Now what are Rumsfeld's minions going to use to smear Times reporter David Barstow who snagged journalism's top prize last month for his expose into the Pentagon's close working relationship with retired generals and television producers during the Iraq War coverage? The one piece of evidence Rumsfeld's pals had been using in the press to undercut Barstow's report just went poof today when the DOD withdrew its investigation into Barstow's allegations.
The back story: Earlier today we noted the item in U.S. News & World Report about how Rumsfeld's aides were trash talking Barstow's Pulitzer. According to the US News [emphasis added]:
Leading the charge are two allies of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "Does the Pulitzer give prizes for works of fiction? Perhaps they just got the wrong category," says former Pentagon Assistant Secretary Dorrance Smith. Rumsfeld's current spokesman, Keith Urbahn, cites a January 2009 Pentagon inspector general's report debunking the story: "The Times's reporting on DoD's routine outreach to military experts didn't merit a place in the paper, much less a Pulitzer."
Urbahn mocked Barstow because the DOD inspector general's report had 'debunked' his Times prize-winning story. Until today, this is. As of May 5, that January report no longer exists because the DOD announced it was withdrawing it. Why?
The internal review concluded that the report did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product.
In other words, the January report that Rumsfeld's crew has been talking up was a joke:
Report findings relied, in part, on a body of testimonial evidence that was insufficient or inconclusive. In particular, former senior DoD officials who devised and managed the outreach program refused our requests for an interview.
Say this about the Rumsfeld crowd; it still has impeccable timing.