WASHINGTON — At least 15 generals and admirals have been disciplined since 2010 for ethical lapses and outrageous behavior, a pattern of high-ranking malfeasance so disturbing that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel named a two-star admiral to police the top brass.
Their offenses range from the tawdry to the mundane to the just plain weird, including an admiral fired for passing counterfeit poker chips at a casino to an Air Force general’s drunken binge at a nuclear conference in Russia.
Rear Adm. Margaret Klein has been sent into the ethical breach. Klein came to the job in March with this charge from Hagel: “Improve professionalism, moral and ethical decision-making and the traditional values of military service.”
“We’ve been making news for all the wrong reasons,” Klein said in an interview.
Some of those reasons:
•Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair cut a plea deal with prosecutors in March over extramarital affairs he had with subordinates, one of whom accused him of sexual assault and threatening to kill her. Sinclair’s deal included a $20,000 fine, but he avoided a jail term.
•Army Gen. Kip Ward was demoted in rank by one star in 2012 and ordered to pay more than $80,000 in restitution for using military planes and staff for personal business. Ward had led Africa Command.
•Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina was fired from his post after being accused in 2013 of passing counterfeit poker chips at a casino in Iowa. He had been the No. 2 officer at the military command in charge of all U.S. nuclear war-fighting forces.
•Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Carey’s drunken binge in Russia, detailed in an inspector general’s report, outraged members of the contingent he led there to discuss nuclear security. He offended his Russian counterparts and consorted with women whose motives were suspect, according to the report.
•The “Fat Leonard” Navy scandal broke in 2013, involving prostitutes and cash allegedly provided by a contractor in Southeast Asia for steering ships to ports where he charged exorbitant fees. Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard,” pleaded not guilty to bribing Navy officers for classified information. In all, six Navy officers have been implicated in the scandal.
Ethical lapses aren’t limited to the upper ranks. Scandals involving cheating on tests have emerged among junior officers charged with handling the Air Force’s nuclear missiles and among Navy enlisted personnel who work on nuclear propulsion systems.
And the bad news keeps coming: Tuesday, the Navy reprimanded the commander of its elite flying team, the Blue Angels, for creating “a hostile work environment through pervasive sexual harassment,” according to a Navy report… see more