It appears that the belief in widespread dishonesty among American youth has become an excuse to lower standards for the presumed gradual ‘development’ of more recently joined cadets.
On March 7, 1945, Lt. Karl Timmermann joined a small group of scouts on a rise overlooking the Rhine River and saw that the bridge at Remagen was yet standing. Heroically, he immediately radioed back to his higher headquarters what he had seen.
He had to know what the subsequent orders would be—lead his men into the jaws of death, seize the bridge, and open a path into the heart of Germany. Later that day, he would earn the Distinguished Service Cross for taking that bridge in the face of fierce German resistance
Timmermann was not a West Pointer, but his character and integrity reflected the epitome of the West Point motto: Duty, Honor, Country. He would say later that he only did what was expected of him. He was right.
So too should we expect all West Pointers—indeed, the entire officer corps—to do what is expected of them. Yet cheating scandals at West Point increasingly meet not this unflinching expectation, but excuses and accommodations.
The West Point honor code, the essential character-building element of the Academy’s rigorous four-year program, is clear and straightforward: A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do. It is a code that has existed for decades, held sacrosanct by not only cadets but also the cadre that leads them, and the officer corps in which they will eventually serve.
Or is it? The last seven decades have seen three major instances of cheating rings: a football team-centered academic scandal in 1950-‘51, an engineering one in 1976-‘77, and a Plebe (freshman) math one in 2020. The traditional sanction for such behavior was expulsion, but of the three noted above the first was partially overlooked, the second resulted in a year-long dismissal for those involved (of whom most returned to graduate a year late), and the latest—under a system “reformed” in 1977 and again in 2002 giving more discretion to the superintendent of West Point—is yet to be determined.
In late December when the latest scandal broke, USA Today summarized it this way:
More than 70 cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were accused of cheating on a math exam, the worst academic scandal since the 1970s at the Army’s premier training ground for officers.
Fifty-eight cadets admitted cheating on the exam, which was administered remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them have been enrolled in a rehabilitation program and will be on probation for the remainder of their time at the academy. Others resigned, and some face hearings that could result in their expulsion.
The academy’s original statement in response expressed its “disappointment,” a comment often rendered to misbehaving children by a parent. A subsequent letter from the superintendent promised to deal with the matter thoroughly and pledged devotion to a strong honor system.
I trust West Point will do so, but even in that letter, the superintendent cited the default position toward honor violations (and other egregious violations of character and discipline) as the “developmental model.” That model assumes cadets in their early years have not yet had enough time to consider the import of the honor code and its centrality to a cadet’s and an officer’s character. They must, therefore, be educated for the first two years (and perhaps beyond) to ultimately come to terms with it.
Indeed, the letter pointed out that all cadets had been sent home over COVID-19 in March 2020. Although classes continued via electronics, it said, the Plebes who cheated in May (they had entered West Point the preceding July) had been denied the onsite mentoring that would have forestalled it.
Having been given his post the day before, Timmermann had one day to come to terms with his responsibility as a company commander in combat. No one assumed he would need more time. When chosen to command, he was expected to perform, and he did.
West Point still recruits young men and women of talent and character to lead American soldiers in defense of the country. But it now has become a mantra at the academy to point out that society today does not imbue the high standards of integrity for those recruited.
“Eighty percent of high school students today admit to cheating” is a statement often heard at the academy, whose alma mater for more than a century now includes the words “may Honor be e’er untarned.” It appears that the belief in widespread dishonesty among American youth has become an excuse to lower standards to buy time for the presumed gradual “development” of more recently joined cadets to take hold.
Is that not the bigotry of lowered expectations? Is it not an insult to those recruited today—a cohort of young people more reflecting the diversity of the nation—to assume that they do not know at the outset the difference between lying and telling the truth, nor recognize that copying an illicitly obtained answer to an exam question is cheating, nor understand that lack of integrity away from West Point is no less damning than a similar failing at the academy?
Indeed, the final part of the West Point Honor Code (“or tolerate those who do”) is no doubt the most difficult part to comply with. It is one thing to maintain your own integrity, another to report a peer who cheats.
But without that final clause, honor becomes a solitary experience, not an organizational coda. If West Point tolerates those who cheat, it violates its own honor system. What does that teach the cadets it seeks to develop—that words describing an ideal may have a nice ring to them, but it is not necessary to abide by them?
