Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Nation of Saps and Suckers Believing All Of The Lies!

Pulitzer Prize Winning Story News Networks Won’t ReportBy Matt Sullivan / RCFPThe Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting was awarded last month to David Barstow of the New York Times but you didn’t hear a word about it from the TV and cable networks. The reason for their silence is obvious; they don’t want you to know what Barstow revealed: that the networks have been active participants in a Pentagon sponsored propaganda campaign intended to sell the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (among other things) to the American public. In the words of the Pulitzer Committee, Barstow’s prize was “for his tenacious reporting that revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended.” The prize-winning stories appeared in The New York Times on April 20, 2008 and November 29, 2008 and were the product of a three year “Freedom of Information” effort to wrench documentation of the propaganda effort out of the Department of Defense (DoD). Barstow revealed Pentagon documents that repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration themes and messages to millions of Americans as if were their their own opinions. The Pentagon-controlled pundits, most of them retired generals, were given hundreds of classified Pentagon briefings, provided with Pentagon-approved talking points and flown at Pentagon expense to Iraq and other sites. But this extraordinary access came with a condition. “Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.” In their television appearances, the military analysts did not disclose their ties to the Pentagon, let alone that they were its surrogates. The military analysts were little more than puppets for the Pentagon. In the words of Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret who was a Fox News military analyst, “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.’” David Barstow wrote, “Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.” The blatant refusal of the TV and cable news organizations involved to even mention what Barstow uncovered in his reporting, reveals a lot about the depth of the networks’ involvement in the deception. In fact, many of the Pentagon sponsored “analysts” named in Barstow’s story are still employed, still being given air time and are still spinning their views at the very same cable news outlets that now refuse to inform viewers about this Pulitzer Prize winning story. NBC’s Brian Williams is singled out for particular criticism from Media Matters. “For his refusal to inform his readers about this now-Pulitzer-winning story is particularly notable given his direct personal involvement in the secret, joint attempts by NBC and McCaffrey to contain PR damage to NBC from Barstow’s story, compounded by the fact that NBC was on notice for these multiple conflicts as early as April, 2003, when The Nation first reported on them.” In fact, in the very same broadcast in which Williams concealed from his viewers any mention of the Pulitzer Prize winning story about the Pentagon propaganda program, he hosted commentary from one of the retired generals involved in that propaganda program. Glenn Greenwald reported in Salon magazine that “CNN ran an 898-word story on the various Pulitzer winners — describing virtually every winner — but was simply unable to find any space even to mention David Barstow’s name, let alone inform their readers that he won the Prize for uncovering core corruption at the heart of CNN’s coverage of the Iraq War and other military-related matters. No other major television news outlet implicated by Barstow’s story mentioned his award, at least as far as I can tell.” Even Congress has gotten involved, since government propaganda directed at the American public is clearly illegal. When Barstow’s stories first ran in April of 2008, Congress members were so concerned that 45 of them signed a letter requesting that the office of DoD Inspector General (IG) investigate the charges including claims that some of the retired generals had financial ties to defense contractors who benefited from their appearances. In January of 2009 the IG released a report saying that its investigation could find no evidence of a concerted effort to assemble a group of talking heads who could be depended on to talk up DoD policy, and could not identify any retired military analysts (RMA’s) who had used their role in the imbedded analyst program to benefit a company with which they had ties. Congressional critics called the report a “whitewash”. On May 5, the Defense Department Inspector General’s office announced that it was withdrawing its report on the Pentagon pundit program, even taking the unusual step of removing the file from its website. “Shortly after publishing the report ... we became aware of inaccuracies in the data,” states the withdrawal memo from the Inspector General’s office. The office’s internal review of the report — which it has “refused to release,” according to the Times — “concluded that the report did not meet accepted quality standards.” The report relied on “insufficient or inconclusive” evidence, the memo admits. The Pentagon pundit program “has been terminated, and responsible senior officials are no longer employed by the Department.” While the Defense department has withdrawn the whitewash report it is still refusing to investigate the propaganda program. While it says the program has been terminated we still have the Pentagon sponsored pundits appearing regularly on the “news”. While Congress complains, they have not taken action. Unsurprisingly, the networks refuse to cover their own criminal behavior. Now it’s up to Congress to demand that the Government Accountability Office and the Federal Communications Commission pursue real investigations on this (and any other) media propaganda programs.

Barstow wins Pulitzer for military analysts story; will networks notice?
April 20, 2009 3:52 pm ET by Jamison Foser
New York Times reporter David Barstow has won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the conflicts of interest of "military analysts" used by television networks.
The networks have given scant attention to the military analysts story; maybe now that the story has won a Pulitzer for Barstow, they'll pay attention.
Networks continue to ignore NY Times' military analyst story, but all find time for Hannah Montana
Networks reportedly refused to appear on PBS' NewsHour to respond to NY Times' military analysts story; several continue blackout
Multiple choice: Of the following, which outlet covered two recent major national security stories -- NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS, or ... Comedy Central?

Here's the story;

April 20, 2008
Message Machine
Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand
In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.
The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.
To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.
Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.
The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.
Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.
Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.
In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.
A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.
“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.
Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said.
As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, Mr. Allard recalled, he saw a yawning gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequent inquiries and books later revealed.
“Night and day,” Mr. Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.”
The Pentagon defended its relationship with military analysts, saying they had been given only factual information about the war. “The intent and purpose of this is nothing other than an earnest attempt to inform the American people,” Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
It was, Mr. Whitman added, “a bit incredible” to think retired military officers could be “wound up” and turned into “puppets of the Defense Department.”
Many analysts strongly denied that they had either been co-opted or had allowed outside business interests to affect their on-air comments, and some have used their platforms to criticize the conduct of the war. Several, like Jeffrey D. McCausland, a CBS military analyst and defense industry lobbyist, said they kept their networks informed of their outside work and recused themselves from coverage that touched on business interests.
“I’m not here representing the administration,” Dr. McCausland said.
Some network officials, meanwhile, acknowledged only a limited understanding of their analysts’ interactions with the administration. They said that while they were sensitive to potential conflicts of interest, they did not hold their analysts to the same ethical standards as their news employees regarding outside financial interests. The onus is on their analysts to disclose conflicts, they said. And whatever the contributions of military analysts, they also noted the many network journalists who have covered the war for years in all its complexity.
Five years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and execution of the Pentagon’s campaign have never been disclosed. But The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation.
These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.
Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”
Though many analysts are paid network consultants, making $500 to $1,000 per appearance, in Pentagon meetings they sometimes spoke as if they were operating behind enemy lines, interviews and transcripts show. Some offered the Pentagon tips on how to outmaneuver the networks, or as one analyst put it to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, “the Chris Matthewses and the Wolf Blitzers of the world.” Some warned of planned stories or sent the Pentagon copies of their correspondence with network news executives. Many — although certainly not all — faithfully echoed talking points intended to counter critics.
“Good work,” Thomas G. McInerney, a retired Air Force general, consultant and Fox News analyst, wrote to the Pentagon after receiving fresh talking points in late 2006. “We will use it.”
Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts — properly armed — can push back in that arena.”
The documents released by the Pentagon do not show any quid pro quo between commentary and contracts. But some analysts said they had used the special access as a marketing and networking opportunity or as a window into future business possibilities.
John C. Garrett is a retired Marine colonel and unpaid analyst for Fox News TV and radio. He is also a lobbyist at Patton Boggs who helps firms win Pentagon contracts, including in Iraq. In promotional materials, he states that as a military analyst he “is privy to weekly access and briefings with the secretary of defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high level policy makers in the administration.” One client told investors that Mr. Garrett’s special access and decades of experience helped him “to know in advance — and in detail — how best to meet the needs” of the Defense Department and other agencies.
