Rummy in the Dock

From Holden:

Rummy’s got some ‘splainin’ to do, and he’s not too good at it.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday sidestepped a question about his role in approving a failed $23.5 billion deal to acquire Boeing Co tankers, saying he would have to refresh his memory.

At least one criminal probe is still under way related to the Air Force plan to lease and then buy up to 100 Boeing KC-767A tankers to refuel airplanes in mid-flight. Violations of federal acquisition rules have also been disclosed in connection with the deal.

At a Pentagon news briefing, Rumsfeld declined comment on what would be done to punish wrongdoers associated with the deal. He said a report made public last week by Pentagon Inspector General Joseph Schmitz would be “studied and evaluated and judgments would be made about it.”

Asked when he expected any decisions to be made, Rumsfeld answered, “I don’t do time frames.”

Asked about his own role in the deal, Rumsfeld declined comment, saying, “I’d have to go back and read this (report) and then talk to the people involved to refresh myself.”

Schmitz last week told Congress that senior Pentagon and Air Force officials bypassed normal procedures in an “inappropriate” rush to push the deal, and he said at least one related criminal probe was still under way.


Officials in the Inspector General’s office have said Rumsfeld and then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz had told them they had left the decision up to [Edward] Aldridge, the [former] Pentagon weapons buyer [now a board member for Lockheed Martin Corp.], and then merely supported it.

But in a letter included in the report, former Air Force Secretary Roche said Rumsfeld called him in July 2003 and said “he did not want me to budge on the tanker lease proposal,” despite emerging criticism.

Roche said it was a myth to attribute the proposed deal solely to the Air Force, saying: “It was not. It was a proposal of the Department of Defense and the administration.”

Hat-tip to reader Jane for the lead.