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Congressmen Urge Probe of Defense Dept.’s Influence on Military Analysts

May 2, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A group of congressmen is calling on the Pentagon’s Inspector General to probe whether the Department of Defense went too far in trying to sway the opinions of military analysts on network and cable TV shows in behalf of the Iraq war in ways that may have been illegal.
In a letter released today, 41 congressmen, led by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., called the Pentagon effort an “unethical, and potentially illegal, propaganda campaign aimed at deliberately misleading the American public.”
The New York Times recently disclosed that the Pentagon worked hard to convince the retired military officials who appeared on TV to offer the military’s viewpoint at a time some were working for companies that seek military contracts.
A week ago Rep. DeLauro wrote to TV and cable networks seeking explanation of standards for the military analysts. That letter went to ABC News, CBS News, CNN News, Fox News Channel and NBC News and asked executives of each to publicly disclose their standards for military analysts.
“When the American people turn on their TV news, they expect coverage of the Iraq war and military issues to be using analysts without conflicts of interests,” those letters said. “When you put analysts on the air without fully disclosing their business interests, as well as relationships with high-level officials within the government, the public trust is betrayed.”
The new letter from the 41 congressmen raised similar concerns about the Defense Department’s role.
“When the Department of Defense misleads the American people by having them believe that they are listening to the views of objective military analysts, when in fact these individuals are simply replaying DoD talking points, the department is clearly betraying the public trust,” said the letter.
A Pentagon spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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