Those who decry contemporary American society perhaps assume that generations ago we were peopled by plaster saints and that it would be impossible to maintain once widespread and impeccable value sets. In my view, citizens of quality remain in abundance. West Point can recruit from the best of those and expect the best from them.
Standards there can be reasonably enforced (and expulsion need not be the only sanction) and thereby maintained. These apply not only to honor, but to matters of discipline, professionalism, and the traditions of commitment to the nation and selfless service. Some of the long-term adherence to all of these has occasionally slipped as well, an indication that if we lower expectations and thereby relax standards, we can expect standards to erode.
To maintain high standards, West Point will need the backing of the Army and its political leadership, as well as the support of the American public, who expect the best of those it pays to put through the four demanding years at the academy. It is the latter whose sons and daughters will be led by its graduates and their peers in the officer corps.
As retired Col. Lewis Sorley, a West Point graduate, wrote in his excellent book, “Honor Bright,” on the history and traditions of the West Point honor system: “As the Military Academy moves through the 21st century, the Honor Code remains as it has always been, a precious thing, fragile, entirely dependent on each new cohort of cadets to adopt it, make it their own, fiercely protect it, and march forward in its service. That this process shall continue in perpetuity is the heart-felt hope and dream of all those—proud and grateful members of the Long Gray Line—who have shared the privilege of living by its inspiring standard.”
A coalition of conservative leaders has written a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), pointing out that since he had stated the need for investigating criminal wrongdoing by public officials, he should ask for former Vice President Biden’s bank records.
In December 2019, Neal, who had been calling for President Trump to release his tax returns, released eight years of tax records, saying that the move came “in the spirit of transparency, as the chair of the committee with jurisdiction over taxes.”
George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom, Richard Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty, Seton Motley, president of Less Government, Horace Cooper, Co-Chairman Project 21, Saul Anuzis, president of 60 Plus, and Dick Patten, president of the American Business Defense Council, began their letter stating:
“Your recent comments about the need to investigate criminal wrongdoing by public officials and the importance of transparency to American government have not gone unnoticed. As you know, allegations of just such wrongdoing and the lack of transparency have arisen over the last two months based on emails found on a personal computer belonging to Hunter Biden — the son of Vice President Joseph Biden — a computer whose authenticity has been established by the FBI.”
After delineating alleged acts by former Vice President Biden, the letter continues, “We hope that you would welcome the chance to assist Vice President Biden in laying to rest any allegations that he was using his office and official travel to influence foreign governments or entities to benefit his son’s businesses. And to answer this question: Was any of that income received by Vice President Biden or other family members?”
A group of conservative activists and leaders is asking House Democrats who have pursued President Donald Trump’s tax returns to demand former Vice President Joe Biden’s bank records, given allegations of overseas business entanglements.
The Hunter Biden laptop story in October revealed that Joe Biden had discussed his family’s foreign business entanglements, despite earlier denials, and that he explored a business venture with a Chinese company in which he was to have held 10% of equity.
House Democrats have tried for years to obtain Trump’s tax returns, going to the Supreme Court in their effort to do so, though they have not had evidence of any crimes or conflicts of interest, but insisting on the need for transparency.
In a press release Tuesday, several conservative leaders released a letter they had sent to House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), in which they argued Biden’s bank records were of equal public value:
Your recent comments about the need to investigate criminal wrongdoing by public officials and the importance of transparency to American government have not gone unnoticed.
As you know, allegations of just such wrongdoing and the lack of transparency have arisen over the last two months based on emails found on a personal computer belonging to Hunter Biden — the son of Vice President Joseph Biden — a computer whose authenticity has been established by the FBI.
As you also know, public record has established beyond doubt that vice President Biden repeatedly took his son on official trips to foreign nations and that soon after such trips his son’s companies we’re receiving millions in contracts from government related entities in those nations. Additionally, it is also public record that when one of those companies came under investigation for corrupt practices by a foreign government vice president Biden intervened and forced that government to shut down the corruption probe and fire the prosecutor by threatening to deny the country and its people US foreign aid. This, as you know, is indisputable since Vice President Biden openly boasted on camera about his effectiveness in getting the corruption prosecutor fired.
