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Pentagon Tightens Controls on Tanker Info

For those who wonder just how worried the Pentagon is about stumbling into or somehow sparking a second protest in the tanker wars, here's a baseline.

John Young, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, issued a July 31 memo requiring that all communications outside of the Defense Department be approved by the Pentagon's general counsel's office and by Shad Assay, director of defense procurement, acquisition policy and strategic sourcing.

This means that anyone who wants to talk to the press or to industry must first get Air Force clearance and then get OSD clearance, including the department's top lawyers. The source who provided the memo described it as a "gag order."  That may be a little strong but it conveys pretty clearly just how concerned the Pentagon's senior leadership is with shaping and controlling the messages it sends as it conducts the tanker rebid. In effect, this is pretty close to a gag order given that no lawyer is likely to approve any statement to anyone unless it's either utterly innocuous or there is very good reason for the department to say something. After all, $35 billion is a fair amount of change and the department's handling of the tanker deal has been remarkably inept over the years.

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