First on CNN: General disciplined over e-mail about member of Congress
February 6th, 2014
04:19 PM ET

First on CNN: General disciplined over e-mail about member of Congress

By Barbara Starr

Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey has privately disciplined one of his top generals, who has been investigated by the Army for sending an inappropriate e-mail about a female member of Congress, CNN has learned.

Two senior U.S. military officials said Brig. Gen. Martin P. Schweitzer was ordered by Dempsey to no longer participate in weekly briefings to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the movement of troops around the world.

The Pentagon has been under scrutiny for several lapses in ethical behavior among top generals and in the ranks.  Hagel has publicly made ethics a top priority.

Army officials said Schweitzer was investigated by the Army inspector general for an e-mail he apparently sent while serving as a colonel with the 82nd Airborne Division.

He had met with Rep. Renee Ellmers, a North Carolina Republican, and then allegedly sent an e-mail to other Army personnel referring to her as "smoking hot" and referencing sexual acts.

Army officials said he was "counseled," but was then promoted to brigadier general. The Army now has his promotion to two-star general on hold before forwarding it to the Senate for consideration.

One official said Dempsey took the action about two or three weeks ago "very deliberately" to cut the general's access to the secretary of defense, in part because of a growing furor inside the ranks about ethical lapses.

The official also acknowledged that Dempsey took the action just as senior Pentagon officials became aware that the Washington Post was preparing to publish an article on January 26 about several senior officers under investigation for misconduct, including Schweitzer.

It's an extraordinary action to take because Schweitzer, as deputy director of regional operations for the Joint Chiefs, oversees a highly classified briefing about information presented to Hagel weekly.

It's one of the most critical briefings at the Pentagon because the secretary of defense is asked to sign each military order to send troops to any locations overseas.

Both officials declined to be identified but have direct knowledge of the action. One of the officials spoke directly to Schweitzer on Thursday to confirm details.

At the time of the inspector general investigation, the Army said Schweitzer apologized in a statement that said in part "my comments were a terrible attempt at humor."

He declined further comment to CNN through a military spokesman.

soundoff (16 Responses)
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    February 13, 2014 at 7:07 am | Reply
  3. emil kaiypov

    My name is Emil Kaiypov. I am a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic, a lawyer, and a father of two children. The proposal for which I am asking your kind support is the suspension of all currently existing hostilities on Earth.

    The main goal of my entire project is to save and improve the lives of children who are suffering from the present conflicts and violence.

    The challenge is to create a moment of "pause" [a technical term from video language] in hostilities now and in the future, as well as to refusal to restart them at all. I believe that in this context, such "pause" in the war action seems do-able and practical, much more effective than the idealistic and utopian pressing of an imaginary "stop" button. In the future the first action will equate to the second: "pause" will become "stop". In order to alert the international community and potential supporters, I made a demonstration of my own at 18 October 2013 on the territory of Syrian embassy in Beirut, with poster "pause the war".

    The purpose of this demonstration, is to show through an example that:

    1) one person has the power to perform an action directed to the benefit of all mankind.

    2) no one should be indifferent, when war is concerned.

    3) war requires us to drop everything else, in order to stop it. Daily activities, against the background of war, look meaningless and empty.

    I believe, that this idea will resonate and supporters will wish to join it. The age of information technologies, will help to spread it around the globe. Definitely there will be supporters among the world's famous celebrities. In the event that a large number of ordinary people and celebrities join this campaign, the dream to stop all military actions on the planet will be realized. This will serve as an occasion to announce the call for volunteers in the "international army of peace". It will consist of unarmed "soldiers" who are ready at any time, to go to the hot spot to "pause" the hostilities with the fact of their presence and to encourage the warring parties to engage in dialogue. Ideally, this army should consist of a world-famous and beloved celebrities from all spheres of human activities.

    I suggest that countries be ready to support my initiative, in solidarity, by placing on the cloth of their national flags, the well-known pause symbol "II". I believe that in the course of implementation of this anti-war action, the reasons for which the suspended armed conflict began, will be resolved or continued in a civilized manner. This anti-war action will bring about a new peaceful reality, when there will be no state left, which "international army of peace" had not visited.

