US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus briefs members of the press Dec. 20 at the Pentagon on the service's counter-fraud efforts stemming from the recent bribery scandal. (Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/US Defense Department)
As the fallout from a contracting scandal spreads, the US Navy has moved to install a single authority to handle all cases of misconduct not pursued by US prosecutors. This effort will ensure all implicated officers will be appropriately investigated and punished, Navy officials say.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Dec. 20 that he would task an admiral with reviewing misconduct and malfeasance cases involving officers, sailors, civilians — anyone in the Navy Department — implicated in the Glenn Defense Marine Asia scandal. The ongoing controversy has already led to criminal charges against two Navy commanders and a Navy Criminal Investigative Service supervisory agent, and the service has suspended two admirals and fired two captains.
The consolidated disposition authority will handle all cases where prosecutors uncover evidence of misconduct but decide not to press criminal charges. An admiral has not yet been named.
The admiral will review allegations and establish standards for handling them, said Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, Mabus’ spokeswoman.
The CDA will only be set up once cases have been referred to the Navy; at this time, prosecutors and the Justice Department continue to investigate.
The CDA will have the power to award nonjudicial punishment, refer cases to court-martial or dismiss the allegations. Because the CDA offers the final determination on pursuing cases, lower commands won’t be able to reprimand officers if the CDA dismisses the allegations.
Military authorities employ a CDA to prosecute and adjudicate sprawling cases that involve sailors and civilians at different commands.
The US Marine Corps convened one to punish Marines who were filmed urinating on Taliban corpses in 2011.
The Navy employed one in 2011 to handle another major scandal, one that involved active-duty officers who starred in or condoned lewd “XO Movie Night” videos aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise. Forty leaders, including five admirals, were reprimanded in the case.
GDMA operated as a port services company for decades in Asia and its chief executive, Leonard Glenn Francis, was well known in Navy circles for giving lavish gifts and VIP parties. That has many many current and retired officers concerned about how far back the allegations could stretch. But Navy officials are not commenting on whether more heads will roll while investigations continue.
“I think it’s fair to say that there will be more disclosures coming in GDMA,” Mabus told reporters Dec. 20. “What kind of disclosures those are, I’m not at liberty to say.”