Military analysts who recently made frequent appearances on major US media outlets to make the case for a military strike against Syria have ties to prominent defense contractors and other firms with stakes in the conflict, according to a new report.
The report by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit watchdog, details appearances by nearly two dozen commentators who spoke in favor of launching a military campaign against Syria during the recent media frenzy on the issue.
The report said that these media analysts had connections to defense industry that would cause conflicts of interests with some having board positions and shares in weapons manufacturing companies whose weaponry would have been used in a US military action against Syria.
The study also notes the prominent role of seven think tanks during the Syria debate and their close links to defense contractors.
“We found lots of industry ties. Some of them are stronger than others. Some really rise to the level of clear conflicts of interest,” said Kevin Connor, the group’s director and a co-author of the study.
“These networks and these commentators should err on the side of disclosure,” he added.
One of the commentators cited in the report was Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush, who made a series of high-profile media appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV arguing for military intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over alleged use of chemical weapons.
Hadley also wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post headlined “To stop Iran, Obama must enforce red lines with Assad.”
In each case, the media outlets failed to inform their audience that Hadley serves as a director of Raytheon, the weapons manufacturer that makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles that were widely cited as a weapon of choice in a potential airstrike campaign against Syria.
Hadley earns an annual salary of $128,500 from Raytheon and owns 11,477 shares of the company’s stock. His holdings were worth $891,189 as of August 23.
The report found that, out of 37 appearances these pro-war commentators made on CNN, the network disclosed their defense industry ties only seven times. NBC and its umbrella networks disclosed the pundits’ connections five times in 16 appearances. In 23 appearances on Fox News there was not a single attempt to disclose industry ties.