The wretched mess that is the Alaska National Guard continues to fester. The Republican-controlled Alaska Legislature continues to dissemble, equivocate and deny. The echos of “Wasn’t in the loop” from various presidential scandals are no surprise.
But what is a surprise is the Senator Lesil McGuire (R, Anchorage) has actually suggested the right thing: legislative hearings to cleat the air and, if necessary, a special investigator. According to the Anchorage Dispatch News, Senator McGuire said in a phone interview this week. “I am ultimately going to hold hearings and I am going to call for a special investigator.” If WC may indulge in a metaphor, sometimes the only way to deal with an infection is to lance the thing and let all the bad juju all drain out.
Contrast that with her colleague, Senate President Charlie Huggins (R, Wasilla), who would prefer to let things fester. Again, quoting the Dispatch:
Huggins prefers a more peripheral approach. He’d like to talk with Brig. Gen. Jon Mott, who is in Alaska on loan from Connecticut to lead the guard’s reform team. But he’d prefer it to be more of a private briefing than a public event. Protocols and procedures are in place to deal with the issues that have come up, and it’s wiser to let the system play out than it is to intervene, he said.
We’ve tried that for more than three years now, and it got us where we are. Doing more of it would seem self-evidently a bad idea, even if you are from Wasilla. Of course, Senator Huggins thinks ex-Adjutant General Thomas Katkus is a “good man.” Plainly, Senator Huggins either hasn’t read or didn’t understand either investigative report or Captain Zero’s excuses. Outside of Katkus’s immediate family, perhaps, not many folks in Alaska or in the Federal National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations think Katkus is either “a good man” or an effective adjutant general.
Leaving investigation to “internal processes” has been an utter failure. Our system of government is supposed to be built on transparency, not “private briefings.” It may be ugly, messy, unflattering to the current administration and to the political party that controls the state legislature. But we elect legislators to do what is necessary, not what is convenient. If the current crop isn’t willing to clean up the mess, maybe we should elect folks who are.
WC is not big fan of Senator McGuire; among other things, she cuddled up way to close to VECO to be anyone’s sensible choice as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And, of course, her former husband is a VECO convict. But she’s right about this one. And Senator Huggins is stunningly, cluelessly wrong.
We need hearings. We need a special investigator, and likely a special prosecutor. But mostly, we need the truth. Ugly as it will be.
(Corrected to describe the Senator’s current relationship to Tom Anderson.)