The Air Force’s Scandal That Won’t Stop Spreading

Nearly half of the nuclear-missile crew members at one base are tied to alleged cheating on a monthly proficiency test.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
Jan. 30, 2014, 9:01 a.m.

Ninety-two mem­bers of the nuc­le­ar-mis­sile crew are be­ing tied to a grow­ing cheat­ing scan­dal, Air Force of­fi­cials said Thursday; that is nearly half of the in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­sile crew at the Montana base in ques­tion.

Of­fi­cials said earli­er this month that 34 of­ficers at the Malmstrom Air Force Base were be­ing tied to al­leged cheat­ing on a monthly pro­fi­ciency ex­am. One of­ficer texted an­swers to the test to 16 oth­ers, and an­oth­er 17 came for­ward and said they knew about the test an­swers be­ing shared.

But with Thursday’s up­date, more than half of the 190 crew mem­bers have “some level of in­volve­ment,” Air Force Sec­ret­ary De­borah Lee James said, adding that — to her know­ledge — the al­leged cheat­ing is con­tained to Malmstrom.

Of the 92 mem­bers, the Air Force al­leges that 40 cheated, while 52 oth­ers were aware of the cheat­ing.

The of­ficers have been tem­por­ar­ily de­cer­ti­fied while the in­vest­ig­a­tion is on­go­ing. Lt. Gen. Steph­en Wilson said non­sus­pen­ded crew mem­bers are now “pulling ad­di­tion­al alerts,” but stressed, “There’s been no op­er­a­tion­al im­pact.”

All of­ficers were re­tested, with an av­er­age test score of ap­prox­im­ately 95 per­cent.

Re­ports earli­er this week sug­ges­ted that roughly 70 mem­bers were be­ing tied to the cheat­ing, but a Pentagon spokes­per­son wouldn’t con­firm ex­act num­bers at the time.

James ac­know­ledged that with the new find­ings, she be­lieves there are “sys­tem­ic prob­lems” with­in the nuc­le­ar-mis­sile force. One of those prob­lems is the cur­rent en­vir­on­ment, which she said has cre­ated a “need for per­fec­tion” that has cre­ated un­ne­ces­sary stress and fear.

“I be­lieve that a very ter­rible irony in this whole situ­ation is that these mis­silers didn’t cheat to pass, they cheated be­cause they felt driv­en to get 100 per­cent,” James said. “I think this is not a healthy en­vir­on­ment. I think we need to relook at the way we do these tests.”

At the dir­ec­tion of De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel, a 60-day re­view of the nuc­le­ar force is un­der­way.

The cheat­ing scan­dal was ori­gin­ally un­covered dur­ing an in­vest­ig­a­tion for al­leged il­leg­al-drug use.

What We're Following See More »
TWO MONTHS AFTER REFUSING AT CONVENTION
Cruz to Back Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST
WHO TO BELIEVE?
Two Polls for Clinton, One for Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST

With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:

  • An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clin­ton lead­ing Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary John­son at 7%.
  • A Mc­Clatchy-Mar­ist poll gave Clin­ton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way bal­lot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
  • Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
NO SURPRISE
Trump Eschewing Briefing Materials in Debate Prep
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shun­ning tra­di­tion­al de­bate pre­par­a­tions, but has been watch­ing video of…Clin­ton’s best and worst de­bate mo­ments, look­ing for her vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies.” Trump “has paid only curs­ory at­ten­tion to brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. He has re­fused to use lecterns in mock de­bate ses­sions des­pite the ur­ging of his ad­visers. He prefers spit­balling ideas with his team rather than hon­ing them in­to crisp, two-minute an­swers.”

Source:
TRUMP NO HABLA ESPANOL
Trump Makes No Outreach to Spanish Speakers
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."

Source:
$1.16 MILLION
Clintons Buy the House Next Door in Chappaqua
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."

Source:
×