Thursday, July 27, 2006

Admiral Blair’s self-inflicted smear

Let me start by saying that I am sure that Admiral Blair is 100% on the up-and-up. That being said, he is smart enough to know that you have to avoid the appearance of conflict, and this just smells.
A think tank that endorsed a three-year contract for a troubled jet fighter program is run by a former military officer with extensive ties to one of the program's subcontractors, according to internal Pentagon documents and corporate statements. ... The endorsement came from the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a federally financed research center whose president, Dennis C. Blair, is a member of the board of a subcontractor for the F-22 Raptor fighter program, EDO Corp. ... Blair holds options to buy tens of thousands of shares of EDO stock, although he has exercised only a small portion, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. ... "I am at the top of that process," Blair said. But he chose not to recuse himself because his link to EDO was not of sufficient "scale" to require it, he said.
Hold on there. Let's define "Scale." EDO stock right now is ~ $22.80. At a min multiply that by 10,000. I don't think the average taxpayer thinks that $228,000+++ is "..not of sufficient scale.."
Danielle Brian, executive director of the independent Project on Government Oversight, which has been critical of the F-22 project, said that "institutions like IDA carry tremendous weight in advising the government on how to spend taxpayer dollars," adding, "But in the end, the government is not getting the independent analysis it is paying for" because of the absence of any rules barring conflicts of interest at such centers. Blair, a retired Navy admiral who formerly commanded the U.S. Pacific Command, responded: "My review was not affected at all by my association with EDO, and the report was a good one. I had never, at EDO, worried about the F-22 contract."
Read it all. ADM Blair, and everyone else, knows that they are hired after they leave because they have clout and connections – and the laws that let them us them. Does he really need to work both jobs? Lord knows a 30+ year 4-star’s retirement pay in enough. Is his good name worth the extra $$$$?

Now, you want to see where greed for the military $$$ can lead you if you are not careful? Looking for a perp walk? Check out Chap’s report.

UPDATE: As I pulled this out of drafts to publish, I see in today's WaPo that ADM Blair has done the right thing,
Retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair, president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, said in letters to Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) that he told EDO Corp. he would resign from its board. EDO is a subcontractor for the Air Force's multibillion-dollar F-22 Raptor program, which the institute has evaluated for the Pentagon.
Blair also wrote that, contrary to his statement Monday, the institute "has a clearly articulated set of policies" approved by the Defense Department regarding conflicts of interest, which apply to the institute's corporate officers. He did not say what those policies required. "I do not want there to be any doubts in the minds of our sponsors or members of Congress concerning our commitment to providing high-quality, impartial analyses," he wrote.
This is a good learning point for all. Often your good name is worth more than your pocket book - especially when they are connected at the hip.

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