Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Military To Investigate Nearly Duplicate Quotes In Recent Press Releases

The Pentagon is seriously investigating how nearly identical quotes, both attributed to anonymous Iraqi men, made their way into July 13 and July 24 press releases.

"This is an egregious error that reflects a lack of rigor in the development of these press statements," Di Rita wrote in a memo to top military commanders and senior civilian officials at the Pentagon, dated July 29 and later reported by the Washington Post.

That's an upgrade from comments made on July 24 by Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, spokesman for the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, who called the near-duplication an "administrative error," while the Pentagon re-issuied the latter news release, minus the anonymous quote.

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Officially, the Pentagon still claims the quotes are authentic, although that seems to stretch the bounds of coincidence.

Note the similarities:

The July 24 news release, on a car bomb that killed 25 near the al-Rashad police station, read: "'The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) and all of Iraq. They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists,' said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified."

The July 13 news release, on a car bomb that killed several children, read: "'The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the children and all of Iraq,' said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified. 'They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists."

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Regardless, in his memo, Di Rita said that going forward, anonymous quotes are prohibited. He also laid out rules for who can issue news releases: unit commanders, their deputies or public affairs officers.

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