MSNBC repeatedly hosts McCaffrey to discuss Afghanistan without disclosing his conflict of interest

At least three times in the last two days, MSNBC anchors have hosted NBC News military analyst and retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who has used his appearances to criticize possible “deadlines” to the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and highlight the importance of training the Afghan security forces. However, at no point have McCaffrey or the MSNBC anchors hosting him disclosed his position on the board of directors of DynCorp International -- a company under contract to provide support to U.S. bases in Afghanistan for up to five years, as well as to train a portion of the Afghan National Security Force.

MSNBC repeatedly hosts McCaffrey to discuss Afghanistan policy without disclosing his DynCorp ties

On Andrea Mitchell Reports, McCaffrey criticizes “deadlines.” On the November 30 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports, Mitchell asked McCaffrey whether Obama will “focus too much on the exit strategy for the military” with regard to Afghanistan. McCaffrey responded in part that “I think everybody's going to be apprehensive about setting deadlines. However, there's no question that all of us know that the next election is really the deadline.” Mitchell identified McCaffrey only as “Gen. Barry McCaffrey, NBC News military analyst.”

On Morning Meeting, McCaffrey says “center of gravity of the entire war is, can we build” the Afghan security forces. On the December 1 edition of Morning Meeting, McCaffrey stated that “the center of gravity of the entire war is, can we build an Afghan army and maybe police in the coming three to 10 years. It's not fighting the Taliban, it's not the people-oriented strategy of Stan McChrystal, it's building the Afghan security forces.” Anchor Dylan Ratigan identified McCaffrey only as “retired Army general Barry McCaffrey, served 32 years in the U.S. military, fought in Iraq and in Vietnam, currently serving as an MSNBC military analyst with us.”

On Dr. Nancy, McCaffrey says we need “three to five years on it to see substantial Afghan security forces that can replace the Americans.” On the December 1 edition of Dr. Nancy, McCaffrey stated, “I would put three to five years on it to see substantial Afghan security forces that can replace the Americans.” Host Nancy Snyderman introduced McCaffrey only as “NBC News military analyst General Barry McCaffrey. He is a former Gulf War division commander and former National Security Council member.”

McCaffrey affiliated with DynCorp, which holds contracts with U.S. gov't in Afghanistan

McCaffrey serves on DynCorp's board. According to the firm's website, McCaffrey is a member of the board of directors of DynCorp International.

DynCorp holds contract potentially worth billions to provide support for U.S. bases in Afghanistan for up to five years. A July 8 DynCorp press release reported that the company and its two partners had been awarded a contract with the Department of the Army to “provide existing bases within the Afghanistan South AOR [Area of Responsibility] with operations and maintenance support” for “a base year plus four one year options.” The release reports that the contract is worth "$643.5 million for the one-year base period" and “a total evaluated value of $5.874 billion.”

DynCorp received a $317.4 million contract with the State Department to train part of Afghan National Security Force. An August 5, 2008, DynCorp press release reported that the company had been awarded an 18-month, $317.4 million contract with the State Department to “provide at least 580 civilian police advisors to advise, train, and mentor the Afghanistan National Police and the Ministry of Interior.” During a November 25, 2008, press briefing, Maj. Gen. Robert Cone stated: “My command trains, equips, and fields the Afghan National Security Force, and this includes both the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.”

MSNBC is aware of McCaffrey's conflict of interest

MSNBC, NBC News is aware of McCaffrey's DynCorp ties and the firm's contract to train Afghan security forces. On the February 27 edition of MSNBC Live, David Gregory introduced McCaffrey as a member of “the board of directors of DynCorp, an organization that's helping train local forces in Afghanistan.” McCaffrey's bio on MSNBC's website also notes that he “has been elected to: the Board of Directors of DynCorp International (a corporation that provides support to the U.S. Government in countries including Afghanistan and Iraq).”

NBC News has repeatedly failed to disclose McCaffrey's conflict of interest

Both MSNBC and NBC allowed McCaffrey to comment on Afghanistan without disclosing his conflict. Media Matters for America previously documented the following instances in which NBC or MSNBC programs featured McCaffrey in discussions of Afghan security forces or exit strategies without disclosing his ties to DynCorp:

  • On the November 24 edition of NBC's Nightly News, chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski aired a clip of McCaffrey's criticism of a “definitive exit strategy” from Afghanistan “with a timeline.”
  • On the March 26 edition of MSNBC Live, McCaffrey stated that the “solution” to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan "[i]n the longer run" is to “build Afghan security forces, not for the U.S. to unilaterally fight a counterinsurgency strategy.”
  • On the February 25 edition of MSNBC Live, discussing with anchor Norah O'Donnell President Obama's reported decision to redeploy combat troops from Iraq within 19 months, McCaffrey stated: “By the way, another question to be decided is, What are we doing in Afghanistan? Are we there to build an Afghan security force with our NATO allies and then withdraw, or are we there to fight a counterinsurgency battle in this gigantic country?”
  • During a November 27, 2008, report discussing efforts to “turn around what some military analysts are calling an eight-year stalemate,” NBC's Nightly News aired a clip of McCaffrey saying, “The answer is the Afghan security forces, with 40 NATO and allied present supporting elements, but not the U.S. fighting the significant counterinsurgency battle” in Afghanistan.