldn't want to identify that way, but an F-16 pilot you would?
Male Voice: I wouldn't say an F-16 pilot. However, a crewmember standing on the deck of the Enterprise or something, I don't know what the Navy, what that naval commander's restrictions are going to be. But what I'm saying is that you guys -- we owe it to you to tell you what they are going in. Whatever that specific situation is. I cannot stand here and tell you blanket what the situations are.
Male Voice: You'll find a different preference from each and every service member that you interview in the field. Some will feel comfortable in having you use their last names and hometowns, some will not.
Q: But it's different if they decide that individually or if you tell them they can't do it and that we can't do it.
Male Voice: What we're asking you is to factor that into your thinking and if you get different reactions in the field it's going to be predicated on that person's individual experiences.
Q: That's always the case. I guess the question here is, whether you want to use the word or not, Torie, there's a long history of military censorship in this country. We wouldn't expect anything other than that in this case. But what we need to know is going into this thing, are those sorts of rules going to be applied on a blanket basis either by a particular service or by the military as a whole.
Clarke: What do you mean when you say those sorts of rules?
Q: No last names.
Q: This occurred when the Roosevelt left Norfolk, they said no last names.
Clarke: Let me say this. My strong preference is that if it is not in the obvious category -- a Special Forces kind of person, or for instance a pilot. Sometimes they would use their handles rather than their names. My strong preference is to the greatest extent, people can use their names, they can use their hometowns, but there are going to be certain cases where we won't want to. We'll try to make that clear.
But also, and again, I have a lot of faith in the people who work for you. They tend to be very sensitive to these sorts of things. So when they are interviewing a person they tend to be pretty sensitive to that individual's concerns. So I have a lot of faith in the ability of people doing your work and people being interviewed to work that out.
Q: Torie, outside of the location which is going to be sensitive, the last name, what are the other things that the pool report review will involve?
Clarke: One of the things we're going to do as people leave is to hand out what is the existing, as of September 28th, guidelines -- do's and don'ts for the pool. What I would ask all of you to do is take a hard look at them, as we are, and say what's relevant, what's not, what seems ridiculous, what seems valuable, and give us your ideas and suggestions on it.
I've tasked all of us to take a hard look at it and say does this really work? Are there ways we can be more forward leaning than we are? Are there areas in which given the aftershock of September 11th we should be tightening up? And I think there are. But we're going to be give you what the existing set is and say tell us what you think we ought to be changing. I didn't think it would be useful with this large a group to have 40-some people start to edit the document. But take it home, look it over, show it to your people and say this is crazy, but this is a cool thing. It would be very helpful.
Q: Does that mean that the existing rules and the principles that were ironed out ten years ago are up in the air, open for discussion?
Clarke: Absolutely everything is open for discussion. If I haven't made that clear, let me say it again. It is a whole new world, folks, and we are trying to figure out the best rules of the road for going forward. And after a lot of work and after looking at this hour after hour, after getting your inputs, we may look at them and go that's the way it ought to be.
We start with the fundamental principle, with the fundamental philosophy that we want to get out as much news and as much information as possible in as complete and total a fashion as possible, with the security and safety concerns built in so everybody understands, starting with that fundamental commitment and let's work from there to see what those rules of the road should be.
What I'm saying is anyone who thinks the way the world works prior to September 11th is the same today is nuts. So let's take a hard look at it and see if we should change it, or if everyone looks at this and says these work pretty well, (inaudible).
Q: You deal with a lot of host countries that have no traditional (inaudible), tradition of press control. It was also an issue going into the Gulf War with the Saudis. And the question is to what degree have you started a dialogue with any of these countries about providing access either on the ground unilaterally or through the military? Are we going to find ourselves in a position where not only can we not report people's names, but we can't say what country they're in, we can't say what unit they're with because that could be sensitive information, we can't say what they do because that too could be operational. We can say almost nothing of what they're up to. (inaudible) with the countries. You can say we'd like to have somebody in Uzbekistan, but Uzbeks don't want to cooperate. It gives you an out but it doesn't satisfy us and isn't realistic.
Clarke: Again, fortunately, I have met with and worked with to a greater or lesser extent with a lot of my counterparts over the last few months. We've already tried to make the introductions, but some work with you more than others. We've started around the calls again with some of the relevant suspects to say hey, let's keep the lines of communication open. I have said to them that we are working through these issues and this is a priority for us, and get their thoughts, but the basic message to all of them, which has been well received, is we want to keep the lines of communication open, we want to try to find ways to the extent possible we can help our media do the job. And so far the response has been quite positive.
