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2 Arabic Language Broadcasters Damaging Coalition Efforts in Iraq, Says Rumsfeld - 2004-02-12


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has lashed out at two prominent Arabic language broadcasters, charging they are damaging the efforts of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

Mr. Rumsfeld says that in his view, there is no doubt that the Arabic language broadcasters al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera are hurting the efforts of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

Testifying before Congress, Mr. Rumsfeld accuses the two stations of putting out false information. "They are continuously putting out information that is false, inaccurate, and harmful to what the coalition is trying to accomplish there, and trying to compete against that in that part of the world is very difficult," he said.

The defense secretary offers no specific examples of inaccurate programming by the two stations.

He also acknowledges that the United States is "not doing as well as it should" in competing with al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera.

Mr. Rumsfeld says all departments of the U.S. government are focused on the problem. He notes there are U.S.-backed Arabic language broadcasts, but he says it takes time for such programs to attract audiences and to establish their credibility.

In a separate exchange with reporters on Capitol Hill, Mr. Rumsfeld says he has no information on who may have been behind an attack in Iraq on the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General John Abizaid.

But he says besides supporters of the ousted Saddam Hussein regime, there are foreign extremists in Iraq as well as criminals and others paid to carry out attacks.

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