U.S. Air Force — Integrity First?

Air Force

By Skip Munger | News of the Force

Numerous people from the Civil Air Patrol — the U.S. Air Forces’ civilian auxiliary — have initiated a letter-writing campaign to members of the U.S. Congress. The campaign is called: U.S. Air Force — Integrity First?

As the U.S. Air Force appears to have been unable to investigate itself regarding rapes and sexual harassment of female cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, the letter writers are telling the Congress that the Air Force seems also to be unable — or unwilling — to investigate itself within its own Auxiliary as well.

The CAP is a nonprofit corporation chartered by Congress to perform quasi-government functions listed in Title 36, United States Code; and later was designated as the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary in Title 10, USC.

For many years, the USAF has conceived that it has authority over CAP “operations,” but not over CAP “administration.” USAF management review has been separated into matters involving “Air Force interests” and those involving “corporate interests.” Reports of high-level USAF Auxiliary officers refusing to comply with CAP regulations and abusing their authority was not perceived to be within USAF authority or responsibility. The USAF has generally declined to investigate complaints of “corruption and mismanagement” absent alleged misuse of federal funds or property.

A significant theory of the campaign is that the USAF really does want significant change in its own Auxiliary, including administrative as well as operational control.

But the Air Force got blindsided by the tremendous resistance put up by the “colonels” of CAP, who were strongly opposed to allowing the Air Force to move into their turf.

The Air Force essentially got severely stung in the Congress in 1999 over its Auxiliary. It was badly embarrassed and vowed that would not happen again.

However, even though the Congress ordered the establishment of a Board of Governors to oversee the CAP — and had the authority to appoint all of its members — the USAF incredibly backed off from that plan and allowed the Civil Air Patrol itself to appoint some of its own members to that board.

When President Clinton signed the 2001 Defense Authorization Act which created the CAP’s Board of Governors, the Department of Justice legislative review noted that the Board was a “federal office” which must be filled in compliance with the US Constitution’s “appointments clause.”

That would essentially require Secretary of the Air Force to appoint all eleven Board members. Curiously, the Secretary of the Air Force is contesting a lawsuit in federal court seeking that precise ruling.

Meanwhile, the USAF continues to claim it has no “jurisdiction” over corruption in the internal management of the CAP “corporation,” notwithstanding that it enjoys the advantages of quasi-government status as the USAF Auxiliary.

The USAF policy to disregard management misconduct which did not directly affect “Air Force interests” left the way open for unscrupulous characters to find each other and create a tyrannical clique.

The National Board system is one in which corruption flourishes because the highest level corporate officers have no accountability to anyone outside their own high-level corporate clique. They continue to tell the big lie (which the USAF echoes) that the corruption issues “have already been addressed.”

In reality, the corporate clique has repeatedly covered up and refused to address clear misconduct. With the USAF unwilling to investigate such cover-ups, the ruling clique is accountable to no one.

The misconduct of CAP Colonel Andrew Skiba, then-Colonel Bowling, and CAP Brig Gen Bobick (the past CAP National Commander) from 1997 through 2001 is a classic example.

Col Skiba had a pesky member of the Florida Wing, CAP Lt Col George Metz, trumpeting accountability for communications equipment. Col Skiba’s solution was to suspend Metz’s membership, violating CAP regulations. Metz fought that “unlawful” suspension, making an official complaint to the Southeast Region Inspector General against Col Skiba. The IG investigated and reported that Skiba had indeed violated CAP regulations and had no factual basis to suspend Metz’s membership.

The Southeast Region Commander, then-Col Bowling, thus knew Col Skiba had done wrong. He not only took no action whatsoever to correct Skiba, Bowling actually affirmed the “unlawful” punishment of Metz.  Emboldened, Col Skiba then ended Metz’s membership entirely, violating the clear CAP regulatory prohibition against reprisal for an IG complaint.  At this point, the Air University IG, Col Greg Florey, was told by his superiors the USAF had “no jurisdiction.”

To make matters worse, then-National Commander James Bobick followed exactly the same path, refusing to disclose to the corporate board of directors a National IG report which made the same findings as the IG report. CAP Brig Gen Bobick simply declared that he found no official misconduct by Colonels Skiba and Bowling, then declared that “no one” had the authority to question his decisions as CAP National Commander.

Having established that any person’s membership could be terminated without cause — despite CAP regulations to the contrary — Bobick dared the corporate board of directors to challenge his absolute power.  Not surprisingly, no one did.

Now, the very same issue which has been repeatedly covered up is before the Board of Governors, and USAF Lt Gen Kehoe is doing his best to persuade the BoG not to investigate, despite two internal IG reports.

Perhaps the fear is that the corporate clique will rebel against the Air Force. Perhaps the corruption is so deeply ingrained that even a USAF three-star General finds he must cooperate with the de facto rulers, like a labor union infiltrated by organized crime. Perhaps the USAF has “cut a deal” with the ruling clique. They can ignore regulations and cover up misdeeds — and have a USAF General Officer protect their “corporate” powers.