Now there's a real difference between a phone call and making it happen, I know that. But we at least have established the contact, communicated the desire, and (inaudible).
Q: Let's say that a pool was activated yesterday and there's a pool report to be posted on the web today. Who is going to review it before it's posted, and who actually posts this? Who in DoD either in the field, the command out there...
Clarke: How it currently works --
Q: How many possible layers --
Q: In terms of reviewing stories before they're --
Clarke: -- a pool got activated yesterday and the following --
Q: They want to post a report on the web. Who reviews it, how many layers of review are there, who actually posts it?
Male Voice: It's very easy for me to say that I hadn't planned, if I was in the pool, of anybody reviewing what you wrote unless it was handed to me by one of you and you said I think this paragraph is okay but would you please tell me if I've said something wrong.
Clarke: And I've got to tell you guys, in my brief what is it five months, six months, however long I've been in the job, my brief experience, usually what happens is your people come to us and say I've got a question about this, help me out here. Am I delving into something I shouldn't delve into? They've been tremendously responsible thus far, and I know that (inaudible), but the general --
Quigley: Can I take a whack at that? Security at the source is going to be one of the principal methods we're going to use to ensure that no classified information or movements of units or something like that.
Example. A television crew embeds in an infantry unit. Right off the bat these are brand new environments for everybody that's involved -- both the infantry unit and the news crew. Okay? They're going to meet each other and they're going to say, okay, what's the lay of the land here? What are the rules of the road that we'd need to get along? We're going to be here for some number of days or weeks or whatever that is. It's going to be different from that infantry unit than it is at this infantry unit over here. There will come an accommodation on the details.
Your crews are going to look for that unit to help them understand what is sensitive. And if there's a disagreement on that, that gets worked out right there at the local level.
But security at the source, getting back to the censorship issue and the review of text and the review of photos and the review of video plate, security at the source is going to be the principal way, as opposed to censorship or security review or something like that, of making sure that the products, before they ever leave the pool, are just fine. That's going to be the --
Let me give you a Navy example I'm familiar with. You get the same video crew on a submarine. I have a depth gauge on the submarine. I'm going to tell the videographer, you can't shoot that depth gauge. It is a classified instrument, so don't go there. So the camera guy goes got it, I'm going to slew my camera left over here to all the rest of the stuff, and that's all fine. So I've helped the cameraperson understand that I don't need to do a security review because everything that his lens can possibly see is going to be fine. Just stay away from the depth gauge, okay? And I would imagine that there would be a comparable set of don't do this, don't do that, when you're reporting from a text you need to say I'm in Southwest Asia as opposed to a particular country. Those are going to be some political sensitivities that we may not be able to overcome. So that's going to be a reality of this too.
Clarke: And there will be some we can't predict now. Even if you came up with ten countries right now that have said positive things, we want to be a part of this effort, six months down the road, circumstances may have changed and Country X may not want to have a lot of --
Q: Admiral, does that mean there would be no review here, no central review?
Quigley: We don't contemplate that.
Male Voice: I'd like to point out. It might not be obvious, but the folks back here aren't going to know necessarily what should -- if you show them a photo of the inside of a submarine, I'm an armor officer and we all know that tanks are God's gift to combat. But I don't know anything about the inside of a submarine. I would not know what's classified or not so I wouldn't be able to. It looks like a pretty good picture to me. I'm not going to stop it from being published.
The same thing with information. The folks back here are not going to know what the situation is in terms of operational security.
Q: -- in other words. Let's say --
Clarke: And you're trying to make it too black and white.
Q: We're trying to get some sense --
Clarke: And we're trying to give you some sense, but there's no such thing as no appeals, and you all know that, and some of you have called me up in the last X months and appealed certain things. That's a way of life, that's what we do and I fully expect that we and I will play that role. There always are. But what we really want to do is communicate to all of our people out there what our guiding principles are, if you will, and I have enormous faith that in most times they will work it out. And when they don't, absolutely.
Q: Torie, using the example we were talking about before. You're interviewing a sailor on a ship. He has absolutely no problem with his name and hometown being used, in fact he welcomes that. But you have a CINC who tells the handler, the pool handler, I'm fighting a war, I don't have time to worry about whether this is on that side of the line or not, no last names at all. And we did have situations like that in the Persian Gulf. The CINCs told the handlers no, err on the side of not letting it out.