Now, however, graver questions have arisen about the suspect activities of the vice president and his son. Disclosure of the emails from Hunter Biden’s computer show him speaking openly about paying out money to the rest of the family including his father who was apparently referred to — and these are just two examples— as “the big guy” or someone entitled to his ten percent.
Already, of course, Vice President Biden has a serious credibility problem on this issue, having said flatly that he never discussed such business matters with his son. Evidence from the computer emails as well as testimony from one of his son’s former business colleagues who attended meetings with Vice President Biden show his emphatic denial is now one of the boldest falsehoods ever told an American public life.
In any case, we hope that you would welcome the chance to assist Vice President Biden in laying to rest any allegations that he was using his office and official travel to influence foreign governments or entities to benefit his son’s businesses. And to answer this question: Was any of that income received by Vice President Biden or other family members?
Thus, we hope that in view of your strong demand for transparency and disclosure you will endorse our suggestion that your committee ask for vice President Biden’s bank records and those of the rest of his family over the period of his vice presidency and immediately thereafter. In this way he can put to rest any allegations including concerns about how he acquired his extensive personal wealth and his large estate.
If members of the committee from both sides as well as their legal counsel could be permitted to examine the records and then report to the Congress this would do much to clear the air. Moreover, if you took this initiative as a member of the Democratic House leadership this would do much to show that your interest in full disclosure and investigating corruption extends to members of your own party.
As you know, when these allegations arose during the presidential campaign, media organizations – some of whom still claim they are serious news organizations – rushed to protect Vice President Joe Biden who was their chosen candidate by imposing a news blackout on this information.
But that won’t last now – the public is going to want to know the truth. This is your chance to serve the cause of integrity and transparency in public office as you’ve talked so much about the past few years.
The American people have a right to this information and we are hopeful that you and the Vice President will see the advantage of the full disclosure suggested by our proposal before demands for a special counsel become deafening.
The letter is co-signed by George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom; Richard Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government; Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty; Seton Motley, president of Less Government; Horace Cooper, co-chairman of Project 21; Saul Anuzis, president of 60 Plus; and Dick Patten, president of the American Business Defense Council.
The president has completed all required financial disclosure forms, declining to release tax returns while under audit. A New York Times article this fall describing his tax returns confirmed he has been under audit by the IRS in a long-running dispute.
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
Hillary Clinton was back yesterday, taking “absolute personal responsibility” by blaming Russia, James Comey, and misogyny for her second presidential election loss. If the election had taken place on October 27, Clinton maintained, she’d be president. Perhaps if we all lived in a vacuum where the electorate ignored everything the Democratic Party’s flawed nominee had said and done (and tried to hide), she may well be in the White House — although even that’s debatable.
Clinton’s counterfactual tale about the infamous “Comey letter” has been a security blanket for many Democrats. But, as luck would have it, the FBI director was testifying in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee today, and he reminded us of some factors that Clinton ignored. That’s because even if we concede that Comey’s letter to Congress helped sink Clinton, Hillary deserved that letter, and the FBI director had no choice but to send it. Continue reading
By Bre Payton • The Federalist
In his final few days in office, President Obama and his pals have been frantically spinning his tenure in the White House as a “scandal-free” eight years.
Just watch this exchange between CNN’s Jake Tapper and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough on Sunday in which McDonough claims the Obama administration has been free of scandal.
— CNN (@CNN) January 15, 2017
By Stephen Dinan • The Washington Times
Hillary Clinton admitted under oath that she doesn’t recall asking anyone for permission to use a secret server and email account during her time in the State Department, contradicting previous public pronouncements that she had received approval.
Mrs. Clinton said she didn’t recall seeing a 2011 warning about increased hacking attempts on senior department officials’ private accounts and that she didn’t actually write another warning that was sent under her name.
“Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall being advised, cautioned, or warned during her tenure as Secretary of State about hacking or attempted hacking of her clintonemail.com e-mail account or the server that hosted her clintonemail.com account,” she said in sworn testimony dated Monday and filed in federal court Thursday. Continue reading
By Josh Gerstein and Nolan D McCaskill • Politico
President Barack Obama used a pseudonym in email communications with Hillary Clinton and others, according to FBI records made public Friday.
The disclosure came as the FBI released its second batch of documents from its investigation into Clinton’s private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
The 189 pages the bureau released includes interviews with some of Clinton’s closest aides, such as Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills; senior State Department officials; and even Marcel Lazar, better known as the Romanian hacker “Guccifer.”
