Following up on an item John posted over the weekend, the New York Times had quite a front-page scoop when it reported on a Pentagon program that recruited retired military officers, who’ve since become lobbyists or consultants for military contractors, to become propaganda agents of the Bush administration. Throughout the war in Iraq, these retired officers — or “message multipliers,” as they were described by internal Defense Department documents — took on roles as military analysts for all of the major news networks, without noting their puppet-like relationships with the Pentagon.
The controversy has become something of a scandal for the Defense Department (though the controversy would likely have been far more significant were it not for a near-media blackout), prompting officials to scrap the program, at least for now.
The Defense Department has temporarily stopped feeding information to retired military officers pending a review of the issue, said Robert Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs. [...]
Hastings said he is concerned about allegations that the Defense Department’s relationship with the retired military analysts was improper.
“Following the allegations, the story that is printed in the New York Times, I directed my staff to halt, to suspend the activities that may be ongoing with retired military analysts to give me time to review the situation,” Hastings said in an interview with Stripes on Friday.
Hastings, implicitly conceding an error, told reporters of his pending review, “We’ll take the time to do it right.”
As for the political angle of all of this, the estimable Ari Melber noted that the Clinton and Obama campaigns both criticized the administration for starting the program -- while the McCain campaign doesn't want to talk about it.