In interviews Mr. Garrett said there was an inevitable overlap between his dual roles. He said he had gotten “information you just otherwise would not get,” from the briefings and three Pentagon-sponsored trips to Iraq. He also acknowledged using this access and information to identify opportunities for clients. “You can’t help but look for that,” he said, adding, “If you know a capability that would fill a niche or need, you try to fill it. “That’s good for everybody.”
At the same time, in e-mail messages to the Pentagon, Mr. Garrett displayed an eagerness to be supportive with his television and radio commentary. “Please let me know if you have any specific points you want covered or that you would prefer to downplay,” he wrote in January 2007, before President Bush went on TV to describe the surge strategy in Iraq.
Conversely, the administration has demonstrated that there is a price for sustained criticism, many analysts said. “You’ll lose all access,” Dr. McCausland said.
With a majority of Americans calling the war a mistake despite all administration attempts to sway public opinion, the Pentagon has focused in the last couple of years on cultivating in particular military analysts frequently seen and heard in conservative news outlets, records and interviews show.
Some of these analysts were on the mission to Cuba on June 24, 2005 — the first of six such Guantánamo trips — which was designed to mobilize analysts against the growing perception of Guantánamo as an international symbol of inhumane treatment. On the flight to Cuba, for much of the day at Guantánamo and on the flight home that night, Pentagon officials briefed the 10 or so analysts on their key messages — how much had been spent improving the facility, the abuse endured by guards, the extensive rights afforded detainees.
The results came quickly. The analysts went on TV and radio, decrying Amnesty International, criticizing calls to close the facility and asserting that all detainees were treated humanely.
“The impressions that you’re getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here in my opinion are totally false,” Donald W. Shepperd, a retired Air Force general, reported live on CNN by phone from Guantánamo that same afternoon.
The next morning, Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general and NBC analyst, appeared on “Today.” “There’s been over $100 million of new construction,” he reported. “The place is very professionally run.”
Within days, transcripts of the analysts’ appearances were circulated to senior White House and Pentagon officials, cited as evidence of progress in the battle for hearts and minds at home.
Charting the Campaign
By early 2002, detailed planning for a possible Iraq invasion was under way, yet an obstacle loomed. Many Americans, polls showed, were uneasy about invading a country with no clear connection to the Sept. 11 attacks. Pentagon and White House officials believed the military analysts could play a crucial role in helping overcome this resistance.
Torie Clarke, the former public relations executive who oversaw the Pentagon’s dealings with the analysts as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, had come to her job with distinct ideas about achieving what she called “information dominance.” In a spin-saturated news culture, she argued, opinion is swayed most by voices perceived as authoritative and utterly independent.
And so even before Sept. 11, she built a system within the Pentagon to recruit “key influentials” — movers and shakers from all walks who with the proper ministrations might be counted on to generate support for Mr. Rumsfeld’s priorities.
In the months after Sept. 11, as every network rushed to retain its own all-star squad of retired military officers, Ms. Clarke and her staff sensed a new opportunity. To Ms. Clarke’s team, the military analysts were the ultimate “key influential” — authoritative, most of them decorated war heroes, all reaching mass audiences.
The analysts, they noticed, often got more airtime than network reporters, and they were not merely explaining the capabilities of Apache helicopters. They were framing how viewers ought to interpret events. What is more, while the analysts were in the news media, they were not of the news media. They were military men, many of them ideologically in sync with the administration’s neoconservative brain trust, many of them important players in a military industry anticipating large budget increases to pay for an Iraq war.
Even analysts with no defense industry ties, and no fondness for the administration, were reluctant to be critical of military leaders, many of whom were friends. “It is very hard for me to criticize the United States Army,” said William L. Nash, a retired Army general and ABC analyst. “It is my life.”
Other administrations had made sporadic, small-scale attempts to build relationships with the occasional military analyst. But these were trifling compared with what Ms. Clarke’s team had in mind. Don Meyer, an aide to Ms. Clarke, said a strategic decision was made in 2002 to make the analysts the main focus of the public relations push to construct a case for war. Journalists were secondary. “We didn’t want to rely on them to be our primary vehicle to get information out,” Mr. Meyer said.
The Pentagon’s regular press office would be kept separate from the military analysts. The analysts would instead be catered to by a small group of political appointees, with the point person being Brent T. Krueger, another senior aide to Ms. Clarke. The decision recalled other administration tactics that subverted traditional journalism. Federal agencies, for example, have paid columnists to write favorably about the administration. They have distributed to local TV stations hundreds of fake news segments with fawning accounts of administration accomplishments. The Pentagon itself has made covert payments to Iraqi newspapers to publish coalition propaganda.
Rather than complain about the “media filter,” each of these techniques simply converted the filter into an amplifier. This time, Mr. Krueger said, the military analysts would in effect be “writing the op-ed” for the war.
Assembling the Team
From the start, interviews show, the White House took a keen interest in which analysts had been identified by the Pentagon, requesting lists of potential recruits, and suggesting names. Ms. Clarke’s team wrote summaries describing their backgrounds, business affiliations and where they stood on the war.
“Rumsfeld ultimately cleared off on all invitees,” said Mr. Krueger, who left the Pentagon in 2004. (Through a spokesman, Mr. Rumsfeld declined to comment for this article.)
Over time, the Pentagon recruited more than 75 retired officers, although some participated only briefly or sporadically. The largest contingent was affiliated with Fox News, followed by NBC and CNN, the other networks with 24-hour cable outlets. But analysts from CBS and ABC were included, too. Some recruits, though not on any network payroll, were influential in other ways — either because they were sought out by radio hosts, or because they often published op-ed articles or were quoted in magazines, Web sites and newspapers. At least nine of them have written op-ed articles for The Times.
The group was heavily represented by men involved in the business of helping companies win military contracts. Several held senior positions with contractors that gave them direct responsibility for winning new Pentagon business. James Marks, a retired Army general and analyst for CNN from 2004 to 2007, pursued military and intelligence contracts as a senior executive with McNeil Technologies. Still others held board positions with military firms that gave them responsibility for government business. General McInerney, the Fox analyst, for example, sits on the boards of several military contractors, including Nortel Government Solutions, a supplier of communication networks.
Several were defense industry lobbyists, such as Dr. McCausland, who works at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a major lobbying firm where he is director of a national security team that represents several military contractors. “We offer clients access to key decision makers,” Dr. McCausland’s team promised on the firm’s Web site.
Dr. McCausland was not the only analyst making this pledge. Another was Joseph W. Ralston, a retired Air Force general. Soon after signing on with CBS, General Ralston was named vice chairman of the Cohen Group, a consulting firm headed by a former defense secretary, William Cohen, himself now a “world affairs” analyst for CNN. “The Cohen Group knows that getting to ‘yes’ in the aerospace and defense market — whether in the United States or abroad — requires that companies have a thorough, up-to-date understanding of the thinking of government decision makers,” the company tells prospective clients on its Web site.
There were also ideological ties.
Two of NBC’s most prominent analysts, Barry R. McCaffrey and the late Wayne A. Downing, were on the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an advocacy group created with White House encouragement in 2002 to help make the case for ousting Saddam Hussein. Both men also had their own consulting firms and sat on the boards of major military contractors.
Many also shared with Mr. Bush’s national security team a belief that pessimistic war coverage broke the nation’s will to win in Vietnam, and there was a mutual resolve not to let that happen with this war.
This was a major theme, for example, with Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News analyst from 2001 to 2007. A retired Army general who had specialized in psychological warfare, Mr. Vallely co-authored a paper in 1980 that accused American news organizations of failing to defend the nation from “enemy” propaganda during Vietnam.