    The termination of all hostilities, will become the point of departure for further continuous progress in all directions.

    We are able to bring about the time, when the world will be fairly managed by a workable international organization which will be trusted by all citizens of the earth. When this happens, all kinds of weapons will be transferred to international United Nations control, the purpose of which, will be the preservation of peace and sustainable development of mankind.

    We live in a world, when the collective effort makes possible the colonizing of other planets in the foreseeable future. I believe, that we have enough strength and resources for the child born tomorrow to see a world, where uniform international standards of education, labor, pension and medical care, will be established everywhere. A world, where the primary human needs will be satisfied for free.

    A world, where nobody talks about freedom, because absolute freedom will accompany each person from the moment of birth, to his last breath. A world, where the happiness and freedom of the individual, will not happen in isolation but will include freedom and happiness of all of humanity. A world without war.

    A world without war is undisputed goal, that sooner or later humanity will definitely reach. It is the primary duty of every adult to fulfill a "world in peace"– everyone’s childhood dream. Every child surrounded by the horrors of war dreams that one day somebody will come and say "It is enough!" and by saying it bring war to an end. Then war will stop. That day has come! It's time to combine our efforts in order to make that dream come true.

    February 11, 2014 at 2:34 am | Reply
  4. MacRoach

    We have had a president having his knob licked in the Oval Office who later lies under oath, a current president incapable of telling the truth, a vice president with a foul mouth who is not reticent at all to use it in public, congressmen who lie steal and cheat to make a buck, and a compliant media who pretend that what these people do in their private life should have no effect on their public service, why is anyone amazed that the people down along the chain of command lose any sense of virtue and integrity? Either force all politicians and people in leadership positions to have basic moral standards or quit your whining and complaining when the results of a degenerate media become evident in all aspects of public life. CNN, you bear a major part of the blame for our national degeneracy. Suck it up.

    February 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  5. Russell Smith

    I served in Iraq and saw first hand the abuse in authority in my own chain of command. At times even kept me from doing my job. But these problems Are never made known.

    February 7, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Reply
  6. Anishinabi

    General Schweitzer needs to get out more, if he feels obligated to call her smoking hot. Maybe compared to Debbie Wasserman=Shultz, she is. But she is just a normal woman in nice clothes.

    February 7, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  7. Leon

    If they really actually care about national defense/security/etc, they need to realize that PROPORTIONALITY and JUDGEMENT are keys to maintaining good order and discipline. A guy -even a General – who says a good looking woman is a good looking woman does not deserve to be disciplined especially if it's in private. A guy who rapes a 14 year old Iraqi civilian girl and murders her and her family should be hung on site in Iraq in the center of town by our troops and his body should be buried there and the families of the victims should receive a formal written apology from the CENTCOM commander.and compensation.

    February 7, 2014 at 11:32 am | Reply
  8. Chris Asking Questions

    Until you really punish them, they will continue to do and say such things and their subordinates will learn that they will only get a slap on the wrist if they do it.

    February 6, 2014 at 6:04 pm | Reply
    • worldlypatriotusaveteran

      I'm not sure which person's punishment you're talking about.

      In the case of BG Schweitzer, his reprimand is a VERY serious punishment. His military career will be prematurely ended. It's likely his promotion to 2-star General will be delayed, if he's lucky, but probably withheld, completely.

      And all of this for private comments, not meant for publication, about an attractive woman, who just happens to be a member of congress.

      If his promotion is withheld, he may be asked to retire, prematurely.

      How does that affect him? Well, let's use an analogy. If you are an executive at the pinnacle of your career, with a very bright future, including more promotions, and you are terminated for cause, how would that affect your current and future paychecks, your future employability, and your family relationships?

      Indeed, the punishment is SERIOUS!

      February 9, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  9. Random

    Come on guys. You know you are being targeted. You know their capabilities. Make it difficult on them , stop making it so easy.

    February 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Reply

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