Panetta orders zipper check at Pentagon

posted at 11:21 am on November 15, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Faced with a rash of scandals among the top ranks of the military — not all of them sexual in nature, either — Leon Panetta has ordered a review of personnel and practices to see why ethical standards appear to have slipped at the Department of Defense.  The Pentagon insisted that this review had been planned even before the latest alleged  peccadilloes of David Petraeus and others, but it does seem to be taking on a special urgency this month:

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has ordered the Pentagon to find out why so many generals and admirals have become embroiled in legal and ethical problems, a trend exacerbated by recent investigations of two of the military’s best-known commanders.

The Pentagon disclosed Panetta’s directive on Thursday after he arrived in Thailand as part of a visit to Asia. But aides insisted that he had been considering the review for some time and that it was not prompted by revelations that the FBI has been investigating former CIA director David H. Petraeus, a retired Army general, and Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. …

The deputy commander of the storied 82nd Airborne Division was relieved in May in Afghanistan and is now facing criminal charges that he sexually assaulted or engaged in adultery with five women. Last month, the commander of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Persian Gulf was relieved for “inappropriate leadership judgment” and is under investigation by the Navy’s inspector general.

On Tuesday, Panetta demoted the former four-star commander of the military’s Africa Command and ordered him to repay $82,000 for taking lavish or unauthorized trips with his wife.

Another inspector general probe this fall castigated the three-star commander of the Missile Defense Agency for creating a toxic work environment, describing his style as “management by blowtorch and pliers.”

I’d make a joke about locking the barn door, but that’s another euphemism for a different kind of zipper problem.  As for the current zipper problems, Panetta said yesterday that the two scandals do not appear to involve any other military personnel — just the man in charge of America’s war efforts in Afghanistan.

Why so many problems?  The Post’s Craig Whitlock notes that Panetta has yet to fire any high-ranking commander for ethics issues, while his predecessor Robert Gates took a harder line.  The Pentagon’s response is that none of the situations he’s seen yet warranted firings.  That may be true — and Gates’ terminations apparently didn’t send the intended message either, at least not effectively enough.

The problem is acute enough that Joint Chiefs chair General Martin Dempsey got the assignment personally from Panetta, and a due date of December 1st.  Dempsey has his hands full with the Allen probe, which he said could take “months,” but told the American Forces Press Service that he had confidence in Allen’s ability to remain focused on his mission both in Afghanistan and later at NATO, assuming that the probe found no wrongdoing.

Dempsey’s new task from Panetta might be more difficult — challenging an environment where high ethics are not just expected but demanded to find out why so many have fallen short of those expectations.  That’s a tall order for just a two-week time frame.  It’s entirely necessary, though, and let’s hope Dempsey succeeds in a manner that bolsters morale while finding ways to provide support for better judgment than has been shown in recent incidents.

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A large order of Federal Chastity Belts were just ordered for the Intelligence community.

portlandon on November 15, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Just following the Bill Clinton example.

Oil Can on November 15, 2012 at 11:26 AM

I thought Bill Clinton taught the nation (through the media, natch) that one’s personal life has no impact on one’s job perfomance.

Weight of Glory on November 15, 2012 at 11:28 AM

How about a pantie check on the ladies as well.

Our former Commander In Chief William Jefferson Clinton will happily handle that detail.

profitsbeard on November 15, 2012 at 11:29 AM

When one’s ultimate boss, the CinC, is himself a prevaricating narcissist, it’s that much more difficult to remain virtuous. That’s why, IMHO, we’re seeing so many of these issues among the top brass these days.

TXUS on November 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Even the military has turned into entertainment tonight. They are just following their leader.

plutorocks on November 15, 2012 at 11:33 AM

When one’s ultimate boss, the CinC, is himself a prevaricating narcissist, it’s that much more difficult to remain virtuous. That’s why, IMHO, we’re seeing so many of these issues among the top brass these days.

TXUS on November 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM

To a greater or lesser degree, an organization forms its character based on that of their leader. That’s one reason I’m so distressed that we didn’t have a chance to see President Romney.

Paul-Cincy on November 15, 2012 at 11:35 AM

The Pentagon insisted that this review had been planned even before the latest alleged peccadilloes of David Petraeus and others…

Right, it had been planned for nearly four years, with a start date of November 7, 2012.

petefrt on November 15, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Military only; civilians and especially POLITICIANS exempt…

Khun Joe on November 15, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Why so many problems? The Post’s Craig Whitlock notes that Panetta has yet to fire any high-ranking commander for ethics issues, while his predecessor Robert Gates took a harder line. The Pentagon’s response is that none of the situations he’s seen yet warranted firings.

