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Gates defends rules governing military's interaction with media

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Mullen and Gates explain media relations rules
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gates defends restrictions on military interviews with media
  • Military officials are required to notify the Pentagon before potentially sensitive interviews
  • Gates: recent interviews were often "lacking in context"
  • The new rules are not a change in policy, Gates says
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Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that new rules governing interaction between members of the press and the military are a result of "flat out sloppy" media relations efforts on the part of military officials in recent years.

A memo issued by Gates last week requires military officials to notify the Pentagon before providing interviews on potentially sensitive subjects.

The memo was released shortly after Gen. Stanley McChrystal was relieved of his duties as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, following the publication of a Rolling Stone magazine article in which the general and his staff were quoted criticizing and mocking key administration officials.

Too often, information given by military officials has been "lacking in proper context," Gates said. "Highly classified" information has frequently been divulged without proper approval, he asserted.

The memo "is not a change of policy, but a reaffirmation of existing policy that was being (followed) selectively at best," he said. Gates said he concluded "several weeks ago that we need greater coordination and discipline" in dealing with the media.

But the new rules shouldn't impede the flow of information, Gates said. "That is not my intent, nor will I tolerate it."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen stressed that the press "is not the enemy."