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Pentagon Forces Out Air Force Chiefs

POSTED: 04:23 PM ET, 06/ 5/2008 by The Editors

A long, bumpy flight at the Air Force came to an abrupt end yesterday, at least for the leadership. Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley resigned under pressure earlier today after Pentagon brass decided they'd had enough.

The Air Force problems became acute last summer, when a crew of U.S. airmen mistakenly transported six live nuke warheads from North Dakota's Minot Air force Base to a Lousiana air base. The event triggered a rare "Bent Spear" incident report that enraged Pentagon leaders and spurred new questions about nuclear safety systems.

The Air Force also had to contend with questions about its massive acquisition operations. Those questions include the handling of a $40 billion refueling tanker contract announced in February. The award went unexpectedly to Northrop Grumman and its partner, European Aeronautic Defence and Space, not to incumbent Boeing. Critics said the deal will mean the loss of thousands of American jobs to European factories.

The service also is under fire from Congress this year for a $50 million contract to update the Thunderbirds air show. Lawmakers said an investigative report about the deal "raises serious questions about the role played" by senior Air Force officials in possibly steering the work to cronies.

Last year, there were also embarrassing questions about the Air Force's dealings with a tax-exempt charity called Commonwealth Research Institute, or CRI. The Air Force arranged for CRI to pay $26,788 to Charles D. Riechers, a senior civilian official who was awaiting White House confirmation of his nomination as principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition.

Riechers and other Air Force officials told The Post that he was hired temporarily through CRI's contract. But Riechers said he did no work directly for the organization and instead focused on Air Force projects that had nothing to do with CRI. The Air Force official said Riechers was retained under an arrangement that is widely used in the Pentagon because he had special talents to help on research, development and modernization programs.

In October, after questions were raised about the arrangment, Riechers was found dead in an apparent suicide. The FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service have launched a probe of Air Force contracts with CRI and its parent, Concurrent Technologies.

-- Robert O'Harrow

By The Editors |  June 5, 2008; 4:23 PM ET
Previous: GAO Says Detainee Abuse Not 'Pervasive' | Next: New Currie Documents Filed


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Michael Wynne was one of a bunch of General Dynamics executives brought into the Pentagon by Donald Rumsfeld.

Rummy loved to claim that he was one of the few DoD officials to have no arms industry connections, but that wasn't really true. In fact, he was caught in 2004 still holding shares in six companies that did business with the Pentagon.

But more to the point, he was paid $11 million by General Dynamics in 1999 for his shares in Gulfstream, of which he was a director.

A year later, he appointed several General Dynamics executives to policy posts, including Wynne and Gordon England, who was made Secretary of the Navy. Among other things, the Navy buys all its submarines from Electric Boat, a General Dynamics company.

Here are some of the senior posts in Rummy's War Cabinet - the men who led America into Iraq. See if you can spot any possible conflicts of interest:
Deputy secretary of Defense - Paul Wolfowitz - Northrop Grumman consultant

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy - Doug Feith - formerly Northrop Grumman's senior lawyer

Secretary of the Navy - Gordon R. England - former Executive vice president, General Dynamics

Secretary of the Army - Thomas E. White - former Vice chairman, Enron Energy Services, a major Army contractor

Secretary of the Air Force - James G. Roche - former President, Northrop Grumman electronic sensors and systems

Under Secretary of the Air Force - Peter B. Teets - former President, Lockheed Martin

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness - David Chu - Former VP Rand Corp

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics - Edward C. Aldridge Jr - former CEO, the Aerospace Corporation

Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics - Michael Wynne - Senior VP, General Dynamics

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics - Nelson F. Gibbs - former Controller, Northrop Grumman

Sorry, it was a trick question. They ALL have conflicts of interest, because the Pentagon is - by a long mile - the most corrupt branch of the US govt.

What was it Eisenhower said: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."


Posted by: Bud0 | June 5, 2008 5:39 PM

Thanks, Bud0

Posted by: LowHangingMissles | June 5, 2008 5:42 PM

Godd amet! I am sick of hear of the corruption from this Administration! Impeach Cheney and Bush!

Posted by: Ceci | June 5, 2008 7:47 PM

A very patriotic post there, Bud0! It's about time Americans start to comprehend the key role corruption plays in US defense (sic).

Posted by: boscobobb | June 6, 2008 1:21 PM

Nothing's changed, it has only gotten much more professional. In my day (mid-late 1960's), military-industrial pork and scamming only cost a few hundred million: Since Reagan, it costs us hundreds of billions, adding to trillions.

I worked on the General Dynamics F-111 prototypes few times in 1966, and came to believe that project was the result of organized crime; collusion of a dominant industry and government - the hallmark of Fascism.

Enter the pros. The Savings & Loan Swindles in Reagan's adimistration (enabled by John McCain), cost us as much as the entire National Debt was before he came into office - $850 billion. The Bush Crime Family figured repeatedly in that little money-maker, with both Neil and Jebbie hauling off billions.

But when they put their family's version of Fredo in the Prime Franchise for the Looting of the National Government, the Bush Crime Family failed to keep him from repeating his history of failure.

All of this makes more sense, I'm sure, from the perspective of distance. The International Criminal Court will have a good view of our naked aggression against a civilian populace and the establishment of torture as policy.

Meanwhile, we should use the RICO statutes to investigate the family that had assets confiscated for Trading with the Enemy in WW II, and was tied to the S&L scams, as well as Iran-Contra drug and gun-smuggling.

If so, we can confiscate their assets, including billions hidden away offshore, and the lands in Paraguay, turning Kennebunkport into a National Cemetery for victims of the Bush Wars, like we did at Arlington.

Having removed the infectious rot, the tissue of the "body politik" can then begin to heal.

Posted by: gkam | June 6, 2008 2:27 PM

Pentagon brass decided they'd had enough?

Then, why don't the mysterious "Pentagon Brass" resign??????

Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley did nothing wrong other than coming to the attention of Seniors too many times, raising "embarrassing questions".

The real embarrassment is why the Post doesn't identify those that forced the resignations, and call them to account. After all, it happend on their watch, too.

Posted by: Olden Atwoody | June 7, 2008 4:30 AM

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