Thursday, June 5, 2008

High Crimes of an Asexual Nature.

Not all crimes commited by senior military officers and Senior Executive Service members are of a sexual nature. Some are more serious. "There is nothing more important than the security of nuclear weapons" said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., the Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne were forced to resign Thursday 5 June 2008because of problems stemming from the Air Force’s mishandling nuclear weapons. A report, by Navy ADM Kirkland Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, revealed widespread problems in the mishandling of nuclear weapons and convinced Defense Secretary Robert Gates that General Moseley and Secretary Wynne must be held accountable. Both men have tendered their resignations.

Defense Secretary Gates started his career as an Air Force missile officer in the 1960s. He said that a “substantial” number of Air Force general officers and colonels more immediately responsible for recent lapses could still be reprimanded or fired in the wake of the report.

It is not clear how quickly Secretary Wynne and General Moseley will leave their positions. General Moseley has requested retirement effective August 1 and will take terminal leave before that.

“I think the honorable thing to do is to step aside,” General Moseley said in a statement released to the press. “After consulting with my family, I intend to submit my request for retirement to Secretary Gates.

These stunning developments follow a series of high-profile scandals and disagreements between Air Force leadership and Secretary Gates in the past year. Both the Pentagon and congressional leadership have increasingly expressed frustration about the Air Force’s top brass.
A senior defense official said the nuclear report was the most significant factor. “Everything that preceded that is insignificant by comparison,” the official said.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement praising Gates’ decision.
“Secretary Gates’ focus on accountability is essential and had been absent from the Office of the Secretary of Defense for too long,” the statement says. “The safety and security of America’s nuclear weapons must receive the highest priority, just as it must in other countries. The Secretary took appropriate action following the reports of the Defense Science Board, the Air Force’s own internal review, and now most recently, the report of Admiral Donald.”

Secretary Wynne became Air Force secretary in November 2005, and General Moseley took office in September 2005. General Moseley’s term was due to expire in September 2009. Secretary Wynne served at the pleasure of the president.

General Moseley, a former fighter pilot, has been in the Air Force since 1972. Before becoming chief, he served as commander of U.S. Central Command Air Forces and then as vice chief of staff from August 2003 until September 2005.

Secretary Wynne served as an Air Force officer from 1966 until 1973 and then began a nearly 30-year career in the aerospace industry. He rose to become president of General Dynamics’ space division and general manager of space launch systems at Lockheed Martin. He re-entered government service in 2001 and served four years as Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics before becoming Air Force Secretary.

While the simultaneous removal of a service’s top civilian and uniformed leaders is unprecedented, there has been speculation for months among defense insiders that General Moseley, Secretary Wynne or both could be removed.

The Air Force has been rocked by a series of missteps during the past year, and General Moseley and Secretary Wynne’s relationships with Defense Secretary Gates, and members of congressional defense committees have steadily eroded.
Both men are well-liked personally, but that apparently was not enough to make up for a perceived lack of leadership.

Loren Thompson, an analyst with the Lexington Institute in Fairfax, Va., said the handwriting has been on the wall for several months, and that General Moseley’s demeanor has changed noticeably during that time.
“It was clear the relationship between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force was deteriorating,” Thompson said. “But it wasn’t clear what that would mean for Air Force leadership. … “This [is] the final chapter in a long list of grievances between OSD and the Air Force.”

Those grievances include criticism of the Air Force’s nuclear weapons handling, two major acquisitions programs that have been stalled by protests, the service’s inability to rush more surveillance drones to the war zones, apparent conflicts of interest of current and retired senior officials related to a $50 million contract to produce a multimedia show for the Thunderbirds, and repeated clashes with Pentagon leaders over the number of F-22s the Air Force will buy and other budget issues.

