General Robert Cobb

General Robert "Moose" Cobb,
NASA Inspector General



Most Corrupt Bush Appointees: Robert Cobb


March 26, 2006, ORLANDO SENTINEL, By Michael Cabbage -- Everything appeared normal June 5, 2002, as shuttle Endeavour thundered to orbit from Kennedy Space Center through hazy afternoon skies. Unknown to the public, however, the Air Force's top two safety officials at Cape Canaveral had tried to stop the countdown. Air Force technicians could not verify that a critical backup system used to destroy errant rockets was working properly. In an apparently unprecedented move, the safety officers were overruled after a phone conversation between Brig. Gen. Donald Pettit, commander of the Air Force's 45th Space Wing, and space center Director roy Bridges. Endeavour launched minutes later in violation of flight rules designed to protect the public.

Those and other findings are detailed in a 2005 internal briefing on the incident written by investigators with NASA's Office of the Inspector General. The draft, a copy of which was obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, concluded the "Entire Florida Central Coast [was] placed at UNKNOWN but INCREASED risk." Despite those findings, NASA Inspector General Robert "Moose" Cobb derailed the inquiry and declared the issue an Air Force matter last year, according to investigators familiar with the case. Sources in Cobb's office said they were forbidden from interviewing Bridges and Pettit or requesting crucial information from the Air Force.

"It was obvious to me that he didn't want to make [NASA] look bad.," said a former investigator in the office, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He wouldn't do his job."

Cobb, a White House appointee, is under investigation by an administration integrity committee after being accused of repeatedly quashing cases and retaliating against those who resisted.

© 2006 Los Angeles Times

"Most Corrupt Appointees" describes appointees shown on Most, not a ranking



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