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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Re: One Man¹s Military-Industrial-Media Complex - NYTimes

November 30, 2008
One Man's Military-Industrial-Media Complex


In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record
went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.

 The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general
with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of
government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with
thousands of armored vehicles.

 Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially
worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The
company signed Barry R. McCaffrey
rey/index.html?inline=nyt-per> , a retired four-star Army general and
military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15,

 Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and
15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus
us/index.html?inline=nyt-per> , the commanding general in Iraq, strongly
recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000
armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. "No other proposal is quicker, less
costly, or more certain to succeed," he said.

 Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales
pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence
over Iraq's expanding military.

 "That's what I pay him for," Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of
Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

General McCaffrey did not mention his new contract with Defense Solutions in
his letter to General Petraeus. Nor did he disclose it when he went on CNBC
that same week and praised the commander Defense Solutions was now counting
on for help — "He's got the heart of a lion" — or when he told Congress the
next month that it should immediately supply Iraq with large numbers of
armored vehicles and other equipment.

He had made similar arguments before he was hired by Defense Solutions, but
this time he went further. In his testimony to Congress, General McCaffrey
criticized a Pentagon plan to supply Iraq with several hundred armored
vehicles made in the United States by a competitor of Defense Solutions. He
called the plan "not in the right ballpark" and urged Congress to instead
equip Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles.

"We've got Iraqi army battalions driving around in Toyota trucks," he said,
echoing an argument made to General Petraeus in the Defense Solutions
briefing packet.

 Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the
intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly
retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network
military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque
world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where
war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests
and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of

 Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry

 General McCaffrey, 66, has long been a force in Washington's power elite. A
consummate networker, he cultivated politicians and journalists of all
stripes as drug czar in the Clinton cabinet, and his ties run deep to a new
generation of generals, some of whom he taught at West Point
states_military_academy/index.html?inline=nyt-org>  or commanded in the
Persian Gulf war, when he rose to fame leading the "left hook" assault on
Iraqi forces.

 But it was 9/11 that thrust General McCaffrey to the forefront of the
national security debate. In the years since he has made nearly 1,000
appearances on NBC
tml?inline=nyt-org>  and its cable sisters, delivering crisp sound bites in
a blunt, hyperbolic style. He commands up to $25,000 for speeches, his
commentary regularly turns up in The Wall Street Journal, and he has been
quoted or cited in thousands of news articles, including dozens in The New
York Times.

 His influence is such that President Bush and Congressional leaders from
both parties have invited him for war consultations. His access is such
that, despite a contentious relationship with former Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld
eld/index.html?inline=nyt-per> , the Pentagon has arranged numerous trips to
Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots solely for his benefit.

 At the same time, General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that
have grown with the fight against terrorism.

 The consulting company he started after leaving the government in 2001, BR
McCaffrey Associates, promises to "build linkages" between government
officials and contractors like Defense Solutions for up to $10,000 a month.
He has also earned at least $500,000 from his work for Veritas Capital, a
private equity firm in New York that has grown into a defense industry
powerhouse by buying contractors whose profits soared from the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, he is the chairman of HNTB Federal
Services, an engineering and construction management company that often
competes for national security contracts.

Many retired officers hold a perch in the world of military contracting, but
General McCaffrey is among a select few who also command platforms in the
news media and as government advisers on military matters. These overlapping
roles offer them an array of opportunities to advance policy goals as well
as business objectives. But with their business ties left undisclosed, it
can be difficult for policy makers and the public to fully understand their

On NBC and in other public forums, General McCaffrey has consistently
advocated wartime policies and spending priorities that are in line with his
corporate interests. But those interests are not described to NBC's viewers.
He is held out as a dispassionate expert, not someone who helps companies
win contracts related to the wars he discusses on television.