“We lost the war — not because we were outfought, but because we were out Psyoped,” he wrote. He urged a radically new approach to psychological operations in future wars — taking aim at not just foreign adversaries but domestic audiences, too. He called his approach “MindWar” — using network TV and radio to “strengthen our national will to victory.”
The Selling of the War
From their earliest sessions with the military analysts, Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides spoke as if they were all part of the same team.
In interviews, participants described a powerfully seductive environment — the uniformed escorts to Mr. Rumsfeld’s private conference room, the best government china laid out, the embossed name cards, the blizzard of PowerPoints, the solicitations of advice and counsel, the appeals to duty and country, the warm thank you notes from the secretary himself.
“Oh, you have no idea,” Mr. Allard said, describing the effect. “You’re back. They listen to you. They listen to what you say on TV.” It was, he said, “psyops on steroids” — a nuanced exercise in influence through flattery and proximity. “It’s not like it’s, ‘We’ll pay you $500 to get our story out,’ ” he said. “It’s more subtle.”
The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.
In the fall and winter leading up to the invasion, the Pentagon armed its analysts with talking points portraying Iraq as an urgent threat. The basic case became a familiar mantra: Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, was developing nuclear weapons, and might one day slip some to Al Qaeda; an invasion would be a relatively quick and inexpensive “war of liberation.”
At the Pentagon, members of Ms. Clarke’s staff marveled at the way the analysts seamlessly incorporated material from talking points and briefings as if it was their own.
“You could see that they were messaging,” Mr. Krueger said. “You could see they were taking verbatim what the secretary was saying or what the technical specialists were saying. And they were saying it over and over and over.” Some days, he added, “We were able to click on every single station and every one of our folks were up there delivering our message. You’d look at them and say, ‘This is working.’ ”
On April 12, 2003, with major combat almost over, Mr. Rumsfeld drafted a memorandum to Ms. Clarke. “Let’s think about having some of the folks who did such a good job as talking heads in after this thing is over,” he wrote.
By summer, though, the first signs of the insurgency had emerged. Reports from journalists based in Baghdad were increasingly suffused with the imagery of mayhem.
The Pentagon did not have to search far for a counterweight.
It was time, an internal Pentagon strategy memorandum urged, to “re-energize surrogates and message-force multipliers,” starting with the military analysts.
The memorandum led to a proposal to take analysts on a tour of Iraq in September 2003, timed to help overcome the sticker shock from Mr. Bush’s request for $87 billion in emergency war financing.
The group included four analysts from Fox News, one each from CNN and ABC, and several research-group luminaries whose opinion articles appear regularly in the nation’s op-ed pages.
The trip invitation promised a look at “the real situation on the ground in Iraq.”
The situation, as described in scores of books, was deteriorating. L. Paul Bremer III, then the American viceroy in Iraq, wrote in his memoir, “My Year in Iraq,” that he had privately warned the White House that the United States had “about half the number of soldiers we needed here.”
“We’re up against a growing and sophisticated threat,” Mr. Bremer recalled telling the president during a private White House dinner.
That dinner took place on Sept. 24, while the analysts were touring Iraq.
Yet these harsh realities were elided, or flatly contradicted, during the official presentations for the analysts, records show. The itinerary, scripted to the minute, featured brief visits to a model school, a few refurbished government buildings, a center for women’s rights, a mass grave and even the gardens of Babylon.
Mostly the analysts attended briefings. These sessions, records show, spooled out an alternative narrative, depicting an Iraq bursting with political and economic energy, its security forces blossoming. On the crucial question of troop levels, the briefings echoed the White House line: No reinforcements were needed. The “growing and sophisticated threat” described by Mr. Bremer was instead depicted as degraded, isolated and on the run.
“We’re winning,” a briefing document proclaimed.
One trip participant, General Nash of ABC, said some briefings were so clearly “artificial” that he joked to another group member that they were on “the George Romney memorial trip to Iraq,” a reference to Mr. Romney’s infamous claim that American officials had “brainwashed” him into supporting the Vietnam War during a tour there in 1965, while he was governor of Michigan.
But if the trip pounded the message of progress, it also represented a business opportunity: direct access to the most senior civilian and military leaders in Iraq and Kuwait, including many with a say in how the president’s $87 billion would be spent. It also was a chance to gather inside information about the most pressing needs confronting the American mission: the acute shortages of “up-armored” Humvees; the billions to be spent building military bases; the urgent need for interpreters; and the ambitious plans to train Iraq’s security forces.
Information and access of this nature had undeniable value for trip participants like William V. Cowan and Carlton A. Sherwood.
Mr. Cowan, a Fox analyst and retired Marine colonel, was the chief executive of a new military firm, the wvc3 Group. Mr. Sherwood was its executive vice president. At the time, the company was seeking contracts worth tens of millions to supply body armor and counterintelligence services in Iraq. In addition, wvc3 Group had a written agreement to use its influence and connections to help tribal leaders in Al Anbar Province win reconstruction contracts from the coalition.
“Those sheiks wanted access to the C.P.A.,” Mr. Cowan recalled in an interview, referring to the Coalition Provisional Authority.
Mr. Cowan said he pleaded their cause during the trip. “I tried to push hard with some of Bremer’s people to engage these people of Al Anbar,” he said.
Back in Washington, Pentagon officials kept a nervous eye on how the trip translated on the airwaves. Uncomfortable facts had bubbled up during the trip. One briefer, for example, mentioned that the Army was resorting to packing inadequately armored Humvees with sandbags and Kevlar blankets. Descriptions of the Iraqi security forces were withering. “They can’t shoot, but then again, they don’t,” one officer told them, according to one participant’s notes.
“I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south,” General Vallely, one of the Fox analysts on the trip, recalled in an interview with The Times.
The Pentagon, though, need not have worried.
“You can’t believe the progress,” General Vallely told Alan Colmes of Fox News upon his return. He predicted the insurgency would be “down to a few numbers” within months.
“We could not be more excited, more pleased,” Mr. Cowan told Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. There was barely a word about armor shortages or corrupt Iraqi security forces. And on the key strategic question of the moment — whether to send more troops — the analysts were unanimous.
“I am so much against adding more troops,” General Shepperd said on CNN.
Access and Influence
Inside the Pentagon and at the White House, the trip was viewed as a masterpiece in the management of perceptions, not least because it gave fuel to complaints that “mainstream” journalists were ignoring the good news in Iraq.
“We’re hitting a home run on this trip,” a senior Pentagon official wrote in an e-mail message to Richard B. Myers and Peter Pace, then chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Its success only intensified the Pentagon’s campaign. The pace of briefings accelerated. More trips were organized. Eventually the effort involved officials from Washington to Baghdad to Kabul to Guantánamo and back to Tampa, Fla., the headquarters of United States Central Command.
The scale reflected strong support from the top. When officials in Iraq were slow to organize another trip for analysts, a Pentagon official fired off an e-mail message warning that the trips “have the highest levels of visibility” at the White House and urging them to get moving before Lawrence Di Rita, one of Mr. Rumsfeld’s closest aides, “picks up the phone and starts calling the 4-stars.”
Mr. Di Rita, no longer at the Defense Department, said in an interview that a “conscious decision” was made to rely on the military analysts to counteract “the increasingly negative view of the war” coming from journalists in Iraq. The analysts, he said, generally had “a more supportive view” of the administration and the war, and the combination of their TV platforms and military cachet made them ideal for rebutting critical coverage of issues like troop morale, treatment of detainees, inadequate equipment or poorly trained Iraqi security forces. “On those issues, they were more likely to be seen as credible spokesmen,” he said.
For analysts with military industry ties, the attention brought access to a widening circle of influential officials beyond the contacts they had accumulated over the course of their careers.
