New Slogan in Washington: Watch What You Say

If the United States is embarking on the first war of the 21st century, and one that the president has said may be "secret even in success," then the damming up of information out of Washington is part of the strategy. Although the administration says it is not engaged in censorship, officials throughout the government readily say they have been ordered to be circumspect about their remarks. The caution extends even to the sanitizing of government Web sites -- including large-scale digital maps and a report on the poor security at some chemical plants. It is a sign of the times that Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld stood at a Pentagon podium last month and cited Winston Churchill's famous words that "in wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." It is a more bizarre sign of the times that Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters three times as he uttered Churchill's words that he did not want to be quoted — as he was appearing live on CNN.