Return to (poor) form: MSNBC again drops the ball on disclosing McCaffrey's DynCorp ties

On MSNBC Live, Barry R. McCaffrey discussed “build[ing] Afghan security forces,” but at no point during the discussion did either McCaffrey or anchor Andrea Mitchell disclose McCaffrey's ties to DynCorp International -- a company under contract to train part of the Afghan National Security Force.

On the March 26 edition of MSNBC Live, NBC News military analyst and retired Gen. Barry R. 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.” But at no point during the segment did either McCaffrey or anchor Andrea Mitchell disclose that McCaffrey is a member of the board of directors of DynCorp International -- a company under contract to train part of the Afghan National Security Force. MSNBC is aware of McCaffrey's ties to DynCorp; indeed, on February 27, MSNBC host 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.”

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.”

Media Matters for America previously documented the following instances in which NBC or MSNBC programs featured McCaffrey in discussions of Afghan security forces without disclosing his ties to DynCorp:

  • 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.

From the 1 p.m. ET hour of the March 26 edition of MSNBC Live:

MITCHELL: And Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton is also sending an important message to the Mexican government that the U.S. is willing to do its part to help stem the violence in Mexico's drug war. Today, she also visited a Mexican police department here in Mexico City and then flew on to Monterrey, Mexico. She's also said that the Obama administration would ask Congress for $80 million to improve Mexican abilities to intersect -- or intervene with the drug war by buying more helicopters, Blackhawk helicopters. She actually saw a couple of them today. MSNBC military analyst and retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey is also the former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy back in the Clinton years. Thanks so much for joining us, General. It's great to see you again.

McCAFFREY: Yeah, good to be with you, Andrea.


MITCHELL: Now, one of the things I wanted to take you to Afghanistan because they're going to be announcing the -- the president is going to be announcing his new strategy tomorrow. One of the things that's reported in The Washington Post today is that after years of trying to get NATO to step up to the obligation to help out there, that this is increasingly becoming America's war. Do you agree with that analysis?

McCAFFREY: Yeah, well, I think the good news is NATO is there, but except for the Brits and the Canadians and to some extent the Dutch, most of the fighting has been U.S. And, you know, it's really gotten dangerous there in the last year. We're seeing multi-hundred-man Taliban units coming out of sanctuary in Pakistan, heavily armed, REI camping gear, automatic weapons, mortars. So I think in the short run, 17,000 reinforcements is a pretty good thing to do. In the longer run, I'm concerned the solution is build Afghan security forces, not for the U.S. to unilaterally fight a counterinsurgency strategy.