Press plays along with Pentagon plan

WASHINGTON: Pentagon public affairs officials are praising the

international press for its willingness to embargo and even forgo

reporting sensitive information during the first phase of Operation

Enduring Freedom, but the press continues to be wary about the access it

will be given.



The Department of Defense (DoD) notified a number of journalists who had

been gathering in Bahrain that they should quietly prepare to be moved

to Navy ships two days before the US and Britain launched air raids over

Afghanistan, according to spokesman Rear Admiral Craig Quigley.



"We moved them out last Saturday, a total of 41 people on two different

aircraft carriers," he said. The carriers were the USS Carl Vinson and

the USS Enterprise, and some reporters were also placed on smaller ships

firing Tomahawk missiles.



Despite being told two days in advance, no reporters ran the story prior

to the attacks. Quigley said that so far, the media was complying with

other DoD ground rules as well: no reporting information about pilots

other than first names and hometowns, no details about how many aircraft

or ammunition being used, and no details about the location of the

aircraft carriers or future targets. "This is the sort of tactical

information that would be useful to this enemy," explained Quigley.



The press, for the most part, seemed happy to comply, and Quigley could

cite no violations of the rules. But some media executives continued to

express concern about future military strikes, particularly those

involving ground troops.



"It was a good start to get us on board those ships," said ABC

Washington bureau chief Robin Sproul to The Washington Post, "but we're

very interested in getting access to US troops wherever they are."



Both press and the Pentagon expressed relief that a pool format - by

which only a few journalists would witness the raids and then share

their reporting with other outlets - did not need to be used at this

time.



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