June 9, 2005 – Government censors redacted 45 names from a report charging that Pentagon officials broke laws in negotiations with aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Based on the context in which the blacked-out names appear, some could be White House officials.
The 250-plus-page report was delivered to Congress by Joseph E. Schmitz, the Defense Departmentâ€™s inspector general. In clearing the way for the $23 billion plan to lease as many as 100 refueling tankers from Boeing, the report charges, several top Air Force officials violated laws and regulations imposed on the handling of government contracts.
Questions about the deal were raised over a year ago, halting the Pentagonâ€™s acquisition and spurring the inspector generalâ€™s report.
Among the military leaders whose names do appear in the report are several former heads of Pentagon and Air Force acquisitions, including Edward C. Aldridge, former undersecretary for acquisitions at the Defense Department. Aldridge refused to participate with Schmitzâ€™s investigation and has since left government for a job with Boeing competitor Lockheed Martin.
Many of the 45 redactions appear directly before or directly after discussions of White House actions in regard to the Boeing deal. At a press conference yesterday, in response to repeated questioning on whether the president would allow the blacked-out names to be made public, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan dismissed the redacting of names as a "jurisdictional matter."
One former military officer, Darleen A. Druyun, and Michael Sears, Boeingâ€™s former chief financial officer, are the only people currently serving time for illegal actions related to the purchasing arrangement.