The Army transferred the seven-passenger, two-crew-member C-12 turboprop from the U.S. Special Operations Command to the Army Special Operations Command back in 2000, but it didn’t become “visible” in their inventory. (Sounds as though the plane, valued at $800,000, sorta disappeared.)
No one was sure who was responsible “for providing oversight and accountability,” the IG said, and this “confusion” made the plane “susceptible to misuse” by senior officials, citing three investigations in 2011 and 2012 of misuse of military aircraft by senior officials, including Gen. William Ward and Adm. James Stavridis, then NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, or “SACEUR,” based in Belgium.
Stavridis was dinged in a May 2012 IG report for a May 2010 flight down to Dijon, France, with his wife, his chief executive officer and a rear admiral “to attend a ceremony and event sponsored by the Confrerie des Chevaliers Du Tastevin, an international society of Burgundy wine enthusiasts.”
Stavridis, for his part, argued that “he was not the first SACEUR to be invited and attend” that gathering, which he said was “as good a collection of leaders as one could find at an event in Europe.” Not to mention they’d be likely to be in a talkative mood.
Ward was cited in a June 2012 IG report for, among other things, flying with his wife on 15 military-aircraft flights that did not provide a “diplomatic or public relations benefit” to the United States. There was another flight where he improperly took unidentified “members of the media” on a trip, the report said.
The IG recommended that the head of the U.S. Special Operations Command take over “responsibility for oversight and accountability of the aircraft.” That commander has done so, the report noted.
“Burgundy wine enthusiasts”?
Watching paint dry
When it comes to the official portraits of Cabinet secretaries, it seems some folks get framed faster than others.
This spring has seen a mini-flurry of unveilings, including two Obama administration officials who were still in office when their paintings debuted — and one Bush official who’s been out of office for more than four years.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s portrait was unveiled last Thursday (he’s leaving, he says, when the Senate confirms his replacement), and former interior secretary Ken Salazar’s was unveiled in late March, a few weeks before he stepped down.
In a bit of a throwback at the Department of Health and Human Services, the portrait of former secretary Mike Leavitt also was feted this month. But if Leavitt had to cool his heels for a good four years before being immortalized on canvas, at least he didn’t have it as bad as former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, whose likeness wasn’t unveiled at Foggy Bottom until more than seven years after she left the job. (Bush SecState Condoleezza Rice is still awaiting her oil-memorialization.)