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Asst. Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) Victoria Clarke
Dep. Asst. Sec. of Defense (Public Affairs) Rear Admiral Craig Quigley
Prin. Dep. Asst. Sec. of Defense (Public Affairs) Richard McGraw
DoD National Media Pool Coordinator Army Col. Lane Van de Steeg
Meeting with National Media Pool Bureau Chiefs
The Pentagon
Arlington, Virginia
September 28, 2001
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QUESTION: No last names.

QUESTION: This occurred when the Roosevelt left Norfolk, they said no last names.

CLARKE: Let me say this. My strong preference is that if it is not in the obvious category -- a Special Forces kind of person, or for instance a pilot. Sometimes they would use their handles rather than their names. My strong preference is to the greatest extent, people can use their names, they can use their hometowns, but there are going to be certain cases where we won't want to. We'll try to make that clear.

But also, and again, I have a lot of faith in the people who work for you. They tend to be very sensitive to these sorts of things. So when they are interviewing a person they tend to be pretty sensitive to that individual's concerns. So I have a lot of faith in the ability of people doing your work and people being interviewed to work that out.

QUESTION: Torie, outside of the location which is going to be sensitive, the last name, what are the other things that the pool report review will involve?

CLARKE: One of the things we're going to do as people leave is to hand out what is the existing, as of September 28th, guidelines -- do's and don'ts for the pool. What I would ask all of you to do is take a hard look at them, as we are, and say what's relevant, what's not, what seems ridiculous, what seems valuable, and give us your ideas and suggestions on it.

I've tasked all of us to take a hard look at it and say does this really work? Are there ways we can be more forward leaning than we are? Are there areas in which given the aftershock of September 11th we should be tightening up? And I think there are. But we're going to be give you what the existing set is and say tell us what you think we ought to be changing. I didn't think it would be useful with this large a group to have 40-some people start to edit the document. But take it home, look it over, show it to your people and say this is crazy, but this is a cool thing. It would be very helpful.

QUESTION: Does that mean that the existing rules and the principles that were ironed out ten years ago are up in the air, open for discussion?

CLARKE: Absolutely everything is open for discussion. If I haven't made that clear, let me say it again. It is a whole new world, folks, and we are trying to figure out the best rules of the road for going forward. And after a lot of work and after looking at this hour after hour, after getting your inputs, we may look at them and go that's the way it ought to be.

We start with the fundamental principle, with the fundamental philosophy that we want to get out as much news and as much information as possible in as complete and total a fashion as possible, with the security and safety concerns built in so everybody understands, starting with that fundamental commitment and let's work from there to see what those rules of the road should be.

What I'm saying is anyone who thinks the way the world works prior to September 11th is the same today is nuts. So let's take a hard look at it and see if we should change it, or if everyone looks at this and says these work pretty well, (inaudible).

QUESTION: You deal with a lot of host countries that have no traditional (inaudible), tradition of press control. It was also an issue going into the Gulf War with the Saudis. And the question is to what degree have you started a dialogue with any of these countries about providing access either on the ground unilaterally or through the military? Are we going to find ourselves in a position where not only can we not report people's names, but we can't say what country they're in, we can't say what unit they're with because that could be sensitive information, we can't say what they do because that too could be operational. We can say almost nothing of what they're up to. (inaudible) with the countries. You can say we'd like to have somebody in Uzbekistan, but Uzbeks don't want to cooperate. It gives you an out but it doesn't satisfy us and isn't realistic.

CLARKE: Again, fortunately, I have met with and worked with to a greater or lesser extent with a lot of my counterparts over the last few months. We've already tried to make the introductions, but some work with you more than others. We've started around the calls again with some of the relevant suspects to say hey, let's keep the lines of communication open. I have said to them that we are working through these issues and this is a priority for us, and get their thoughts, but the basic message to all of them, which has been well received, is we want to keep the lines of communication open, we want to try to find ways to the extent possible we can help our media do the job. And so far the response has been quite positive.

Now there's a real difference between a phone call and making it happen, I know that. But we at least have established the contact, communicated the desire, and (inaudible).

QUESTION: Let's say that a pool was activated yesterday and there's a pool report to be posted on the web today. Who is going to review it before it's posted, and who actually posts this? Who in DoD either in the field, the command out there...

CLARKE: How it currently works --

QUESTION: How many possible layers --

QUESTION: In terms of reviewing stories before they're --

CLARKE: -- a pool got activated yesterday and the following --

QUESTION: They want to post a report on the web. Who reviews it, how many layers of review are there, who actually posts it?

QUESTION: (inaudible)

MALE VOICE: It's very easy for me to say that I hadn't planned, if I was in the pool, of anybody reviewing what you wrote unless it was handed to me by one of you and you said I think this paragraph is okay but would you please tell me if I've said something wrong.

CLARKE: And I've got to tell you guys, in my brief what is it five months, six months, however long I've been in the job, my brief experience, usually what happens is your people come to us and say I've got a question about this, help me out here. Am I delving into something I shouldn't delve into? They've been tremendously responsible thus far, and I know that (inaudible), but the general --

QUIGLEY: Can I take a whack at that? Security at the source is going to be one of the principal methods we're going to use to ensure that no classified information or movements of units or something like that.

