Citing the need to protect the lives of troops, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney ordered a news blackout on the war Saturday night until further notice.

"Let me emphasize that we have an obligation to provide as much information as we can . . . but we are currently involved in an extremely complex military operation where the lives of thousands" of allied troops are at stake, Cheney said.He said further military briefings at the Pentagon and in Saudi Arabia would be halted until more progress had been made in the war.

The blackout means that most of the 1,400 accredited journalists in the war zone, including still photographers and television crews, are effectively prohibited from getting information.