This week Major General David Hale’s accusers requested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation take over the Department of Defense’s investigation of the charges against him.
Both Ms. Donnamaria Carpino and Mrs. Saabirah Howard believe the DoD investigation of Hale has been compromised by conflicts of interest which, by law, require the immediate intervention by the FBI when general officers are involved.
In late January, Donnamaria Carpino called the office of the Secretary of the Army to report Hale had coerced her into a sexual relationship, divulged classified information, and that Hale had authorized the overt religious persecution of the Howards, a Muslim-American military family stationed in Turkey.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation wasted no time in assigning two agents to interview Ms. Carpino. Carpino will meet with the agents tomorrow at her Virginia home. Once again the FBI proves its reputation for professionalism is well deserved and its attention to detail is without equal. The first order of business by the agent making the request for an interview was to apologize to Carpino for the way she was treated last March at the Washington Bureau Field Office.
Carpino visited the office to request help with a series of threatening phone calls, but ended up in a locked interrogation room answering questions through a thick sheet of security glass.
Hopefully, tomorrow’s interview will go better because Ms. Carpino and Mrs. Howard have legitimate questions concerning the conduct of General Dennis Reimer, the Army chief of Staff; Major General John Meyer, the Army chief of public affairs and finally the apparent conflict of interest between Secretary of Defense William Cohen and General Reimer.
There seems to be a total confusion over the various investigations generated by the sudden retirement of General Hale. General Reimer’s explanation of his actions started unraveling shortly after his appearance on the Today Show earlier this week.
On Monday morning’s “Today” show, Army Chief of Staff General Dennis Reimer defended his decision to allow Hale, the former deputy inspector general of the Army, to quickly and quietly retire. Reimer stated, “I make lots of decisions every day and I make them based on the facts that are available to me at that point in time.”
Either the information provided to General Reimer by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office of Program Integrity (OPI) was bad, or he deliberately ignored the information available to him when he allowed Hale to swiftly slip away.
General Reimer’s veracity came under question only minutes after the end of the “Today” show. Dennis McSweeny, the lead investigator with the Office of Program Integrity, called to tell Ms. Carpino that the investigation was over and that the results were favorable to her and “that there were findings against Hale and we have detailed them to him in a very long letter and provided him with some of the evidence.
Hale and his lawyer have been given two weeks to respond to the results of the investigation,” said McSweeny.
Apparently no one told General Reimer Defense was finished and had provided Hale with its findings because he was telling Katie Couric that the investigation was “ongoing” and that there was evidence indicating Carpino was the “stalker.”
McSweeny also stated, “Hale had never cooperated with the OPI investigators.” This bit of news cast further doubt on Reimer’s judgement in letting Hale retire after he had refused to answer questions put to him by the OPI.
Even Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon seems confused about the status and even the number of simultaneous investigations. In the Defense briefing on May 5, Bacon also stated his belief that the investigation of Hale was ongoing.
Excerpts from the Defense briefing transcript highlight the confusion:
Q: Can you tell us anything about where the Pentagon IG’s investigation is involving General Hale?
A: I can tell you that it is in progress.
Q: Is it anywhere near being completed as some reports have said?
A: I suppose it depends on your view of complete. But I would say that it’s at least several weeks away from being completed. At least. The reality is that Dennis McSweeny confirmed within minutes of General Reimer’s appearance on the “Today” show that the investigation was not only over, but that General Hale (via his military attorney) has “been sent a copy of the report of the investigation and was also given some of the evidence.”
Q: Just to clarify on the IG investigation and the situation with General Hale, do I understand it correctly, that investigation will look at whether or not the Army made the correct decision in allowing him to retire while the investigation, while he was being investigated? Is that one of the things that will be looked at in that investigation?
A: The subject of the investigation is General Hale. It’s not the Army. I don’t want to go further than that. I think I’d just like to wait for the report to come out. I have not followed the details of that investigation or the report, which isn’t finished yet, very closely.
Q: Didn’t the Secretary say that the General Counsel was going to look into that…
A: The General Counsel is going to look at that as well.
Q: They have not completed their look at that?
A: I think they’ll wait for the IG to complete its work. Once again, the IG has completed its work. It gave the report of investigation to Hale’s military lawyer and one can only assume that Judith Miller, the general counsel, has also been given a copy of the finished Defense report.
No Defense investigation has ever been taken over by the FBI. And despite claims by Reimer and Secretary of Defense William Cohen to recall Hale to active duty if the results of the investigation warrant it; no one can remember if an Army general has ever been recalled to active duty to face a criminal investigation.
The first conflict of interest for the FBI concerns Reimer’s knowledge of the charges against Hale and if he allowed Hale to retire to protect himself or others. This act would be a conflict of interest requiring the immediate intervention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Two other conflicts of interest didn’t escape the attention of Hale’s accusers, Ms. Carpino and Mrs. Saabirah Howard, the woman who claims Hale planted information in her husband’s computer that could have landed him in a Turkish prison for five years.
The second conflict of interest involves the charge that Major General John G. Meyer attempted to influence the investigation of the criminal charges against Hale by engaging in a “disinformation” campaign against Ms. Carpino. It is alleged that Meyer knew the charges he made against Carpino in the- behind-the-scenes smear campaign were fallacious, but proceeded to make them in hopes of influencing newspaper reporters following the story. Meyer attempted to convince the media that Carpino was the “stalker” and Hale, the “victim.”
Of General Meyer’s campaign, one Pentagon reporter stated, if called on to testify as to what Meyer had told him, “I won’t lie under oath.”
The final conflict of interest which could require the FBI to take control of this case concerns a statement by Cohen during a DoD briefing. Cohen has repeatedly stated that he has ordered Judith Miller, his chief legal counsel, to investigate the appropriateness of the actions taken by General Reimer. Cohen admitted he had discussed the matter with Reimer while knowing the Army chief of staff was the object of an ongoing investigation at the end of which Cohen would be both the judge and jury concerning Reimer’s conduct.
The most significant conflict involves the truthfulness of General Dennis Reimer. Reimer had a month to look at the charges made by Carpino and also had 10 to 15 hours of interrogation of Carpino by both the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division and Defense’s Office of Program Integrity. It would be virtually impossible for General Reimer to have had inadequate information as to the nature and extent of the charges against Hale.
The speed with which the Office of Program Integrity called to contradict the assertions made by General Reimer on the Today Show speaks volumes of the courage of Dennis McSweeny, but bodes ill for Reimer and the double standard that has so long protected our nation’s generals.
For the first time ever the FBI may take over a Defense Department investigation. If Reimer knew the truth about Hale and elected to ignore it, Pentagon insiders expect the ax to fall swiftly on the neck of the Army chief of staff. That, too, would be a first.