It would great to feel relieved over word that the inspector general for the Atlantic submarine force found no evidence of pervasive cheating on training exams. However, given all the smoke, it's hard not to remain skeptical that there wasn't more fire.
Of course, the Navy's handling of this entire matter generates skepticism. Navy officials have been slow to provide information and much of it had to be pried from the brass through freedom of information requests.
In 2010 reports of a cheating scandal aboard the Groton-based USS Memphis shook the submarine force. An investigation determined sailors were provided with answers, took exams without supervision and utilized answer keys. The commander was relieved of duty and 13 members of his crew disciplined.
Navy leadership characterized the Memphis experience as an isolated incident and said the submarine force standards of excellence, personal integrity and responsibility remained intact. Yet the Associated Press, through its own investigatory work, reported that cheating was more widespread, driven by commanders pushing for impressive scores from their crews.
Now the AP reports that the inspector general, in a letter to the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said claims of more extensive cheating could not be substantiated. The report also concluded the Navy properly investigated and dealt with individually the allegations of wrongdoing it did uncover. While the Navy should crow about such a result, the AP once again had to pursue a Freedom of Information request to access the letter, filed back in December.
And reports of corner cutting continue. There was the release of former USS Hartford officer Christopher Brownfield's memoir, "My Nuclear Family," in late 2010, which, as the New York Times review noted, "details the 'pervasive dishonesty' - including sanctioned cheating on tests - at the Navy's nuclear training school."
Mr. Brownfield tells the Associated Press the investigators looking into the reports of cheating never contacted him. And other sources continue to insist to the AP that these are not isolated incidents.
Navy leaders should not consider this case closed. There should be no sighs of relief. Rather there must be a recommitment to live up to the standard for integrity set by the "father of the nuclear Navy," Adm. Hyman G. Rickover.