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Principles of Information

The Principles of Information constitute the underlying public affairs philosophy for and the Department of Defense.

"It is Department of Defense policy to make available timely and accurate information so that the public, the Congress, and the news media may assess and understand the facts about national security and defense strategy. Requests for information from organizations and private citizens shall be answered quickly. In carrying out that DOD policy, the following principles of information shall apply:

  • "Information shall be made fully and readily available, consistent with statutory requirements, unless its release is precluded by national security constraints or valid statutory mandates or exceptions. The Freedom of Information Act will be supported in both letter and spirit.
  • "A free flow of general and military information shall be made available, without censorship or propaganda, to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their dependents.
  • "Information will not be classified or otherwise withheld to protect the Government from criticism or embarrassment.
  • "Information shall be withheld when disclosure would adversely affect national security, threaten the safety or privacy of U.S. Government personnel or their families, violate the privacy of the citizens of the United States, or be contrary to law.
  • "The Department of Defense's obligation to provide the public with information on DOD major programs may require detailed Public Affairs (PA) planning and coordination in the Department of Defense and with the other Government Agencies. Such activity is to expedite the flow of information to the public; propaganda has no place in DOD public affairs programs."

The Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs has the primary responsibility for carrying out the commitment represented by these principles.

The Principles of Information are codified as enclosure (2) to Department of Defense Directive 5122.5 of Sept. 27, 2000.

The Principles of Information are also available in a full-color, printer-friendly version (.pdf, about 430K) signed by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.