The Pentagon has suspended a program in which it used media military analysts to portray the Iraq war in rosy terms, following an exposé of the practice by The New York Times. The Times article documented how the Defense Department supplied retired officers with pro-war talking points, which the analysts didn’t disclose; instead, they led TV viewers to believe that their analyses of the war were objective and based on observation and reports from former colleagues.
The analysts were not paid by the Pentagon, but were frequently given private meetings with high-ranking civilian Defense Department officials, including Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Some retired officers used that access to build their second careers as defense contractors or consultants. Critical analysts, on the other hand, saw their access curtailed or eliminated. Robert Hastings, the Pentagon’s top public-affairs official, said he is concerned that Defense’s relationship with the analysts may be improper and that the information program would be halted indefinitely pending a review. “We’ll take the time to do it right,” he said.