WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defense (DoD) has banned anonymous quotes in its news releases following the use of almost identical quotations from an unidentified Iraqi in two separate statements issued more than a week apart.
Late last month, Lawrence Di Rita, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, sent a memo to top military commanders and senior civilian officials saying the use of anonymous quotes in DoD press statements is now prohibited.
"If there has been no prior explicit guidance to that effect, consider this memo [as] such," he wrote.
He called the mistake "an egregious error that reflects a lack of rigor in the development of these press statements."
A July 24 news release about a deadly insurgent attack on Iraqi security forces in Baghdad, issued by the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, contained a quote from an unidentified Iraqi almost identical to an anonymous comment in a July 13 release reacting to another attack.
The identical portion of the quote read: "They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today. I will now take the fight to the terrorists."
The Pentagon said the matter is under review.
Di Rita said official statements that include non-DoD comments must identify the party, and that party must give permission to use the statement.
"In this conflict, information is a component of national power that is no less important than military force," he wrote. "Accurate, timely information, properly communicated, adds to the capabilities available to commanders. Trained public affairs professionals must be intimately and decisively involved in the application of this capability."