Monday, February 07, 2005
An interesting look at how the soundbite process works, and can distort:
MR. RUSSERT: Now, Specialist Wilson did acknowledge he worked with a journalist in crafting that question.
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Yeah, but wait a minute. Let me get into this a little bit.
MR. RUSSERT: Sure.
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: That was unfair and it was selectively taking out two sentences from a long exchange--there it is--that took place. And when you suggested that that's how I answered that question, that is factually wrong.
MR. RUSSERT: No, we...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: That is not how I answered that question.
MR. RUSSERT: But, Mr. Secretary, it clearly represents the exchange and...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: It does not.
MR. RUSSERT: All right. What is missing?
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: You want to hear the exchange? There is it. It's right here. I'll read it to you.
MR. RUSSERT: I just...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: If you're going to quote pieces of it, I'll give you the exchange. He asked that question, and I said, "I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to places where they are needed. I'm told they are being--the Army is--I think it's something like 400 a month are being done now. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It's not a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army's desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, you go to the war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
"Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce armor necessary at a rate that they believe--it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously but a rate that they believe is the rate that can be accomplished. I can assure you that General Schumacher and the leadership of the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable to have, but that they're working at it at a good clip.
"It's interesting. I've talked a great deal about this with a team of people who've been working hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and the tank could still be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and the vehicle--the goal we have is to have many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that's what the Army's been working on. And, General Whitcomb, is there anything you want to add?" And then he spoke.
Now, that answer is totally different from picking out two lines. And I think it's an unfair representation and it's exactly what some of the newspapers around the country did. Now, let's go back to Susan Collins' comment, Senator Collins...