Charles T. Nash, a Fox military analyst and retired Navy captain, is a consultant who helps small companies break into the military market. Suddenly, he had entree to a host of senior military leaders, many of whom he had never met. It was, he said, like being embedded with the Pentagon leadership. “You start to recognize what’s most important to them,” he said, adding, “There’s nothing like seeing stuff firsthand.”
Some Pentagon officials said they were well aware that some analysts viewed their special access as a business advantage. “Of course we realized that,” Mr. Krueger said. “We weren’t naïve about that.”
They also understood the financial relationship between the networks and their analysts. Many analysts were being paid by the “hit,” the number of times they appeared on TV. The more an analyst could boast of fresh inside information from high-level Pentagon “sources,” the more hits he could expect. The more hits, the greater his potential influence in the military marketplace, where several analysts prominently advertised their network roles.
“They have taken lobbying and the search for contracts to a far higher level,” Mr. Krueger said. “This has been highly honed.”
Mr. Di Rita, though, said it never occurred to him that analysts might use their access to curry favor. Nor, he said, did the Pentagon try to exploit this dynamic. “That’s not something that ever crossed my mind,” he said. In any event, he argued, the analysts and the networks were the ones responsible for any ethical complications. “We assume they know where the lines are,” he said.
The analysts met personally with Mr. Rumsfeld at least 18 times, records show, but that was just the beginning. They had dozens more sessions with the most senior members of his brain trust and access to officials responsible for managing the billions being spent in Iraq. Other groups of “key influentials” had meetings, but not nearly as often as the analysts.
An internal memorandum in 2005 helped explain why. The memorandum, written by a Pentagon official who had accompanied analysts to Iraq, said that based on her observations during the trip, the analysts “are having a greater impact” on network coverage of the military. “They have now become the go-to guys not only on breaking stories, but they influence the views on issues,” she wrote.
Other branches of the administration also began to make use of the analysts. Mr. Gonzales, then the attorney general, met with them soon after news leaked that the government was wiretapping terrorism suspects in the United States without warrants, Pentagon records show. When David H. Petraeus was appointed the commanding general in Iraq in January 2007, one of his early acts was to meet with the analysts.
“We knew we had extraordinary access,” said Timur J. Eads, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Fox analyst who is vice president of government relations for Blackbird Technologies, a fast-growing military contractor.
Like several other analysts, Mr. Eads said he had at times held his tongue on television for fear that “some four-star could call up and say, ‘Kill that contract.’ ” For example, he believed Pentagon officials misled the analysts about the progress of Iraq’s security forces. “I know a snow job when I see one,” he said. He did not share this on TV.
“Human nature,” he explained, though he noted other instances when he was critical.
Some analysts said that even before the war started, they privately had questions about the justification for the invasion, but were careful not to express them on air.
Mr. Bevelacqua, then a Fox analyst, was among those invited to a briefing in early 2003 about Iraq’s purported stockpiles of illicit weapons. He recalled asking the briefer whether the United States had “smoking gun” proof.
“ ‘We don’t have any hard evidence,’ ” Mr. Bevelacqua recalled the briefer replying. He said he and other analysts were alarmed by this concession. “We are looking at ourselves saying, ‘What are we doing?’ ”
Another analyst, Robert L. Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who works in the Pentagon for a military contractor, attended the same briefing and recalled feeling “very disappointed” after being shown satellite photographs purporting to show bunkers associated with a hidden weapons program. Mr. Maginnis said he concluded that the analysts were being “manipulated” to convey a false sense of certainty about the evidence of the weapons. Yet he and Mr. Bevelacqua and the other analysts who attended the briefing did not share any misgivings with the American public.
Mr. Bevelacqua and another Fox analyst, Mr. Cowan, had formed the wvc3 Group, and hoped to win military and national security contracts.
“There’s no way I was going to go down that road and get completely torn apart,” Mr. Bevelacqua said. “You’re talking about fighting a huge machine.”
Some e-mail messages between the Pentagon and the analysts reveal an implicit trade of privileged access for favorable coverage. Robert H. Scales Jr., a retired Army general and analyst for Fox News and National Public Radio whose consulting company advises several military firms on weapons and tactics used in Iraq, wanted the Pentagon to approve high-level briefings for him inside Iraq in 2006.
“Recall the stuff I did after my last visit,” he wrote. “I will do the same this time.”
Pentagon Keeps Tabs
As it happened, the analysts’ news media appearances were being closely monitored. The Pentagon paid a private contractor, Omnitec Solutions, hundreds of thousands of dollars to scour databases for any trace of the analysts, be it a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” or an interview with The Daily Inter Lake in Montana, circulation 20,000.
Omnitec evaluated their appearances using the same tools as corporate branding experts. One report, assessing the impact of several trips to Iraq in 2005, offered example after example of analysts echoing Pentagon themes on all the networks.
“Commentary from all three Iraq trips was extremely positive over all,” the report concluded.
In interviews, several analysts reacted with dismay when told they were described as reliable “surrogates” in Pentagon documents. And some asserted that their Pentagon sessions were, as David L. Grange, a retired Army general and CNN analyst put it, “just upfront information,” while others pointed out, accurately, that they did not always agree with the administration or each other. “None of us drink the Kool-Aid,” General Scales said.
Likewise, several also denied using their special access for business gain. “Not related at all,” General Shepperd said, pointing out that many in the Pentagon held CNN “in the lowest esteem.”
Still, even the mildest of criticism could draw a challenge. Several analysts told of fielding telephone calls from displeased defense officials only minutes after being on the air.
On Aug. 3, 2005, 14 marines died in Iraq. That day, Mr. Cowan, who said he had grown increasingly uncomfortable with the “twisted version of reality” being pushed on analysts in briefings, called the Pentagon to give “a heads-up” that some of his comments on Fox “may not all be friendly,” Pentagon records show. Mr. Rumsfeld’s senior aides quickly arranged a private briefing for him, yet when he told Bill O’Reilly that the United States was “not on a good glide path right now” in Iraq, the repercussions were swift.
Mr. Cowan said he was “precipitously fired from the analysts group” for this appearance. The Pentagon, he wrote in an e-mail message, “simply didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t carrying their water.” The next day James T. Conway, then director of operations for the Joint Chiefs, presided over another conference call with analysts. He urged them, a transcript shows, not to let the marines’ deaths further erode support for the war.
“The strategic target remains our population,” General Conway said. “We can lose people day in and day out, but they’re never going to beat our military. What they can and will do if they can is strip away our support. And you guys can help us not let that happen.”
“General, I just made that point on the air,” an analyst replied.
“Let’s work it together, guys,” General Conway urged.
The Generals’ Revolt
The full dimensions of this mutual embrace were perhaps never clearer than in April 2006, after several of Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals — none of them network military analysts — went public with devastating critiques of his wartime performance. Some called for his resignation.
On Friday, April 14, with what came to be called the “Generals’ Revolt” dominating headlines, Mr. Rumsfeld instructed aides to summon military analysts to a meeting with him early the next week, records show. When an aide urged a short delay to “give our big guys on the West Coast a little more time to buy a ticket and get here,” Mr. Rumsfeld’s office insisted that “the boss” wanted the meeting fast “for impact on the current story.”
That same day, Pentagon officials helped two Fox analysts, General McInerney and General Vallely, write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Mr. Rumsfeld.
“Starting to write it now,” General Vallely wrote to the Pentagon that afternoon. “Any input for the article,” he added a little later, “will be much appreciated.” Mr. Rumsfeld’s office quickly forwarded talking points and statistics to rebut the notion of a spreading revolt.
“Vallely is going to use the numbers,” a Pentagon official reported that afternoon.
The standard secrecy notwithstanding, plans for this session leaked, producing a front-page story in The Times that Sunday. In damage-control mode, Pentagon officials scrambled to present the meeting as routine and directed that communications with analysts be kept “very formal,” records show. “This is very, very sensitive now,” a Pentagon official warned subordinates.
