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