Robert Gates Tightens Rules for Military and the Media

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HUFFINGTON POST– Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered military officials Friday to get Pentagon clearance for interviews and other media contacts after President Barack Obama fired the top general in Afghanistan for embarrassing comments in a magazine article.

Gates’ order, which is effective immediately, tells officials to make sure they are not going out of bounds or unintentionally releasing information that the Pentagon wants to hold back.

The order was issued in a brief memo sent to military and civilian personnel worldwide. It does not spell out exactly how the new directive will work but appears to require hundreds or thousands of officers to funnel interview requests through a small central office at the Pentagon.

“I am concerned that the department has grown lax in how we engage with the media,” Gates wrote.

“We have far too many people talking to the media outside of channels, sometimes providing information which is simply incorrect, out of proper context, unauthorized, or uninformed by the perspective of those who are most knowledgeable,” about how the information may fit into larger government operations or goals.

The order, first reported by The New York Times on its website Friday night, has been in the works since long before Gen. Stanley McChrystal stunned his bosses with criticism and complaints in a Rolling Stone article that his superiors did not know was coming.

“We were not happy with the content, and we were not happy that we didn’t know about it,” Assistant Defense Secretary Douglas Wilson said this week.

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© COPYRIGHT HUFFINGTON POST, 2010

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