In any large organization, if you investigate closely enough, you will find ethical problems.

And you don’t fire people if you can hold their problems over their head, in order to get them to do things you want. . .

rbj on November 15, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Sounds like it’s time to clean out the conservative thinking crowd. It’s part of the effort to kill the Military or make it a Lib voting block. This is what the repubs are too cowardly to do! These org’s have become divided by partisanship, like everything else in this country. The problem is that Libs won’t work with repubs and will try to trip up & leak on the repubs(Pardon the pun).

http://www.paratisiusa.blogspot.com

God Bless America!

paratisi on November 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM

This poor Republic and its military are sick.

rplat on November 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Sure. Remember when Panetta complained about Monday morning quartebacks and claimed that the stand down order decision on sending aid originated from the DoD as a result of consulatations between Dempsey, Ham, and Panetta because they didn’t have enough intelligence on the matter and diddn’t want to send our relief forces into danger? Say, what happened to Ham, anyway?:)

a capella on November 15, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Panetta orders a zipper check while he visits Thailand. Anyone going out at night in Bangkok certainly better check zippers. And skirts while they’re at it…

Agent of the Cross on November 15, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Sad to day but I’d rather have our Generals screwing their girlfriends than our President SCREWING the entire country.

How this admin has the nerve to demand moral behavior from any one is beyond belief!!!

katy on November 15, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Panetta orders zipper check at Pentagon

This is known as closing the barn door after the horses have bolted. Meanwhile Gen. Petraeus is to testify today. Will he or won’t he… that is the question, will he or won’t he spill all the beans.

SWalker on November 15, 2012 at 11:45 AM

When one’s ultimate boss, the CinC, is himself a prevaricating narcissist, it’s that much more difficult to remain virtuous. That’s why, IMHO, we’re seeing so many of these issues among the top brass these days.

TXUS on November 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Yes, the rot in this administration definitely starts at the top.

With the Obamas spending $1.4 Billion dollars of our money last year to keep themselves and their buddies living in high style, is it any wonder that these generals are doing the same? In one of the stories I read, Petraeus showed up at one of Kelley’s Tampa parties in a presidential-style motorcade, escorted by dozens of uniformed officers. These generals are running around like rock stars, complete with entourages of (taxpayer-financed) flunkies by the dozens. Is it any wonder they’re also attracting groupies?

Meanwhile, the government that these louses are supposedly running is $16 Trillion in debt, and running Trillion-dollar-plus deficits every year. But the Obamas continue to enjoy their lavish, spare-no-taxpayer-expense lifestyle.

This bull$hit needs to stop.

AZCoyote on November 15, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Leon Panetta has ordered a review of personnel and practices to see why ethical standards appear to have slipped at the Department of Defense.

IMO there are two reasons.

First, a zero tolerance mentality where even the least lapse results in firing the offender.

Second, and more importantly, is that today’s senior leadership are all politicians. General Wesley Clark was ahead of the curve but is indicitive of the kind of officer I’m talking about. Officers more concerned about furthering their own careers than integrity or standing up for their troops by opposing policies harmful to the DoD. It is why the rat-eared wonder was able to ram through repeal of DADT despite less than universal support of military leaders. Mike Mullen and the rest of the CJCS caved with the exception of the Commandant USMC. Bill Clinton backed off from allowing openly gay servicemembers because his Joint Chiefs were ready to resign en masse over the issue. We can have a debate over the wisdom of repealing DADT but the fact of the matter is that these officers didn’t even question the impact on the military before caving.

Happy Nomad on November 15, 2012 at 11:48 AM

I’d rather know what Leon and the POTUS talked about late in the afternoon of 9/11/12…

d1carter on November 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has ordered the Pentagon to find out why so many generals and admirals have become embroiled in legal and ethical problems

It couldn’t have anything to do with the garbage his type likes to refer to as CIC.

MNHawk on November 15, 2012 at 11:53 AM

lavish or unauthorized trips with his wife.

Hey, at least he took his wife and not a mistress!

PattyJ on November 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM

This bull$hit needs to stop.

