BITS 'N' PIECES
THE NEWSLETTER OF THE
NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF FAMILIES
FOR THE RETURN OF AMERICA'S MISSING SERVICEMEN
+ WORLD WAR II + KOREA + COLD WAR + VIETNAM + GULF WARS +



DOLORES ALFOND - National Chairperson (dolores@nationalalliance.org)
425-881-1499

LYNN O'SHEA - Director of Research (lynn@nationalalliance.org)
718-846-4350

Visit the National Alliance Of Families Home Page


July 16th, 2005

You Heard It Here First – In the February 19th edition of “Bits” we reported “DPMO is currently the focus of an Inspector General investigation.” On July 12th, Robert Burns of the Associated Press outlined the scope of the investigation, which involved not only the sexual harassment charge we alluded to, but gross mismanagement.

Charges of mismanagement are not new to Jerry Jennings. His previous failure at FEMA was one of the reasons the National Alliance of Families opposed his appointment as Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs. We shared that information with anyone who would listen. Even after the FEMA revelation, the Alliance remained the ONLY POW/MIA family group to OPPOSE Jenning’s appointment.

We went back in our files and based on the past behavior of DPMO head Jerry Jennings, we have to ask..... Is DPMO the new “political dumping ground?” Is DPMO the “turkey farm” of the Bush #43 Administration?

On July 31, 1992, in an article titled “Appropriations Report Calls FEMA `a Political Dumping Ground,” Bill McAllister, of The Washington Post wrote: “The troubled Federal Emergency Management Agency was characterized in an internal report by the House Appropriations Committee as "a political dumping ground" filled by the Bush administration with inexperienced appointees who have mismanaged the agency, misled Congress and funneled consulting contracts to their friends. The report, made public yesterday, said FEMA, which manages the federal government's response to natural and man-made disasters, is widely viewed as "a turkey farm, if you will, where large numbers of positions exist that can be conveniently and quietly filled by political appointment." The appointees have no experience in running FEMA's disaster programs and have caused agency morale to plummet to "an all-time low," it said.”

McAllister continued; “FEMA Director Wallace E. Stickney, a political protege of former White House chief of staff John H. Sununu, was described in the report as a weak, uninterested executive who has little interest in the agency's substantive programs. Stickney, who was an environmental aide to then-New Hampshire governor Sununu, was said to have relinquished day-to-day management of the agency to Jerry D. Jennings, his deputy. Jennings, in turn, was described in the report as "more interested in the benefits associated with his position and cosmetic changes" than FEMA's mission.”

Earlier, on May 1st 1992, The Washington Times reported; “.... Meanwhile, the House Committee on Government Operations looked at FEMA Deputy Director Jerry D. Jennings' use of chauffeur-driven government vehicles that are to be used only for official business.”

“Committee Republicans said they were disturbed by a prejudicial press release issued by Mr. Conyers before the hearing and because Mr. Jennings was not given an opportunity to meet with committee staffers beforehand. Testimony yesterday showed Mr. Jennings traveled in government vehicles to the Capitol Hill Club, the National Zoo, the Army-Navy Club, a liquor store, an automated teller machine at the Waterfront Mall and a local Hamburger Hamlet. Investigations by the FEMA inspector general and general counsel found no evidence of misconduct in the case.”

“Chairman John Conyers of Michigan said the committee had heard reports of an "attempted cover-up" by the inspector general of possible abuses by Mr. Jennings and other FEMA officials. Jerald E. Johnson, a FEMA management analyst, yesterday detailed "questionable" trips Mr. Jennings made in government vehicles during a six-month period.”

“Wesley C. Moore, director of the Office of Administrative Support at FEMA, said he reviewed the data concluded there was "some misuse of the car" by Mr. Jennings and called the inspector general's investigation "shoddy." But Mr. Jennings said the trips were legitimate. "I do not look at a government vehicle as a perk. I look at it as a tool," he said.”

Finally, on August 26th, The Washington Post reported: “Federal Emergency Management Agency is losing its deputy director. Laura Melillo, an assistant White House press secretary, said yesterday that Deputy Director Jerry D. Jennings, a former White House aide who had been at the agency for two years, "is expected to leave FEMA to take another position in the administration."

“Jennings, who was criticized in a recent report by the House Appropriations Committee's investigations staff, apparently had been at odds with FEMA Director Wallace E. Stickney, a protege of former White House chief of staff John H. Sununu. The congressional report, which charged that FEMA had become "a political dumping ground" for inexperienced Bush administration appointees, said that Stickney had yielded day-to-day control of the agency to his deputy and that Jennings was "more interested in benefits associated with his position and cosmetic changes" than FEMA's mission.”

“ The deputy director, who had called the committee report "absolutely libelous" could not be reached for comment last night. Earlier, Bob Blair, a FEMA spokesman, referred questions about Jennings to the White House, saying that "we have no knowledge of him leaving."

“ A FEMA worker who called The Washington Post about Jennings said emergency communications gear was taken out of his 8th floor office at FEMA headquarters on Monday and by yesterday morning all of his possessions were gone from his office.”

           

Jump Ahead 13 Years and it’s De Ja Vu All Over Again – On July 12th 2005, Robert Burns of the Associated Press reports “Bush's POW-MIA Chief Accused of Abuse” – “The man leading the Defense Department's search for missing American service members is being investigated by the Pentagon for allegations of abusive management, The Associated Press has learned.”

“The accusations include reprisals against subordinates and sexual harassment of a female employee, according to Pentagon officials familiar with the inquiry. Jerry D. Jennings, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, also has been accused by groups outside government of undermining his own office's mission of accounting for service members considered missing in action. They say he has alienated families of the missing and demoralized his staff.”

