Scoop Report: PM's Office Announced Abizaid's Visit Too Early
By Selwyn Manning – Scoop Co-Editor
Fairfax's Dominion Post has reported that the Prime Minister's office called around press gallery reporters on Monday requesting they not report the Prime Minister had announced that United States general John Abizaid would be in New Zealand this week.
U.S. General John abizaid (left). Image courtesy of U.S. Army
The Dominion Post 's Vernon Small writes: "Miss Clark announced yesterday (Monday) at her regular post-Cabinet press conference that this week she would meet General John Abizaid, the head of the United States Central Command, which includes US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. But within an hour of the press conference Miss Clark's chief press secretary David Lewis approached media to ask them not to publish what she said, citing US sensitivities over security issues."
Scoop understands the U.S. Embassy was sensitive to General Abizaid's plans being made public prior to his meeting with the Prime Minister.
Scoop must report however, that the PM's office did not contact Scoop Media in an attempt to censor the mis-timed announcement – presumably due to the fact that the cat was out of the bag (so to speak) by 5:08 pm! Clearly, Scoop was fast off the mark in audio-streaming the PM's post-Cabinet conference and so alerting our fine and fortunate audience to this most sensitive news.
Scoop also understands that the Dominion Post justified the publishing of its story re: Abizaid's visit citing that Scoop had already published audio of the PM's ill-timed announcement.
Scoop wonders whether the Dominion Post's gallery reporters will be frozen out of the Beehive 9th floor loop (at least for a time) due to mentioning the Prime Minister's office's request not to publish. Meanwhile, it is worthy to point out that every other gallery office seemed to accede to the request.
See this audio-link for the Abizaid announcement segment: Scoop Audio: Prime Minister Announces on Monday U.S. General John Abizaid will be in New Zealand this week.
Wikipedia notes General Abizaid's details as: John Philip Abizaid (born April 1, 1951) is a general in the United States Army and the Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), overseeing American military operations in a 25-country region, from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia, covering much of the Middle East. The Central Command oversees 250,000 US troops. He succeeded General Tommy Franks to this position on July 7, 2003, and was also elevated to the rank of 4-star general the same week. Previously, he was one of the two deputy commanders of CENTCOM.