On Tuesday, April 18, some 17 analysts assembled at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld and General Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
A transcript of that session, never before disclosed, shows a shared determination to marginalize war critics and revive public support for the war.
“I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”
“What are you, some kind of a nut?” Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. “You don’t believe in the Constitution?”
There was little discussion about the actual criticism pouring forth from Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals. Analysts argued that opposition to the war was rooted in perceptions fed by the news media, not reality. The administration’s overall war strategy, they counseled, was “brilliant” and “very successful.”
“Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”
An analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s not a threat to us.”
“Yeah,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, taking notes.
But winning or not, they bluntly warned, the administration was in grave political danger so long as most Americans viewed Iraq as a lost cause. “America hates a loser,” one analyst said.
Much of the session was devoted to ways that Mr. Rumsfeld could reverse the “political tide.” One analyst urged Mr. Rumsfeld to “just crush these people,” and assured him that “most of the gentlemen at the table” would enthusiastically support him if he did.
“You are the leader,” the analyst told Mr. Rumsfeld. “You are our guy.”
At another point, an analyst made a suggestion: “In one of your speeches you ought to say, ‘Everybody stop for a minute and imagine an Iraq ruled by Zarqawi.’ And then you just go down the list and say, ‘All right, we’ve got oil, money, sovereignty, access to the geographic center of gravity of the Middle East, blah, blah, blah.’ If you can just paint a mental picture for Joe America to say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine a world like that.’ ”
Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.
“When you said ‘long war,’ you changed the psyche of the American people to expect this to be a generational event,” an analyst said. “And again, I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job...”
“Get in line,” Mr. Rumsfeld interjected.
The meeting ended and Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing pleased and relaxed, took the entire group into a small study and showed off treasured keepsakes from his life, several analysts recalled.
Soon after, analysts hit the airwaves. The Omnitec monitoring reports, circulated to more than 80 officials, confirmed that analysts repeated many of the Pentagon’s talking points: that Mr. Rumsfeld consulted “frequently and sufficiently” with his generals; that he was not “overly concerned” with the criticisms; that the meeting focused “on more important topics at hand,” including the next milestone in Iraq, the formation of a new government.
Days later, Mr. Rumsfeld wrote a memorandum distilling their collective guidance into bullet points. Two were underlined:
“Focus on the Global War on Terror — not simply Iraq. The wider war — the long war.”
“Link Iraq to Iran. Iran is the concern. If we fail in Iraq or Afghanistan, it will help Iran.”
But if Mr. Rumsfeld found the session instructive, at least one participant, General Nash, the ABC analyst, was repulsed.
“I walked away from that session having total disrespect for my fellow commentators, with perhaps one or two exceptions,” he said.
View From the Networks
Two weeks ago General Petraeus took time out from testifying before Congress about Iraq for a conference call with military analysts.
Mr. Garrett, the Fox analyst and Patton Boggs lobbyist, said he told General Petraeus during the call to “keep up the great work.”
“Hey,” Mr. Garrett said in an interview, “anything we can do to help.”
For the moment, though, because of heavy election coverage and general war fatigue, military analysts are not getting nearly as much TV time, and the networks have trimmed their rosters of analysts. The conference call with General Petraeus, for example, produced little in the way of immediate coverage.
Still, almost weekly the Pentagon continues to conduct briefings with selected military analysts. Many analysts said network officials were only dimly aware of these interactions. The networks, they said, have little grasp of how often they meet with senior officials, or what is discussed.
“I don’t think NBC was even aware we were participating,” said Rick Francona, a longtime military analyst for the network.
Some networks publish biographies on their Web sites that describe their analysts’ military backgrounds and, in some cases, give at least limited information about their business ties. But many analysts also said the networks asked few questions about their outside business interests, the nature of their work or the potential for that work to create conflicts of interest. “None of that ever happened,” said Mr. Allard, an NBC analyst until 2006.
“The worst conflict of interest was no interest.”
Mr. Allard and other analysts said their network handlers also raised no objections when the Defense Department began paying their commercial airfare for Pentagon-sponsored trips to Iraq — a clear ethical violation for most news organizations.
CBS News declined to comment on what it knew about its military analysts’ business affiliations or what steps it took to guard against potential conflicts.
NBC News also declined to discuss its procedures for hiring and monitoring military analysts. The network issued a short statement: “We have clear policies in place to assure that the people who appear on our air have been appropriately vetted and that nothing in their profile would lead to even a perception of a conflict of interest.”
Jeffrey W. Schneider, a spokesman for ABC, said that while the network’s military consultants were not held to the same ethical rules as its full-time journalists, they were expected to keep the network informed about any outside business entanglements. “We make it clear to them we expect them to keep us closely apprised,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Fox News said executives “refused to participate” in this article.
CNN requires its military analysts to disclose in writing all outside sources of income. But like the other networks, it does not provide its military analysts with the kind of written, specific ethical guidelines it gives its full-time employees for avoiding real or apparent conflicts of interest.
Yet even where controls exist, they have sometimes proven porous.
CNN, for example, said it was unaware for nearly three years that one of its main military analysts, General Marks, was deeply involved in the business of seeking government contracts, including contracts related to Iraq.
General Marks was hired by CNN in 2004, about the time he took a management position at McNeil Technologies, where his job was to pursue military and intelligence contracts. As required, General Marks disclosed that he received income from McNeil Technologies. But the disclosure form did not require him to describe what his job entailed, and CNN acknowledges it failed to do additional vetting.
“We did not ask Mr. Marks the follow-up questions we should have,” CNN said in a written statement.
In an interview, General Marks said it was no secret at CNN that his job at McNeil Technologies was about winning contracts. “I mean, that’s what McNeil does,” he said.
CNN, however, said it did not know the nature of McNeil’s military business or what General Marks did for the company. If he was bidding on Pentagon contracts, CNN said, that should have disqualified him from being a military analyst for the network. But in the summer and fall of 2006, even as he was regularly asked to comment on conditions in Iraq, General Marks was working intensively on bidding for a $4.6 billion contract to provide thousands of translators to United States forces in Iraq. In fact, General Marks was made president of the McNeil spin-off that won the huge contract in December 2006.
General Marks said his work on the contract did not affect his commentary on CNN. “I’ve got zero challenge separating myself from a business interest,” he said.
But CNN said it had no idea about his role in the contract until July 2007, when it reviewed his most recent disclosure form, submitted months earlier, and finally made inquiries about his new job.
“We saw the extent of his dealings and determined at that time we should end our relationship with him,” CNN said.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: April 22, 2008 An article on Sunday about the Pentagon’s relationship with news media military analysts misidentified the military affiliation of one analyst, John C. Garrett. He retired as a colonel from the Marines, not the Army.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: April 24, 2008 The continuation of an article on Sunday about a Pentagon effort to use military analysts to generate favorable news coverage carried 10 paragraphs that were partly obscured in some editions by a chart.


November 30, 2008
One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex
In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.
The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.
Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.
Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.
Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.
“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.
General McCaffrey did not mention his new contract with Defense Solutions in his letter to General Petraeus. Nor did he disclose it when he went on CNBC that same week and praised the commander Defense Solutions was now counting on for help — “He’s got the heart of a lion” — or when he told Congress the next month that it should immediately supply Iraq with large numbers of armored vehicles and other equipment.
He had made similar arguments before he was hired by Defense Solutions, but this time he went further. In his testimony to Congress, General McCaffrey criticized a Pentagon plan to supply Iraq with several hundred armored vehicles made in the United States by a competitor of Defense Solutions. He called the plan “not in the right ballpark” and urged Congress to instead equip Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles.
“We’ve got Iraqi army battalions driving around in Toyota trucks,” he said, echoing an argument made to General Petraeus in the Defense Solutions briefing packet.
Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest.
Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey.
General McCaffrey, 66, has long been a force in Washington’s power elite. A consummate networker, he cultivated politicians and journalists of all stripes as drug czar in the Clinton cabinet, and his ties run deep to a new generation of generals, some of whom he taught at West Point or commanded in the Persian Gulf war, when he rose to fame leading the “left hook” assault on Iraqi forces.
But it was 9/11 that thrust General McCaffrey to the forefront of the national security debate. In the years since he has made nearly 1,000 appearances on NBC and its cable sisters, delivering crisp sound bites in a blunt, hyperbolic style. He commands up to $25,000 for speeches, his commentary regularly turns up in The Wall Street Journal, and he has been quoted or cited in thousands of news articles, including dozens in The New York Times.
His influence is such that President Bush and Congressional leaders from both parties have invited him for war consultations. His access is such that, despite a contentious relationship with former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Pentagon has arranged numerous trips to Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots solely for his benefit.
At the same time, General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism.
The consulting company he started after leaving the government in 2001, BR McCaffrey Associates, promises to “build linkages” between government officials and contractors like Defense Solutions for up to $10,000 a month. He has also earned at least $500,000 from his work for Veritas Capital, a private equity firm in New York that has grown into a defense industry powerhouse by buying contractors whose profits soared from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, he is the chairman of HNTB Federal Services, an engineering and construction management company that often competes for national security contracts.
Many retired officers hold a perch in the world of military contracting, but General McCaffrey is among a select few who also command platforms in the news media and as government advisers on military matters. These overlapping roles offer them an array of opportunities to advance policy goals as well as business objectives. But with their business ties left undisclosed, it can be difficult for policy makers and the public to fully understand their interests.
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.
The president of NBC News, Steve Capus, said in an interview that General McCaffrey was a man of honor and achievement who would never let business obligations color his analysis for NBC. He described General McCaffrey as an “independent voice” who had courageously challenged Mr. Rumsfeld, adding, “There’s no open microphone that begins with the Pentagon and ends with him going out over our airwaves.”
General McCaffrey is not required to abide by NBC’s formal conflict-of-interest rules, Mr. Capus said, because he is a consultant, not a news employee. Nor is he required to disclose his business interests periodically. But Mr. Capus said that the network had conversations with its military analysts about the need to avoid even the appearance of a conflict, and that General McCaffrey had been “incredibly forthcoming” about his ties to military contractors.
General McCaffrey declined to be interviewed but released a brief statement.
“My public media commentary on the war labeled me as an early and serious critic of Rumsfeld’s arrogance and mismanagement of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the statement said. “The New York Times noted my strong on-air criticism as an NBC commentator. My op-ed objections to the execution of the war were published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The L.A. Times, USA Today and other media. Hardly the stuff of someone shilling a war for the administration — or privately pushing his business interests with the Pentagon. Thirty-seven years of public service. Four combat tours. Wounded three times. The country knows me as a nonpartisan and objective national security expert with solid integrity.”
In earlier e-mail messages, General McCaffrey played down his involvement in lobbying for contracts, suggesting he mainly gave companies “strategic counsel.” His business responsibilities, he wrote, simply do not conflict with his duty to provide objective analysis on NBC. “Never has been a problem,” he wrote. “Period.”
General McCaffrey did in fact emerge as a tough critic of Mr. Rumsfeld, describing him as reckless and incompetent. His central criticism — that Mr. Rumsfeld fought the Iraq war “on the cheap” — reflected his long-stated views on waging war. But it also dovetailed with his business interests. And his clashes with Mr. Rumsfeld were but one facet of a more complex and symbiotic relationship with the Bush administration and the military’s uniformed leaders, records and interviews show.
With a few exceptions General McCaffrey has consistently supported Mr. Bush’s major national security policies, especially the war in Iraq. He advocated invasion, urged building up the military to sustain the occupation and warned that premature withdrawal would invite catastrophe.
In an article earlier this year, The New York Times identified General McCaffrey as one of some 75 military analysts who were the focus of a Pentagon public relations campaign that is now being examined by the Pentagon’s inspector general, the Government Accountability Office and the Federal Communications Commission. The campaign, begun in 2002 but suspended after the article’s publication, sought to transform the analysts into “surrogates” and “message force multipliers” for the Bush administration, records show. The analysts, many with military industry ties, were wooed in private briefings, showered with talking points and escorted on tours of Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The Pentagon inspector general is investigating whether special access gave any of these analysts an improper edge in the competition for contracts.
General McCaffrey offers a case study of the benefits that can flow from favored access: an inside track to sensitive information about strategy and tactics; insight into the priorities of ground commanders; a private channel to officials who oversaw war spending, as the Defense Solutions example shows. In that case the company has yet to win the contract it hired General McCaffrey to champion.
More broadly, though, his example reveals the myriad and often undisclosed connections between the business of war and the business of covering it.
A Move to Television
General McCaffrey made his debut as a military analyst in the weeks after 9/11. NBC anchors typically introduced him by describing his medals or his exploits in the gulf war. Or they noted he was a West Point professor, or the youngest four-star general in the history of the Army.
They did not mention his work for military contractors, including a lucrative new role with Veritas Capital.
Veritas was a relatively small player in 2001, looking to grow through acquisitions and Pentagon contracts. Competing for contracts is a complex and subtle sport, governed by highly bureaucratic bidding rules and the old-fashioned arts of access and influence.
Veritas would compete on both fronts.
Just days before the terrorist attacks — on Sept. 6, 2001 — Veritas had announced the formation of an “advisory council” of well-connected retired generals and admirals, including General McCaffrey. “They can really pick up the phone and call someone,” Robert B. McKeon, the president of Veritas, would later tell The Times.
Access was also part of what drew NBC to General McCaffrey. Mr. Capus said General McCaffrey “opens doors with generals and others who we would not otherwise be able to talk to.”
Veritas gave its advisers board seats on its military companies, along with profit sharing and equity stakes that were all the more attractive because Veritas intended to turn quick profits through initial public offerings. On Sept. 6, this might have been considered a gamble. Revenue growth — a key to successful I.P.O.’s — required sustained increases in military spending. But after Sept. 11, the only question was just how big those increases would be.
From his first months on the air, General McCaffrey called for huge, sustained increases in military spending for a global campaign against terrorism. He also advocated spending for high-tech weapons, including some like precision-guided munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles that were important to the Veritas portfolio. He called the C-17 cargo plane — also a source of Veritas contracts — a “national treasure.”
In a statement, Veritas said it had gained no “discernible benefit” from General McCaffrey’s television appearances and called his TV work “completely independent” from his role with Veritas.
In their corporate filings, Veritas military companies told investors they were well positioned to benefit from a widening global struggle against terrorism. The approaching conflict with Iraq, though, would create new areas of tension between General McCaffrey’s fiduciary obligations to Veritas and his duties to NBC.
General McCaffrey harbored significant doubts about the invasion plan. An informal participant in the war planning, he was troubled by Mr. Rumsfeld’s resistance to an invasion force of several hundred thousand, he acknowledged months and years later in interviews. Mr. Rumsfeld’s team, he said, was bent on making an “ideological” point that wars could be fought “on the cheap.” There were not enough tanks, artillery or troops, he would say, and the result was a “grossly anemic” force that unnecessarily put troops at risk.
That is not what General McCaffrey said when asked on NBC outlets to assess the risks of war. As planning for a possible invasion received intense news coverage in 2002, he repeatedly assured viewers that the war would be brief, the occupation lengthy but benign.
“These people are going to come apart in 21 days or less,” he told Brian Williams on MSNBC.
In the fall of 2002 General McCaffrey joined the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a group formed with White House encouragement to fan support for regime change. He also participated in private Pentagon briefings in which network military analysts were armed with talking points that made the case for war, records show.
