December 1, 2009  

Loophole lunacy

TO ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF GEN. GEORGE CASEY for bypassing ethics laws so the Army could rehire two retired generals as mentors on lucrative contracts. Records show that the Army wanted to use recently retired generals John Vines and Dan McNeil as senior mentors, but as they worked for Northrop Grumman, they were still within the one-year “cooling off” period in which federal ethics law prohibits their representing a company before their former agency. The Army got around this rule by hiring them directly as subcontractors, where the ethics rules do not apply. Both men were paid substantially higher sums than their Army salaries. McNeill told USA Today that he became a mentor at the request of Casey; Casey said McNeill’s experience made him “ideally suited” for the job. If that’s the case, then the Army should have directed its efforts to keeping him in the Army. A USA Today investigation found that a growing number of retired high-ranking officers are being rehired by their former service as advisers. They collect huge fees and are also free to earn additional sums from defense companies. This loophole must be closed.