Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"He did not want me to budge on the tanker lease proposal."

The Pentagon's inspector general released a scathing report on the bogus $30 billion air tanker lease deal with Boeing, according to The Washington Post:
After interviewing 88 people and reading hundreds of thousands of pages of e-mails, the inspector general's office concluded that four top Air Force officials and one of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's former top aides, Undersecretary of Defense Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge, violated Pentagon and government-wide procurement rules, failed to use "best business practices," ignored a legal requirement for weapons testing and failed to ensure that the tankers would meet the military's requirements.
The report also connects Rumsfeld to policymaking on the lease, recounting a statement by former Air Force secretary James G. Roche that Rumsfeld had called him in Newport, R.I., in July 2003 to say "he did not want me to budge on the tanker lease proposal," despite criticism.
In most procurement negotiations, "he did not want me to budge" means getting the best deal for the government. In this case, it means giving Boeing a sweetheart deal that makes no economic sense. So far, former Air Force principal deputy assistant secretary Darlene A. Druyun and former Boeing CFO Michael M. Sears have been sent to prison because of the deal.

The Air Force has long maintained that any defects in the lease proposal were attributable solely to Druyun, who is serving a nine-month sentence in federal prison for illegally negotiating a lucrative job with Boeing as she supervised the lease negotiations.
...
The inspector general's report makes it clear that the Air Force's aggressive pursuit of the lease over a three-year period was actually a team effort, and that shortly after Druyun agreed to the concept ... other top officials fell into lock step with her.
What is most intriquing about the report is what we still don't know:

In the copy of the report obtained by The Washington Post, 45 sections were deleted by the White House counsel's office to obscure what several sources described as references to White House involvement in the lease negotiations and its interaction with Boeing. The Pentagon separately blacked out 64 names and many e-mails. It also omitted the names of members of Congress, including some who pressured the Pentagon to back the deal.

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