Bob Burns, the esteemed Pentagon correspondent for the Associated Press, is reporting that the Pentagon is narrowing in on a strategy that will likely reduce the number of troops in Iraq.
He quotes “a senior military official.” Odds are 100-to-1 that that official is Dorrance Smith, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
This appears to be a commonly used tactic in government media relations known as “softening the ground.” A senior spokesperson, generally the press secretary or communications director, will leak a story that has potential to be challenging or difficult for the administration on the condition that the person’s identity is kept secret. Why do this? So that the government can take the temperature of the public and see how they react to the news — and also to ease expectations.
The timing makes sense. September has been the month that the White House, the Pentagon and the media have identified as “zero hour” for the next steps in the Iraq experiment. It appears that they are bracing for, at worst, a negative report from General Petraeus or, at best, a report that is viewed skeptically by the Democratic congress.
Check out the article for yourself, and let the D-Ring know if you think this effort will be successful.