A (Nearly) All-Access Pentagon Pass Remember the war in Iraq? Bizarre, isn't it, how we media folks suddenly shove The Big Story aside when another crisis bursts on our collective consciousness. My edition of today's Washington Post didn't even mention Iraq until Page A-10 -– and they put out the paper before we'd even heard about the alleged U.K. terrorist plot. Maybe the media and the public are unable to multitask. Or maybe we get numbed and bored after hearing the same troubling kind of news day after day, month after month. And sadly, year after year. True, Geneva Overholser says the media are going great places these days (link to previous post), but that doesn't mean we're always perfect. Obviously, the war in Iraq hasn't gone away. Here's an AP report today: "NAJAF, Iraq -- A suicide bomber killed at least 35 people and wounded more than 120 on Thursday near one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites, the Imam Ali shrine in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf." And the showdown with Iran hasn't gone away, either. Some media have just put it on a back burner. Although Tom Bowman hasn't -- he's roaming around the Pentagon as I write this, examining, what do U.S. leaders really plan to do to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power? Before Tom joined us earlier this year to cover the Pentagon, he had already spent nine years roaming its hallways for The Baltimore Sun. We mean literally roaming around its hallways. So he'd already stumbled on one of the strangest secrets of covering America's mightiest and deadliest institution: reporters who use their feet can get amazing access to people in power.

A (Nearly) All-Access Pentagon Pass

Remember the war in Iraq? Bizarre, isn't it, how we media folks suddenly shove The Big Story aside when another crisis bursts on our collective consciousness. My edition of today's Washington Post didn't even mention Iraq until page A-10 -- and they put out the paper before we'd even heard about the alleged U.K. terrorist plot.

Maybe the media and the public are unable to multitask. Or maybe we get numbed and bored after hearing the same troubling kind of news day after day, month after month. And sadly, year after year. True, Geneva Overholser says the media are going great places these days, but that doesn't mean we're always perfect.

Obviously, the war in Iraq hasn't gone away. Here's an AP report today:

NAJAF, Iraq -- A suicide bomber killed at least 35 people and wounded more than 120 on Thursday near one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites, the Imam Ali shrine in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf.

And the showdown with Iran hasn't gone away, either. Some media have just put it on a back burner. Although Tom Bowman hasn't -- he's roaming around the Pentagon as I write this, examining, what do U.S. leaders really plan to do to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power?

Before Tom joined us earlier this year to cover the Pentagon, he had already spent nine years roaming its hallways for The Baltimore Sun. We mean literally roaming around its hallways. So he'd already stumbled on one of the strangest secrets of covering America's mightiest and deadliest institution: reporters who use their feet can get amazing access to people in power.

"With a press pass," Tom tells us, "you can go almost anywhere in the building. You can wander the miles of hallways and pop in and see people. 'The Building,' as it's known, is really like a village or a small town. Or City Hall." Read about Tom's unexpected encounters with big-wigs -– including Rummy -- in rather unlikely spots. He writes:

One of the great secrets of covering the Pentagon is the amazing access. With a press pass you can go almost anywhere in the building, with few exceptions -- one being the "The Tank," where the top generals hold their secret sessions, and another being The National Military Command Center, where officers maintain a 24-hour watch on what's going in the world. There are big screens in there for secret video teleconferences (but I got a tour there once with a Navy captain who had my father-in-law as a professor)...

Read the Tom's full letter after the jump...