Example. A television crew embeds in an infantry unit. Right off the bat these are brand new environments for everybody that's involved -- both the infantry unit and the news crew. Okay? They're going to meet each other and they're going to say, okay, what's the lay of the land here? What are the rules of the road that we'd need to get along? We're going to be here for some number of days or weeks or whatever that is. It's going to be different from that infantry unit than it is at this infantry unit over here. There will come an accommodation on the details.

Your crews are going to look for that unit to help them understand what is sensitive. And if there's a disagreement on that, that gets worked out right there at the local level.

But security at the source, getting back to the censorship issue and the review of text and the review of photos and the review of video plate, security at the source is going to be the principal way, as opposed to censorship or security review or something like that, of making sure that the products, before they ever leave the pool, are just fine. That's going to be the --

Let me give you a Navy example I'm familiar with. You get the same video crew on a submarine. I have a depth gauge on the submarine. I'm going to tell the videographer, you can't shoot that depth gauge. It is a classified instrument, so don't go there. So the camera guy goes got it, I'm going to slew my camera left over here to all the rest of the stuff, and that's all fine. So I've helped the cameraperson understand that I don't need to do a security review because everything that his lens can possibly see is going to be fine. Just stay away from the depth gauge, okay? And I would imagine that there would be a comparable set of don't do this, don't do that, when you're reporting from a text you need to say I'm in Southwest Asia as opposed to a particular country. Those are going to be some political sensitivities that we may not be able to overcome. So that's going to be a reality of this too.

CLARKE: And there will be some we can't predict now. Even if you came up with ten countries right now that have said positive things, we want to be a part of this effort, six months down the road, circumstances may have changed and Country X may not want to have a lot of --

QUESTION: Admiral, does that mean there would be no review here, no central review?

QUIGLEY: We don't contemplate that.

MALE VOICE: I'd like to point out. It might not be obvious, but the folks back here aren't going to know necessarily what should -- if you show them a photo of the inside of a submarine, I'm an armor officer and we all know that tanks are God's gift to combat. But I don't know anything about the inside of a submarine. I would not know what's classified or not so I wouldn't be able to. It looks like a pretty good picture to me. I'm not going to stop it from being published.

The same thing with information. The folks back here are not going to know what the situation is in terms of operational security.

QUESTION: -- in other words. Let's say --

CLARKE: No.

QUIGLEY: No.

CLARKE: And you're trying to make it too black and white.

QUESTION: We're trying to get some sense --

CLARKE: And we're trying to give you some sense, but there's no such thing as no appeals, and you all know that, and some of you have called me up in the last X months and appealed certain things. That's a way of life, that's what we do and I fully expect that we and I will play that role. There always are. But what we really want to do is communicate to all of our people out there what our guiding principles are, if you will, and I have enormous faith that in most times they will work it out. And when they don't, absolutely.

QUESTION: Torie, using the example we were talking about before. You're interviewing a sailor on a ship. He has absolutely no problem with his name and hometown being used, in fact he welcomes that. But you have a CINC who tells the handler, the pool handler, I'm fighting a war, I don't have time to worry about whether this is on that side of the line or not, no last names at all. And we did have situations like that in the Persian Gulf. The CINCs told the handlers no, err on the side of not letting it out.

CLARKE: Here's what I can say about that. It's not the Persian Gulf, it is something different.

QUESTION: I know.

CLARKE: I think, I am hopeful, I will be strongly encouraging and directing of all to err on the side of being more forthcoming.

QUESTION: But on the question of review, what we don't want to have happen is some blanket order that no last names in this particular area by order of the CINC.

QUESTION: How will the photos be moved and from where?

CLARKE: Very good question. Lane, do you want to talk about what the discussions have been thus far?

VAN DE STEEG: I am not a technical guy so I'm going to miss all the fine points on this, but if it's a digital photo our laptop, our modems would be able to transmit them back to here along with the written.

QUESTION: From the actual site or is this when everyone comes back to --

VAN DE STEEG: Every night the pool will come back together to file. That's so you guys can share the stories, share the information. Remember, this is non-competitive. You go out for the day, you cover stories, you come back in the afternoon, whatever the situation is, and you file.

QUESTION: My consideration on that is our technology now will allow us to transmit immediately. That gives our readers the chance to see the photographs as soon as possible. It seems like it's offsetting technology if they aren't going to be reviewed, to come back in, to do something that we could do on site.

MALE VOICE: -- a photograph that shows up five minutes after the two F-14s take off to go on a mission, that tells the whole world that five minutes ago two F-14s took off to go do something.

QUESTION: Well, they don't know where it is.

MALE VOICE: Those are the kinds of things we have to work out. The instantaneous technology versus these guys are still in the air.

QUESTION: So would it be your purpose that we utilize the pool of technology to transmit these idioms --

MALE VOICE: We don't mind your technology, just our time.

(Laughter)

QUESTION: What about (inaudible) deal with.

