8/29/06 -- Associated Press.
(AP) Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday he is deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners.
"That's the thing that keeps me up at night," he said during a question-and-answer session with about 200 naval aviators and other Navy personnel at this flight training base for Navy and Marine pilots.
"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," Rumsfeld continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror.
"They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
"They can lie with impunity," he said, while U.S. troops are held to a high standard of conduct.
Later, at a Reno, Nev., convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Rumsfeld made similar points.
"The enemy lies constantly - almost totally without penalty," he told the veterans group, which presented him with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award.
Rumsfeld often complains about what he calls the terrorists' success in persuading Westerners that the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a crusade against Islam. In his remarks at Fallon he did not offer any new examples of media manipulation; he put unusual emphasis, however, on the negative impact it is having on Americans in an era of 24-hour news.
"The enemy is so much better at communicating," he added. "I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say - all of which are not true - is harmful. It's cumulative."
2,631 dead US soldiers, 67,000 wounded US soldiers, and 12 US soldiers killed in Iraq just this weekend is not what keeps Mr. Rumsfeld "up all night."
No. It's the lies.