President-elect Trump has nominated recently retired Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense.
The “recently retired” is a problem. Congress long ago determined that the U.S. military would be run by a civilian, not by a solider. Call it the Douglas MacArthur Policy, although you can trace the thinking back to Sam Adams and James Madison. So there’s a statutory requirement of a seven year gap between the end of active duty and the date a former member of the armed forces can be the Secretary of Defense. Congress can waive the requirement; it has done so only once, back in 1947. But after the end of World War II, most American men were disqualified. And Congress was very clear in waiving the requirement that it was a one-time exception. Pub. Law 81-788) allowing five star general George C. Marshall to serve as Secretary of Defense also provided:
It is hereby expressed as the intent of the Congress that the authority granted by this Act is not to be construed as approval by the Congress of continuing appointments of military men to the office of Secretary of Defense in the future. It is hereby expressed as the sense of the Congress that after General Marshall leaves the office of Secretary of Defense, no additional appointments of military men to that office shall be approved.
We’ll have to see if the Republicans in charge of Congress think they are smarter than their more cautious, prudent 1947 colleagues.
But 10 U.S.C. §113(a) isn’t the only worrisome issue involving Mad Dog.
Then there is Theranos. That’s the scandal-ridden medical testing equipment company. Theranos devices were giving inaccurate results and leading to major health problems. The company, and in particular its disgraced CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, actively mislead regulators and investors about the viability of the firm. Mad Dog, at the request of Ms. Holmes, and while still on active duty in the U.S. army, tried to get the U.S. Army to buy Theranos devices. He failed.
But promptly after retiring from the army, he was elected to the Board of Directors of Theranos. WC has no way to prove it was a reward, but it sure looks and smells like one.
And what did Mad Dog do as a board member of Theranos? As the company was revealed to built on a series of lies and misrepresentations? He stayed on the Board. He’s still on the Board.
And this paragon is going to be Secretary of Defense? Sure, his ethics have a lot in common with the president-elect’s, but that’s a disqualified in any sensible system.
If you needed more evidence that Donald Trump is setting out to destroy America, there you have it.