Congress Probing Assertions That Air Force Intimidated Officers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Congress is looking into claims by two Air Force officers that their superiors tried to muzzle them when they recommended spending cuts within their service.
Cols. Sanford Mangold and Edward Dietz were prepared to tell the House Government Operations Committee today of their efforts to cut Pentagon spending on satellite weapons and warning systems and of the harsh reaction from their superiors.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the committee, said the panel was investigating ″allegations of possible retaliation against Air Force officers who expressed dissenting views″ on satellite programs.
On Tuesday, in what may have been a preemptive strike at Conyers’ hearing, Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnal said an inquiry by the Air Force inspector general did not substantiate any misconduct or wrongdoing by generals involving two satellite early warning programs.
The inspector general also reviewed the results of the Air Force inquiry and found it had addressed concerns about such misconduct raised by Conyers.
The allegations dealt with obstruction, suppression or restriction of contractor data studies or options; release of contractor proprietary information; erroneous data, estimates or statements; unfair or biased cost comparisons; and false or misleading information given to the Defense Department and Congress.
The programs involved in the inspector general’s report are the Follow-on Early Warning System and the Defense Support Program, which are space-based programs designed to warn of enemy missile launches. The government operations panel also is looking into the Milstar satellite program, a system designed to keep military communications going in a protracted nuclear war.
″I am troubled that these enormously expensive and technologically questionable programs are going forward despite the end of the Cold War for which they were intended, and despite the reduced need for big-ticket strategic satellite systems,″ Conyers said.
Mangold says he was assigned to the Pentagon to recommend Air Force budget cuts and later advocated canceling the Milstar program. He said higher ranking Air Force officers cut him off and he alleges that his recommendation led to anonymous allegations against him. The allegations were that Mangold had pressured a defense contractor to hire a friend and that he had ordered a subordinate to house-sit for him. He said that from that point on his Air Force career was effectively derailed.
Dietz urged the Air Force to save $10 billion by canceling development of a new space-based warning system. He says he was removed from his job and reassigned.