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Pentagon Finds No Fault in Ties to TV Analysts

In response to issues raised in an April 20, 2008, New York Times article, Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand, the Pentagon has issued a new report.


DOD withdraws embarrassing report

The Defense Department has withdrawn from its web site a report that had exonerated it from using retired generals for propaganda.

In a highly unusual reversal, the Defense Department’s inspector general’s office has withdrawn a report it issued in January exonerating a Pentagon public relations program that made extensive use of retired officers who worked as military analysts for television and radio networks.

…In addition to repudiating its own report, the inspector general’s office took the additional step of removing the report from its Web site.

The DOD memo withdrawing the report:

The web page (dodig.mil/inspections/IE/Reports.htm) where the report originally was listed now only links to the withdrawal memo and DOD blocks that page from being archived by the Internet Archive and others. Cryptome, however, grabbed a copy and that copy is still available: ie-2009-004.zip (“Examination of Allegations Involving DoD Public Affairs Outreach Program, Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, January 14, 2009, Report Number IE-2009-004”.)

(Libraries interested in preserving fugitive documents might well consider purchasing Cryptome DVDs for $25. Two DVDs of the Cryptome collection contain 47,000 files from June 1996 to January 2009, ~6.9 GB).

Amy Goodman interviewed David Barstow recently:

For earlier coverage of this issue on FGI, see: Military analysts.

Expose on the Military-Industrial-Media Complex

David Barstow wrote back in April, 2008 about retired U.S. generals appearing on the major cable networks as “independent” media analysts, while they were simultaneously working for defense contractors, and repeating talking points from the Pentagon (see Military Analysts for FGI coverage). In that piece, Barstow painted a nasty picture of conflicts of interest and journalistic ethical malpractice.

In today’s NY Times, Barstow has another devastating piece, this time directing his focus to Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general, prominent military analyst for NBC News, and highly-paid consultant to defense contractors. McCaffrey’s duplicitousness (and by extension, the other military analysts and the networks themselves) is truly shocking.

“One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex”. David Barstow. New York Times, November 30, 2008 (oddly the date is 11/29 in the online edition and 11/30 in paper!).

…On NBC and in other public forums, General McCaffrey has consistently advocated wartime policies and spending priorities that are in line with his corporate interests. But those interests are not described to NBC’s viewers. He is held out as a dispassionate expert, not someone who helps companies win contracts related to the wars he discusses on television…

…General McCaffrey used his access to further business interests, as he did during the summer of 2005, when Americans were turning against the Iraq war in droves.

Veritas had been on a shopping spree, buying military contractors deeply enmeshed in the war. Its biggest acquisition was of DynCorp International, best known for training foreign security forces for the United States government. By 2005 operations in Iraq and Afghanistan accounted for 37 percent of DynCorp’s revenues.

… What is more, some of DynCorp’s Iraq contracts were in trouble, plagued by cost overruns, inept work by subcontractors and ineffective training programs. So when DynCorp executives learned that General McCaffrey was planning to travel to Iraq that June, they asked him to sound out American commanders and reassure them of DynCorp’s determination to make things right….

Back home, General McCaffrey undertook a one-man news media blitz in which he contradicted the dire assessments of many journalists in Iraq. He bore witness to progress on all fronts, but most of all he vouched for Iraq’s security forces. A year earlier, before joining DynCorp’s board, he had described these forces as “badly equipped, badly trained, politically unreliable.” Just months before, Gary E. Luck, a retired four-star Army general sent to assess progress in Iraq, had reported to Mr. Bush that security training was going poorly. Yet General McCaffrey now emphasized his “surprising” conclusion that the training was succeeding.

After Mr. Bush gave a speech praising Iraq’s new security forces, Brian Williams asked General McCaffrey for an independent assessment. “The Iraqi security forces are real,” General McCaffrey replied, without noting the concerns about DynCorp.

Iran-Contra’s Lost Chapter

Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek, has published a “lost chapter” from the 1993 Iran-Contra report:

  • Launching the Private Network an 84-page draft, plus a CRS study on “Public Diplomacy, Project Democracy and Contra Aid” (attached as an Appendix). (PDF, 3.4 Mb, 104pp).

For background and Parry’s report on this chapter, see: Iran-Contra’s ‘Lost Chapter’ By Robert Parry, Consortium News, June 30, 2008.

[T]he Iran-Contra scandal’s “lost chapter” is a narrative describing how Ronald Reagan’s administration brought CIA tactics to bear domestically to reshape the way Americans perceived the world.

For a copy of the document, National Security Decision Directive NSDD-77, “Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security,” January 14, 1983, which is mentioned in the chapter, and other related documents, see: Rumsfeld’s Roadmap to Propaganda, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 177. January 26, 2006.

Volume 1 of the three volume Final Report Of The Independent Counsel For Iran/Contra Matters is available online here from the Federation of American Scientists, and here from the Federal Bulletin Board, and here from permanent.access.gpo.gov.

Pentagon Posts Documents on its “Military Analysts” Propaganda Program

In April, the New York Times broke a story about the now infamous Pentagon information apparatus that used retired military officers in a “campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance” (Behind Military Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand By David Barstow, New York Times, April 20, 2008). The Times also published some of the documents it obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests on its web site (NY Times publishes some FOIA documents).

Now, the Pentagon has published documents it released. This collection appears more complete than what the NYT released.

  • Military Analysts “These documents were released to the New York Times regarding the Pentagon’s Military Analyst program.” (last updated 28-May-08)

The documents are posted on the web at the “Reading Room” of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff, Requester Service Center, Office of Freedom of Information, under the heading “5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(2)(D) Records – Records released to the public, under the FOIA, that are or will likely become the subject of subsequent requests” under the heading “Military Analysts.”