Clarke: Here's what I can say about that. It's not the Persian Gulf, it is something different.
Q: I know.
Clarke: I think, I am hopeful, I will be strongly encouraging and directing of all to err on the side of being more forthcoming.
Q: But on the question of review, what we don't want to have happen is some blanket order that no last names in this particular area by order of the CINC.
Q: How will the photos be moved and from where?
Clarke: Very good question. Lane, do you want to talk about what the discussions have been thus far?
Van de Steeg: I am not a technical guy so I'm going to miss all the fine points on this, but if it's a digital photo our laptop, our modems would be able to transmit them back to here along with the written.
Q: From the actual site or is this when everyone comes back to --
Van de Steeg: Every night the pool will come back together to file. That's so you guys can share the stories, share the information. Remember, this is non-competitive. You go out for the day, you cover stories, you come back in the afternoon, whatever the situation is, and you file.
Q: My consideration on that is our technology now will allow us to transmit immediately. That gives our readers the chance to see the photographs as soon as possible. It seems like it's offsetting technology if they aren't going to be reviewed, to come back in, to do something that we could do on site.
Male Voice: -- a photograph that shows up five minutes after the two F-14s take off to go on a mission, that tells the whole world that five minutes ago two F-14s took off to go do something.
Q: Well, they don't know where it is.
Male Voice: Those are the kinds of things we have to work out. The instantaneous technology versus these guys are still in the air.
Q: So would it be your purpose that we utilize the pool of technology to transmit these idioms --
Male Voice: We don't mind your technology, just our time.
Q: What about (inaudible) deal with.
Male Voice: Independent --
Male Voice: It's great that we all sit here and --
Male Voice: We can sit here and argue that until 2400 tonight, but these are things we've got to think about, and for some reason everybody seems to think we came up with the answers in the last 17 days, and we haven't.
Q: It's an instant world now, and if you will consider transmitting from the site as opposed to at the end of each day if we have the ability to do that --
Quigley: Let me rephrase the question so it's applicable more broadly. The question is, should we decentralize the transmission of text, photos and video. Is that the question?
Q: That's the question.
Q: -- the pool and everybody's spread out. Audio or video gets to the (inaudible).
Q: I presume it comes back here and it's shared with you.
Male Voice: So what has to happen is the magazine guys have to agree that when Newsweek is in there that they transmit back to Newsweek, but everybody has access to that (inaudible). If CNN transmits back to the CNN site, that ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. have access to that site at the same time. Because again, non-competitive is --
Q: Pools are the least desired method of doing this. One of the reasons it's least desired is because of a certain amount of control that gets put on us.
Q: -- the issue of local coverage, because we have a lot of national organizations here, but a lot of us will have interest in more local coverage, either unilaterally or through pools, and in fact in the Persian Gulf I gather there was an effort to facilitate local coverage and access to people. Have you all considered that --
Clarke: That's the kind of things we're talking to the CINCs about, and to their PAOs, and trying to make more of that happen. There is going to be a big demand out there and a big thirst, and we certainly can't control it all from the Pentagon.
Q: Do you think that most of this is actually going to happen through the CINCs?
Clarke: I think a lot of it. Sure. They're the ones who do it.
Q: Our reporter in Uzbekistan comes across an Air Force unit, or in Kazakhstan or one of the "stans" and he says I want to find anyone there from Texas or California, Washington. What will they say? Get the hell out of here, this is an operation? Or do they say come with us, here?
Clarke: Again, I can't predict the future with certainty, but the conversations we've had with them thus far, and the working relationships we've had with them thus far has been very, very good. And even though -- you've got to understand post September 11th everybody's nerves on a high state of alert, and I'd say within hours, if not a day, the willingness of the services and the CINCs to pitch in and help us and get a lot of people and a lot of stuff out there was pretty good. It's not the same as being in a military operation, I understand that. But so far we've been doing pretty well and we did exactly those sorts of things. After the first day everybody was, a lot of your outlets were interested, who is it from Texas, who is it from Michigan or whatever. We turned that faucet on and the response was pretty good. But we will make, the list of talking points that we go through the CINCs and others I will add that to it.
And I'm sitting here and half-thinking we should set up a conference call between the CINCs and all of you.
