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Rumsfeld sees problems in Boeing tanker talks

Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday that U.S. Air Force negotiations with Boeing Co.  on leasing refueling tanker aircraft appeared to have involved unspecified wrongdoing but he did not single out a possible culprit.
/ Source: Reuters

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday that U.S. Air Force negotiations on leasing Boeing Co. 767 aircraft as refueling tankers appeared to have involved wrongdoing, but he did not single out a possible culprit.

"I can assure you that, if there has been wrongdoing, as there appears to have been, we will take appropriate action," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Rumsfeld said the Pentagon’s delay in bowing to the panel’s requests for internal documents on the lease negotiations was the result of coordination with the White House.

"The reason for the delay is because it is not totally a Department of Defense decision," he told Sen John McCain, an Arizona Republican, who has spearheaded congressional scrutiny of the proposed multibillion-dollar lease of 767 aircraft.

"It is a decision for the executive branch and we have to coordinate with the White house and the Office of Management and Budget."

The deal to lease then buy the 767s was put on hold in December after the Chicago-based aerospace group fired two top executives for alleged misconduct, while one of them was still a top Air Force weapons buyer responsible for the tanker negotiations.

Rumsfeld said the Pentagon’s in-house watchdog, Joseph Schmitz, was working in an orderly and systematic way to try to come to the truth as to what took place in the matter.

McCain said internal e-mails turned over to him last year by Boeing had already demonstrated an incestuous relationship between the company and Air Force leaders.