AZCoyote on November 15, 2012 at 11:46 AM

It won’t. If there were 150 TV channels in medieval France, Marie Antoinette would likely enjoy her cake for another half a century.

Archivarix on November 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM

These are all Obama generals . . . should we expect anything more from them?

rplat on November 15, 2012 at 11:55 AM

I wonder if Clinton getting a blow job in the Oval Office by a young intern had anything to do with the decline?
Nah.

Hey, it’s just sex. It’s not like anyone’s letting a consulate be over run and an ambassador and his staff be murdered or anything.

justltl on November 15, 2012 at 11:56 AM

These are all Obama generals . . . should we expect anything more from them?

rplat on November 15, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Yes – to be able to slow jam the news, read the teleprompter, and dance to hip-hop.

Archivarix on November 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Hey, at least he took his wife and not a mistress!

PattyJ on November 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM

obambi will never get caught with a mistress! misteriss? Only time will tell.

VegasRick on November 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM

“One thing I do demand is that those who seek to protect this country operate by the highest ethical standards.”

Says the guy who works for Obama.

Dusty on November 15, 2012 at 12:01 PM

“One thing I do demand is that those who seek to protect this country operate by the highest ethical standards.”

Why is Panetta demanding that Obama resign?

Basilsbest on November 15, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Happy Nomad on November 15, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Your #2 is right on. The military promotion system pushes politicians to the top and not warfighters with integrity.

Also, as many others have already stated – failure of leadership. Since Clinton started getting BJs in the Oval Office, politician type military leaders see that kind of activity as a perk of their position – if the Commander-in-Chief does it… Same goes for the integrity-challenged, travel and golf happy C-in-C we have now.
If the so called leaders do it, others will follow.

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:07 PM

What do we expect from a PC military?

Social experiments abound, women in combat, prancing gays and lesbitarians, supression of speaking the truth. Promotions based on left wing conformance.

All designed to destroy the morale

FOWG1 on November 15, 2012 at 12:07 PM

I haven’t been keeping a list, so I don’t know who’s considered fiscalcon or socon.

But if you consider yourself a fiscalcon and have been complaining about socons you shouldn’t be upset at the sexual shenanigans among the ruling elite. You ought to tell Panetta to mind his own business.

davidk on November 15, 2012 at 12:09 PM

FOWG1 on November 15, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Yes, but on the birght side we have a kinder gentler military now…../

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:10 PM

It won’t. If there were 150 TV channels in medieval France, Marie Antoinette would likely enjoy her cake for another half a century.

Archivarix on November 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Exactly. I had a coworker tell me, “Thank god for game channel. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.”

I ask those who say, “Well, we just need to a better job of reachung people” how do you reach her?

L.i.B.

davidk on November 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM

I ask those who say, “Well, we just need to a better job of reachung people” how do you reach her?

davidk on November 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM

The best way to reach people who don’t care to be reached is with a pitchfork.

Archivarix on November 15, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I ask those who say, “Well, we just need to a better job of reachung people” how do you reach her?

L.i.B.

davidk on November 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Make your political ads look like a reality show, or embed your message in a sitcom…..

Maybe very soon the election will actually be a TV show competition – American President – and the vote will be by calling or texting a certain number for your favorite “performer”. Idiocracy is here.

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:18 PM

The best way to reach people who don’t care to be reached is with a pitchfork.

Archivarix on November 15, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I’m with you on that one – but my choice would be to use a longer range tool…
I think we’ve gotten to the point where voting should not be a right for everyone, but a privilege you have to earn by somehow showing some level of intelligence, reason, and personal responsibility.

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM

With 33 years in the Army I saw it all from Col on down.It is a constant love fest and has been for years.That sexual harassment you hear about is mostly crap.There is no need to harass when it’s everywhere for women and men.

docflash on November 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Panetta owes his career to Bill Clinton, right?

Joseph Russo III on November 15, 2012 at 12:29 PM

A witch hunt for philanderers amongst the leaders who put our men into harm’s way.

Just the kind of thing that grunts on the ground love to see! Someting distracting their leaders from the war effort!

I hope they fire these ba$tards and hire men of honor – who’s zippers are welded shut. I don’t care if they know what they’re doing or anything about military tactics. Just look at our Commander In Chief – he has no “zipper problems” and he really doesn’t know what he’s doing … but he’s doing good at it now ain’t he?