“In an e-mail response to written questions, Jennings wrote that he has cooperated fully in the inspector general's investigation. He declined to comment directly on the accusations, saying the inspector general asked that no one comment until the probe was completed.”

“ Jennings said he was "aware of the complaints by a small number" of employees and pledged that they would be "handled appropriately." He did not comment directly on the sexual harassment allegation, which others said did not involve forceful physical acts.”

“Jennings, 65, defended his record of accomplishment and said that despite the opposition expressed by three MIA family organizations, "I am confident that their expression does not represent the will of the majority of the families."

“His approach has so upset family groups that the boards of directors of three leading organizations, including the oldest, the National League of POW/MIA Families, each recently took the unprecedented step of voting "no confidence" in Jennings and urging his removal from office.”

 "We have lost faith in him," said Irene Mandra, national chairwoman of Korea-Cold War Families of the Missing. She called Jennings an ineffective leader who faces "a virtual mutiny" by members of his staff. Mandra and others fault him for being unresponsive to their concerns, not working more smoothly with other elements of the government and not pressing harder for foreign cooperation on the MIA issue.”

  

"The families' current alienation from (the Pentagon's POW/MIA office) is by far the worst I have seen since the Carter administration," said Richard T. Childress, who was director of Asian affairs at the National Security Council under President Reagan and now advises the National League of Families.”

“Some details of the inspector general's investigation were provided by six Pentagon officials with firsthand knowledge of the inquiry. They would not allow their names to be used, citing fear of reprisals. A Pentagon spokeswoman, Cheryl Irwin, said that as a matter of policy she could not confirm the existence of any investigation.”

"Jerry Jennings is in a tough job where emotions understandably tend to run high," said Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman. "He is completely committed to the mission of full accounting of our service members missing in action."

“The MIA accounting effort is far-flung, taking U.S. search teams to remote parts of China, Russia and elsewhere to excavate burial grounds, aircraft crash sites and long-forgotten battlefields.”

“There are more than 1,800 U.S. servicemen still missing from the Vietnam War, more than 8,100 from the 1950-53 Korean War, about 125 from Cold War spy-related aircraft shootdowns, and 78,000 from World War II. The work sometimes involves sensitive diplomatic efforts with countries like North Korea and Vietnam.”

 “Jennings has undercut the role of U.S. ambassadors who work with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, said an assessment by an affiliated Pentagon office, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. "The result has been very destructive to the POW/MIA accounting mission," the 2004 report said, adding that "a lot of hard work and time will be required to mend the interagency fissures and to overcome foreign officials' perceptions."

“Ray Burghardt, who was U.S. ambassador to Hanoi from December 2001 to September 2004, said in an e-mail exchange with the AP that Jennings did not damage the MIA mission but neither has he made any noteworthy contribution.”

“The Pentagon office's assessment said morale in Jennings' organization was "at an all-time low." The report was provided to the AP by a person outside the command who said the problems needed a fuller airing.

"There's a pervasive failure of leadership," Air Force Capt. Joseph Pilkus, an analyst there from July 2003 to August 2004 before being removed in a dispute with a supervisor, said in an interview.”

“Pilkus accuses Jennings of abusing his authority by directing retribution against those in the office who wrote statements in Pilkus' defense. He and others said an Army major was punished with an unfavorable performance report and denied a Defense Meritorious Service Medal for which she had been recommended.”

“ Jennings has not appeared in his office for more than two months, with officials citing an undisclosed health problem. He declined through spokesman Larry Greer to be interviewed for this story.”

“Jennings held a variety of posts in the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush administrations from 1973 to 1992 - none related to POW or MIA issues. He was deputy director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 1990-92. An official biography says he was a CIA officer from 1965-68.” [End Associated Press Article]


July 31, 1992 – Jerry Jennings at FEMA – House Appropriations Committee Report describes agency morale at an "an all-time low." Of Jennings, the report describes him as "more interested in the benefits associated with his position and cosmetic changes."

July 12, 2005 – Jerry Jennings at DPMO – Accusations include abusive management, reprisals against subordinates, and sexual harassment of a female employee. The Pentagon office's assessment said morale in Jennings' organization was "at an all-time low."

Morale “at an all-time low” obviously Jerry Jennings has his own style of management. Just as obvious is the fact that his management and leadership style is a monumental failure!

Referring to the “no confidence” votes, of the National League of Families, the Korea/Cold War Families of the Missing and the National Alliance of Families, Mr. Jennings stated; "I am confident that their expression does not represent the will of the majority of the families."

Guess Again! In all our dealings with POW/MIA family members and in all our recent contact with family members during the recent meetings in Washington D.C. , we have heard of only two family members who support Mr. Jennings.

We could wait for the situation to resolve itself, as we are hearing that Jennings will not return to the office, due to health problems. The problem is.... we can no longer afford to wait. We know that DPMO is sitting on at least one report of LIVE Americans in Southeast Asia and they have done nothing about it.

Has DPMO become the new “political dumping ground” a place for individuals due a political pay-back, regardless of there qualifications? Is DPMO the “turkey farm” of the Bush #43 Administration?

It’s time to clean house at DPMO.


Navy Seals Recovered – Taliban reports of the capture and execution of one Navy Seal, proved untrue. Of the four Seals unaccounted for one, with the aide of local villagers was returned alive. The remains of three missing Seals were recovered by U.S. search teams.


Why does Johnie Webb still have a Job.



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