Saturday, March 24, 2007

Things Are Worse Than We Were Told

There are two stories in the news that really got to me this morning: the real cover-up of Pat Tillman's death and the other VA clinics around the country that are also having problems with substandard, moldy facilities.

> Pat Tillman: More information about the death of Pat Tillman is being released. The Tillman family has been suspicious of a cover up and they were correct: (Lompoc Record)
Nine officers, including up to four generals, should be held accountable for missteps in the aftermath of the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, a Pentagon investigation will recommend.

Senior defense officials said Friday the Defense Department inspector general will cite a range of errors and inappropriate conduct as the military probed the former football star's death on the battlefront in 2004, said one defense official.

The official, who like the others requested anonymity because the Army has not publicly released the information, said it appears senior military leaders may not have had all the facts or worked hard enough to get the facts of what happened on April 22, 2004, when Tillman was killed by members of his own platoon.

Dozens of soldiers _ those immediately around Tillman at the scene of the shooting, his immediate superiors and high-ranking officers at a command post nearby _ knew within minutes or hours that his death was fratricide.

Even so, the Army persisted in telling Tillman's family he was killed in a conventional ambush, including at his nationally televised memorial service 11 days later. It was five weeks before his family was told the truth, a delay the Army has blamed on procedural mistakes....

I cannot imagine the heartbreak that the Tillman family had to endure. First, they lost a member of their family and then their government lied to them, over and over again.

>VA Clinics: (MSNBC)
The Veterans Affairs’ vast network of 1,400 health clinics and hospitals is beset by maintenance problems such as mold, leaking roofs and even a colony of bats, an internal review says.

The investigation, ordered two weeks ago by VA Secretary Jim Nicholson, is the first major review of the facilities conducted since the disclosure of squalid conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.....

“Who’s been minding the store?” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “They keep putting Band-Aids on problems, when what the agency needs is major triage.”

The review was conducted by directors of individual VA facilities around the country and compiled in a 94-page report to Nicholson. It found that 90 percent of the 1,100 problems cited were deemed to be of a more routine nature: worn-out carpet, peeling paint, mice sightings and dead bugs at VA centers.

The other 10 percent were considered serious and included mold spreading in patient care areas. Eight cases were so troubling they required immediate attention and follow-up action.

Some of the more striking problems were found at a VA clinic in White City, Ore. There, officials reported roof leaks throughout the facility, requiring them to “continuously repair the leaks upon occurrence, clean up any mold presence if any exists, spray or remove ceiling tiles.”

In addition, large colonies of bats resided outside the facility and sometimes flew into the attics and interior parts of the building....

It is plain to see how this is happening:

1. This administration wants to wage an unending war and dump its consequences into the lap of the next president.

2. Despite the fact that this administration says that only they support the troops, there are indications that their words are hollow. Actions speak louder than words.

3. There is only so much money to go around. If billions and billions of dollars are being sent to Iraq, there is nothing left to be used at home. What will happen when more of our military comes home wounded? How will they be treated? How much more will the facilities deteriorate with the added patients?

4. While this administration and the Republican apologists in the House and the Senate continue their mantra about waging war in Iraq, they have done little to push for a diplomatic solution. Why haven't they talked to the leaders in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries to help put an end to this war? What is so wrong about using diplomacy and negotiation?