Thursday, May 7, 2009

Retired Military Analysts: DOD’s IG Withdraws Report Findings

On April 2008 the New York Times published an article entitled, “Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand.” The article documented a DoD public affairs outreach program that focused on retired military analyst (RMAs) who provided media commentary concerning DoD programs. The article suggested that this outreach program and the DoD “information apparatus” were used to provide the RMAs with information “to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance.” Moreover, the article reported that such activities gave those analysts who had ties to military contractors an unfair opportunity to enhance their business interests.

DOD’s Inspector General January 14 report says that “to address the issues and congressional concerns, we reviewed over 12,000 pages of documents and interviewed over 30 witnesses—RMAs, DoD Public Affairs personnel, officials who provided DoD outreach briefings, and media representatives."

The January 14, 2009 IG report states that 1) We determined that those activities were conducted in accordance with DoD policies and regulations; 2) We found insufficient basis to conclude that OASD(PA) conceived of or undertook a disciplined effort to assemble a contingent of influential RMAs who could be depended on to comment favorably on DoD programs; and 3) With regard to RMAs who had ties to military contractors, extensive searches found no instance where such RMAs used information or contacts obtained as a result of the OASD(PA) outreach program to achieve a competitive advantage for their company.

It also concludes that no further investigation is warranted, “We examined publicly available contracting information involving RMA-affiliated companies to identify any pattern of contract award or contract type that might indicate an irregularity. We did not isolate such a pattern and concluded that further investigative work into this matter was not warranted.”

Move along, nothing to it, end of story. Nope.

On May 5, 2009, the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Defense, the same office that issued that January 14 report, released a statement withdrawing the findings of that specific report, citing data inaccuracies and for not meeting “accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product.” To quote, below (italics mine):

"We are withdrawing the subject report. Shortly after publishing the report on January 14, 2009, we became aware of inaccuracies in the data concerning retired military analyst (RMA) relationships with Defense contractors that appeared in Appendix K and elsewhere in the report. The discovery of those inaccuracies caused us to conduct an independent internal review of the report and its supporting documentation. The internal review concluded that the report did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product. It found that the methodology used to examine RMA relationships with Defense contractors (searches of publ ic websites) would not reasonably yield evidence needed to address the issue of whether the outreach program conveyed some financial advantage to RMAs who participated. Additionally, the review noted that report findings relied, in part, on a body of testimonial evidence that was insufficient or inconclusive. In particular, former senior DoD officials who devised and managed the outreach program refused our requests for an interview. Our judgmental sample of RMAs interviewed was too small (7 out of 70 RMAs) to allow that testimonial evidence to be used to support conclusions. As a result, no conclusion can be reached in the affirmative or negative regarding the relationship of the Retired Military Analysts and potential competitive advantage."

This notice also says that because the RMA outreach program has been terminated and responsible senior officials are no longer employed by DOD, the IG determined that additional investigative work will not be undertaken to reissue the report.

Aw, wow … did somebody got away with psyoping the homeland? And IG staffers got punked by somebody in the upper branch of the DOD tree? And they went ahead and released that report anyway? So here we are, some three months later and they had to pull down the report so “you do not continue to rely on its conclusion.”

Um, may have something to it or nothing to it, we don’t know ... I guess we just move along…holy mooo

Related Post: 27,000 for PR – Who’s Driving This Thing?

Related Items: » Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand (NYT) » How the Pentagon Spread Its Message (NYT/Multimedia)

» DODIG: Examination of Allegations Involving DoD Public Affairs Outreach Program January 14, 2009 Report Number IE-2009-004 (85pp, 11MB)

» DODIG Memo: Inspector General of the Department of Defense Report No. IE-2009-004, {"Examination of Allegations Involving DoD Office of Public Affairs Outreach Program," January 14, 2009}

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