Q: Can I bring this more immediately. There's an impression among many that where in previous situations reporters have been able to at least get winks or nods, and maybe this comes back to the USA Today story, at least a wink and a nod, at least a wave-off, or something that is flatly false. Not only are the winks not happening, they're being told explicitly you won't get winks and nods and if you have bad information you're on your own. I'm sure that doesn't serve us, and I really don't believe that serves you. We all recognize the great sensitivities and the (inaudible) this particular moment. I think our credibility and your credibility is very much at stake here.
Can you talk about that and whether you're reexamining that, or whether we can bring back some of those winks and nods? There are a ton of, whether it's a Pakistani newspaper or the Uzbek Chronicle, that's got junk.
Q: And that junk is going to now start flooding into papers here.
(End side of tape.)
Clarke: -- strong general principle is not to be commenting on the operations and not to comment on reporting on the operations. I'll repeat myself. I got eight or nine phone calls last night, and probably 20 or 30 this morning. Admiral, I don't know how many you got. People up and down the hallways got it. We said guys, we're not going to be doing this.
One of the reasons, the secretary talked about this from the briefing room last week is [it's almost a matter of degrees] but it's not. Through winks and nods and waving on and waving off and cleaning up this and not cleaning up that, in a matter of time, as Admiral Quigley was saying, you have given a very clear picture of what we're doing and where we're doing it and how we're going to do it. That's helpful to the bad guys and not helpful to us.
So as a very strong general principle, we are not going to be in the business of winks and nods.
Q: Maybe there's (inaudible) winks and nods and there are winks and nods that -- I might distinguish between winks and nods, because I take your point. We don't want to become a part of strategic deception, nor do we want to be passing on (inaudible), and of course we've got the 24 hour global real time everything. We want to be very sensitive to those issues you raised. But it may not even serve you, it certainly doesn't serve us, to be dealing with outright trash.
If you're not commenting on operations we get it, there are going to be things we say we can't comment on. And you may want to not comment on some stuff that has been true, that's kind of marginal, but there may be things that aren't true that are not marginal that we really want to dispose of or that you really want to dispose of. You're saying you're not going to do any of that?
Clarke: I'm saying it's a very strong general principle. I can't sit here today and tell you I can anticipate every circumstance and every situation and every story. But I'm saying as a very strong general principle we won't be talking about operations and we won't be doing the winks and nods that you're talking about.
Q: Torie, could you place this principle in the historical context that many of us are familiar with, and that is that you protect information about future operations but you are forthcoming about historical events. Obviously everybody here knows about the operational security rules, about writing, publishing, broadcasting future operations. Why can't we find out about past operations?
Male Voice: I think there's been two important shifts since the Gulf War. The Gulf War had an air war of 28 days, a ground war of 100 hours. It was over in a finite amount of time and it was clear early on we were going to win and win big.
We're now in a protracted long-term struggle. We're going to be using special tactics, techniques and procedures. While the military has always prized the element of surprise, you don't want the enemy to know exactly what you're going to do when you're going to do it. Now it's even more important to build on that and to not reveal exactly what we're doing. Even historically. Because what that does is it takes away our ability to use those special tactics, techniques and procedures freely in the future. We have laid out to them exactly how we're doing it. We want this very shadowy opposition to stay confused, to stay off center.
The other point I'd like to make in terms of what's changed since the Gulf War is that we are facing a shadowy opposition that has said they will specifically strike at all Americans, will make no distinction between military and civilian. They practice asymmetrical tactics. They're not going to take us on head on. And on September 11th, they demonstrated both of those principles. They used the asymmetric, unconventional warfare, they killed a lot of civilians. So as in the past we may have been even encouraging the building of public support by telling family stories -- my spouse is off in this distant land fighting. Now we have the very real possibility that in this shadowy conflict, since they can't get that [deleted] soldier, instead they target the family. And it would be very easily done if they've got a high media profile. And the effect on morale would be absolutely disastrous.
Q: Part of operational security, at the briefing on Tuesday, it wasn't clear to me whether while the pool is activated, if you have a member of the pool, that they're being held incommunicado, or if they've got a (inaudible) with them from the organization. I know they can't file through us, but can they call their home office and then say when this is over here's where I want to go?
Clarke: I can't imagine they wouldn't be able to talk to their home office. And you tell me, in the past they've not been allowed to?
Q: No, I was saying that at the briefing it wasn't clear whether they were going to be held incommunicado while the pool was in operation.
