Confirmation Votes Delayed?

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, may put off the committee’s vote on whether to approve Gen. Norton Schwartz as the next Chief of Staff and Gen. Duncan McNabb to replace him at US Transportation Command, according to a July 15 letter Levin and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sent to the Pentagon and first disclosed July 23 by Bloomberg News. (We received a copy of the letter from Levin’s office.) The issue appears to be the final determination of accountability in the service’s purported mishandling of nuclear weapons materials that led to the forced resignations of the Air Force’s leadership last month. Levin, and others, want to see the so-called Donald Report that covers the errant shipment of Minutemen III components to Taiwan and served as the justification for sacking Michael Wynne and Gen. Michael Moseley on June 5. Levin and McCain have not seen the classified report’s Chapter Seven, which contains disciplinary recommendations. Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, at the same confirmation hearing as Schwartz on July 22, told Levin that he had “set in motion a review of the accountability of officers associated with the Taiwan incident in particular.” Donley also noted that some disciplinary actions already had been taken but at a lower level. Schwartz told the committee that his top priority as CSAF would be to restore the services’ credibility for managing nuclear weapons.