Cohen Draws The Line

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Defense Secretary William Cohen is standing by his decision to pardon Air Force General Joseph Ralston, the top candidate to succeed John Shalikashvili as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair, for an adulterous affair. The move has many questioning whether Cohen was establishing a double standard in the military in the wake of a string of high-profile soldiers who have been dismissed on similar charges in the past few months. Cohen said Ralston's affair was forgivable because it happened 13-years ago, but the Defense Secretary just this week accepted General James Longhouser's resignation over a similar incident. "I certainly don't see these cases as different enough," Jonathan Rubens, a former Marine judge, told the New York Times. "One fellow (Longhouser), a distinguished soldier, is forced into retirement, while Ralston might even get promoted." Many were also quick to point to the case of the recently discharged Kelly Flinn as evidence that an old boys network rules the Pentagon. Cohen himself has said in the wake of the Flinn incident that the military's rules governing sexual behavior may be too rigid. Cohen is expected to make his recommendation for Joint Chiefs Chair in a week. But growing public outcry may make confirmation difficult, meaning that while conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen may pass the of muster the Defense Secretary, it might not get past the Senate.