On June 7, the Pentagon’s Inspector General revealed that the department had signed off on a deal with Boeing that cheated taxpayers out of billions:
Top U.S. weapons buyers bypassed normal procedures in an “inappropriate” rush to acquire $23.5 billion of Boeing Co. aircraft as refueling planes, the Pentagon’s chief inspector said Tuesday.
Congress killed the deal last year after Darleen Druyun, the Air Force’s ex-No. 2 weapons purchaser, pleaded guilty to negotiating a $250,000-a-year job at Boeing while still overseeing billions in the company’s Air Force contracts.
Schmitz said his investigation showed other officials at the Air Force, Pentagon and White House, as well as members of Congress, helped craft a deal that one Pentagon official in August 2002 described as “a bailout for Boeing.”
Interviews by the IG staff indicate that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld supported the crooked Boeing contract. Asked about his involvement in the deal at a press conference today, Rumsfeld said he couldn’t recall if he had approved it or not:
QUESTION: And can you speak to your role in approving that deal? There is some contradiction within that report about whether you were actively involved in making the decision to proceed with that deal or whether that decision was left up to Undersecretary Aldridge.
RUMSFELD: And this is in this report?
QUESTION: Yes, and in the testimony, the inspector general’s staff said that they interviewed you and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and that their impression was, or what they understood from those interviews was that you had let Aldridge make that decision and then supported it. I’m wondering if you can give us your recollection of this.
RUMSFELD: I’d have to go back and read this and then talk to the people involved to refresh myself.
Isn’t that convenient.