Author: Dan Anderson
Date: 2004-05-09 15:52:14
I was curious enough to look up the transcript. Yes—Cunningham rambled about the Black Caucus, Tailhook scandles, Women in the Navy, and mostly speechified rather than asked questions.
Here's the Cunningham part of the transcript from the House Hearing on May 7, 2004 on Iraqi prisoner abuse:
CUNNINGHAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I've sat here for nearly three hours because I believe this is important, critically important.
And, Mr. Secretary, not exaggerating, I've spoken to thousands of our enlisted and our officers — military, active duty and our veterans — and they would follow you into hell because they know you'd get them back.
You've got us through two wars. You did it efficiently. You've fought tooth, hook and nail against the enemy.
And I would follow you. And you have my full support.
You know something, I saw the Congressional Black Caucus press conference. When they talk about minimum politics in this, I sure hope somebody prays for me as they try and slip the knife in.
You know that I'd like to elude a little bit to what Mr. Taylor said and why all of us feel so bad in this thing.
And all of us do, on both sides of the aisle, and out there.
But I'll tell you, it comes down to a word, un-American, what happened.
It's not this country. But what is American is the results that are going to come out of this. The world's going to see just how fair under a free enterprise, under a free nation, that justice will come about, and that the leaders themselves will take measure.
CUNNINGHAM: One thing that does bother me is the word I think "scapegoat." Because there was another event that I lived through. It was called Tailhook.
And I beg you, Mr. Secretary, I know a hundred officers that were tied up in that that shouldn't have been penalized, but because of politics, many members of Congress dug their heads in and ran for cover and would not stand up for those kids.
You know, penalize the guilty ones, but, by God, protect those fine kids.
RUMSFELD: You can count on it. .
CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.
I've got a recommendation for you. It's an advantage sitting here listening to other people. And that's why I wanted to sit in. I wanted to get kind of a feel and a tempo.
When I was in the service, I had an admiral — one of the best guys I ever worked for. We had a problem with DUI, DWIs in the military. I mean, it's in the regulations, it's in the rules. You get trained, "Hey, don't do it." But we hit a rash of them.
This admiral, who was commandant NAVAIR PAC (ph), brought all of us COs in and he said, "Guys, any one of you get a DUI or a DWI" — probably like that guy on TV — "you're fired."
And then we went down to our division officers and officers and enlisted and said, "If you do this, you're fired."
CUNNINGHAM: And my concern was, at that prison, I don't feel that someone came across — yes, they were trained. They had the rules, they had the regulations. But in my own mind, I don't know if someone told them, said, "These are the consequences if you act in a certain way." Small recommendation.
The day of my chains of command I pulled my squadron together because I had women in it too, shore-based, and I know how important the chain of command is. People that have never served in the military don't understand that many times, that it's chaos without it.
But I told my squadron mates that there were some exceptions to the chains of command. One of those was anything known racial and that included verbal, because I saw an aircraft carrier lose its mission capability because of it, and it wasn't something that I wanted to wait on over a period of time.
I wanted to know about it. They could bypass my chief. They could bypass my division officer. They could bypass my department head, my executive officer, my command master chief and they could walk right into that office.
The other one was any known use or sale of drugs. The third was any sexual abuse, because I had women in there. And the fourth, which I think would be applicable to this hearing especially, that if any of my kids, enlisted or officers, did anything that reflected negatively on my unit, the Navy or the United States, they could walk right through that door.
Let me give you another good example.
I never went to Tailhook without my wife. She went right along and so did my daughters go along with me. And this was actually before the blow up, Mr. Secretary. I told my squadron that I was going to pay for our admin where everybody could go. It was going to be a place where the wives, the girlfriends and your daughters or your sons could go and there would be no alcohol in our admin suite. But yet, I didn't restrict them from going to the other activities.
CUNNINGHAM: But I said, "If you do anything that violates the rules, if your conduct reflects negatively or if you get a DUI or DWI going or coming" — I paid for the bus to get them there — "I'm going to fire your butts."
You know not one of my kids had a problem, and it's leadership I think.
And then, you know, I was so proud. One of my lieutenants that just took over as a commanding officer said he (inaudible) down and did the same exact thing. But it gets down, right down to the nitty gritty that it may be in rules, it may be in regulations, and I heard it over and over.
One of the big concerns we have is the timeliness. And I think maybe in the future something like this, especially, even at a lower level, if we know that these things are available, that they go right straight to the top and they walk through that door to the C.O..
RUMSFELD: That's good advice.
Thank you, and thank you for your wonderful, courageous service also.
CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.