In early 2003 Forrest Sawyer asked General McCaffrey on CNBC what could go wrong after an invasion. Anticipating this very question, the Pentagon had invited General McCaffrey and other analysts to a special briefing. Years later General McCaffrey would say he knew that the post-invasion planning was a disaster. “They were warned very categorically and directly by many of us prior to that war,” he said.
Given a chance by Mr. Sawyer to raise an alarm, the general reiterated Pentagon talking points about the “astonishing amount” of postwar planning.
And when Tom Brokaw asked him, days before the invasion, “What are your concerns if we were to go to war by the end of this week?” he replied, “Well, I don’t think I have any real serious ones.”
Only when the invasion met unexpected resistance did General McCaffrey give a glimpse of his misgivings. “We’ve placed ourselves in a risky proposition, 400 miles into Iraq with no flank or rear area security,” he told Katie Couric on “Today.”
Mr. Rumsfeld struck back. He abruptly cut off General McCaffrey’s access to the Pentagon’s special briefings and conference calls.
General McCaffrey was stunned. “I’ve never heard his voice like that,” recalled one close associate who asked not to be identified. He added, “They showed him what life was like on the outside.”
Robert Weiner, a longtime publicist for General McCaffrey, said the general came to see that if he continued his criticism, he risked being shut out not only by Mr. Rumsfeld but also by his network of friends and contacts among the uniformed leadership.
“There is a time when you have to punt,” said Mr. Weiner, emphasizing that he spoke as General McCaffrey’s friend, not as his spokesman.
Within days General McCaffrey began to backpedal, professing his “great respect” for Mr. Rumsfeld to Tim Russert. “Is this man O.K.?” the Fox News anchor Brit Hume asked, taking note of the about-face.
For months to come, as an insurgency took root, General McCaffrey defended the Bush administration. “I am 100 percent behind what the administration, what the president of the United States, is doing in Iraq,” he told Mr. Williams that June.
A Corporate Troubleshooter
Mr. Rumsfeld’s swift reaction underscored the administration’s appreciation of General McCaffrey’s influence. His comments were catalogued and circulated at the White House and Pentagon.
Other network analysts were monitored, too, but not the way General McCaffrey was. He was different. He was one of the few retired four-star generals on television, and his well-known friendships with men like General Petraeus and Gen. John P. Abizaid gave him added currency.
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragged on, General McCaffrey increasingly gave public expression to the private frustrations of generals pressing their civilian bosses for more troops, weapons and reconstruction money. The Army, he repeatedly warned, could break under the strain.
These were politically charged topics, and so the administration worked to influence his commentary, using carrots and sticks alike. In 2005, for example, Mr. Rumsfeld took umbrage at remarks General McCaffrey made to The Washington Times about the impact of unchecked poppy production in Afghanistan. Mr. Rumsfeld wrote to Gen. Peter Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, demanding to know where General McCaffrey “got his information,” records show. No less than an assistant secretary of defense was dispatched to speak with General McCaffrey, who said he had been misquoted.
In a letter to The Times, General McCaffrey’s lawyer, Thomas A. Clare, said the general’s recurring criticisms had cost him “business opportunities with defense contractors.” NBC executives said they, too, fielded high-level complaints, and General McCaffrey was not invited back to the Pentagon’s analyst briefings.
On the other hand, when Pentagon officials noticed that General McCaffrey was scheduled to appear on programs like “Meet the Press,” they asked generals close to him to suggest themes, records show. The Pentagon also began paying for General McCaffrey to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan. Other military analysts were invited on trips, but only in groups. General McCaffrey went by himself under the sponsorship of Central Command’s generals.
The stated purpose was for General McCaffrey to provide an outside assessment in his role as a part-time professor at West Point. But his trips were also an important public relations tool, meticulously planned to arm him with anecdotes of progress. Records show that Central Command’s generals expected him to “publicly support their efforts” upon his return home and solicited his advice on how to “reverse the perception” in Washington of a lost war.
After each trip General McCaffrey embarked on a news media campaign, writing opinion articles, granting interviews, publishing “after action” reports on his firm’s Web site. Each time he extolled Central Command’s generals and called for a renewed national commitment of money and support.
At the same time, 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.
The crumbling public support, though, posed a threat to Veritas’s prize acquisition. The changing political climate and unrelenting violence, DynCorp warned investors, could force a withdrawal from Iraq.
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.
“It is useful both ways,” Gregory Lagana, a DynCorp spokesman, said in an interview. “If there were problems, and there were, then we could get an independent judgment and fix them.”
Mr. Lagana said General McCaffrey had been a troubleshooter for DynCorp on other trips. “He’ll say: ‘I’m going over. Is there anyone you want me to see?’ ” Mr. Lagana said. “And then he’d go in and say, ‘I’m on the board. What can you tell me?’ ”
The Pentagon had its own agenda. For eight days, General McCaffrey was given red-carpet treatment. Iraqi commandos even staged a live-fire demonstration for him. But General McCaffrey also was given access to officials whose decisions were important to his business interests, including DynCorp, which was planning an I.P.O. He met with General Petraeus, who was then in charge of training Iraqi security forces and responsible for supervising DynCorp’s 500 police trainers. He also met with officials responsible for billions of dollars’ worth of contracts in Iraq.
General McCaffrey would not discuss these sessions, and General Petraeus said in an e-mail message to The Times that he had no reason to discuss DynCorp with General McCaffrey because he would have gone directly to DynCorp’s executives in Iraq.
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.
His financial stake in the policy debates over Iraq was not mentioned. He did not disclose that he owned special stock that allowed him to share in DynCorp’s profits, up 87 percent that year largely because of the Iraq war.
“I took as objective a look at it as I could,” he told David Gregory, the NBC correspondent.
A Contract in Iraq
In his written statements to The Times, General McCaffrey said his role with Veritas was “governance, not marketing,” and Veritas insisted that he never “solicited new or existing government contracts.”
General McCaffrey did, however, play an indirect role in helping Veritas win one of its largest contracts, to supply more than 8,000 translators to the war in Iraq. The contract had been held by L-3 Communications, but when General McCaffrey got wind that the Army was considering seeking new bidders, he called his friend James A. Marks, a major general in the Army who was approaching retirement and was versed in the uses of translators, having served as intelligence chief for land forces during the Iraq invasion.
As General Marks recalls it, General McCaffrey asked him to lead an effort to win the contract for Veritas.
General Marks, who became a CNN military analyst after his retirement in 2004, would be named president of a new DynCorp subsidiary, Global Linguist Solutions, created in July 2006 to bid for the translation contract. In August 2006 Veritas designated General McCaffrey as chairman of Global Linguist. According to a 2007 corporate filing, General McCaffrey was promised $10,000 a month plus expenses once Global Linguist secured the contract. He would also be eligible to share in profits, which could potentially be significant: the contract was worth $4.6 billion over five years, but only if the United States did not pull out of Iraq first.
In the fall of 2006, that was hardly a sure thing. With casualties rising, the nation’s discontent had been laid bare by the November elections. Then, in December, the Iraq Study Group recommended withdrawing all combat brigades by early 2008.
That month, in a flurry of appearances for NBC, General McCaffrey repeatedly ridiculed this recommendation, warning that it would turn Iraq into “Pol Pot’s Cambodia.”
The United States, he said, should keep at least 100,000 troops in Iraq for many years. He disputed depictions of an isolated and deluded White House. After meeting with the president and vice president on Dec. 11 in the Oval Office, he went on television and described them as “very sober-minded.”
General McCaffrey was hardly alone in criticizing the Iraq Study Group, and in his e-mail messages to The Times he said his objections reflected his judgment that it was folly to leave American trainers behind with no combat force protection. But in none of those appearances did NBC disclose General McCaffrey’s ties to Global Linguist.
