After outing the Pentagon's pundit program -- which recruited some 75 retired military officers who are frequent media commentators, to serve as the Bush Administration's "message force multipliers" -- New York Times reporter David Barstow profiles one particularly conflicted pundit, Barry McCaffrey. The retired general is an NBC News analyst; heads his own consulting firm, BR McCaffrey Associates; and holds lucrative positions with numerous military and security contractors, including Veritas Capital, DynCorp, Defense Solutions and HNTB Federal Services. McCaffrey was an early participant in the Pentagon pundit program, but then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "abruptly cut [him] off" after McCaffrey's belated admission of concerns about U.S. military operations in Iraq. A chastened McCaffrey responded by publicly praising Rumsfeld and the Administration. McCaffrey's influence was so great that, even in semi-exile, the Pentagon continued to pay for him to visit Iraq and Afghanistan. "Other military analysts were invited on trips, but only in groups," Barstow writes. "McCaffrey went by himself." While McCaffrey's overseas visits, Pentagon contacts, media appearances and Congressional testimony benefited his corporate clients, neither he nor NBC disclosed those clients. NBC News president Steve Capus called McCaffrey an "independent voice" whose business obligations wouldn't color his commentary. McCaffrey simply claimed that his consulting "never has been a problem" for his punditry.
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