game. Not until months later did we learn that the bombs' I.Q. was deficient and that they often missed their targets.
Clearly, during the gulf war they did not trust a press they could not control. And they still don't. When the war in Afghanistan shifts from air to ground operations, the administration, already freaked out by leaks, is likely to reduce the number of briefings, sharply restrict access to the battlefield and wave the flag still higher.
In 1996, between assignments, General Powell revealed his true attitude toward the press when he told reporter Barrie Dunsmore that if the United States had been losing a battle and the press had published the story, thus informing the enemy, "I'd have locked all of you up . . . [and] the American people would have stripped your skin off." One reason the Pentagon relishes its new relationship with Uzbekistan is that in a closed society it is harder for the media to observe its maneuvers. As one Air Force officer noted: "We can put aircraft there where CNN can't film them taking off."
The Bush administration is rallying a wounded country to fight an uncommon war. It must recognize that in this fight the press is not the enemy — it is a valuable and necessary ally, if treated with the trust that its role in a free society warrants.
Marvin Kalb, a former television news correspondent, is the author, most recently, of "One Scandalous Story: Clinton, Lewinsky and 13 Days That Tarnished American Journalism."