The president of NBC News, Steve Capus, said in an interview that General
McCaffrey was a man of honor and achievement who would never let business
obligations color his analysis for NBC. He described General McCaffrey as an
"independent voice" who had courageously challenged Mr. Rumsfeld, adding,
"There's no open microphone that begins with the Pentagon and ends with him
going out over our airwaves."

 General McCaffrey is not required to abide by NBC's formal
conflict-of-interest rules, Mr. Capus said, because he is a consultant, not
a news employee. Nor is he required to disclose his business interests
periodically. But Mr. Capus said that the network had conversations with its
military analysts about the need to avoid even the appearance of a conflict,
and that General McCaffrey had been "incredibly forthcoming" about his ties
to military contractors.

General McCaffrey declined to be interviewed but released a brief statement.

"My public media commentary on the war labeled me as an early and serious
critic of Rumsfeld's arrogance and mismanagement of operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan," the statement said. "The New York Times noted my strong on-air
criticism as an NBC commentator. My op-ed objections to the execution of the
war were published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The L.A.
Times, USA Today and other media. Hardly the stuff of someone shilling a war
for the administration — or privately pushing his business interests with
the Pentagon. Thirty-seven years of public service. Four combat tours.
Wounded three times. The country knows me as a nonpartisan and objective
national security expert with solid integrity."

In earlier e-mail messages, General McCaffrey played down his involvement in
lobbying for contracts, suggesting he mainly gave companies "strategic
counsel." His business responsibilities, he wrote, simply do not conflict
with his duty to provide objective analysis on NBC. "Never has been a
problem," he wrote. "Period."

General McCaffrey did in fact emerge as a tough critic of Mr. Rumsfeld,
describing him as reckless and incompetent. His central criticism — that Mr.
Rumsfeld fought the Iraq war "on the cheap" — reflected his long-stated
views on waging war. But it also dovetailed with his business interests. And
his clashes with Mr. Rumsfeld were but one facet of a more complex and
symbiotic relationship with the Bush administration and the military's
uniformed leaders, records and interviews show.

 With a few exceptions General McCaffrey has consistently supported Mr.
Bush's major national security policies, especially the war in Iraq. He
advocated invasion, urged building up the military to sustain the occupation
and warned that premature withdrawal would invite catastrophe.

 In an article earlier this year,  The New York Times identified General
McCaffrey as one of some 75 military analysts who were the focus of a
Pentagon public relations campaign that is now being examined by the
Pentagon's inspector general, the Government Accountability Office
ent_accountability_office/index.html?inline=nyt-org>  and the Federal
Communications Commission
_communications_commission/index.html?inline=nyt-org> . The campaign, begun
in 2002 but suspended after the article's publication, sought to transform
the analysts into "surrogates" and "message force multipliers" for the Bush
administration, records show. The analysts, many with military industry
ties, were wooed in private briefings, showered with talking points and
escorted on tours of Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

 The Pentagon inspector general is investigating whether special access gave
any of these analysts an improper edge in the competition for contracts.

 General McCaffrey offers a case study of the benefits that can flow from
favored access: an inside track to sensitive information about strategy and
tactics; insight into the priorities of ground commanders; a private channel
to officials who oversaw war spending, as the Defense Solutions example
shows. In that case the company has yet to win the contract it hired General
McCaffrey to champion.

 More broadly, though, his example reveals the myriad and often undisclosed
connections between the business of war and the business of covering it.

A Move to Television

 General McCaffrey made his debut as a military analyst in the weeks after
9/11. NBC anchors typically introduced him by describing his medals or his
exploits in the gulf war. Or they noted he was a West Point professor, or
the youngest four-star general in the history of the Army.

 They did not mention his work for military contractors, including a
lucrative new role with Veritas Capital.

 Veritas was a relatively small player in 2001, looking to grow through
acquisitions and Pentagon contracts. Competing for contracts is a complex
and subtle sport, governed by highly bureaucratic bidding rules and the
old-fashioned arts of access and influence.

 Veritas would compete on both fronts.

