- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, released its report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s Farah Province at 4:52 on Friday afternoon — and in the summer. That is typical of military public affairs — in fact, I once heard an Army PA officer boast about good they were at using late Friday to disclose embarrassing information. Among other things, the late hour makes it difficult for reporters to find outside experts who have read the report and can comment on it.
Stunts like these are not cute. They undermine the credibility of the military and increase public suspicion of its statements. If General Petraeus is serious about improving strategic communications in his command, he’ll tell his subordinates to stop throwing the bad news out the back door late on Fridays.
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| The Complex |