Prior to 9/11, Torie Clarke, a former public relations executive and then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, began recruiting military “analysts” who provided commentary on the air and in print for the nation’s media. These analysts were retired officers (generals, colonels, etc.) whose expertise was supposed to provide depth to the media’s coverage of the Global War on Terror, Guantanamo, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead they propagated the Pentagon’s propaganda and spin, even when they disagreed with them. They promoted the need for war with Iraq and later defended the Pentagon’s failures and mistakes there. They glossed over abuses at Guantanamo. They hyped the threat of Iran. Their motives were various and mixed. Some did it for the access, others in hopes of gaining contracts for businesses with which they were associated, still others out of misplaced loyalty to the military to which they had devoted a great part of their lives. A few may have even believed what they were saying. In any case, they misinformed the public for years and were allowed to do so because the media turned a blind eye to their many and obvious conflicts of interest.
With the Bush Administration in its last days on January 16, 2009, the Pentagon’s Inspector General released a report which found nothing improper in the Department’s pundits for hire program. The report illustrates once again how most Inspector Generals lack independence. (As noted in item 326, the Pentagon’s IG does not even have its own attorney but uses one from the department’s General Counsel’s office, a clear conflict of interest.) The Pentagon uses one of its own lawyer to investigate itself. Unsurprisingly, punches are pulled, and the result as here is a whitewash.