Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is seeking to demote a senior Air Force officer for his role in the secret 1990 bailout of McDonnell Douglas, the nation's largest defense contractor.
Grassley wants to make an example out of Lt. Gen. Edward Barry Jr. by demoting him just before his retirement.
"We have to stop rewarding those who don't follow the law, waste money and are bad managers," Grassley said in an interview. "I am zeroing in on individual accountability."
Barry, currently commander of the Space and Missile Center at the Los Angeles Air Force station in El Segundo, was one of three generals singled out by the Pentagon inspector general as participants in the controversial bailout plan, under which McDonnell Douglas--then in serious financial trouble--was allegedly dealt several financial favors by Pentagon officials.
Barry was the senior military officer for the C-17 program before being promoted to his current post. He declined to comment.
When the inspector general made public his findings in April, Defense Secretary Les Aspin said he had "lost confidence" in Barry and the others--a public rebuke that almost always spells the end of a general's career.
In May, the Air Force took Barry off his duties in acquisition management and he applied for retirement, according to a fact sheet provided to Grassley by the Air Force.
President Clinton nominated Barry for retirement as a three-star general Thursday, but three- and four-star generals must have their retirements confirmed by the Senate before their careers officially end.