Congressmen Call on Senate to Reject Hastings Nomination

UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 13: Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., participates in a news conference with House Armed Services Committee Republicans about their formal recommendations on deficit reduction in a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two legislators known for exercising effective oversight on military matters have sent a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee urging that it reject the nomination of Colonel Brian Hastings for promotion to Brigadier General.

Hastings notoriously abused his command authority by launching a wide-ranging inquisition during his stint in command as wing commander at Laughlin Air Force Base. What began as a legitimate effort to root out unprofessional conduct among a few instructor pilots veered into a misguided, utilitarian deterrence exercise that wrongly accused several officers of drug abuse in an effort to “send a message” of command intolerance to bad behavior.

The charges were later squarely disproven, but not before Hastings permanently damaged the officers’ careers and traumatized their families by treating them as guilty despite affirmative evidence to the contrary. They were able to cling to the last shreds of their livelihoods only because of the intervention of Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who pressed the Air Force relentlessly to review the evidence and appropriately dispose of the cases. The service eventually did so just enough to get Congress off its back, but attempted to whitewash Hastings’ actions with a misrepresentative and nonsensical Inspector General (IG) “investigation” that somehow tried to exonerate both the accused and the accuser.

The only way the Air Force (and the absurd IG report) can be seen making any sense is if Hastings formed a reasonable belief that turned out to be mistaken. But we know from the evidence (see the archive at the end of this report) that’s not the case. Instead, Hastings developed a misapprehension, formed a mistaken judgment, imposed that judgment on three honorable officers, and manipulated the levers of justice to railroad their lives and careers — all to send a message that he was “tough” enough for the next level … posturing now being dangerously rewarded by the Air Force. When confronted with evidence that he was mistaken — including clean drug tests — Hastings stonewalled, refused to listen, and imposed his will in spite of the evidence. This is not reasonable conduct. It is fascist, and according to Hunter and Kinzinger, “unforgivable.”

Here’s the letter sent to the SASC today:

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And here’s a Miley Gate archive. If you’re looking for a story as disheartening as it is revealing, look no further. This one crystallizes the cultural sickness gripping today’s Air Force, and illustrates why it’ll never heal until it stops promoting abusive commanders.

Witch Hunt in the Desert

West Texas Salem

Hastings Downgrades Performance Reports of Those Who Help Accused Raise a Defense

Officers Punished for Failing to Report Relationship Rumors

Air Force Conducts Damage Control as Scandal Spins Out of Control

Pilots Still Grounded After Being Cleared of Drug Use

IG Finds a Way to Exonerate Chain of Command in Miley Gate Affair

Welsh Knew Hastings Was Inappropriate with Female IP and Did Not Investigate

Disgraced 2-Star’s Tirade Raises New Miley Gate Questions

Welsh Shows True Colors, Turns Back on Wronged Pilot

Congress Throws BS Flag on Miley Gate Shenanigans

Miley Gate Pilots to Get Wings Back, Reprimands to be Rescinded

Broken Wings: the Cautionary Tale of IP7

The Air Force’s Toxic Dishonor Roll