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Less Secretive Boeing Tanker Report Revives Questions

Opting to deploy the black marker less this time around, the Defense Department Inspector General (DoD IG) unveiled a less secretive version of its Management Accountability Review of the Boeing KC-767A Tanker Program report (click here for the more secretive pdf of the report) earlier this month.  Almost in whole, the originally redacted text that is now available publicly is composed of Boeing emails and references to Boeing executives.

According to the DoD IG Chief FOIA Public Liaison Darryl R. Aaron, the original public release redacted Boeing emails and several references to Boeing out of deference to the company�s privacy and only during the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) review--in response to POGO's and others' FOIA requests--were these emails and references considered for release.

Take the following two side by side images of the same email as a representative example (Click on the images to enlarge them).   

Boeing_tanker_political_engineering2Boeing_tanker_political_engineering

If you don't feel like reading through the email image on the right, in brief, it's an email from a Boeing executive to then-Air Force procurement officer Darleen "Dragonlady" Druyun on selling the Boeing tanker lease deal to the White House by dangling the politically attractive carrot of jobs before them--a method known as political engineering.  The email ends with Boeing's Andrew Ellis expressing hope to Druyun that the "employment numbers below will provide you enough ammunition for the secretary to respond to the White House."  This email was reported in the September 8, 2003 issue of US News and World Report--so it was hardly a secret when the DoD IG report was originally released in May 2005. 

Also, lest one think that Boeing was doing all the pushing, the Air Force--particular then-Secretary James Roche--was continually turning to Boeing for help on the political sell.  In a November 16, 2003 email, Roche wrote Boeing executive Michael Sears and said:

"Mike, both Johnny and I are seething over Boeing's behavior.  Oh, if you all don't start talking up the [Boeing] 767 lease when you visit OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] colleagues, you will see that program go down (we understand that the staff is building up a head of steam to stop the lease).  Gee, Mike, when I knew you and Phil, I had the sense you wanted to make money.  Guess I was wrong." [emphasis POGO's]

Roche was cleared of wrongdoing by the DoD IG despite evidence available such as this and emails such as the one he sent to Robin Cleveland, Associate Director of National Security Programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where he wrote:

Be well. Smile. Give me tankers (oops, did I say that? My new deal is terrific.)

The DoD IG "considered credible the denials" (pdf) by Roche that his comment "had, or was intended to have, an effect on the OMB activity concerning the tanker lease initiative."  Perhaps this isn't surprising given the pattern of now departed DoD IG Joseph Schmitz's pattern of quashing investigations carried out in his office, according to letters by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) (pdf)

Senator Grassley sent an August 8, 2005 letter to Schmitz questioning Schmitz�s �decision to submit an Inspector General (IG) to the White House Counsel for review,� referring to the Boeing tanker lease report.  Grassley wrote that the legal authority Schmitz cites �for submitting an IG report to the White House Counsel for review appears to be inapplicable and invalid� and that the White House-Congressional agreement have �no legal standing whatsoever� and that Schmitz was �not bound by the protocols.�  Furthermore, Grassley argues that because of the White House redactions �potential targets were shielded from possible accountability.�

Did Schmitz improperly protect the White House and Roche?  Stay tuned.  The Boeing tanker lease saga continues...

By: Nick Schwellenbach
Director of Investigations, POGO

Nick Schwellenbach At the time of publication, Nick Schwellenbach was Director of Investigations for the Project On Government Oversight.

Authors: Nick Schwellenbach

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