 Just days before the terrorist attacks — on Sept. 6, 2001 — Veritas had
announced the formation of an "advisory council" of well-connected retired
generals and admirals, including General McCaffrey. "They can really pick up
the phone and call someone," Robert B. McKeon, the president of Veritas,
would later tell The Times.

 Access was also part of what drew NBC to General McCaffrey. Mr. Capus said
General McCaffrey "opens doors with generals and others who we would not
otherwise be able to talk to."

 Veritas gave its advisers board seats on its military companies, along with
profit sharing and equity stakes that were all the more attractive because
Veritas intended to turn quick profits through initial public offerings. On
Sept. 6, this might have been considered a gamble. Revenue growth — a key to
successful I.P.O.'s — required sustained increases in military spending. But
after Sept. 11, the only question was just how big those increases would be.

 From his first months on the air, General McCaffrey called for huge,
sustained increases in military spending for a global campaign against
terrorism. He also advocated spending for high-tech weapons, including some
like precision-guided munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles
ial_vehicles/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>  that were important to the
Veritas portfolio. He called the C-17 cargo plane — also a source of Veritas
contracts — a "national treasure."

 In a statement, Veritas said it had gained no "discernible benefit" from
General McCaffrey's television appearances and called his TV work
"completely independent" from his role with Veritas.

 In their corporate filings, Veritas military companies told investors they
were well positioned to benefit from a widening global struggle against
terrorism. The approaching conflict with Iraq, though, would create new
areas of tension between General McCaffrey's fiduciary obligations to
Veritas and his duties to NBC.

General McCaffrey harbored significant doubts about the invasion plan. An
informal participant in the war planning, he was troubled by Mr. Rumsfeld's
resistance to an invasion force of several hundred thousand, he acknowledged
months and years later in interviews. Mr. Rumsfeld's team, he said, was bent
on making an "ideological" point that wars could be fought "on the cheap."
There were not enough tanks, artillery or troops, he would say, and the
result was a "grossly anemic" force that unnecessarily put troops at risk.

 That is not what General McCaffrey said when asked on NBC outlets to assess
the risks of war. As planning for a possible invasion received intense news
coverage in 2002, he repeatedly assured viewers that the war would be brief,
the occupation lengthy but benign.

 "These people are going to come apart in 21 days or less," he told Brian
/index.html?inline=nyt-per>  on MSNBC.

In the fall of 2002 General McCaffrey joined the Committee for the
Liberation of Iraq, a group formed with White House encouragement to fan
support for regime change. He also participated in private Pentagon
briefings in which network military analysts were armed with talking points
that made the case for war, records show.

In early 2003 Forrest Sawyer  asked General McCaffrey on CNBC what could go
wrong after an invasion. Anticipating this very question, the Pentagon had
invited General McCaffrey and other analysts to a special briefing. Years
later General McCaffrey would say he knew that the post-invasion planning
was a disaster. "They were warned very categorically and directly by many of
us prior to that war," he said.

 Given a chance by Mr. Sawyer to raise an alarm, the general reiterated
Pentagon talking points about the "astonishing amount" of postwar planning.

 And when Tom Brokaw
ex.html?inline=nyt-per>  asked him, days before the invasion, "What are your
concerns if we were to go to war by the end of this week?" he replied,
"Well, I don't think I have any real serious ones."

 Only when the invasion met unexpected resistance did General McCaffrey give
a glimpse of his misgivings. "We've placed ourselves in a risky proposition,
400 miles into Iraq with no flank or rear area security," he told Katie
ndex.html?inline=nyt-per>  on "Today."

 Mr. Rumsfeld struck back. He abruptly cut off General McCaffrey's access to
the Pentagon's special briefings and conference calls.

 General McCaffrey was stunned. "I've never heard his voice like that,"
recalled one close associate who asked not to be identified. He added, "They
showed him what life was like on the outside."

