- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at email@example.com.
I am told this about the misconducted West Point superintendent, Lt. Gen. David Huntoon. Apparently there was an investigation of his relationship with a woman he brought in as director of strategic communications, whose influence was resented by some faculty members. But the Army keeps on stonewalling and saying only that he was cleared on that — but won’t drop the other shoe and provide information on the misconduct charge that the DOD IG did substantiate.
So what was he nailed on? I asked someone in the know. He told me this:
In the end, all they got him for was, he offered to take care of her cats….[But] the chief of staff wound up doing it. He had to buy cat food. So, after all the investigating, all they got him on was coercing a subordinate to do personal favors…. It’s ironic because Huntoon has been all about the ‘image’ of West Point.
Tom again: A bigger concern to me — and to some civilians at West Point — is the effect that the image campaign has had on the academic freedom of faculty members. I asked about that, and the person I was talking to said, "I think it’s fair to say, there is concern that we cannot speak freely. We get messages all the time: ‘Don’t talk about this.’ There’s a lot of concern about image."
A little transparency here would go a long way. But apparently the Army cares more about the feelings of its generals than about informing the people who pay its bills.