DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
12 Mar 96

ALL POWER CORRUPTS AND ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY

Remember, last year, when I told you about how Air Force General Joe Ashy flew from Italy to the USA in a huge C-141 VIP-outfitted transport aircraft with only a PLAYBOY playmate sexy 21-year-old military aide and his cat and the flight cost the taxpayer $250,000?

Well, Ashy now has a navy counterpart, Admiral Richard C. Macke, also a four star, who allegedly used his US Navy Boeing 707 jet to fly from Hawaii to California and Washington, D.C. to visit a couple of uniformed honeys.

A Pentagon source says both flights cost the taxpayer about $80,000 and "were not in the line of duty."

The Pentagon's Inspector general is on the case and is also looking into allegations that Macke left his 707 crew at Miramar naval base for four days to cool their heels around the pool -- at the taxpayer's expense, of course -- while he and an attractive Marine flew off to Las Vegas for a little R and R.

Or could they have been doing a recon to see if things were now all-clear for another naval aviator convention in the city where Tailhook inflicted almost as many casualties on the Navy as Pearl Harbor did 1941?

Macke is also under investigation for courting a Navy commander and again using his military aircraft to come a-calling.

Macke, who headed up the Pacific Command before the dating game caught up with him, was responsible for over 100 million-square-miles area of operations. A big job. Requiring a savvy leader.

Yet, he couldn't be too smart.

First of all, the Ashy case caused so much heat that flights by senior officers have fallen off the charts. A VIP scheduler says "Everyone is super careful now. They've got one guy in the Pentagon that monitors every VIP flight. Macke would have had to have been brain-dead to joy ride."

Dating another service member if you're a four star and she's an underling is another screaming big no-no, especially if the minion works for the big cheese himself.

And two-timing a Marine -- male or female -- is flat nuts, if not suicide, especially one who runs your communications battalion in San Diego.

Here is a gal that can listen to all your calls and unplug you at anytime, especially if she gets wind that her competition's a younger, more breathtaking naval officer.

I guess Macke never heard about either interservice rivalry or about a woman scorned. Or about Tailhook and all the other recent sex scandals that have blown so many senior naval officers out of the water.

The same IG that's smoking Macke investigated Ashy, concluding such misuse of military aircraft was routine. In her report, she describes "...a culture that apparently lacks adequate cost consciousness in providing service to senior officers."

An Ashy aide told me, "He was entitled to the aircraft and what the hell, everyone does it. Why should he be singled out?"

The top brass should be setting the example, not using their power to abuse our trust in them. Power breeds arrogance and produces a kind of a bulletproof attitude that makes top guys think they're above the law of the land.

While the top brass waste our defense dollars on their power trips our warriors don't have enough money to train.

Every week in the mail I get at least one such horror story. Most are not signed. They just give the facts and enough clues to get me going. The majority are from serving members who are afraid to openly sound off. All are regulars and to blow the whistle means instant harassment and eventually the ax.

And if they go to the IG, the way Captain Rockwood did over his general's refusal to clean up Haiti's foul prisons, they get court martialed. Rockwood got the boot after 16 years of spotless service.

Is this military justice? Is this what our forefathers had in mind?

Except for the DOD IG, most of the services IG systems are corrupt and broken. Even the DOD IG is politicized.

Watch both Ashy and Macke retire with four stars. But it would have been a different story if they'd been sinners of a lesser rank.