Weinberger Says Pentagon Bribery Scandal Is Product of ‘Plain Greed’
The current Pentagon bribery investigation arises from “plain criminal greed” that is “a sad aspect of life,” former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said Wednesday.
“I don’t believe there’s anything special about the Navy, or the Defense Department, or this situation,” the architect of President Reagan’s defense buildup told the House Armed Services Committee.
Before resigning last year, Weinberger oversaw a doubling of the Pentagon budget under Reagan and a large increase in the Pentagon’s purchase of a vast array of weapons and other items.
The Justice Department is investigating whether private consultants, many of them former Pentagon employees, paid bribes to Defense Department officials for inside information about contracts, chiefly within the Navy. Such information could be the difference in winning multimillion-dollar contracts.
No charges have been filed.
Says Not Aware of Details
Weinberger said he did not know any of the inside details of the investigation and was not aware it was under way until there were news reports in June about the serving of subpoenas.
“That’s the first I heard of it,” he told the panel. “Every once in a while before that, oh, you’d come across an isolated case here and there, but there was nothing systematic, nothing of this scale until I read about the investigation.”
Weinberger steadfastly defended his tenure at the Pentagon and said he and other top Defense Department officials had worked hard to root out corruption and fraud.
‘Why Did This Happen?’
But Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), chairman of the panel, asked Weinberger: “Why did this happen? Is it the system? Why now?”
“I don’t know,” Weinberger said. “As to why . . . I suspect the simple answer is plain criminal greed . . . . It goes back to biblical times. That’s a sad aspect of life.”
He did endorse restrictions on the use of consultants.