Friday, April 25, 2008

Senators Seek Deeper Air Force Investigation

Washington Post-Josh White

The Senate Armed Services Committee has asked the Defense Department's inspector general to review the role of senior Air Force officials in a $50 million contract, seeking further investigation into possible criminal conduct, ethical violations and failures of leadership.

Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked the inspector general on Monday to review the conduct of all current and former Air Force officials who were named in a 251-page investigative report released last week, noting that it "raises serious questions about the role played" by senior officials. The report provided a blow-by-blow account of how a company owned by a civilian friend of senior Air Force leaders and by a retired four-star general received a $50 million contract to update the Thunderbirds air show, despite a bid up to twice as high as other offers.

Investigators found that Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein steered the contract toward Strategic Message Solutions amid contracting irregularities and a stacked selection panel. Goldfein and four other officers received administrative punishment. The report named Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley, the Air Force chief of staff, as having potentially inappropriate contact with SMS owners but was spared punishment and has publicly defended his actions.

Yesterday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), also a member of the Armed Services Committee, wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asking him to hold senior officers accountable.

"I am particularly concerned with the actions of Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley and the dismissive and demoralizing message it sends to subordinates when there is a lack of disciplinary action taken against the most senior leaders," McCaskill wrote...........

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