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Pentagon inspector: Probe of planted media stories bogus

David Barstow
New York Times [1]
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In a highly unusual reversal, the Defense Department’s inspector general’s office has withdrawn a report it issued in January exonerating a Pentagon public relations program that made extensive use of retired officers who worked as military analysts for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

Donald M. Horstman, the Pentagon’s deputy inspector general for policy and oversight, said in a memorandum released on Tuesday that the report was so riddled with flaws and inaccuracies that none of its conclusions could be relied upon. 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 inspector general’s office began investigating the public relations program last year, in response to articles in The New York Times that exposed an extensive and largely hidden Pentagon campaign to transform network military analysts into “surrogates” and “message force multipliers” for the Bush administration. The articles also showed how military analysts with ties to defense contractors sometimes used their special access to seek advantage in the competition for contracts related to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report released in January took issue with the articles. It said investigators could not find any instance where an analyst used special access “to achieve a competitive advantage for their company.” It also said there was “insufficient basis” to conclude that the program violated laws prohibiting propaganda.

Full story here. [1]