U.S. Pacific Command Nominee Bows Out

Times Staff Writer

The Air Force general nominated by President Bush to head the U.S. Pacific Command has withdrawn his name from consideration, the Pentagon announced Wednesday, following scathing questioning in Congress over his role in approving a controversial Boeing tanker deal.

A two-line Pentagon statement did not say why Gen. Gregory S. Martin had withdrawn, but defense officials said on condition of anonymity that it was because the Senate was not expected to approve his nomination. That became clear earlier in the day when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grilled Martin over a deal that resulted in a jail sentence for his civilian counterpart last week.

McCain objected to the Air Force’s sluggishness in turning over e-mails from Martin and other senior officials in the expanding federal probe.


“I will strongly object to your nomination leaving this committee until we get all the e-mails and all the answers, of which I have very many,” McCain said during Martin’s nomination hearing Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This is a national disgrace.”

The withdrawal of Martin, who serves as commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, makes his career the latest casualty in the scandal-plagued tanker deal.

A Pentagon statement said that Adm. Thomas Fargo would remain in charge of Pacific Command, which is based in Hawaii. Its area of responsibility includes countries in East and South Asia and several islands off the East African coast.

Former Air Force procurement official Darleen Druyun was sentenced to nine months in prison last week after admitting that she favored Boeing on several Air Force contracts because the company gave jobs to members of her family. In 2002, shortly after she negotiated a $23-billion leasing deal for the tankers, Druyun accepted a $250,00-a-year job at Boeing.

“How is it, Gen. Martin, that this could happen?” McCain said. “How is it possible that one person can wreak this kind of havoc in the case of the tankers? ... We’re talking about billions of dollars here.”

Martin insisted that in his dealings with Druyun, he saw nothing inappropriate. He could not be reached late Wednesday for further comment.


Druyun agreed to cooperate with federal investigators, who also are scrutinizing the Chicago-based company’s executives and Pentagon officials involved in the tanker deal.