NBC executives asserted that the general’s relationships with military contractors are indirectly disclosed through NBC’s Web site, where General McCaffrey’s biography now features a link to his consulting firm’s Web site. That site, they said, lists General McCaffrey’s clients.
While the general’s Web site lists his board memberships, it does not name his clients, nor does it mention Veritas Capital, by one measure the second-largest military contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, after KBR. In any event, Mr. Capus, the NBC News president, said he was unaware of General McCaffrey’s connection to the translation contract. Mr. Capus declined to comment on whether this information should have been disclosed.
CNN officials said they, too, were unaware of General Marks’s role in the contract. When they learned of it in 2007, they said, they were so concerned about what they considered an obvious conflict of interest that they severed ties with him. (General Marks, who also spoke out against the withdrawal plan on CNN, said business considerations did not influence his comments.)
On Dec. 18, 2006, the Pentagon stunned Wall Street by awarding the translation contract to Global Linguist. DynCorp’s stock jumped 15 percent.
Hiring a General
After touring Iraq in March 2007 and meeting with American officials responsible for equipping Iraq’s military, General McCaffrey published a trip report recommending that the United States equip Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles.
This kind of access had strong appeal to Mr. Ringgold, Defense Solutions’ chief, who had a plan to rebuild Iraq’s decimated fleets of armored vehicles by culling “leftovers” from depots across Eastern Europe. “I was looking for an advocate,” Mr. Ringgold recalled.
General McCaffrey soon arrived for an audition at the Defense Solutions headquarters outside Philadelphia. “Frankly,” Mr. Ringgold recalled, “I had to get over the sticker shock of what he was going to cost me.”
General McCaffrey liked his basic concept but told him to think bigger, Mr. Ringgold said. Instead of minimally refurbished equipment, he urged Mr. Ringgold to sell “Americanized” armored vehicles upgraded with thermal sights and other expensive extras. And why not also team up with DynCorp and others to supply the maintenance, logistics and training to keep them running?
The suggestions vastly increased the proposal’s scale and price tag, but the general seemed to have a read on the complex interplay between the Iraqi government and the American military leadership, Mr. Ringgold recalled. For a retainer and an undisclosed equity stake, General McCaffrey signed on weeks later, then promptly wrote to General Petraeus.
His letter, drafted with help from Defense Solutions, explained that in the three months since his trip to Iraq, he had found just one feasible way to equip Iraq with enough armored vehicles to permit a “phased redeployment” of American combat forces — the proposal by Defense Solutions. He urged General Petraeus to act quickly but did not disclose that he had just been hired by Defense Solutions.
In his e-mail message to The Times, General Petraeus said he received “innumerable” letters from “would be” contractors. In this case, he wrote, he simply sent General McCaffrey’s material “without any endorsement” to James M. Dubik, the general then responsible for training Iraq’s security forces.
General Dubik, now retired, said in an interview that he, too, received a letter and information packet, and as a result briefed Iraq’s defense minister. “Quite frankly,” he said, “I thought it was a good idea.”
General Dubik emphasized that although he used Defense Solutions briefing materials, he first “sanitized” them of any mention of the company. He said he presented the idea as his own, intending to ask Defense Solutions to bid if the Iraqis liked the concept. But the defense minister reacted coolly, he said, arguing that Iraq deserved advanced American-made vehicles.
General McCaffrey also sent letters to top lawmakers and approached contacts inside the Defense Department bureaucracy that oversees foreign military sales. His influence was immediately apparent. For example, General McCaffrey reached out to Maj. Gen. Timothy F. Ghormley, chief of staff at Central Command, who promptly invited Mr. Ringgold to a meeting in Tampa, Fla. Mr. Ringgold recalled General Ghormley’s first words: “Why aren’t we doing this already?”
Nevertheless, by late 2007, Defense Solutions still had no deal. General McCaffrey, Mr. Ringgold recalled, said the company needed to get to Baghdad and meet directly with Iraqi leaders and important Americans.
On Oct. 26, 2007, General McCaffrey wrote an e-mail message to General Petraeus proposing to return to Iraq. He said his “principal interest would be to document progress in standing up Iraqi security forces,” and he proposed traveling soon, before the presidential primaries, so he could “speak objectively — before politics goes to roar level.”
In early December General McCaffrey arrived in Baghdad, where he met with Generals Petraeus and Dubik, among others.
General Petraeus said he did not recall them discussing Defense Solutions. General Dubik recalled giving General McCaffrey a detailed briefing on the effort to equip Iraq’s army, including the plans for armored vehicles. He said it was a measure of General McCaffrey’s integrity that he did not raise Defense Solutions. “He’s not going to cross the line,” General Dubik said.
Mr. Ringgold said General McCaffrey “made it perfectly clear” that he would not discuss their proposal with the two generals and even sent instructions that he was not to be contacted in Iraq “to avoid even the perception of conflict of interest.”
But Defense Solutions used information General McCaffrey gleaned from his meetings to refine its proposal. Mr. Ringgold followed General McCaffrey to Baghdad in February 2008 and then made plans to return in the spring to meet with Generals Dubik and Petraeus. “General McCaffrey insisted that I see you,” Mr. Ringgold wrote to General Petraeus in a March 20 e-mail message.
General Petraeus forwarded Mr. Ringgold’s message to General Dubik, who warned Mr. Ringgold that while he was happy to meet, Iraq’s defense minister was still hesitant. “They’ve gone back and forth on the refurbished stuff,” General Dubik wrote.
Defense Solutions turned to the White House. On May 9, Mr. Ringgold and Tom C. Korologos, a Republican lobbyist, met with a military aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and two National Security Council officials.
The next day, in an e-mail memorandum to his staff, Mr. Ringgold discussed other ways to press Iraqi and American officials, including generating news media coverage to suggest that Iraq’s “failure to ready its Army” was prolonging the occupation. General McCaffrey had been making a similar argument for months on NBC and elsewhere. “The end of the game is that the Iraqis got to maintain internal order,” he told Ann Curry, the NBC journalist.
Mr. Ringgold said he had never asked the general to take positions supporting Defense Solutions in his news media appearances. On the other hand, he added, “I hope he was thinking of us.”
Mr. Weiner, the general’s longtime publicist, said General McCaffrey worked with clients “to get your mission achieved in the media.” General McCaffrey, he said, often speaks out with the twin goals of shaping policy and generating favorable coverage for clients with worthy products or ideas.
“His motive is pure,” Mr. Weiner said. “It is national interest.”
Despite Defense Solutions’ efforts, Iraq recently placed orders for billions of dollars’ worth of American-made armored vehicles. But the company is not giving up, and it continues to rely on the advice of General McCaffrey, who returned to Iraq on Oct. 31 for another visit sponsored by the Pentagon.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 2, 2008 Because of a production error, an article on Sunday about Barry R. McCaffrey’s ties to a military contractor omitted, in some editions, the credit for one photograph and carried incorrect credits for three others. The photograph of General McCaffrey and Wayne A. Downing, another retired general, was taken by Brendan Smialowski for Getty Images. The photograph of Gen. David H. Petraeus was by Jason Reed for Reuters. The photograph of Donald H. Rumsfeld was by Ron Edmunds for The Associated Press. And the photograph of Gen. James M. Dubik was by Win McNamee for Getty Images.

So here we have it, the US Military trying to make itself relevant since the Vietnam debacle and Americans could give a god-damn. People here in the US care only about keeping their bellies full of pizza and watching "Dancing With the Stars" and "Hannah Montana"! A nation of saps and suckers who believed all the lies Bush and his ilk pushed upon them in their march to war in Iraq! A war based on LIES!