In an April 5, 2016 interview with the FBI, Abedin was shown an email exchange between Clinton and Obama, but the longtime Clinton aide did not recognize the name of the sender. Continue reading
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Congress is set to consider new legislation that would block the Obama administration from awarding Iran billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in what many describe as a ransom payment, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) will introduce on Tuesday new legislation that would prohibit the Obama administration from moving forward with all payments to Iran, according to the bill, which would also force Iran to return billions of dollars in U.S. funds that have already been delivered to Tehran by the White House.
Rubio’s bill—a version of which is also being introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)—would mandate that Iran pay American victims of terrorism some $53 billion in reparations for past attacks planned and coordinated by the Islamic Republic. Continue reading
by Jack Heretik • Washington Free Beacon
The State Department announced Tuesday that it has found 30 new emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server that discuss the terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
With a steady stream of new Clinton emails being publicized in recent weeks, a federal judge has ordered the review and release of Clinton’s emails to be accelerated, the Washington Examiner reported.
A judge asked the agency to speed up its review of the documents in preparation for release to Judicial Watch, the conservative-leaning group that filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Continue reading
More than half of Hillary’s meetings with nongovernmental people were with donors. And foreign government officials who met with Hillary gave more than $170 million to the Clinton Foundation.
The winds of scandal continue to swirl around Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and the State Department. Oddly, the State Department has allowed itself to become sucked into defending Hillary and the Foundation despite the unsavory facts. It is highly inappropriate for the State Department to work to tamp down the facts and obfuscate what actually happened. It has no duty to defend Hillary’s private actions. As a result of the State Department’s very odd behavior in trying to hide Hillary’s actions from pubic view, it has made Hillary’s wrongs, its own.
One of the biggest whoppers often told to defend the Clintons and their Foundation is that it is a charity doing lots of good all over the world and thus we should not worry about these details. The Foundation may very well do some good here and there. But the truth is — the Clinton Foundation collects hundreds of millions of dollars from some very curious donors and gives less than 10% in charitable grants.
In 2013, the Clinton Foundation raised $149 million and only distributed charitable grants totaling less than $9 million. That is only about six percent. Continue reading
by The Associated Press • NavyTimes
A federal attorney announced Wednesday that Bryan Nishimura of Folsom, California, pleaded guilty to the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials. Continue reading
by Chris Cillizza • Washington Post
Here’s the good news for Hillary Clinton: The FBI has recommended that no charges be brought following its investigation of the former secretary of state’s private email server.
Here’s the bad news: Just about everything else. Continue reading
By Sarah Westwood • Washington Examiner
The Clintons have been no stranger to scandals, some dating back to when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas. But there are many scandals that originated in Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
The following 15 scandals are just a few to keep in mind as she launches her presidential campaign. Continue reading
by Russ Read • Daily Caller
Officials were found to be using what is commonly referred to as the “low-side” system to correspond with the Central Intelligence Agency regarding State Department approval of drone strikes from 2011 to 2012. Clinton’s aides forwarded some of these emails to her personal email and routed to her unsecured private server.
The revelation came during a briefing of congressional and law-enforcement officials regarding the ongoing FBI probe into Clinton’s server. The officials said that discussions on the drone program should have been conducted over a system designed to handle classified information, the “high side.” Continue reading
In casually disregarding basic security, Secretary Clinton harmed our country and helped our adversaries
By John R. Schindler • Observer
Every few days, another bombshell appears in the media illustrating just how poorly Hillary Clinton, during her tenure as our nation’s foreign policy boss, handled communications security. By now, we have a complex portrait of someone whose mishandling of our nation’s secrets, by herself and her staff, beggars belief for anyone versed in such matters. EmailGate isn’t going away, no matter how much Ms. Clinton’s supporters want it to.
The number of “unclassified” emails that turn out to be classified, some of which transited Ms. Clinton’s unencrypted server of bathroom fame, now surpasses 1,300 and may go higher still. A couple weeks ago I explained how Ms. Clinton’s emails included highly classified information from the National Security Agency, based on signals intelligence about Sudan at the Top Secret Codeword level (see this for an explanation of such classifications). How they got there has yet to be explained. Continue reading