Pen­tagon bur­row­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that about 60 F-22s will be bought over three years, Gen. Schwartz said: “I won’t dis­pute Adm. Mullen’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, but as I’ve in­di­cated, I have yet to dis­cuss this with the sec­re­tary of de­fense.”

Gen. Schwartz also said that as far as fighter jets go, “the ex­pec­ta­tion is the F-35 will pre­dom­i­nate in the fighter fleet.” The F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, will be­gin com­ing on line in 2013, he said.

“And cer­tainly it will be our in­tent and cer­tainly our rec­om­men­da­tion that the F-35 pro­duc­tion rates are suf­fi­ciently high to en­joy both pro­duc­tion ef­fi­cien­cies on the one hand which will ben­e­fit not only the U.S. cus­tomers here in­clud­ing the Navy and the Marine Corps, but also our over­seas cus­tomers,” Gen. Schwartz said. “The rate of ac­qui­si­tion will be at a rate which can as­sist us with our ag­ing is­sue.”

One pro­gram likely to re­main is for a planned new long-range bomber, ac­cord­ing to a de­fense of­fi­cial. The Pen­tagon is in­ves­ti­gat­ing an as­ser­tion from Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, that Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees are “bur­row­ing” into ca­reer po­si­tions at the Pen­tagon.

“We do not be­lieve any ‘bur­row­ing’ took place but are con­duct­ing an au­dit of spe­cial hir­ing au­thor­i­ties to en­sure noth­ing occurred un­der the radar,” said Pen­tagon press sec­re­tary Ge­off Mor­rell.

“How­ever, con­cern that any Pen­tagon em­ployee, whether ca- reer or a po­lit­i­cal holdover, would seek to frus­trate the ex­e­cu­tion of the new pres­i­dent’s poli­cies is un­founded. We are at war. We have a com­man­der in chief. We all, both mil­i­tary and civil­ian in the De­fense Depart­ment, fol­low the pres­i­dent’s di­rec­tives, guid­ance and or­ders as pro­fes­sion­als.”

The com­ments were made in re­sponse to a Feb. 4 let­ter from Mrs. Fe­in­stein to Mr. Gates ask­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into bur­row­ing by Bush ap­pointees in the Of­fice of De­tainee Af­fairs.

“I ask that you im­me­di­ately re­view the cir­cum­stances be­hind the con­ver­sion of th­ese po­si­tions and the hir­ing of any for­mer Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pointees as ca­reer or tem­po­rary ap­point­ments in that of­fice,” she said.

A de­fense of­fi­cial said the re­quest was prompted by re­ports that Tara Jones, a for­mer aide to a Repub­li­can se­na­tor, who worked as a con­trac­tor in pub­lic af­fairs and be­came a po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee in the de­tainee of­fice, is seek­ing to se­cure a non­po­lit­i­cal ca­reer po­si­tion.

The of­fi­cial said any probe should not be lim­ited to Bush ap­pointees but in­clude bur­row­ing by Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion aides, such as Kaye Whit­ley, a po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee who be­came a highly paid GS-15 in the of­fice for pris­oner of war and miss­ing in action is­sues.

“Th­ese is­sues are hardly ever raised about Clin­ton po­lit­i­cals who ob­tain ca­reer po­si­tions,” the of­fi­cial said.

Bill Gertz cov­ers na­tional se­cu­rity af­fairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at in­sid­e­ther ing@wash­ing­ton­

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