 Robert Weiner, a longtime publicist for General McCaffrey, said the general
came to see that if he continued his criticism, he risked being shut out not
only by Mr. Rumsfeld but also by his network of friends and contacts among
the uniformed leadership.

"There is a time when you have to punt," said Mr. Weiner, emphasizing that
he spoke as General McCaffrey's friend, not as his spokesman.

 Within days General McCaffrey began to backpedal, professing his "great
respect" for Mr. Rumsfeld to Tim Russert
dex.html?inline=nyt-per> . "Is this man O.K.?" the Fox News anchor Brit Hume
x.html?inline=nyt-per>  asked, taking note of the about-face.

For months to come, as an insurgency took root, General McCaffrey defended
the Bush administration. "I am 100 percent behind what the administration,
what the president of the United States, is doing in Iraq," he told Mr.
Williams that June.

A Corporate Troubleshooter

 Mr. Rumsfeld's swift reaction underscored the administration's appreciation
of General McCaffrey's influence. His comments were catalogued and
circulated at the White House and Pentagon.

 Other network analysts were monitored, too, but not the way General
McCaffrey was. He was different. He was one of the few retired four-star
generals on television, and his well-known friendships with men like General
Petraeus and Gen. John P. Abizaid
/index.html?inline=nyt-per>  gave him added currency.

 As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragged on, General McCaffrey
increasingly gave public expression to the private frustrations of generals
pressing their civilian bosses for more troops, weapons and reconstruction
money. The Army, he repeatedly warned, could break under the strain.

 These were politically charged topics, and so the administration worked to
influence his commentary, using carrots and sticks alike. In 2005, for
example, Mr. Rumsfeld took umbrage at remarks General McCaffrey made to The
Washington Times about the impact of unchecked poppy production in
Afghanistan. Mr. Rumsfeld wrote to Gen. Peter Pace
ex.html?inline=nyt-per> , then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
hiefs_of_staff/index.html?inline=nyt-org> , demanding to know where General
McCaffrey "got his information," records show. No less than an assistant
secretary of defense was dispatched to speak with General McCaffrey, who
said he had been misquoted.

 In a letter to The Times, General McCaffrey's lawyer, Thomas A. Clare, said
the general's recurring criticisms had cost him "business opportunities with
defense contractors." NBC executives said they, too, fielded high-level
complaints, and General McCaffrey was not invited back to the Pentagon's
analyst briefings.

On the other hand, when Pentagon officials noticed that General McCaffrey
was scheduled to appear on programs like "Meet the Press," they asked
generals close to him to suggest themes, records show. The Pentagon also
began paying for General McCaffrey to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan. Other
military analysts were invited on trips, but only in groups. General
McCaffrey went by himself under the sponsorship of Central Command's

 The stated purpose was for General McCaffrey to provide an outside
assessment in his role as a part-time professor at West Point. But his trips
were also an important public relations tool, meticulously planned to arm
him with anecdotes of progress. Records show that Central Command's generals
expected him to "publicly support their efforts" upon his return home and
solicited his advice on how to "reverse the perception" in Washington of a
lost war.

 After each trip General McCaffrey embarked on a news media campaign,
writing opinion articles, granting interviews, publishing "after action"
reports on his firm's Web site. Each time he extolled Central Command's
generals and called for a renewed national commitment of money and support.

 At the same time, General McCaffrey used his access to further business
interests, as he did during the summer of 2005, when Americans were turning
against the Iraq war in droves.

 Veritas had been on a shopping spree, buying military contractors deeply
enmeshed in the war. Its biggest acquisition was of DynCorp International,
best known for training foreign security forces for the United States
government. By 2005 operations in Iraq and Afghanistan accounted for 37
percent of DynCorp's revenues.

The crumbling public support, though, posed a threat to Veritas's prize
acquisition. The changing political climate and unrelenting violence,
DynCorp warned investors, could force a withdrawal from Iraq.

