“There have been allegations made, and we need to find out who the alligator is.”

How credible is NASA Administrator Michael Griffin when he dismissed as “urban legend” reports of astronauts drinking shortly before a launch?

I saw and read with great interest the claims of drunken astronauts flying into space as the lead story or on the front pages of just about every media outlet in America. "What is America coming to", some cried. "We knew all along that the Bush Administration appointees at NASA covered up such shenanigans", others said with certainty. The head of the Panel who made the report, it turns out, was somewhat fuzzy about when and where the elbow bending was going on.

Now perhaps it’s true. I have no evidence to the contrary, but then again the alligator ain’t got no evidence either. NASA, subjected to almost as much scrutiny as Homeland Security, decided to investigate the matter. After the investigation, NASA’s Administrator says "urban legend" and that the investigation could find no evidence of such behavior.

Interestingly enough, the alligator, probably feeling some pressure for making apparently unfounded or at least unsupported claims, now says that NASA’s investigation didn’t turn anything up because "whistleblowers" feared reprisal and didn’t come forward. It couldn’t be, could it, that the alligator didn’t do his homework before stepping on his tail or whatever it was he stepped on. I am positive the Air Force medical folks don’t all make diagnoses based on the lack of objective symptoms as this guy has in regard to astronaut misconduct. I hope the good Colonel only made the mistake of listening to and giving credence to the disgruntled or those with their own axes to grind. He wouldn’t be the first nor will he be the last.

You must find the NASA Administrator more credible as he has everything to lose (including, perhaps least of all, his job) if there is a shred of truth to the allegations. Imagine if a tape were to surface. This guy has gone out on a limb for his people and program. His commitment to them should get the same attention the alligator got but, alas, it won’t. I’d nominate him for a chapter in Profiles in Courage. He could have covered his butt and said that the investigation was ongoing. He could have said that there was no evidence either way. He didn’t. Instead, he stepped up to the plate on behalf of NASA’s astronauts.


The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

About the Author

Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels. A retired agency labor and employee relations director, Bob has authored or co-authored a number of books dealing with Federal issues and also conducts training seminars.