—John A. Tirpak
April 28, 2008—Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne’s administrative discipline of Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein and several other officers for steering a contract to a preferred vendor apparently hasn’t satisfied a number of US Senators.
The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee have asked for a deeper probe of the affair, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is wondering why Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley himself hasn’t been punished.
Sen. Carl. Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in an April 21 letter to Pentagon Inspector General Claude Kicklighter, state the his investigation into the Thunderbird Airshow Production Services contract “raises some serious questions about the role played by other more senior current and former Air Force officials.”
They asked Kicklighter to make sure his team has interviewed “all individuals who may have pertinent information to the case.”
They also want him to “review the conduct of current and former senior Air Force officials named” in the IG’s report, “not only as to criminal conduct, but also for ethical violations and failures of leadership.” They want Kicklighter to report back to them and to Wynne.
McCaskill sounded a more angry tone. In an April 24 letter to Wynne, which followed a telephone conversation she had with him, she said “it is incomprehensible to me that no action has been taken to reprimand General Moseley, or to evaluate his continued fitness to lead the Air Force.”
She expressed her belief that Moseley’s “command authority has been compromised” and the testimony he gave to the IG puts “in direct question” his “devotion to properly managing tax dollars” and “his ability to set appropriate priorities for Air Force spending during this time of warfare when budgets are extremely tight.”
McCaskill noted that Levin and McCain want the case re-opened and told Wynne that “future investigations bring the potential only of more definitive and troubling findings, including criminal findings that will negatively reflect on the culture of [Moseley’s] command and his ability to lead.”
McCaskill also said the Wynne-Moseley March 26 memorandum for senior Air Force leaders, in which they cautioned officers not to do anything smacking of command influence in contracting, “shows a degree of hypocrisy on General Moseley’s behalf that is astonishing.” She said the letter “should have been sent direct to General Moseley, not have come from him.”
Finally, McCaskill told Wynne she is perplexed that just because the US Attorney “did not bring criminal charges against General Moseley that he is free and clear of any wrongdoing.” Military leaders are held to a higher standard, she asserted, suggesting the case needs to be reviewed under the Universal Code of Military Justice and Joint Ethics Regulations.
The Air Force’s response to the letters—a statement issued April 25—noted that Wynne himself had set the IG investigation in motion, and, after reviewing the results, “directed a thorough review of contracting processes and institution of a robust training program targeted to correct issues raised by this investivation.”
USAF said Wynne’s personnel actions were “appropriate.” It said the service “stands ready to support as required further review of this Contract action, and will determine any additional actions subsequent to these.”
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