April 26, 2008

Pentagon Suspends Retired General IO Campaign

Dr. iRack steps out of the desert and into the beltway for a moment. For those of you tracking the retired-Generals-as-"message force multipliers" story, the NYT reports that, largely as a consequence of the controversial NYT story last week on this topic, the Pentagon has suspended this briefing-talking-points-stay-on-message-or-else program to conduct an "internal review."

Is the Pentagon genuinely concerned? Not about the program. But they are concerned about Congress, and they are trying to pre-empt a serious Congressional investigation from the Dems. From the Times piece:

Representative Ike Skelton, Democrat of Missouri and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a speech on Thursday that he and many other members of Congress were “very angry” about the issues raised by the article. “The story does not reflect well on the Pentagon, on the military analysts in question, or on the media organizations that employ them,” he said.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with providing information to the public and the press,” Mr. Skelton added. “But there is a problem if the Pentagon is providing special access to retired officers and then basically using them as pawns to spout the administration’s talking points of the day.”

My bet: DoD's effort to nip this story in the bud won't work; Congress will still look into this. It may or may not be a tempest in a teapot, but I suspect a closer Congressional look at the relationship between the DoD and all sorts of "objective" pundits will turn up a lot of really juicey stories.