U.S. News & World Report, February 7, 1994, Page 12
Cheating At Naval Academy
What does the cheating scandal at the U.S. Naval Academy say about military honor?
Last week, Navy investigators reported that 81 midshipmen had obtained a copy of a 1992 engineering exam before exam day and that many of them then lied during an internal investigation, some to protect classmates. Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage, who chaired a review of the academy's honor code, blames the widespread cheating on the Navy's emphasis on skills like technical proficiency over character development.
A 1967 Annapolis graduate, Armitage notes that one point of honor is still pounded into all midshipmen from Day 1: "Never bilge (endanger) a shipmate." That credo cuts two ways, says James Q. Wilson, author of The Moral Sense. It explains why some midshipmen betrayed their personal honor by lying to protect their classmates; but, says Wilson, those same people will never let their buddies down during times of war. He adds, "I wouldn't worry that this indicates a decaying moral fabric of the next generation of military officers."