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The House has approved a bill that would require the Pentagon to publicly release the results of substantiated Defense Department Inspector General investigations involving senior military and civilian leaders.
Introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., the measure is an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2015. Since both the House and Senate must pass the NDAA, which will likely be hashed out in a conference committee, it is unclear whether Speier’s provision will be included in the final version.
The provision would require the Defense Department to release “any IG reports that find misconduct for senior executive service (SES) officials, political appointees, and general and flag officers that rank O-6 or higher level,” according to a congressional website.
Speier proposed the measure after several incidents of general officer misconduct that were not automatically made public, according to her office. If her legislation is passed, she expects the Pentagon to release such IG reports in a timely manner.
In January, the Washington Post was the first to report on a pattern of misbehavior among some general officers, including Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen Schmidt, who was allowed to retire even though the IG found he inflicted “mental suffering” on subordinates by screaming and swearing at them; Air Force Brig. Gen. David Uhrich, who received verbal counseling for a drinking problem and for having an affair with a waitress while on temporary duty; and Army Brig. Gen. Martin Schweitzer, who was disciplined for sending raunchy email exchanges — including one in which he called a female lawmaker “smoking hot.”
In a March 7 opinion piece for the Huffington Post, Speier wrote that a “bizarre and seemingly unethical culture” permeates the senior military leadership.
“We’ve let the military call the shots about how to manage this misconduct, and they have largely failed to police themselves,” she wrote. “Our lax oversight enables the military to exist in a world of its own and make excuses for grievous and criminal behavior in its ranks. Many of these three- and- four-star generals think they are beyond reproach, gods walking among mortals. The chain of command largely reinforces the idea that their decisions and judgment should not be questioned by lower-ranking officers and enlisted service members.”