Thursday, May 08, 2008

Rummy spun (dished to) military analysts

In some of the meetings former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had with retired military generals turned television news analysts, he offered sharp tongued assessments of Iraqi and American officials, according to transcripts and audio files released by the Pentagon.

As you may recall, the New York Times published an article last month that unveiled that the Pentagon was running a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the Bush administration's wartime performance by offering some retired officers special access to top Pentagon officials as well as arranging for VIP trips to Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

The retired generals who worked for all the major network and cable news stations met with officials such as Rumsfeld, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief of the Army.

Some Congressional critics were aghast at the revelation that the Pentagon was trying use the retired officers, who the network news programs billed as military analysts, to carry the department's water. The Pentagon has suspended the program, but Sen. John Kerry has called for the Government Accountability Office to launch an investigation.

The Pentagon has dumped thousands of pages of documents, transcripts and audio files on its web site related to the military analysts program.

In a quick scan of some the transcripts and audio files, it's easy to see that the generals are deferential to Rumsfeld--at times they border on obsequious.

"I think you really set a tone and a presence with the media in terms of communicating in general and specific messages and so forth," one of the unidentified officers told the former defense secretary during a question-and-answer session that was held after President Bush announced he was replacing Rumsfeld but before Robert Gates had taken over at the Pentagon. "So as a citizen, I just want to say thanks."

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