Monday, June 24, 2013

Government at work...........

The Pentagon in recent months has delayed, or released at night, or denied all together reports that might make the brass turn red in the face.

Consider some recent examples:

• Last week, the Pentagon inspector general released more than a year after its completion a highly redacted probe of the West Point Superintendent. It found that Lt. Gen. David Huntoon had improperly used his aides to staff private charity events, feed a friend's cats and provide driver's lessons. He agreed to reimburse the employees more than $1,800.
The report, which had been sought by the Washington Post and other news organizations, was completed in May 2012. It was released last week after West Point's graduation ceremony and weeks before Huntoon's retirement. The majority of it has been blacked out.
• Earlier this month, the Pentagon waited until late on a Friday night to announce that the Army's top commander in Japan, Maj. Gen. Michael Harrison, had been suspended for failing to properly investigate an allegation of sexual assault against one of his top aides. Its release, intended or not, came when most reporters had finished working for the week and ensured that it wouldn't get much attention.
It also came within days of his scheduled move to a new assignment.
• An ongoing issue involves John Allen, the recently retired Marine general who was entangled in the adultery scandal that forced David Petraeus to retire as CIA director. Allen, who had led all allied forces in Afghanistan, had been tapped by President Obama to become NATO's top commander.

At issue were emails Allen had sent to Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite whose complaints to the FBI about harassment from Petraeus' mistress, Paula Broadwell, made the affair public. The FBI referred the emails to the Pentagon inspector general to determine if there had been any wrongdoing on Allen's part.

After weeks of investigation, the inspector general determined that Allen had done nothing wrong, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little announced in January. Little went on to say that then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "was pleased to learn that allegations of professional misconduct were not substantiated by the investigation."
Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a non-partisan watchdog group, questioned how objectivity of the Pentagon's Inspector General.

"The mere fact that they're withholding it raises questions about the legitimacy of the investigation," she said.

Yet the Pentagon continues to refuse requests by USA TODAY and other media outlets, under the Freedom of Information Act, to release the 21-page report, or a summary of the findings that it says clear Allen.

Jeanne Miller, the chief of the inspector general's Freedom of Information and Privacy Office, wrote to USA TODAY that its release "would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

The Pentagon's message: Move along. Nothing to see here. Take our word for it.

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