MALE VOICE: Independent --

MALE VOICE: It's great that we all sit here and --

(Multiple voices)

MALE VOICE: We can sit here and argue that until 2400 tonight, but these are things we've got to think about, and for some reason everybody seems to think we came up with the answers in the last 17 days, and we haven't.

QUESTION: It's an instant world now, and if you will consider transmitting from the site as opposed to at the end of each day if we have the ability to do that --

QUIGLEY: Let me rephrase the question so it's applicable more broadly. The question is, should we decentralize the transmission of text, photos and video. Is that the question?

QUESTION: That's the question.

QUESTION: -- the pool and everybody's spread out. Audio or video gets to the (inaudible).

(Multiple voices)

QUESTION: I presume it comes back here and it's shared with you.

MALE VOICE: So what has to happen is the magazine guys have to agree that when Newsweek is in there that they transmit back to Newsweek, but everybody has access to that (inaudible). If CNN transmits back to the CNN site, that ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. have access to that site at the same time. Because again, non-competitive is --

QUESTION: Pools are the least desired method of doing this. One of the reasons it's least desired is because of a certain amount of control that gets put on us.

QUESTION: -- the issue of local coverage, because we have a lot of national organizations here, but a lot of us will have interest in more local coverage, either unilaterally or through pools, and in fact in the Persian Gulf I gather there was an effort to facilitate local coverage and access to people. Have you all considered that --

CLARKE: That's the kind of things we're talking to the CINCs about, and to their PAOs, and trying to make more of that happen. There is going to be a big demand out there and a big thirst, and we certainly can't control it all from the Pentagon.

QUESTION: Do you think that most of this is actually going to happen through the CINCs?

CLARKE: I think a lot of it. Sure. They're the ones who do it.

QUESTION: Our reporter in Uzbekistan comes across an Air Force unit, or in Kazakhstan or one of the "stans" and he says I want to find anyone there from Texas or California, Washington. What will they say? Get the hell out of here, this is an operation? Or do they say come with us, here?

CLARKE: Again, I can't predict the future with certainty, but the conversations we've had with them thus far, and the working relationships we've had with them thus far has been very, very good. And even though -- you've got to understand post September 11th everybody's nerves on a high state of alert, and I'd say within hours, if not a day, the willingness of the services and the CINCs to pitch in and help us and get a lot of people and a lot of stuff out there was pretty good. It's not the same as being in a military operation, I understand that. But so far we've been doing pretty well and we did exactly those sorts of things. After the first day everybody was, a lot of your outlets were interested, who is it from Texas, who is it from Michigan or whatever. We turned that faucet on and the response was pretty good. But we will make, the list of talking points that we go through the CINCs and others I will add that to it.

And I'm sitting here and half-thinking we should set up a conference call between the CINCs and all of you.

QUESTION: Can I bring this more immediately. There's an impression among many that where in previous situations reporters have been able to at least get winks or nods, and maybe this comes back to the USA Today story, at least a wink and a nod, at least a wave-off, or something that is flatly false. Not only are the winks not happening, they're being told explicitly you won't get winks and nods and if you have bad information you're on your own. I'm sure that doesn't serve us, and I really don't believe that serves you. We all recognize the great sensitivities and the (inaudible) this particular moment. I think our credibility and your credibility is very much at stake here.

Can you talk about that and whether you're reexamining that, or whether we can bring back some of those winks and nods? There are a ton of, whether it's a Pakistani newspaper or the Uzbek Chronicle, that's got junk.

QUESTION: And that junk is going to now start flooding into papers here.

(End side of tape.)

CLARKE: -- strong general principle is not to be commenting on the operations and not to comment on reporting on the operations. I'll repeat myself. I got eight or nine phone calls last night, and probably 20 or 30 this morning. Admiral, I don't know how many you got. People up and down the hallways got it. We said guys, we're not going to be doing this.

One of the reasons, the secretary talked about this from the briefing room last week is [it's almost a matter of degrees] but it's not. Through winks and nods and waving on and waving off and cleaning up this and not cleaning up that, in a matter of time, as Admiral Quigley was saying, you have given a very clear picture of what we're doing and where we're doing it and how we're going to do it. That's helpful to the bad guys and not helpful to us.

So as a very strong general principle, we are not going to be in the business of winks and nods.

QUESTION: Maybe there's (inaudible) winks and nods and there are winks and nods that -- I might distinguish between winks and nods, because I take your point. We don't want to become a part of strategic deception, nor do we want to be passing on (inaudible), and of course we've got the 24 hour global real time everything. We want to be very sensitive to those issues you raised. But it may not even serve you, it certainly doesn't serve us, to be dealing with outright trash.

If you're not commenting on operations we get it, there are going to be things we say we can't comment on. And you may want to not comment on some stuff that has been true, that's kind of marginal, but there may be things that aren't true that are not marginal that we really want to dispose of or that you really want to dispose of. You're saying you're not going to do any of that?

CLARKE: I'm saying it's a very strong general principle. I can't sit here today and tell you I can anticipate every circumstance and every situation and every story. But I'm saying as a very strong general principle we won't be talking about operations and we won't be doing the winks and nods that you're talking about.

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