“Pompeo’s been caught lying, which horrifies me,” said Fred Wellman, a 1987 grad who retired as a lieutenant colonel and has been one of the more vocal detractors of his fellow cadets now running the government. “So I’ve been discouraged by what I’ve seen coming out of the military academy graduates involved in the administration.”
Wellman is among multiple West Point alums who have raised such doubts about their brethren, either privately or on social media. The academy’s honor code, which they are expected to uphold both in the Army and beyond, reads: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” It is the basis of the academy’s strict honor system, which doesn’t allow wiggle room in the definition of words like “lie”: “quibbling, evasive statements, or the use of technicalities to conceal guilt are not tolerated at West Point,” reads an Academy white paper about the system.
Other classmates, however, have stepped in to defend the group, insisting Pompeo, Esper and the others are more than equipped to honorably shoulder the burdens the unfolding firestorm has thrust on them—and that the country is lucky to have the class of ’86 at a moment like this.
“West Point taught us all a very strong value system, having a moral compass, doing the harder right versus the easier wrong,” said Joe DePinto, a fellow member of the class of ’86 who is now CEO of 7-Eleven and remains close to Pompeo and Esper. “I’m personally someone who sleeps better at night knowing that those guys are in the positions they’re in.”