What is more, some of DynCorp's Iraq contracts were in trouble, plagued by
cost overruns, inept work by subcontractors and ineffective training
programs. So when DynCorp executives learned that General McCaffrey was
planning to travel to Iraq that June, they asked him to sound out American
commanders and reassure them of DynCorp's determination to make things

 "It is useful both ways," Gregory Lagana, a DynCorp spokesman, said in an
interview. "If there were problems, and there were, then we could get an
independent judgment and fix them."

 Mr. Lagana said General McCaffrey had been a troubleshooter for DynCorp on
other trips. "He'll say: 'I'm going over. Is there anyone you want me to
see?' " Mr. Lagana said. "And then he'd go in and say, 'I'm on the board.
What can you tell me?' "

 The Pentagon had its own agenda. For eight days, General McCaffrey was
given red-carpet treatment. Iraqi commandos even staged a live-fire
demonstration for him. But General McCaffrey also was given access to
officials whose decisions were important to his business interests,
including DynCorp, which was planning an I.P.O. He met with General
Petraeus, who was then in charge of training Iraqi security forces and
responsible for supervising DynCorp's 500 police trainers. He also met with
officials responsible for billions of dollars' worth of contracts in Iraq.

 General McCaffrey would not discuss these sessions, and General Petraeus
said in an e-mail message to The Times that he had no reason to discuss
DynCorp with General McCaffrey because he would have gone directly to
DynCorp's executives in Iraq.

Back home, General McCaffrey undertook a one-man news media blitz in which
he contradicted the dire assessments of many journalists in Iraq. He bore
witness to progress on all fronts, but most of all he vouched for Iraq's
security forces. A year earlier, before joining DynCorp's board, he had
described these forces as "badly equipped, badly trained, politically
unreliable." Just months before, Gary E. Luck, a retired four-star Army
general sent to assess progress in Iraq, had reported to Mr. Bush that
security training was going poorly. Yet General McCaffrey now emphasized his
"surprising" conclusion that the training was succeeding.

 After Mr. Bush gave a speech praising Iraq's new security forces, Brian
Williams asked General McCaffrey for an independent assessment. "The Iraqi
security forces are real," General McCaffrey replied, without noting the
concerns about DynCorp.

 His financial stake in the policy debates over Iraq was not mentioned. He
did not disclose that he owned special stock that allowed him to share in
DynCorp's profits, up 87 percent that year largely because of the Iraq war.

 "I took as objective a look at it as I could," he told David Gregory
index.html?inline=nyt-per> , the NBC correspondent.

A Contract in Iraq

 In his written statements to The Times, General McCaffrey said his role
with Veritas was "governance, not marketing," and Veritas insisted that he
never "solicited new or existing government contracts."

 General McCaffrey did, however, play an indirect role in helping Veritas
win one of its largest contracts, to supply more than 8,000 translators to
the war in Iraq. The contract had been held by L-3 Communications, but when
General McCaffrey got wind that the Army was considering seeking new
bidders, he called his friend James A. Marks, a major general in the Army
who was approaching retirement and was versed in the uses of translators,
having served as intelligence chief for land forces during the Iraq

 As General Marks recalls it, General McCaffrey asked him to lead an effort
to win the contract for Veritas.

 General Marks, who became a CNN military analyst after his retirement in
2004, would be named president of a new DynCorp subsidiary, Global Linguist
Solutions, created in July 2006 to bid for the translation contract. In
August 2006 Veritas designated General McCaffrey as chairman of Global
Linguist. According to a 2007 corporate filing, General McCaffrey was
promised $10,000 a month plus expenses once Global Linguist secured the
contract. He would also be eligible to share in profits, which could
potentially be significant: the contract was worth $4.6 billion over five
years, but only if the United States did not pull out of Iraq first.

 In the fall of 2006, that was hardly a sure thing. With casualties rising,
the nation's discontent had been laid bare by the November elections. Then,
in December, the Iraq Study Group recommended withdrawing all combat
brigades by early 2008.

