Panelists Andrea Shea King, William Palumbo, Denise Simon, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton and Wallace Bruschweiler are joined by their guest, Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney discussing the events in the Middle East and the global implications of the downing of the Russian jet over the Sinai peninsula.
In a new James O’Keefe video doctors, staffers, and a top official are captured on hidden camera speaking about the problems that continue to plague the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA doctor tells undercover Project Veritas journalist: “We’re way below water in terms of the ability to supply, to meet the requests that’s demanded.” According to VA Undersecretary/ Brigadier General: “Once you’ve entered the appeals process all bets are off, the only solution to that is changing the law or more people.”
Here’s our latest undercover video showing that after more than a year of significant public outcry over incredibly long wait times, which in numerous cases resulted in the deaths of veterans, the VA is still failing to meet the basic needs of our veterans. Project Veritas investigative journalists captured on hidden camera a host of VA doctors, staffers, and one top official speaking about the many problems that persist at the VA despite official claims to the contrary.
This is the second video we have release dealing with serious issues at the VA: “Hidden Camera: Senior Veterans Administration Official and Staff say VA Turning Veterans into Drug Addicts” may be viewed here.
Among the outspoken in this video was Dr. Kristoffel Dumon, a general surgeon for the VA in Philadelphia, who told a Project Veritas undercover journalist that the VA has a “culture of unaccountability at every level.” VA Undersecretary and Brigadier General Allison Hickey was captured on hidden camera saying that once veterans enter “the appeals process all bets are off, the only solution to that is changing the law or more people.”
A Project Veritas journalist also spoke with Scott Westguard, a VA contractor, who said on hidden camera that “it’s messed up, it’s dysfunctional, it’s incapable of getting the job done because people are there simply picking up the paycheck. There’s no accountability.”
Project Veritas also caught up with Dr. Raul Zambrano, a VA Medical Officer in the VISN & Network Office, who stated that: “we’re way below water in terms of the ability to supply, to meet the requests that’s demanded.”
It has been over a year since the truth about the VA’s abysmal and unacceptable practices were thrust to the forefront of American politics, and yet there has been no discernible change in this bureaucratic nightmare. Our nation’s veterans deserve so much more and this continued mistreatment of our nation’s heroes is a troubling trend that shows no signs of any, let alone imminent, improvement.
Our first VA video has already been used to brief Congressmen about overprescribing dangerous medications to veterans at a recent hearing on Capitol Hill. It’s crucial for us to continue to shed the light on the VA, so please consider making a donation immediately below to help us continue to expose the way our veterans are still being treated.
By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
As the world waits for the pope’s climate change encyclical, new attention has been focused on how the Obama administration’s green energy policies are undermining U.S. military readiness and diverting resources from caring for America’s veterans.
We reported recently that the Obama administration didn’t have time to develop a strategy to fight against global Islamic terrorism because it was too busy putting homosexuals into the Armed Forces and celebrating gay pride. In fact, there was something else on the agenda that Obama had ordered the military to handle that had assumed more importance than global terrorism—climate change.
On May 20, in his remarks to the United States Coast Guard Academy commencement, Obama actually told the Coast Guard grads that “It is a dereliction of duty” for them to ignore this alleged problem.
The speech got enormous favorable attention from our media. “Obama Recasts Climate Change as a Peril With Far-Reaching Effects,” was The New York Times headline over a story covering the speech. CNN reported, “In Coast Guard commencement address, Obama buoys climate change.”
Obama even went so far as to imply that climate change was behind terrorism. He said, “…climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram.”
The other side of the story was provided by two excellent speakers at the recent 10th International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, D.C. Jay Lehr, Ph.D., who is the science director at The Heartland Institute, said the U.S. Navy is being transformed into a “Green Navy” that will cost $1.9 billion in alternative fuels alone. The same money, he said, could buy a new aircraft carrier.
“The money that we are spending in this manner is going to reduce our weaponry and reduce our ability to protect our fighting men and women, and it is entirely disgraceful,” Lehr said.
James M. Taylor, vice president for external relations and senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, discussed his group’s publication of the report, “Climate Change, Energy Policy, and National Power.” It was written by three retired military officials who argue that the Obama administration’s so-called National Security Strategy pays lip service to a balanced energy strategy, while in reality it is actually “defaulting on its responsibility to develop and execute a credible national energy policy.”
In his own talk, Taylor discussed in detail how the costly energy schemes being imposed on the U.S. military impede military readiness and waste resources, even at the expense of veterans in need of health care.
Dominance in the world, he said, requires the projection of military power, which rests on a strong and growing economy. But Obama’s plan for less reliance on fossil fuels and the increased usage of so-called renewable sources such as solar and wind power can only weaken the U.S. economy, he said. He noted that Russia is already moving into the Arctic area, with no credible U.S. military response.
