The Pentagon released a report of the investigation just weeks before Defense Secretary Robert Gates is due to recommend a candidate to succeed the current head of the military, Admiral Mike Mullen, to the White House.... but ... maybe ...
Its timing is thought to have been designed to clear the air as rumours about the investigation circulated around the Pentagon.
Sources who have worked with the general believe the allegations may be part of a vendetta launched by those who do not want General Cartwright to get the post, Fox News reports.
According to the channel, his former aides said his relationship with the woman was closer than usual, but remained appropriate and fitted with his leadership style of having a close-knit circle of allies.
White House officials said President Obama is aware of the claim and was not deterred by it. Military sources say the general, a former fighter pilot, has a better relationship with Mr Obama than the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.Mmmmm ... top cover that can get you out of this?
He is thought to be the favourite to succeed Admiral Mullen, although General David Petraeus and Admiral James Stavridis have also been mentioned.
The heavily-redacted report, completed in 2010, clears the general of three of the four allegations made by an anonymous accuser, including one which suggested he had a sexual relationship with the aide.
An anonymous accuser claimed Gen. James Cartwright acted inappropriately during a 2009 overseas trip on which the aide traveled as a military assistant. Several sources confirmed that the former aide is a young woman, although her name and pronouns that would reveal her sex are blacked out in the heavily edited Pentagon inspector general's report. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity to describe aspects of the report that were not released.Yes. Read that again. He does have some top-cover though,
The inspector general quickly cleared Cartwright of the most serious allegations, which involved claims that he may have had an improper physical relationship with the young woman. The report, completed in March 2010, did find that Cartwright mishandled an incident in which the aide, drunk and visibly upset, visited his Tbilisi, Georgia, hotel room alone and either passed out or fell asleep on a bench at the foot of his bed.
Cartwright claimed he had done nothing wrong and was later cleared of all wrongdoing by the top civilian Navy official.
"The investigation into the anonymous allegations was thorough. He cooperated fully and when it concluded the allegations were not substantiated," Cartwright spokesman Maj. Cliff W. Gilmore said Wednesday. "Gen. Cartwright believes it's important to have a system that allows anonymous complaints to be heard and appropriate for leaders, especially at his level, to be open to this degree of scrutiny."
Cartwright told investigators that he was working in his hotel suite when the woman entered after 11 p.m. the night of March 30, 2009, and began a conversation. She was seated on the bench, where at least one other aide later saw her slumped and apparently asleep, according to the inspector's report and interviews with officials knowledgeable about the trip.
The suite functioned as Cartwright's office, the door was ajar while the woman was inside and security personnel were nearby.
Cartwright, who is 61 and married, told investigators he thought it best to let the woman sleep it off, and she eventually returned to her own room. He said he worked most of the night and got about an hour of sleep.
The inspector general faulted Cartwright for not insisting that the aide leave or be removed. The report says she felt "license" to enter the general's room late at night and drunk, despite being advised by a security agent not to do so.
The report also faulted Cartwright for failing to act on an earlier incident in which the woman also apparently drank too much. In that case, she had a disagreement with a Secret Service agent guarding President Barack Obama at an elite annual dinner given by the Alfalfa Club in Washington.
While the investigation cleared Gen. James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of any improper relationship it did recommend nonjudicial punishment for Cartwright's failure to properly discipline the aide and for maintaining an overly friendly relationship.OK fellow recidivist Staff Weenies - how many of the Aides you know - or, ahem those of us who have worn a Loop of any kind - would have survived a drunken spat with a Secret Service person guarding the CINC-in-waiting ... in public?
After reviewing the evidence however, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus cleared Cartwright of any wrongdoing.
This is neither here nor there - but when I was stationed in HI, we always used to make the observation that it seemed that the USMC female aides were all some of the most attractive women in uniform, bar none. They were sharp, professional - and to a woman drop dead gorgeous ... and we said that when we weren't even 4 months into a deployment.
People are human, and even if you do everything right - an older male General Officer with a much younger female Aide is a dangerous combination if you don't manage things right. People will talk regardless. Never give them fuel. Even if you give Gen. Cartwright the full benefit of the doubt, which I will, if you don't have the right person acting in the right way - you open the door to someone calling you out.
I don't know about you, but I have seen innocent people accused of sexual misconduct and ruined - and I have seen other people get away with open sexual congress with subordinates. Tough and imperfect world we have.
You can make your own luck. Best case for Gen. Cartwright - he exercised poor judgment in his choice and management of his Aide. As a result - I'd put a Franklin on this being his last position. Is that right? Probably not - but such it is as it is.
Decades of great service - stopped by a female aide almost young enough to be his granddaughter and her inability to handle her alcohol ---- and his reaction to it.
Watch and learn. Watch and learn. And no, this would not have happened if she were a he. Knowing the Staffs I was on - one incident of public drunkenness like that and you would be liaison to Thule AB, Greenland the next Monday.
We could also talk about the IG's hotline too if we want .... but .... sigh. What a can of worms that is.
Hat tip d'mole.