/S

HondaV65 on November 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM

With 33 years in the Army I saw it all from Col on down.It is a constant love fest and has been for years.That sexual harassment you hear about is mostly crap.There is no need to harass when it’s everywhere for women and men.

docflash on November 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM

True – but the only reason you saw it was because the military is close-knit and it’s hard to have a lot of privacy. This sort of thing happens all the time in civilian world too.

And who cares really? It’s their business. Hell I would have popped Broadwell too – given the opportunity.

HondaV65 on November 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Just look at our Commander In Chief – he has no “zipper problems”

HondaV65 on November 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM

That’s probably less living honorably than performance issues. There is a reason why golf magazines are filled with pharma ads for certain male products.

Happy Nomad on November 15, 2012 at 12:35 PM

And who cares really? It’s their business. Hell I would have popped Broadwell too – given the opportunity.

HondaV65 on November 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM

It’s their business only to an extent. If you are a commanding officer banging somebody who works for you- it’s a problem. If you are banging another military member who happens to be married- its a problem. The military isn’t like the civilian world, chain-of-command is important.

Happy Nomad on November 15, 2012 at 12:38 PM

With 33 years in the Army I saw it all from Col on down.It is a constant love fest and has been for years.That sexual harassment you hear about is mostly crap.There is no need to harass when it’s everywhere for women and men.

docflash on November 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM

There was a lot going on up through the 70s and 80s, but then the military took a PC turn and tried to outlaw everything. I knew of many Colonels and Generals in the Air Force who were regularly “playing” with subordinates back then, and it was well known what kind of swap parties happened on a regular basis at flying bases. The infamous tailhook convention was not an aberration for what was happening there. The aberration was that someone who was there willingly, knowing full well in advance what happened at those conventions actually filed formal complaints about it.

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM

And who cares really? It’s their business. Hell I would have popped Broadwell too – given the opportunity.

HondaV65 on November 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM

It’s their business only to an extent. If you are a commanding officer banging somebody who works for you- it’s a problem. If you are banging another military member who happens to be married- its a problem. The military isn’t like the civilian world, chain-of-command is important.

Happy Nomad on November 15, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Yes – and when you have a high level security clearance, activities like this make you susceptible to blackmail – whether from a politician trying to control what you say or do, or a foreign spy – either way it’s not good for national security.

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:43 PM

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:43 PM

It’s called “adverse information”. Anything in your lifestyle, whether screwing around, gambling problems, financial trouble, drug problems, etc, that makes you suceptible to blackmail / espionage can and should cause you to lose your security clearance because you are a security risk.

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:47 PM

“One thing I do demand is that those who seek to protect this country operate by the highest ethical standards.”

Then maybe the President’s staff, his secretaries, and the greater congress in general should lead by exmaple?

Lawrence on November 15, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I find this very interesting.

I thought liberals were the ones to constantly tell us that “sex is just sex” and that it was wrong to impose your sexual morals on someone else. Who are you to tell me what is right or wrong to do with my body? Morality is subjective. Sex is no big deal!

Right??

You can’t have it both ways, my liberal friends.

MikeknaJ on November 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I’m not sure from where they derive their ethical standards but it sure as hell isn’t from this corrupt Obama administration.

rplat on November 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Then maybe the President’s staff, his secretaries, and the greater congress in general should lead by exmaple?

Lawrence on November 15, 2012 at 12:48 PM

You seem to forget that the lib/Dem motto is “do as I say, not as I do”….

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 12:56 PM

I remarked to my wife that I wasn’t necessarily surprised Gen Patraeus tendred his resignation when it was discovered he had had an affair. The Army’s code of conduct has always been stricter than anything in the civilian/political sector. The General no doubt sat on numerous disciplinary boards over the years that ended the careers of other officers and NCOs for the exact thing he did. He would have been the biggest hypocrite not to resign.

However, now that we know his affair ended months ago when invesigators saw nothing particularly curious about it and the oh-so-convenient timing just before he was due to testify before congress I smell the heavy stench of politics. I am also starting to suspect a bloodless purge. We know of several very senior Army and other branch officers who have been relieved of command / retired over the last couple of years. How many mid and junior level officers have also left the ranks recently based on actual or trumped up charges of an “ethical” nature? And of these, how many will have had first, second, or third hand knowledge of what took place in the Situation Room and beyond on Sept 11, 2012?

