"What complicates the ability to respond quickly is that, unlike our enemies, which propagate lies with impunity -- with no penalty whatsoever -- our government does not have the luxury of relying on other sources for information -- anonymous or otherwise. Our government has to be the source. And we tell the truth."
Except, of course, when they don't and they get caught. What I think he means to say is that "we create the truth", a la the Ministry of Truth. In any event, I'm a private citizen. I should have the right to spread the truth, and lies, and any information I want within reason, "with no penalty whatever", except to my reputation.
That, ultimately, is the real battleground here... one of reputation and perception. And if the Department of Defense is losing that battle, I would suggest that it has something to do with them not being a reliable, credible, fair source of balanced information. The expectations are higher for them to be credible, but they don't seem to realize that point. In fact, Rumsfeld's speech seems to ignore that aspect entirely, and ignore the lessons that the DoD should've learned from this conflict thus far.
As he states:
"In Iraq, for example, the U.S. military command, working closely with the Iraqi government and the United States Embassy, has sought non-traditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of the aggressive campaign of disinformation.
Yet this has been portrayed as inappropriate -- for example, the allegations of “buying news” in Iraq. The resulting explosion of critical press stories then causes everything -- all activity, all initiative -- to stop.
Even worse, it leads to a “chilling effect” for those who are asked to serve in the military public affairs field.
The conclusion is drawn that there is no tolerance for innovation, much less any human error that could conceivably be seized upon by a press that seems to demand perfection from the government, but does not apply the same standard to the enemy or even sometimes to themselves."
I guess people expect more from their governments than they do from insurgents. They don't expect their government to subvert -- or attack -- media organizations, bribe reporters, etc. Is that wrong? I don't think so.
Rumsfeld's answer to this previous failure?
"Engaging experts from both within and outside of government to help to communicate. . . Developing and executing multifaceted media campaigns -- print, radio, television and Internet."
In other words, more of the same. Bribing reporters, bloggers, etc. A PR disaster in the making.
We get it. He, however, does not. We're all going to have to pay for it, however.