A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of human-kind as the foundation of democracy: we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them, because this is a journal of free voices. SINCE 1954 Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Louis Dubose Associate Editor: James Cullen Production: Peter Szymczak, Diana Paciocco Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Editorial Intern: Julie K. 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INDEXES: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index so Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981,The Texas Observer Index, THE TEXAS OBSERVER \(ISSN 0040-4519/LISPS 477-0746. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. PERHAPS IT IS BECAUSE he is a native son, or perhaps it was his Al Haig “I’m in-charge” performance as he stood up and acquiesced to the President’s request to join the Cabinet. Or perhaps the perception that the elevation of a man named Bobby Ray, from Rhonesboro, Texas, to such a position of national prominence suggests that the American Log Cabin Myth still contains an element of truth. Whatever it was, it created in newsrooms and editorial board offices across the state a giant sucking sound that some might have thought was the implementation of the free trade agreement. The closer to home, the more obsequious the coverage: “Inman’ s intelligence, integrity praised.” ” ‘Duty’ calls Inman to top job in defense.” “Inman on the move: Pentagon due a commanding chief’ all from the Austin American-Statesman, a newspaper, granted, whose critical examination of a subject usually begins just outside the Travis County line. What little critical coverage there was in the Statesman was hidden. On a day when Dave McNeely gave himself over to Admiral Inman in a front page story \(“Inman, at 62, has a lot to do and he doesn’t want to waste time. He serves on seven corporate boards and as a director or member of 11 nonprofit on to page 13 to find an Inman story with news value business editor Kirk Ladendorf s examination of Inman’s disappointing performance as director of the government-funded computer consortium, Microelectronics Computer Technology Corp. Even the headline for that story was circumspect: “MCC’s luster has faded after a bright beginning with Inman.” Critical journalistic examination of the Secretary of Defense-designate began, it seems, where the West begins, in Fort Worth. There, some courageous editor picked up a New York Times story written by Stephen Labaton and placed it on the front page of the StarTelegram. “Inman sailed business to brink of bankruptcy” was the headline above Labaton’s story, which told how Inman, in the 1980s, organized a leveraged buyout of a vigorous Fortune 500 defense firm and saddled it with so much debt that the company, Tracor, “filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code nine months after Inman abruptly left as its chief executive and chairman in December 1989.” The story goes on to relate how the Admiral was compensated for running his ship onto the rocks of debt: “As Tracor was sinking, Inman continued to receive a large compensation package, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. With two other executives being paid even more money, Inman received nearly $1 million in 1989, including $422,000 in salary, $250,000 in deferred compensation and ‘a $300,000 bonus from the previous year.” In the same story, Inman’s response, though not in a direct quote, was that “the bulk of Tracor’s problems were caused by Wall Street bankers and lawyers, whose excessive fees added significantly to the cost of buying the company and had led it down a road of debt that broke the company’s back.” Yes. Inman’s acceptance of the Secretary of Defense post, it was also reported, will entail some sacrifice. In the private sector he currently earns approximately four times what he will earn as a cabinet member $120,000 a year. Perhaps some will accept that ” ‘Duty’ calls Inman,” as the Austin-American Statesman wrote. Others might consider his new job a repayment of a debt he incurred. “Hidden beneath the same heavy blanket of secrecy that covers the agency itself is a cozy fraternity of electronics, communications and, computer suppliers. They could aptly be termed the Crypto-Industrial Complex,” James Bamford writes in The Puzzle Palace, his book on the National Security Agency the electronic spy agency Inman directed. Bamford lists the some of more familiar members of the fraternity: IBM, Motorola, and RCA, and others known only in the electronic intelligencegathering community. All, he wrote, have one thing in common: “a desire to get as many of NSA’s cryptologic contracts as possible.” It was NSA experience, as well as his intelligence and integrity, that Bobby Inman sold when he moved from the public to the private sector. And just as the revolving door now moves him back into the public sector, it will inevitably return him to the private sector, and his earning power will be enhanced for it. \(The Wall Street Journal quoted Tracor founder Frank McBee, who was also quoted in the American Statesman, suggesting that “it’s just as well that Mr. Inman is returning to government following his reversals in the business world. ‘Inman is moving to the right place, the place where he knows his way around,'” McBee said. Readers looking for critical editorial com mentary on Admiral Inman had to go farther than Fort Worth. In his column in the New Continued on page 18 EDITORIALS Hey, Hey, Bobby Ray 2 JANUARY 14, 1994
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