What’s more, Taylor noted, Obama has ordered the Defense Department to rely increasingly—as much as 25 percent of its energy—on “grossly expensive” solar and wind power that detracts from military preparedness. “This is coming out of the defense budget,” he said. “It’s a budgetary boondoggle that takes away from money that could be spent on men, machinery and weaponry, and instead is being spent on more expensive power.”
He cited a machine made for the military that is supposed to be dragged around on a battlefield and transforms trash into electricity, rather than being buried or burned. The contraption was highlighted by the Mother Nature Network news service as one of the “6 green things the U.S. military is doing.”
Citing another boondoggle, he said the Navy is paying an incredibly high price of $67.50 per gallon for a “camelina-based fuel” made from a plant in the mustard family.
Even more shocking, he cited a case of money from the Department of Veterans Affairs intended for military care that is instead being used to purchase solar panels. “That’s coming at the expense of folks who are not getting the care they should be getting,” he said.
Indeed, the VA announced in 2011 that it had awarded $56.7 million in contracts to build solar panels.
However, it was reported in Arkansas in April of this year by local television station KATV that a section of solar panels at the Little Rock Veteran’s Affairs Hospital was being torn down after being built only two years ago and never turned on. The panels had cost $8 million.
The VA Secretary at the time, Eric Shinseki, said that “in order to continue providing Veterans with the best health care and benefit services, VA must adapt to climate change.”
Shinseki’s green campaign included installing a wind turbine at the Massachusetts National Cemetery. The turbine cost $533,000 and was funded under Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The VA issued a news release about this development, saying, “Under the leadership of Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, who flipped the switch at today’s wind turbine dedication, VA is transitioning into a 21st century organization that better serves America’s Veterans.”
The VA scandal over poor or non-existent care for veterans forced Shinseki’s resignation more than a year ago.
But he has bounced back, recently joining the board of First Hawaiian Bank. Bob Harrison, First Hawaiian Bank chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, “He is a man of great integrity and character who has dedicated his entire career to serving our nation.”
By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
Millions of American government employees, former employees, contractors and more have had their most personal and private information breached by hackers, because the government failed to take the necessary steps to protect those records. According to Politico, “Administration officials have said privately that signs point to the first hack having originated in China, and security experts have said it appeared to be part of a Chinese effort to build dossiers on federal employees who might be approached later for espionage purposes.”
It is an outrageous and unacceptable breach of trust. The federal government, through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), interviews everyone who requires any sort of security clearance, and asks the most detailed and personal questions about past associations, indiscretions and behavior, to make sure nothing in their past could subject them to blackmail or subversion. The interviews extend to friends and associates of those being vetted, and those people are also in the databases that have been breached. But now it has come to light that OPM failed to hold up the Obama administration’s end of the bargain by not doing everything they could to protect those records.
According to David Cox, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, in a letter to the OPM director, “We believe that hackers have every affected person’s Social Security number(s), military records and veterans’ status information, address, birth date, job and pay history, health insurance, life insurance and pension information; age, gender, race, union status, and more. Worst, we believe that Social Security numbers were not encrypted, a cybersecurity failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous.”
The Obama administration initially downplayed the cyber hack of the OPM, which centrally manages records for current and former federal employees. It did so even though it had missed the hack for at least four months, if not more, until a company, CyTech Services, which was conducting a sales demonstration, found malware in OPM’s system that could have been there for a year or more. The unfolding series of disasters has affected at least four million Americans—and perhaps as many as 14 million—including all current federal employees, retired federal employees, and a million former federal employees.
Reports of a second hack by China has added to the outrage, and compounded the problems. “Hackers linked to China have gained access to the sensitive background information submitted by intelligence and military personnel for security clearances, U.S. officials said Friday, describing a cyberbreach of federal records dramatically worse than first acknowledged,” reported the Associated Press.
“The forms authorities believed may have been stolen en masse, known as Standard Form 86, require applicants to fill out deeply personal information about mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests and bankruptcies. They also require the listing of contacts and relatives, potentially exposing any foreign relatives of U.S. intelligence employees to coercion. Both the applicant’s Social Security number and that of his or her cohabitant is required.”
How many millions of Americans serving their country does this place at risk?
Under a Republican president, this newest administration scandal would have been front-page, round-the-clock news, with the most sinister of motives ascribed to them, probably for many days running. But as of Friday morning, The Washington Post had relegated coverage of this story to page A14, and several other news outlets began covering the story by simply reposting an AP article to their own websites. Television news has been dominated by stories of two escaped convicts, a local head of the NAACP who falsely represented herself as African American, and the reset, or re-launch, of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Where are the talking heads, the pundits in the media, calling for President Obama—not agencies, not government bureaucrats, but President Obama—to show more care in protecting American citizens against cyberattacks? Such attacks violate our privacy and leave each of us open to hacking, blackmail, and targeting by China, which has been connected in most reports to the breaches. And it serves as a reminder how likely it is that Hillary Clinton’s private email server that she used during her tenure as Secretary of State was hacked by the Chinese, and possibly the Russians, North Koreans and Iranians. One can only imagine what they have on her.
