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Project on Government Oversight

POGO Letter to Senate Armed Services Committee regarding misleading testimony by General McNabb before the Committee

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July 24, 2008

Chairman Carl Levin
Senate Armed Services Committee
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Ranking Member John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator John Warner
225 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Claire McCaskill
717 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairman Levin, Ranking Member McCain, and Senators Warner and McCaskill:

I am concerned that statements by General Duncan McNabb during Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services confirmation hearing may have been misleading.  As you know, this scrutiny takes place against a context of widespread congressional and public desire for greater accountability at the U.S. Air Force.

During questioning about his role in the Senior Leader In-transit Conference Capsule (SLICC) and Senior Leader In-transit Pallet (SLIP) programs, General McNabb stated that his role was limited and suggested that decisions regarding the aesthetics of the accommodations took place after he left as Commander of Air Mobility Command.  Both of these remarks are, at best, not fully responsive.

In response to questions from Senator Warner, General McNabb said that, “What we wanted to do is I – I asked them to make sure that it met the security, the communication, the work environment and, most importantly, the safety – the FAA standards that need to be met.”

However, as indicated by a “Staff Summary Sheet” signed by General McNabb on June 8, 2006, General McNabb was involved in the extravagant design of the SLICC. This document specified two “reclining first-class airline seats incorporating integral foot seats” and a “full length mirror,” and even includes a handwritten note requesting a tweak to the couch requirement.  

In response to Senator McCaskill’s questions, General McNabb stated that “Senator, I – I am not aware of that decision to change brown to blue, other than what I've read in the Post. … The – as – as the discussion has gone through and we've developed the prototype, there have been decisions made – I left Scott last August, and so I would just say that in – as this prototype has developed, there have been additional decisions that have been made.”

A March 2008 Air Force Research Laboratory SLICC/SLIP Financial Update states that by June 2007, the SLICC cost increase from $1.743 million to $2.77 million per capsule was “driven by AMC request to implement ‘world class’ interior and cost changes to berthing module shelter and seating components.”  General McNabb was AMC Commander at that time. 

We believe this matter warrants further investigation, particularly given General McNabb’s pending confirmation before your committee.  Please contact me or POGO’s national security investigator Nick Schwellenbach at (202) 347-1122 if you have questions.

Sincerely,


Danielle Brian
Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight


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