"It is a whitewash," said Representative Paul Hodes. "It appears to be the parting gift of the Pentagon to the [former] president [Bush]," he added, referring to an internal investigation (pdf) into the Pentagon's pundit program. From 2002 to 2008, the Pentagon cultivated retired military officers who serve as media commentators, to be "message force multipliers" on such controversial issues as Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Although participants were told "not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon," and internal documents make clear that the program attempted to mold U.S. public opinion -- two hallmarks of illegal government propaganda -- the report from the Defense Department's inspector general said "there was an 'insufficient basis' to conclude that the program had violated laws." Several key Pentagon figures -- including Victoria Clarke and Lawrence DiRita, along with network news executives -- declined to be interviewed for the report. The report also found that the pundits didn't use their high-level Pentagon access to unfairly benefit their military contractor clients. However, it lists Barry McCaffrey -- among other pundits "with easily documented connections" to military companies -- as supposedly having no contractor ties. Democratic members of Congress "expressed concerns about the scope, methodology and accuracy of the report," noted the New York Times, which first reported on the Pentagon pundit program.
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