Bombs Away

War is fueling the star power of Colorado's -- and possibly the nation's -- ballsiest military analyst.

Along the way, Newman has written a slew of columns and books about the two topics nearest and dearest to his heart. The first, predictably, is the military: He's penned several tomes for Paladin Press, including Marine Special Warfare and Elite Unit Tactics and Guerrillas in the Mist: A Battlefield Guide to Clandestine Warfare, with a foreword by Bob Brown, publisher of Boulder-based Soldier of Fortune magazine. But more surprisingly, Newman is also addicted to fly-fishing -- so much so that he's authored manuscripts such as Gray Ghosts & Lefty's Deceiver, a collection of interviews with fly-fishing all-stars, and articles printed in Field & Streamand similar publications.

The way Newman tells it, he was happily pursuing his writing career, which he supplemented with occasional security-consultant gigs, when the Trade Center collapsed. While absorbing the subsequent electronic and print coverage of the aftermath, he found himself fuming. "I got sick and tired of watching bogus information passed on -- information that was completely false, experts stating assumptions as fact. And since I know everybody listens to KOA, I decided to write them an e-mail and ask if they wanted someone who could give them straight information, with no spin."

That sounded good to Martin, and after determining that Newman wasn't just some bozo who'd watched all the Rambo movies, he put him in front of a microphone. The response was immediate, Martin says: "I put him on Colorado Morning News, and the phone lines just lit up. We never take phone calls on CMN, but we do for him. Then I scheduled him for an hour on Rosen, and Rosen kept him for three, and an hour on the Zoo, and Scott kept him for four.

"Bob gets radio," Martin continues. "He's precise and concise, and he speaks very well. Plus, he's actually worked against terrorists and been dropped behind enemy lines. He's been shot at and shot back. That's the difference between him and some of the other experts you see."

Newman makes similar distinctions among analysts. He praises ex-military men like General Barry McCaffrey, a consultant for NBC, even though their style is considerably more taciturn than his. But he has little patience for the observations put forth by professors who've been featured prominently on newscasts and talk shows since September 11. "Academicians have a wealth of knowledge, but no hands-on experience," he says.

That hasn't stopped schools from marketing their brain trust to the media. The University of Denver has been especially aggressive in this respect, even assembling a Web page -- du.edu/news/response/experts.html -- that allows news directors to shop among its staffers to find the right pundit for any occasion. Channel 9 takes full advantage of this resource, regularly quizzing three DU staffers on the roster -- Jonathan Adelman, Shaul Gabbay and Ved Nanda. According to the site, both Adelman and Gabbay are working on books that touch on terrorism, and odds are good that Nanda is thinking about doing likewise.

Patti Dennis, Channel 9's news director, says she likes to use these speakers because "they have credentials, knowledge and the ability to communicate through the medium of television, and they can express information in a way that's accurate and important, not inflamed" -- a remark that could be seen as a knock against Newman, whose only appearance on the station took place on Dennis's day off. She's not opposed to using former military personnel -- since September 11, Channel 9 has twice interviewed General Norman Schwarzkopf, who resides in Telluride -- but she believes they're not always the best communicators. "A lot of military people are pretty close to the vest when talking about anything that might compromise strategies, which I think is appropriate," she says.

In contrast, Newman believes in maximum disclosure, holding back only on data that might endanger lives here and abroad. He boasts about being "ten days ahead of the rest of the media" in terms of identifying weapons systems being operated in Afghanistan and ridicules DIA officials for refusing to cooperate with the security report compiled by him and reporter Stone. The airport's public-relations office was approached several times for comments before the story was broadcast but eventually declined. After the piece ran, the office put out a press release stating that "revealing details of our security program or plans is not in the best interest of the traveling public. Therefore, we will not discuss any details of our security program at DIA." This reply strikes Newman as not just counterproductive, but stupid: "They could have turned this into positive PR. That's the kind of thing you learn in college-freshman journalism class. But they completely botched it."

DIA will likely receive a return visit from Newman, and he probably won't divulge his new findings in a politically correct way: He recently said the typical security screener at the airport is "from a Third World country, with a seventh-grade education and an I.Q. of 75." Meanwhile, Martin has agreed to give Newman a weekend fly-fishing show, in the hopes of finding out if he can go beyond discussing missiles and the Mujahideen. "What it builds into will be up to Bob," Martin says. "Some guys, all they can do is talk war, and when the war's over, guess what: You go home and write fly-fishing books again. But he's a pretty vivacious guy. Who knows what he'll be able to do?"

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