Two Sundays ago I read pretty much the best, most researched, most stunningly dead-to-rights piece of investigative reporting that I had ever read. The New York Times, out of the blue, published "Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand", which chronicled, in a devastatingly detailed 7,000 word report, the nefarious and direct connections between what retired generals said on TV about the Iraq war and what the Bush administration told them to say about the Iraq war on TV.
To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.
Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.
The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves.
It was a crushing and beautiful piece of writing. The NYT had successfully sued to government to get detailed meeting notes. They got some generals to cop to their coordination. They managed to keep the lid on the entire investigation until one morning it showed up on my doorstep. They took what seemed obvious to some — that these people were mouthpieces — and made absolute, date & time, direct lines between the Pentagon, the generals, the networks, and military contractors.
The story is an enormous blow to everyone and anyone involved in the run-up to the war. We’re talking about people who traded mid-level Virginia mansions for thousands of dead Iraqis and Americans. Traded people for money. Treason-level activities. Things that may have them end up in hell.