DiRita is at it again.
On Sunday, the Washington Post published an article reporting that Rumsfeld has created a secret intelligence unit — called the Strategic Support Branch — which he has sent to hot spots around the world without informing Congress.
Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita issued a response. Here is the key section:
There is no unit that is directly reportable to the Secretary of Defense for clandestine operations as is described in the Washington Post article of January 23, 2005, entitled “Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld’s Domain.” Further, the Department is not attempting to ‘bend’ statutes to fit desired activities, as is suggested in this article.
It is accurate and should not be surprising that the Department of Defense is attempting to improve its long-standing human intelligence capability.
As Atrios notes, this is basically an admission that the entire story is true. DiRita doesn’t deny that the unit exists, only that such a unit isn’t “directly reportable” to a certain Pentagon official. It’s clear that DiRita purposely writes statements that make it sound like the Pentagon is denying the story, without actually denying the story. (Most likely because the story is true.)
Worse, USA Today bought into DiRita hook, line and sinker. The headline of the nation’s most widely read newspaper: “Pentagon denies news report of new spy unit.”