Newsletter No 19 21 February 2006
News from the Media Scene:
US 'Losing Media War to Al-Qaeda'

The US is losing the propaganda war against al-Qaeda and other enemies, US defense chief Donald Rumsfeld has said. It must modernize its methods to win the minds of Muslims in the 'war on terror', as 'enemies had skillfully adapted' to the media age, he said. Washington and the army must respond faster to events and learn to exploit the internet and satellite TV, he said.

Correspondents say that in recent months victory in the battle for public opinion has become a new front for the Bush administration. In a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld said some of the US' most critical battles were now in the 'newsrooms'. Rumsfeld said al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists were bombarding Muslims with negative images of the West, which had poisoned the public view of the US. The US must fight back by operating a more effective, 24-hour propaganda machine, or risk a 'dangerous deficiency,' he said.

Government communications planning must be 'a central component of every aspect of this struggle', he added. 'The longer it takes to put a strategic communications framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy.'

Source:  - BBC News