Trend of questionable Pentagon IG audit reports?
The New York Times’ public editor Clark Hoyt today questioned a recent Defense Department Inspector General audit report’s conclusions.
The report dealt with the Pentagon public relations program that provided talking points to retired officers who were TV military analysts in order to win favorable war coverage. The IG found that Pentagon policies were not violated and that no retired officer gained an unfair competitive advantage for the contractors for whom they work.
Hoyt wrote, citing deficiencies in the report:
…the inspector general’s office left its conclusions open to question by erroneously identifying several retired officers as having no ties to military contractors when in fact they did.
Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the report was “disappointing.” He said a couple of its conclusions didn’t square with its own evidence.
For example, the report said that one retired general was excluded from the briefings because he criticized the conduct of the war in Iraq, and that a senior public affairs official urged the Pentagon to cultivate a core of “reliably friendly” analysts “that we can count on to carry our water.” Yet the inspector general found “insufficient evidence” that the Pentagon was trying to reward favorable commentators and punish critics. Levin said he hoped coming investigations by the Government Accountability Office and the Federal Communications Commission “will be more objective and insightful.”
The Pentagon IG itself rescinded one of its own audits in late 2008 after concluding that it “did not have sufficient appropriate evidence to support the report conclusion.”