Pentagon tightens media rules for US military

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has tightened rules on media relations for the US military, only days after the top general in Afghanistan was sacked over disparaging comments he and aides made in an interview.

Updated: Jul 03, 2010, 09:47 AM IST

Washington: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has tightened rules on media relations for the US military, only days after the top general in Afghanistan was sacked over
disparaging comments he and aides made in an interview.

In a three-page memo sent yesterday to senior military and civilian Pentagon staff, Gates said he was "concerned that the department has grown lax in how we engage with the media, often in contravention of established rules and procedures."

In a copy of the memo obtained by a news agency, the former Central Intelligence Agency director said "leaking of classified information is against the law, cannot be tolerated, and will, when proven, lead to the prosecution of those found to be engaged in such activity."

Titled "Interaction with the media," the memo instructs Pentagon officials to notify the Defense Department`s assistant secretary for public affairs "prior to interviews or
any other means of media and public engagement with possible national or international implications."

Gates`s message comes just days after US General Stanley McChrystal was swiftly relieved of his command in Kabul after he and his aides showed disdain for administration officials -- including President Barack Obama -- in a Rolling Stone
magazine profile.

The episode set off an impassioned online debate about military-media relations and prompted predictions of a chilling effect for news coverage of the war and the Pentagon.

PTI