The most serious blow to the credibility of the Air Force and its leadership has been a scandal spawned by the service’s accidental transfer in August of six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

A B-52 from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot was supposed to transfer unarmed air-launched cruise missiles to Barksdale to be decommissioned, but munitions loaders accidentally attached nuclear-armed missiles to the pylons. The missiles were flown to Barksdale and sat unguarded on the tarmac for several hours before anyone realized what happened, some 30 hours after the mistake was made.
The 5th Bomb Wing commander, two group commanders and the 5th Munitions Squadron commander were relieved of their commands.

General Moseley ordered a service-wide review of the nuclear enterprise two months after the incident, resulting in 36 recommendations for improvements. The review report was presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee, members of which were highly critical of the Air Force’s nuclear weapons handling.

The 5th Bomb Wing in late May failed its defense nuclear surety inspection, despite having months to prepare and being under close scrutiny since the incident. Inspectors found glaring deficiencies in the wing’s ability to protect its nuclear stockpile.

Then, in March, it was discovered that the Air Force had mislabeled nuclear warhead fuses, which led to the classified components accidentally being shipped to Taiwan in 2006. Gates said the incident made him realize that problems with the Air Force’s nuclear weapons handling procedures were systemic rather than isolated.

The Taiwan incident was clearly the trigger,” he said.
In response, Secretary Gates ordered a military-wide inventory of nuclear weapons and components. That report was recently submitted to Secretary Gates.

Without naming Secretary Wynne and General Moseley, Secretary of Defense Gates said “individuals in command and leadership positions not only fell short in terms of specific actions, they failed to recognize systemic problems, to address those problems, or – where beyond their authority to act – to call the attention of superiors to those problems.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, will be nominated to become the 19th Air Force chief of staff, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Monday 9 June.

And Mike Donley, a career civil servant who is presently the Pentagon’s Director of Administration and Management, will be the next Air Force secretary, Gates announced.

The announcements come just days after Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary Michael W. Wynne were forced to resign as the result of problems with the Air Force’s nuclear weapons program.

If confirmed by the Senate, Schwartz will be the first nonfighter pilot to lead the service since 1982, marking the end of an era during which the so-called fighter mafia has dominated the Air Force.

Gates also announced that Gen. Duncan McNabb, Moseley’s vice chief of staff, will be nominated to replace Schwartz at the helm of TransCom. And Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, currently serving as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be nominated to take over as vice chief of staff.

Gates recommended that Donley take over as acting secretary on June 21. No timeline has been announced for when Moseley will step aside, or when the president will formally nominate the new Air Force leaders. The Senate must then confirm the nominees before they can take office.

Schwartz was set to retire at year’s end as boss of TransCom. He came up the ranks as a conventional and special operations C-130 pilot. Previous posts include director of operations for the Joint Chiefs and deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. He will be the first special operations pilot to lead the Air Force.

Donley was acting secretary of the Air Force for seven months in 1993 and served as the service’s top financial officer from 1989 to 1993.


ichbinalj said...

Concerning the meaning of the phrase in the Constitution at Art. II Sec. 4, "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors", I have researched the origin of the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" and its meaning to the Framers. It appears that the key to understanding it is the word "high". It does not mean "more serious". It refers to those punishable offenses that only apply to high persons, that is, to public officials, those who, because of their official status, are under special obligations that ordinary persons are not under, and which could not be meaningfully applied or justly punished if committed by ordinary persons.
Under the English common law tradition, crimes were defined through a legacy of court proceedings and decisions that punished offenses not because they were prohibited by statutes, but because they offended the sense of justice of the people and the court. Whether an offense could qualify as punishable depended largely on the obligations of the offender, and the obligations of a person holding a high position meant that some actions, or inactions, could be punishable if he did them, even though they would not be if done by an ordinary person.

ichbinalj said...

Offenses of this kind survive today in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It recognizes as punishable offenses such things as refusal to obey orders, abuse of authority, dereliction of duty, moral turpitude, and conduct unbecoming. These would not be offenses if committed by a civilian with no official position, but they are offenses which bear on the subject's fitness for the duties he holds, which he is bound by oath or affirmation to perform