After President Obama finished outlining his new Iraq plan in an address this morning at Camp Lejeune—and, for the first time, offering a specific date for combat troop withdrawals—MSNBC returned to its studio for a brief panel discussion on the speech.
David Gregory, performing hosting duties for the occasion, offered this introduction for MSNBC military analyst Barry McCaffrey:
I want to bring in now retired Army four star General Barry McCaffrey. General McCaffrey is an MSNBC military analyst and is also on the board of directors for DynCorp, an organization that’s helping train local forces in Afghanistan.
This is true. And this might be the first time an NBC network has mentioned McCaffrey’s business dealings, which have long drawn attention for the conflicts of interest they appear to bring.
But Gregory’s introduction neglected to mention that DynCorp has many other military contracting interests outside of Afghanistan that were far more relevant to the topic at hand. Like those interests, say, in Iraq.
One of them is the joint venture Global Linguist Solutions, of which DynCorp is a majority owner. And while McCaffrey is merely one member of the DynCorp board, he chairs the board over at GLS, which has a five-year, $4.6 billion contract to provide translation and interpretive services to U.S forces operating in Iraq.
Today, Obama announced that America’s Iraq combat mission would end by August 31, 2010, and, per the country’s Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, that he intended to “remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.”
The GLS contract will not expire until 2013.
Math would indicate that McCaffrey’s company stands to lose up to $920 million of revenue for each year that U.S. troops leave Iraq before the contract expires. While McCaffrey endorsed Obama’s withdrawal plan as “sensible” on MSNBC today, in the past GLS has been sensitive to the possibility that shifts in White House policy could jeopardize its business. Days after Obama’s election, they issued a press release (.pdf) quoting portions of Obama’s Iraq platform that warned against quick withdrawal, and assuring that the election results would “not cause interruption” in their contract.
NBC spokesperson Allison Golust was not available to comment on what went unmentioned in MSNBC’s disclosure of McCaffrey’s relationship to DynCorp, nor to explain why, given his rather-direct financial interest in the U.S. mission in Iraq, he remains an analyst for the network.Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.