Am I being conspiratorial? Sure. However, is it an impossibility knowing the nature of the people currently in control of the national political apparatus? I guess we’ll just have to see.

RobertE on November 15, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Panetta orders a zipper check while he visits Thailand. Anyone going out at night in Bangkok certainly better check zippers. And skirts while they’re at it…

Agent of the Cross on November 15, 2012 at 11:42 AM

I doubt that Pat Pong is on the official itinerary… Ditto Soi Cowboy…

Khun Joe on November 15, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Faced with a rash of scandals among the top ranks of the military — not all of them sexual in nature, either — Leon Panetta has ordered a review of personnel and practices to see why ethical standards appear to have slipped at the Department of Defense.

I can tell ya why. As a person who spent 26 years in that Department, I can say with surety that Generals are no longer true military leaders but ass-covering politicians. And it goes all the way down the Officer Corps (not corpse). They’re more concerned about their own careers than the troops that serve under their “command”. That is why I left when I did. As a senior NCO, I could no longer watch as our enlisted people were sacrificed for some lousy officer’s ego and I could do nothing about it. Screw ‘em all.

Big John on November 15, 2012 at 1:47 PM

I can tell ya why. As a person who spent 26 years in that Department, I can say with surety that Generals are no longer true military leaders but ass-covering politicians. And it goes all the way down the Officer Corps (not corpse). They’re more concerned about their own careers than the troops that serve under their “command”. That is why I left when I did. As a senior NCO, I could no longer watch as our enlisted people were sacrificed for some lousy officer’s ego and I could do nothing about it. Screw ‘em all.

Big John on November 15, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Bullseye!!
As an Academy grad and former officer, I can say from my experience that you’re dead on target. The Generals we have now are the result of a political promotion system that’s been working this way for decades. When I was a Lt back in the early 80s, I quit AF Squadron Officer School (by correspondence) half way through when I hit the section on the professional military officer vs the self-centered careerist. The type they claimed they wanted was not the type getting promoted. That’s when I decided it was time to get out.

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Remember when Panetta complained about Monday morning quartebacks and claimed that the stand down order decision on sending aid originated from the DoD as a result of consulatations between Dempsey, Ham, and Panetta because they didn’t have enough intelligence on the matter and diddn’t want to send our relief forces into danger?
a capella on November 15, 2012 at 11:41 AM

I had almost forgotten about that.

petefrt on November 15, 2012 at 2:16 PM

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 2:03 PM

To continue, what I saw back then was the brown-nose, butt-kissers who played politics (or screwed the boss) and worked at “checking the boxes” for career progression (SOS, ACSC, advanced degrees, etc), but couldn’t get crew qualified, got promoted. Also those with family connections at higher levels got promoted (BTW, FWIW – Petraeus married the USMA Superintendent’s daughter). The people who focused on accomplishing the mission and doing their actual job well did not always get promoted. After 20 or 30 years of that kind of system, you get the kind of generals we now have.

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 2:39 PM

Somebody might want to check on the Secret Service, too, while they’re at it. Their standards seem to have slipped a bit, as well. (*cough* Cartegena *cough*)

Is anyone actually protecting the country right now? Anyone?

butterflies and puppies on November 15, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Is anyone actually protecting the country right now? Anyone?

butterflies and puppies on November 15, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Not as many as we might think.
Lots of them playing with their admin assistants / biographers / hookers, playing golf, at campaign parties, eating lobster, etc…..

dentarthurdent on November 15, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Actually the military has been very lax since Vietnam in relieving the incompetent. They have replace measures of performance with activity measures.

I noted all that in the early 70s and left: there simply was no incentive to do well because the slag got ahead.

What you really are seeing with these guys is pure arrogance: none of them cared about what people thought or what their duties to others were or are.

Denver Bob on November 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Panetta demoted the former four-star commander … for taking lavish or unauthorized trips with his wife.

How sad is it when I find it reassuring(?) that at least he took those trips with his wife.

taznar on November 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM

This is what happens when you get civilian commanders (aboslutely necessary in our system) who have never served. Gentlemen, war in all of its forms, is a testosterone necessary endeavor. Leaders do not rise to the top in the military without an abundance of it. Also, the double standard of expecting our military leaders to be “manly” and “chaste” is just so much BS and pandering to the politically correct goupr of syncophants that survive in the Democrat Party.

georgeofthedesert on November 16, 2012 at 5:17 PM