Rumsfeld: US govt insufficiently tech-savvy

Administration's PR 'a five-and-dime store' in an 'eBay world'

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has made a speech lamenting the US government's lack of technology in its media operations. He described the administration's PR as "a five-and-dime store" in an "eBay world".

His main point in the four-page soliloquy is that the US Government is less new media-savvy than its detractors. Ironically, many of the administration's detractors have been pointing that out in the media for some time.

In the speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld complained that while terrorists and such like hate the States 24/7, the Pentagon's PR office only works nine to five.

Here's Rummy's bleeding-edge shopping list of what he sees as the main battlegrounds in the propaganda struggle: Email, blogs, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras, a global internet with no inhibitions, mobile phones, handheld video cameras, talk radio, 24-hour news broadcasts and satellite television.

Whether Mr Rumsfeld is aware of the impending injunction that threatens to bring down the Blackberry network this week is unclear.

To illustrate the "dangerous deficiency" in technologies, Rumsfeld points to last year's deadly riots in the Muslim world over an inaccurate Newsweek report of soldiers flushing a copy of the Koran down a Guantanamo Bay john: "Once aware of the story, the US Military, appropriately, and of necessity, took the time needed to ensure that it had the facts before responding - having to conduct interviews and pore though countless documents, investigations and log books. It was finally determined that the charge was false. But in the meantime the lives had been lost and great damage had been done."

The Pentagon's propaganda machinery needs a little technogrease to compete with the bloggers, reckons Rummy. "In this environment, the old adage that 'a lie can be half way around the world before the truth has its boots on' becomes doubly true with today's technologies," he said. ®

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