Saturday, March 03, 2007

Support Our Troops - Bush Style

Bush joins outcry in hospital scandal

As the row over filthy conditions at a top US military ward cost two army chiefs their jobs, the President vows to help veterans

Paul Harris in New York
Sunday March 4, 2007
The Observer

President Bush was forced to pledge tough action yesterday to deal with a growing scandal over the poor treatment of wounded Iraq war veterans, which has led to a series of military resignations.

The furore has centred on conditions at the Walter Reed hospital in Washington, DC, which is considered the best military facility of its kind in America. However, revelations in the Washington Post last week revealed dilapidated conditions at several buildings used to house military outpatients.

The newspaper described infestations of rats in some rooms, mouldy walls and damp-stained fixtures. That was enough for the head of Walter Reed, Major-General George Weightman, to be fired. His sacking was then swiftly followed by the resignation of the Army Secretary, Francis Harvey. Harvey was the army's top civilian official.

But the political crisis has not stopped there. In a highly unusual move aimed at stemming the damage, the White House has now become involved. In his weekly radio address yesterday, Bush slammed conditions at the hospital. 'This is unacceptable to me, it is unacceptable to our country and it is not going to continue,' he said. ... (link)
Today Bush had some Big Words. But where's he been up to now? All of his doting devotees never tire of telling us how he's the Commander-in-Chief. Why has it taken an exposé in the WaPo to get his attention?

The Marine Corps Times tells us the problems have been known for years:

But the troubles at the hospital — substandard housing for injured troops and a dysfunctional medical evaluation system — did not start on Weightman’s watch.

As far back as 2005, service members spoke about these problems in congressional hearings. The Government Accountability Office reported on the problems last March. And the Army Inspector General has been investigating the problems for over a year.

Indeed, the GAO report traces the problems back to the tenure of Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, who commanded Walter Reed from June 2002 to September 2004. (link)

Clearly those reports didn't get Bush's attention any more than that August 6, 2001 PDB titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US".

Now Bush has speechified on how he's a'gonna fix things. Will he lavish the same attention to this problem that he's given to the Gulf Coast after hurricane Katrina? I suspect his promise that "it is not going to continue" will be just one more helping of plastic thanksgiving turkey for the troops.

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