U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has issued a memo to civilian and military leaders of the department, tightening the rule of engagement with media in the aftermath of the controversy that got top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal fired, according to the Pentagon on Tuesday, Xinhua reported.
The memo was issued on July 2, and Gates has asked officials to take media engagement "seriously," and to "stay within their levels of knowledge."
In the memo, Gates said he is "concerned" that the department has grown lax in following long-established rules and procedures for engagement with the media.
"We have far too many people talking to the media outside of channels, sometimes providing information which is simply incorrect, out of proper context, unauthorized or uninformed by the perspective of those who are most knowledgeable about and accountable for inter- and intra-agency policy, processes and activities," Gates wrote.
The purpose is to ensure that leaders safeguard classified and sensitive information, said Pentagon spokesman David Lapan, and ensure officials speaking to the media know what they are talking about before they open their mouths.
"The other element of it is those who are talking to the media are doing so with full knowledge of that which they speak," Lapan said.
The memo is the start of an agency-wide effort to tighten media engagement. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs will issue specific implementation guidance in the near future, Lapan said.
Before the memo, an article in the Rolling Stone magazine has cost McChrystal his job. The general and his inner circle were quoted as making disparaging remarks about the civilian leadership of the Afghanistan war. Lapan claimed the memo and resulting implementation guidance are not in response to the "Runaway General" story.