DoD defends its media-disclosure practices amid recent criticism

WASHINGTON: The Department of Defense (DoD) is maintaining its message of "maximum disclosure, minimum delay," amid recent reports that military public affairs officers have released false or misleading information during the war on terror.

WASHINGTON: The Department of Defense (DoD) is maintaining its message of "maximum disclosure, minimum delay," amid recent reports that military public affairs officers have released false or misleading information during the war on terror.

"Truth is the coin of the realm here," said Lt. Col. Christopher Conway, a DoD spokesperson. "We give truthful, fact-based, accurate, and timely information to the media, the public, military members, and the families."

A recent Washington Post story criticized the Army's account of former football player Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan. An April 24 release suggests enemy forces killed Tillman, when it was actually friendly fire.

"This should be filed alongside Jessica Lynch in spinning of war stories," said Matthew Felling, media director at the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

Paul Boyce, public affairs specialist for the Army, said in an e-mail that the true facts of the incident were released to the media on May 29 after a military investigation.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that, in an October CNN broadcast, a Marine spokesman implied that the military offensive on Fallujah had started. It hadn't.

The spokesman, 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert, said his statement was intended to indicate only that troops had kicked off a "significant security and stability operation" in Fallujah.

"That's what they did, that's what I announced, and there's nothing deceiving about that whatsoever," he said.

Marcus Mabry, chief of correspondents at Newsweek, said the media's distrust of the government dates back to Vietnam and Watergate. "We gave the administration every benefit of the doubt," he said. "We gave them a free pass; we were too trusting."

The Abu Grahib scandal "woke us all up," he said.

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