Quigley: There will be a brief period of time where you will be held incommunicado. When you get that phone call in the middle of the night that says it's time, get to Andrews, during that period of time then that is a sure sign that we are about to start a military operation. So during that period of time, yes, that's true. You can't call your boss and say --
Clarke: You're talking about once they're out there, right?
Q: I'm talking about once they're out there, yes.
Male Voice: -- and it depends on what the scenario is. If it works and we get you guys to the scene before it happens, I would be loathe to have you call back to your significant other to say well here I am at da da da and I'll be home in about four days.
Male Voice: I'm not trying to be flippant. But if the balloon has gone up and the fighting is going on, and probably just before unilateral coverage is decided upon, probably I would let you call back to your significant others.
Q: The answer you're giving me is it depends. If we're there in advance, then --
Male Voice: I would say that absolutely, at some point, if the pool is used at some point there's going to be a decision made that unilateral coverage is possible, and your representative, your deployee, is going to have a choice to fall in on unilateral coverage there or be supported by you or to fly back with us. When that decision is made, absolutely, call back and say I'm coming home. I don't have a problem with that.
Q: But while the pool is operating, before you've gone unilateral, there might be a time they can check in with the home office or families depending on the circumstances.
Male Voice: There might be, yes.
Male Voice: There's always a way for a reporter to say to me or one of the escorts, I need to contact my bureau chief, for us to call back and say, and to get that going. That's not a challenge. But to have you call with a cell phone directly back to somebody other than the bureau chief -- it starts to get really screwy.
As I explained, not screwy, but detailed, let me put it that way.
As I explained to the deployers, if we call the media pool out and the deployers are told to go to Andrews Air Force Base, don't have your wife drive you to Andrews Air Force Base. Get in a taxicab and let them drive you. Because if your wife has driven you to Andrews then there's one extra person who now knows that somebody is going out to cover a story on the military. Operational security --
(Laughter -- multiple voices)
Male Voice: The cab driver doesn't know you're a reporter for CNN.
Q: You're not going to tell your wife I'm going out for days?
Q: After we give you these suggestions will you get back to us with some --
Clarke: Absolutely. We're going to ask you for suggestions on several things. There is a homework assignment, and the secretary of Defense can sit down and write the stuff down and ask me any questions. What was it, Wednesday night I went up to his office about 6:45 and stayed until about 8:30 because he was talking about this and asking questions and writing things down and all that. I really ask you guys to take a hard look at the existing ground rules on the pool, on the existing principles of information, these documents that were worked out with a lot of hard work and effort on your part and your people's part, which I appreciate. And after a lot of thinking and gnashing of teeth, maybe that's the way they are. But all I'm saying is in this new world we should all be giving some time and some thought and say are there other things we should be considering. So take them with you, give us feedback, you can send them to me -- We're going to give you a contact sheet, you can give it to any of us, and yeah, we will keep coming back to you all as we work through this, and we will have more meetings and calls.
Q: The time part of this I'm having some trouble with. We're talking about if a pool is activated, we're beginning to think about the possibility of embedding people. You've got troops on the move right now and we're not a part of it. Do we have any reason to think we're going to be a part of it any time soon? Or do these new factors in this war mean that we're going to be kept out of it for a long time?
Clarke: No. That is not the intent at all. The intent is to try to make you all part of it from the very beginning.
Clarke: That would be great.
Q: -- more people over there as opposed to the commanders on the ground, as opposed to (inaudible) with you?
Clarke: There are so many uncertainties. It's hard to say. The only advice I can give you is that we're planning for a bunch of different contingencies and not to tell you how to do your business but if I were in your shoes I would be planning for a bunch of different contingencies. I wish we could just sit here and say this is what's going to happen for the next six months. Week by week, day by day. We divided you all up and we've been incredibly fair and equal about it and here's -- we just can't.
Q: Basically what you're saying is there may be regional pools and there may be national pools. There may be embedding but you don't know when. We may have access to units but not Special Forces.
Clarke: Very unlikely.
Q: Not Special Forces, and a lot of the early parts might be Special Forces, of course.
Q: And we might not be allowed to write about historical events.
Q: And at some point we'll find out whether we get any role in these --
Q: What's the expectation once the pool is called up, for how long the pool would be called out?
Male Voice: In the ideal scenario a pool would last about two days. And in this day of ubiquitous news coverage, I can't imagine it lasting more than a few days because you guys are going to be on the scene in swarms.
Q: Then it would transition into --
Male Voice: As soon as the Unified Command establishes a JIB, a Joint Information Bureau, and there's a lot of you guys out there, the decision's going to be made to cut it loose.
