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[] BS 11.04.02: Rumsfeld Says Press Unrealistic In Afghanistan,

Baltimore Sun April 11, 2002

Rumsfeld Says Press Unrealistic In Afghanistan

Defends decision to deny early access to battlefield

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON - News organizations that pressed the Pentagon for early access 
to U.S. forces inside Afghanistan had "unrealistic expectations," Defense 
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday.

In an appearance before members of the American Society of Newspaper 
Editors, Rumsfeld denied that the Pentagon had barred reporters from the 

He defended his decision not to arrange for reporters to accompany the 
first groups of U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers into Afghanistan.

"They were in very dangerous circumstances," he said, referring to the 
Special Forces soldiers who slipped behind enemy lines.

"As they got a little better adjusted and closer cooperation with Afghan 
units, we began putting press people in," he said.

"So the fact that they [reporters] wished for more does not make them bad 
people. It just was an unrealistic expectation."

Rumsfeld said the Pentagon did not try to stop any reporter from going into 
Afghanistan on his or her own.

"No one was denied the ability to go in and be in any part of that country 
or any part of the battlefield," he said.

He seemed unfamiliar with the case of a Washington Post reporter who was 
held at gunpoint by U.S. soldiers when he attempted to visit the scene of a 
U.S. missile strike in Afghanistan.

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