DoD investigators did not release the amount of General Ward’s arrogant dishonesty, but inside sources compared it to the $800,000 excessive spending by the General Services Administration. Examples cited in the report included the following transgressions:
• During a trip to the nation’s capital, General Ward spent one day visiting wounded soldiers, had a 90-minute meeting on another day, a State Department meeting on a third day, and ended up billing the Pentagon more than $129,000 to cover per diem costs for himself, his wife, and 13 civilian and military staff members.
• Superiors denied General Ward the use of military aircraft for a personal trip, but he subsequently changed the trip to an official one, adding a quick meeting, and used the aircraft anyway.
• General Ward’s staff —that can include advance and security teams— often traveled days prior to his arrival, including one to Bermuda, remaining behind after the general departed. The cost of rooms in Bermuda for Ward and his staff came to more than $10,000, not including meals, transportation, or other costs.
The official who will decide General Ward’s fate is Defense Secretary Panetta. Panetta can force Ward to retire at a lower rank (lieutenant general), or he can force him to retire as a major general if there is evidence that Ward failed to serve satisfactorily in the grade of lieutenant general.
Here’s the problem. We should have a very high standard for our most senior military and civilian personnel, but the truth is that we often have a much lower standard. There does appear to be a culture of corruption in this administration. I cannot predict what Leon Panetta will decide in General Ward’s case, but I think that given the GSA scandal, Holder’s refusal to hold John Corzine accountable for his theft of over a billion dollars, and the fact that Barack Obama has wasted taxpayer money flying Michelle to New York City for a date and sending his kids to South America for Spring Break —General Ward will retire as a four star general.