SOURCE: Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch

August 11, 2009 13:09 ET

Judicial Watch Uncovers Documents Detailing U.S. Senate Requests for Military Travel

Members of Congress Continue to Waste Taxpayer Resources With Military Travel Requests

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - August 11, 2009) - Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States Air Force (USAF) related to repeated requests for military aircraft made by members of the U.S. Senate. Judicial Watch recently obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act as part of its continuing investigation of waste and abuse related to congressional military travel.

Among the highlights from the documents (which can be read in their entirety at www.judicialwatch.org):

--  A January 2, 2009 internal DOD email related to a military travel
    request from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Office.  A DOD official
    responding to the request wrote:  "...I was under the impression that they
    really only had small a/c [aircraft].  Regardless, with Sen Reid being the
    lead, they would definitely want a vip [sic] configured bird.  Right now
    approval is only for one a/c.  It's amazing how fast these things grow."
    
--  A March 12, 2009 internal DOD email related to a military travel
    request involving a seven-country tour from Senate Minority Leader Mitch
    McConnell.  The DOD official responding to the request wrote:  "As I
    expected, the McConnell group wants their C-40 not a C-9... This is the
    only group that would not shift their dates to be in one half of the month
    and thus are taking up an asset that could have been used twice but now is
    being used once.  That drove the aircraft decision... it was better to have
    a C-9 used once than a C-40 (greater range and passenger capability)... The
    group is also the only group with a large aircraft who only has four
    members (McConnell, Chambliss, Barasso, Risch + spouses) all others have 5,
    6, 7, or 10 members..."
    
--  A date-redacted internal DOD email related the McConnell request.  The
    DOD official responding to the request wrote:  "Tell OSD (Office of the
    Secretary of Defense) that Sen McConnell and Secretary Gates have already
    discussed this trip at some length.  What I need to have ready for the
    McConnell office is 'why' the Republican leader of the Senate has been
    assigned this type of aircraft.  They will view this type of aircraft
    assignment as not appropriate for such a high-level delegation.  I
    understand the requirements for safe and efficient DOD provided
    transportation, but they will not.  I at least want to be able to tell the
    McConnell office, 'we asked.'"
    
--  Request on behalf of at least one congressional spouse ("for protocol
    purposes"), including to war zones such as Afghanistan.  The emails suggest
    that this issue raised security concerns.
    
--  Military assets were used to transport dozens of Senators, their
    spouses, and others to the funerals of retired Senators Claiborne Pell and
    Jesse Helms.
    

In March 2009, Judicial Watch uncovered documents detailing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's multiple requests for military air travel. The documents included internal DOD email correspondence detailing attempts by DOD staff to accommodate Pelosi's numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker's last minute cancellations and changes.

This latest document release to Judicial Watch comes on the heels of a report in Roll Call noting the fact that in July, "...the House approved nearly $200 million for the Air Force to buy three elite Gulfstream jets for ferrying top government officials and Members of Congress." The Air Force had only requested one Gulfstream jet as part of its "ongoing upgrade of its passenger service."

"The military has more important things to do than having to cater to the travel whims of Congress. These new documents show that Congressional military travel wastes taxpayer dollars," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Members of Congress should stop treating the United States Air Force as their own personal airline."

Visit www.JudicialWatch.org to view the documents related to congressional military travel.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jill Farrell
    202-646-5188