 That month, in a flurry of appearances for NBC, General McCaffrey
repeatedly ridiculed this recommendation, warning that it would turn Iraq
into "Pol Pot
html?inline=nyt-per> 's Cambodia."

 The United States, he said, should keep at least 100,000 troops in Iraq for
many years. He disputed depictions of an isolated and deluded White House.
After meeting with the president and vice president on Dec. 11 in the Oval
Office, he went on television and described them as "very sober-minded."

 General McCaffrey was hardly alone in criticizing the Iraq Study Group, and
in his e-mail messages to The Times he said his objections reflected his
judgment that it was folly to leave American trainers behind with no combat
force protection. But in none of those appearances did NBC disclose General
McCaffrey's ties to Global Linguist.

 NBC executives asserted that the general's relationships with military
contractors are indirectly disclosed through NBC's Web site, where General
McCaffrey's biography now features a link to his consulting firm's Web site.
That site, they said, lists General McCaffrey's clients.

 While the general's Web site lists his board memberships, it does not name
his clients, nor does it mention Veritas Capital, by one measure the
second-largest military contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, after KBR. In
any event, Mr. Capus, the NBC News president, said he was unaware of General
McCaffrey's connection to the translation contract. Mr. Capus declined to
comment on whether this information should have been disclosed.

 CNN officials said they, too, were unaware of General Marks's role in the
contract. When they learned of it in 2007, they said, they were so concerned
about what they considered an obvious conflict of interest that they severed
ties with him. (General Marks, who also spoke out against the withdrawal
plan on CNN, said business considerations did not influence his comments.)

 On Dec. 18, 2006, the Pentagon stunned Wall Street by awarding the
translation contract to Global Linguist. DynCorp's stock jumped 15 percent.

Hiring a General

After touring Iraq in March 2007 and meeting with American officials
responsible for equipping Iraq's military, General McCaffrey published a
trip report recommending that the United States equip Iraq with 5,000
armored vehicles.

 This kind of access had strong appeal to Mr. Ringgold, Defense Solutions'
chief, who had a plan to rebuild Iraq's decimated fleets of armored vehicles
by culling "leftovers" from depots across Eastern Europe. "I was looking for
an advocate," Mr. Ringgold recalled.

General McCaffrey soon arrived for an audition at the Defense Solutions
headquarters outside Philadelphia. "Frankly," Mr. Ringgold recalled, "I had
to get over the sticker shock of what he was going to cost me."

 General McCaffrey liked his basic concept but told him to think bigger, Mr.
Ringgold said. Instead of minimally refurbished equipment, he urged Mr.
Ringgold to sell "Americanized" armored vehicles upgraded with thermal
sights and other expensive extras. And why not also team up with DynCorp and
others to supply the maintenance, logistics and training to keep them

 The suggestions vastly increased the proposal's scale and price tag, but
the general seemed to have a read on the complex interplay between the Iraqi
government and the American military leadership, Mr. Ringgold recalled. For
a retainer and an undisclosed equity stake, General McCaffrey signed on
weeks later, then promptly wrote to General Petraeus.

 His letter, drafted with help from Defense Solutions, explained that in the
three months since his trip to Iraq, he had found just one feasible way to
equip Iraq with enough armored vehicles to permit a "phased redeployment" of
American combat forces — the proposal by Defense Solutions. He urged General
Petraeus to act quickly but did not disclose that he had just been hired by
Defense Solutions.

 In his e-mail message to The Times, General Petraeus said he received
"innumerable" letters from "would be" contractors. In this case, he wrote,
he simply sent General McCaffrey's material "without any endorsement" to
James M. Dubik, the general then responsible for training Iraq's security

 General Dubik, now retired, said in an interview that he, too, received a
letter and information packet, and as a result briefed Iraq's defense
minister. "Quite frankly," he said, "I thought it was a good idea."

