DOD Inspector General Wipes Egg Off Face

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As soon as the New York Times’ David Barstow won a Pulitzer Prize this year for his stories about how the Pentagon co-opted retired military officers who worked as television pundits and analysts, aides to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld started complaining. This is how U.S. News summarized their complaint:

“Does the Pulitzer give prizes for works of fiction? Perhaps they just got the wrong category,” says former Pentagon Assistant Secretary Dorrance Smith. Rumsfeld’s current spokesman, Keith Urbahn, cites a January 2009 Pentagon inspector general’s report debunking the story: “The Times‘s reporting on DoD’s routine outreach to military experts didn’t merit a place in the paper, much less a Pulitzer.”

Today, Barstow reports that the DOD IG has withdrawn its report that criticized Barstow’s article after an internal review found that the report was, in Barstow’s words, “so riddled with flaws and inaccuracies that none of its conclusions could be relied upon.” This is a major embarrassment for the IG, which is suppossed to be an independent watchdog, not a water carrier. According to Barstow, the IG does not plan do conduct another review of the program because “the public relations program has been terminated and the senior officials who oversaw it have left the Pentagon,” leaving unanswered one of the key questions that the flawed IG report had attempted to resolve: Did the DoD program under Rumsfeld violate the U.S. laws prohibiting domestic propoganda?

Rumsfeld is scheduled to publish a memoir in 2010.”I don’t plan to write any kind of a ‘quickie Washington book,’ ” Rumsfeld said when the book was announced. “I plan to take my time. I expect it (the book) will be very well researched and carefully documented.”