Senior U.S. military officers may have stalled a DOD investigation at the Dawood National Military Hospital in Afghanistan in order to protect the Obama administration during the 2010 midterm elections.
The Wall Street Journal reported on widespread corruption and neglect at Dawood in September 2011, but U.S. military officers had been discussing the issues since July 2010, according to a letter sent last week to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta by Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
Chaffetz is the chairman of the House Oversight subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations.
In the letter, Chaffetz (R., Utah) demands that Panetta “promptly investigate” allegations that Lieutenant General William Caldwell retracted and delayed a request for DOD assistance investigating mismanagement at Dawood.
The letter alleges that Caldwell delayed the investigation because of his political ties to President Obama:
Witnesses indicate that LTG Caldwell further admonished the [NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan Inspector General] who transmitted the request and asked him to retract it until more facts could be ascertained. LTG Caldwell then, according to sources, directed a subsequent request be made at a later time.
LTG Caldwell’s direction was interpreted by the NTM-A IG to be an intentional delay, given Caldwell’s concern that the timing of such a request could potentially impact the 2010 midterm Congressional elections. This interpretation was based on, according to one witness, LTG Caldwell’s “surprising” comment that “how could we think to invite the DOD IG in during an election cycle? … He calls me Bill.” A source indicated to Committee staff that LTG Caldwell was referring to the President of the United States, and that LTG Caldwell also appeared to be worried about how it might impact his relationship with the Commander-in-Chief.
The initial request for the DOD Inspector General’s assistance was sent on October 28, 2010, and retracted the next day per Caldwell’s orders, according to Chaffetz’s letter.
A revised request was not sent until November 10, eight days after the midterm elections.