 General Dubik emphasized that although he used Defense Solutions briefing
materials, he first "sanitized" them of any mention of the company. He said
he presented the idea as his own, intending to ask Defense Solutions to bid
if the Iraqis liked the concept. But the defense minister reacted coolly, he
said, arguing that Iraq deserved advanced American-made vehicles.

 General McCaffrey also sent letters to top lawmakers and approached
contacts inside the Defense Department bureaucracy that oversees foreign
military sales. His influence was immediately apparent. For example, General
McCaffrey reached out to Maj. Gen. Timothy F. Ghormley, chief of staff at
Central Command, who promptly invited Mr. Ringgold to a meeting in Tampa,
Fla. Mr. Ringgold recalled General Ghormley's first words: "Why aren't we
doing this already?"

 Nevertheless, by late 2007, Defense Solutions still had no deal. General
McCaffrey, Mr. Ringgold recalled, said the company needed to get to Baghdad
and meet directly with Iraqi leaders and important Americans.

 On Oct. 26, 2007, General McCaffrey wrote an e-mail message to General
Petraeus proposing to return to Iraq. He said his "principal interest would
be to document progress in standing up Iraqi security forces," and he
proposed traveling soon, before the presidential primaries, so he could
"speak objectively — before politics goes to roar level."

 In early December General McCaffrey arrived in Baghdad, where he met with
Generals Petraeus and Dubik, among others.

 General Petraeus said he did not recall them discussing Defense Solutions.
General Dubik recalled giving General McCaffrey a detailed briefing on the
effort to equip Iraq's army, including the plans for armored vehicles. He
said it was a measure of General McCaffrey's integrity that he did not raise
Defense Solutions. "He's not going to cross the line," General Dubik said.

Mr. Ringgold said General McCaffrey "made it perfectly clear" that he would
not discuss their proposal with the two generals and even sent instructions
that he was not to be contacted in Iraq "to avoid even the perception of
conflict of interest."

 But Defense Solutions used information General McCaffrey gleaned from his
meetings to refine its proposal. Mr. Ringgold followed General McCaffrey to
Baghdad in February 2008 and then made plans to return in the spring to meet
with Generals Dubik and Petraeus. "General McCaffrey insisted that I see
you," Mr. Ringgold wrote to General Petraeus in a March 20 e-mail message.

General Petraeus forwarded Mr. Ringgold's message to General Dubik, who
warned Mr. Ringgold that while he was happy to meet, Iraq's defense minister
was still hesitant. "They've gone back and forth on the refurbished stuff,"
General Dubik wrote.

 Defense Solutions turned to the White House. On May 9, Mr. Ringgold and Tom
C. Korologos, a Republican lobbyist, met with a military aide to Vice
President Dick Cheney
dex.html?inline=nyt-per>  and two National Security Council
l_security_council/index.html?inline=nyt-org>  officials.

 The next day, in an e-mail memorandum to his staff, Mr. Ringgold discussed
other ways to press Iraqi and American officials, including generating news
media coverage to suggest that Iraq's "failure to ready its Army" was
prolonging the occupation. General McCaffrey had been making a similar
argument for months on NBC and elsewhere. "The end of the game is that the
Iraqis got to maintain internal order," he told Ann Curry, the NBC

Mr. Ringgold said he had never asked the general to take positions
supporting Defense Solutions in his news media appearances. On the other
hand, he added, "I hope he was thinking of us."

 Mr. Weiner, the general's longtime publicist, said General McCaffrey worked
with clients "to get your mission achieved in the media." General McCaffrey,
he said, often speaks out with the twin goals of shaping policy and
generating favorable coverage for clients with worthy products or ideas.

 "His motive is pure," Mr. Weiner said. "It is national interest."

 Despite Defense Solutions' efforts, Iraq recently placed orders for
billions of dollars' worth of American-made armored vehicles. But the
company is not giving up, and it continues to rely on the advice of General
McCaffrey, who returned to Iraq on Oct. 31 for another visit sponsored by
the Pentagon.

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