Armed Forces: The Military Mafia

Military lore is replete with tales of slick operators who fast-talk their way past obtuse superiors, navigate bureaucratic absurdities and come out winners. Sergeant Bilko of TV and Milo Minderbinder of Catch-22 are winked at as engaging barracks rogues, and most Americans only chuckle when told, as one Pentagon official said last week, that "everyone has his own racket in the Army."

Suddenly the humor has turned black. Scandal involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, tainting both Army brass and noncoms, has shaken a Pentagon already under attack from every side. The...

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