One of the other official complaints which the corporate clique refuses to investigate (and the USAF says it is unable to investigate) is that Col Antonio Pineda, then the Commander of the CAP’s Florida Wing, assisted in moving a 17 year old female cadet out of her parents’ home and into the home of an adult CAP officer, who had been dating the female cadet. That CAP member would be a “child abuser” and Col Pineda would be equally culpable.

Col Pineda apparently violated CAP’s “Cadet Protection” regulation, but it was covered up by the ruling clique and Col Pineda has been promoted to CAP Southeast Region Commander and to the CAP’s National Executive Committee.

Pineda, in his civilian employment, in a special agent of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — the state’s own “FBI.” Under Florida law, it is a felony for a person in such a position to fail to report child abuse to the Florida Department of Children and Families and to law enforcement authorities. In this case, Pineda never did.

In a similar case, a female cadet member of the CAP squadron at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida was dating a CAP senior member — and having sexual relations with that CAP officer — although at the time, the female cadet was only 14 years old. Such sexual relations between the two were actually occurring in the CAP’s parking lot — in the CAP officer’s car — on the base following CAP meetings.

The incident was reported to Air Force authorities on the base, but nothing was done — despite the fact that the situation constitutes a crime on a federal reservation, even under civilian law.

And, although this incident occurred in a Florida wing unit also under the command of CAP Col Pineda, it was never reported — by him or anyone else — to Florida’s child abuse authorities.

At what point should the Secretary of the Air Force have legal and/or moral responsibility to ensure the integrity of the “corporate” management? Should the Air Force leave its CAP cadets so vulnerable to adult sexual exploitation and abuse?

The pressure applied by the Air Force Auxiliary to get its own members on the Board is but another example of the Civil Air Patrol’s hierarchy attempting to ensure that its own foxes are guarding the entire hen-house.

Air Force Lt Gen Nick Kehoe was appointed to chair the Civil Air Patrol’s Board of Governors.

It may well be that Lt Gen Kehoe was given marching orders by the Air Force to try to convert the CAP’s corporate culture into a real U.S. Air Force Auxiliary. Sources tell News of the Force that there is no love lost between Kehoe and the CAP’s National Commander, Maj Gen Richard Bowling.

Perhaps Kehoe managed to browbeat Bowling into being the champion of reform and changes that Bowling has become because Keyhoe had the goods on Bowling and could have thrown him out on any given day. Apparently, Bowling promised to “kiss Kehoe’s ring” to avoid the ignominy of being deep-sixed right after he got elected as the CAP’s National Commander.

Even so, Kehoe has been protecting Bowling, even after Bowling pulled an incredibly stupid stunt by attempting to terminate the membership of CAP Col Angelo Porco — a former Commander of the CAP’s California Wing.

But some other Board of governors members really took offense at that and have really taken offense at Kehoe’s heavy-handed efforts to protect Bowling.

The CAP’s National Commander is now in line to become the chair of the Board of Governors (replacing Kehoe), and it seems there are a lot of folks in the CAP’s membership who do not want Bowling to be both the National Commander and the Board of Governors Chair. It smacks too much of one-man rule.

In the meantime, CAP Col Porco keeps pressing the Board of Governors for a hearing on his complaints against Bowling, and Kehoe keeps trying to shut that down, saying Bowling did no harm to Porco.

Then Porco came up with an idea to treat the situation as if it were a court-martial; what would Bowling be charged with if military law were to apply?

With a little help, Porco came up with 60 charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice — and 99 counts of violating CAP regulations — with which the CAP national commander could possibly have been charged.

Complaints of corruption and mismanagement have finally reached the Air Education and Training Command — which currently is the Civil Air Patrol’s parent unit within the Air Force. Porco was going up the chain of command while others were going down the chain and both hit AETC with charges of cover up against Lt Gen Kehoe at the same time.

The Air Force finally realized what had been done to them and fell back on the old “USAF doesn’t have jurisdiction” to investigate “internal management” of CAP excuse.

But if the Air Force does not have jurisdiction in these matters, who does?

Sources say that even Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) — one of the strongest supporters of the Civil Air Patrol in the Congress — would be appalled at how everyone is trying to avoid the rap for corruption in CAP.

But the complaints and controversy may have played right into the Air Force’s hands. They might have wanted Congress to force them to take over and investigate the so-called “Colonels” of the Civil Air Patrol.

Of course, they didn’t count on the Air Force Academy scandal spilling over at the same time. Or, maybe, the USAF might be just trying to dodge the headaches and bad press of dealing with the total corruption within the USAF Auxiliary.

One of the favorite tactics of the CAP is to terminate the membership of anyone that the people in power even think will file any type of Inspector General Complaint against them.

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