The Pentagon's Office of the Inspector General on Thursday cleared former Boeing executive and current acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan of allegations that he unethically favored Boeing in an official capacity as head of the Defense Department — and the only thing he's guilty of is criticizing the F-35 program for being an expensive disaster.
As part of the the IG inquiry, officials investigated alleged comments Shanahan made regarding Boeing's notoriously unreliable F-35 airframe. In January, Politico reported that Shanahan had actively shit-talked the F-35 in Pentagon meetings; one official even said Shanahan said it was “fucked up” and that Boeing would have done a “much better” job with it.
Well, the IG office found that those comments weren't totally true, per se (emphasis ours):
“Mr. Shanahan told us that he did not say that the F-35 aircraft was 'f—ed up.' He told us that the F-35 aircraft is 'awesome.' Mr. Shanahan told us that he said the F-35 program was 'f—ed up.'“
Also besides, the report says, his criticism was pretty on par for what everyone else from the Pentagon to the White House has been saying anyway!
“[W]e concluded that Mr. Shanahan did not 'repeatedly dump' on the F-35 aircraft in meetings. Rather, we determined that Mr. Shanahan's comments related to the F-35 program and its performance, and were consistent with other comments about problems in the F-35 program made by other senior DoD officials.”
When the IG investigators asked Air Force Gen. John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, about Shanahan's comments, he said that “many people criticized the F-35 program. I've criticized the F-35 program in public.”
Translation: Same, guys. Same.