Q: A lot of these places are places where you can't get to in swarms quickly.
Male Voice: The pool will last as long as it needs to, but ideally, two to four days, something around there. In Southwest Asia, in Desert Shield and Desert Storm it lasted for weeks, I guess.
Q: But there will be a JIB at some point where there is a significant operation, is that what you're saying?
Male Voice: There should be, yes, sir.
Male Voice: We don't know that.
Male Voice: We don't know, but there should be.
Q: Then you would (inaudible) -- once the JIB was established then there would be some sort of regular overall big picture briefing?
Clarke: Oh, yeah.
Q: I think the scenario is there would be a pool there for a couple of days, then it becomes unilateral. The JIB, (inaudible) out here, and most of the countries in which you're operating is not a realistic scenario. So therefore, it seems to me that that seems to be about the last likely scenario. (inaudible) put a JIB, and particularly (inaudible). So I think you need to look at whether the pools will be longer, the pool will be bigger, the pool will be configured differently. But I think the idea that this will go on for two days and then something being wide open, that's not the kind of situation we're looking at on the ground anywhere.
Clarke: Well, it's a good point. As I was saying at the beginning, the conventional wisdom of, the usual thinking about the national media pool is get it up and get it gone as quickly as possible. This ain't conventional. So maybe --
Q: I'm also getting (inaudible), it may well have to go on for a longer time, or if the location is --
Clarke: I'm agreeing with you.
Q: Why have a pool at all and why not go right to the embedding?
Clarke: Because with the uncertainties of what may or may not happen, I think it's best for us to prepare for all possibilities. I think we'd be doing a disservice to you all if we didn't prepare for every possibility under the sun. I really do.
Q: Torie, I have to say listening to all of this, it's hard for me to figure out how the CINCs who are dealing with the same kind of uncertainties, are not going to look at all of us with all of our satellite phones and ability to transmit instantly and go thank you very much, I'm going to confiscate all of that, you guys can't do anything. But if they're going to go tighter rather than looser, whatever gets said from here. I believe in the sincerity of everything that's been said here, but I just can't imagine human nature in the situation that you're describing not making this one hell of a mess for us.
Clarke: Well, I can tell you what the experience has been thus far, and what the statements of support and understanding have been thus far, and I can tell you, it's a priority of ours to make sure they understand what the desire is from the secretary on down, to make these sorts of things happen. And we're going to do our best to make sure they understand that and they act upon it. If appeals are necessary, you can make appeals. These people with their cell phones, their satellite phones, everything else, they know how to reach us. They can say hey, we're getting --
Q: Can we assume that anybody who's on the list, you will assume wants to be embedded or do you want us to tell you individually?
Clarke: I would think that's probably a safe assumption.
Q: I would like to make a suggestion. On the embedding, I think the concern is that obviously timing, as soon as people are embedded or the pool is activated, that's going to be a signal that something's going to happen, and I know that you'd be concerned about that, so I would suggest that if people were embedded that they could be understood that this was, could be a long term thing and that they could be rotated out, another reporter could take their spot if it turned out to be a long time, and I think that would be one way to get around the time problem.
Clarke: Good idea.
Male Voice: At some point the national media pool -- Desert Shield/Desert Storm as an example. I was not there, but the pool had been there for a couple of weeks, it's well known that things are going on, the pool is there. The opsec in terms of getting media in and out and replacing your reporters is not going to be that big a challenge, I would think. The bureau chief calls and says I need to pull one and replace him with another, I'm assuming that we can make those things happen.
Q: You're going to hear back from us --
Q: Great ideas and Monday we're going to get back to you with the rules of the road, or Tuesday or --
Clarke: It depends on when you get back to us on Monday. But let's say Tuesday at the earliest, Wednesday at the latest. And let me just say as a blanket statement, there is no (inaudible) involved. There's no tablet that comes down from on high and says this is the way it will be and this is the way it will be from now until kingdom come. This will be a very changing, evolving, fluid situation that we're in, and hopefully we'll be sitting down ever X number of times that it takes. If it's every week, we'll do it. If it's every month we'll do it. But things will change, and we should all be open minded and flexible enough to change with that.
So yes, we will put out next week where we think things stand based on your input and the input of the people who work for you, but I fully reserve and support the right to say two weeks from now we might need to revisit it.
Thank you all very very much for coming out here on a Friday.