Pentagon Halts Controversial Links to Military Pundits

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By: Joe Strupp

The Pentagon has temporarily stopped giving Defense Department information to retired military officers pending a review of their questioned objectivity, according to Stars & Stripes.

The independent military paper reported Friday that Robert Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said the practice had been ended for now. The move comes days after The New York Times first reported that the Pentagon had been feeding information to retired officers who appeared on various media outlets to discuss the Iraq War, often using them to lend credibility to key decisions.

“Some of these retired officers saw their access to key decision-makers as possible business opportunities for the defense contractors they represent,” Stars & Stripes reported. “The [Times] story also alleged that the officers who did not repeat the Bush administration’s official line were denied further access to information.”

Hastings told Stars & Stripes he was concerned about the allegations that the Defense Department’s relationship with the retired military analysts was improper.

“Following the allegations, the story that is printed in the New York Times, I directed my staff to halt, to suspend the activities that may be ongoing with retired military analysts to give me time to review the situation,” Hastings said in an interview with S&S.

Hastings said he did not discuss the matter with Defense Secretary Robert Gates prior to making his decision: “We’ll take the time to do it right.”

Go to http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54330 for the full report.

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