Hughes to launch new White House crisis comms unit

WASHINGTON: The White House will soon unveil a new communications weapon in its war against terrorism: a permanent, rapid-response team to regularly merge "good news about the US with the President's policy objectives for dissemination overseas.

WASHINGTON: The White House will soon unveil a new communications weapon in its war against terrorism: a permanent, rapid-response team to regularly merge "good news about the US with the President's policy objectives for dissemination overseas.

Departing Presidential message chief Karen Hughes is spearheading the effort, and wants to see it in operation before she leaves for Austin, TX at the end of the summer, according to a senior administration official.

The still-unnamed team is tipped to be led by current director of media affairs, 30-year-old Tucker Eskew (as predicted by PRWeek, April 22).

Eskew spent the first several months of 2002 in England overseeing the Coalition Information Center (CIC), a rapid-response unit formed jointly by the US and UK after September 11 to respond to anti-American reports emanating from Middle Eastern countries. Originally formed as a short-term solution to a long-term problem, the CIC will be folded into the new White House department, which Hughes is hoping to make a permanent function of the White House.

Among the team's tasks will be better coordination with the State Department, which conducts a number of antiterrorism initiatives under former advertising executive Charlotte Beers, who now serves as undersecretary of state for public affairs. The team is expected to consist of about a dozen staffers.

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