"Loose Lips Sink Ships" The military must certainly be deceptive
Would anyone in his right mind suggest that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower should have announced in advance his plan to invade Europe by sending troops ashore in Normandy? Or Gen. Douglas MacArthur should have announced in advance the Inchon landings?
War cannot easily be waged successfully without deception. And the press covering a war either has to be completely reliable in its agreement not to reveal future operations, thereby accepting censorship, or resign itself to be deceived quite a bit of the time. I think the latter may actually be preferable. It's foolhardy for officials to pass out sensitive information and put it off the record, unless they actually want it to get out, and this is true not only in war. Wasn't it John F. Kennedy who once observed that if he wanted to get something out everywhere in the press, he would call up a few reporters and put it deepest darkest off the record. He could be assured it would be out within hours. The number of reporters who adhere to a pledge to truly keep it off the record is severely limited. They tell their editors, their friends, their wives and lovers, and then, presto, it's out!
The embedding of reporters with military units in Iraq has frequently worked out well enough, and probably should continue. But I remember when I asked one Times reporter who had been embedded in a unit in the 2003 Iraq invasion, whether he was impressed with American officers, he replied, "They are very efficient killers." At least, I thought he was being honest.
There's always going to be a strained relationship between the media and the military. They have different missions to perform. The media must do its best to follow the war, but the military's job is to win the war, and the two missions are not particularly compatible.