“What’s more, in initial media stories about the breach, the Department of Homeland Security had touted the government’s EINSTEIN detection program, suggesting it was responsible for uncovering the hack,” reports Wired.com. “Nope, also wrong.”
“The OPM had no IT security staff until 2013, and it showed,” reports Wired.
Ken Dilanian’s AP article, despite its wide distribution, fails to mention the number of warnings that OPM, and the government as a whole, has received about its lack of adequate security. “U.S. Was Warned of System Open to Cyberattacks,” reported The New York Times on June 5, describing OPM’s 2014 security as “a Chinese hacker’s dream.”
The 2014 Inspector General’s report was based on an analysis conducted between April and September of last year. While the administration has said that the attack occurred in December of last year, The Wall Street Journal’s Damian Paletta and Siobhan Hughes wrote of the first reported attack: “Investigators believe the hackers had been in the network for a year or more” when it was discovered in April.
That IG report stated that OPM’s status was “upgraded to a significant deficiency” due to a planned reorganization, and that it had “material weakness in the internal control structure” of its IT program.
“The agency did not possess an inventory of all the computer servers and devices with access to its networks, and did not require anyone gaining access to information from the outside to use the kind of basic authentication techniques that most Americans use for online banking,” reported the Times. “It did not regularly scan for vulnerabilities in the system, and found that 11 of the 47 computer systems that were supposed to be certified as safe for use last year were not ‘operating with a valid authorization.’”
Neither the AP nor the Times noted that this situation reaches as far back as at least fiscal year 2007, with the 2013 IG report indicating that there was a “lack of IT security policies and procedures.” This worsened in fiscal year 2009, with some corrections in 2012, but as of fiscal year 2013 instituted reforms had “only been partially implemented.”
Clearly, this failure has been growing on President Obama’s watch.
The Times noted that “upgrades were underway” when the first reported attack happened, and cited an unnamed former Obama administration official as saying, “The mystery is what took the Chinese so long.”
When asked about the IG reports, White House press secretary Josh Earnest insisted on setting the cited reports aside, because “there is risk associated” with using any computer network. The U.S. government has been raising that risk by not securing its own networks.
One might question whether American citizens are any safer today, and if the Obama administration has made the necessary reforms following these attacks. Earnest, the White House press secretary, used vague language to describe security upgrades after the first cyber intrusion was reported. He cited “ongoing efforts” to “update our defenses and update our ability to detect intrusions” and blamed Congressional inaction.
“And the fact is, we need the United States Congress to come out of the Dark Ages and actually join us here in the 21st century to make sure that we have the kinds of defenses that are necessary to protect a modern computer system,” he said. “And we have not seen that kind of action in Congress.”
While cooperation with the private sector may help upgrade government information technology systems, it is the responsibility of the administration and the media to hold President Obama accountable for this debacle, which has been brewing over the course of his entire term in office. There should be a complete investigation, whether by Congress or an independent counsel, into the failure of the Obama administration to protect the privacy and personal information of millions of Americans. What did they know, when did they know it, and who or what is to blame? What can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again? People should be held accountable.
“If OPM is behind on cybersecurity, which it is, it has plenty of company,” reported the Post on June 7. Almost all, 23 of 24, major agencies cited these security issues as a “major management challenge for their agency,” it reported. The GAO indicated last year that the number of breaches involving personally identifiable information has more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, according to the Post.
With the mainstream media intent on championing all the benefits of Obamacare amidst an upcoming Supreme Court decision over subsidies, coverage of the security deficits within the health care exchanges has virtually disappeared. “Independent agencies such as the Government Accountability Office and the HHS inspector general have warned of continued security problems,” wrote Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) for The Wall Street Journal last November. “This is concerning for Americans, as HealthCare.gov houses vast amounts of sensitive personal enrollment information—from full, legal names, to Social Security numbers, dates of birth and even income information.” She notes that Healthcare.gov has been “described by experts as a ‘hacker’s dream.’”
Just like OPM. How soon will we hear that the millions on the Obamacare exchanges have also had their personal information compromised by foreign hackers, and will the mainstream media also then blame that future disaster on a bureaucrat, and not Obama?
Our nation also remains vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse attack, which could involve exploding a nuclear weapon at high altitude in the atmosphere. With Iran seeking nuclear capability, this becomes even more of a threat.
A report by the Department of Homeland Security indicates “that a massive electromagnetic pulse event caused by a solar flare could leave more than 130 million Americans without power for years,” reported WorldNetDaily last December.
“President Obama could sign an executive order mandating [that] DHS add EMP to its emergency planning, but he has not done so, even though he reportedly is aware of the consequences.”
When are the mainstream media going to hold President Obama accountable for the many scandals, and bungling incompetence, plaguing his administration? Our veterans are at risk because of scandals and incompetence at the VA, and our flying public because of scandals and political correctness at the FAA and TSA. Obama’s security policies are jeopardizing the safety and welfare of millions of Americans. If the Chinese government is really behind these attacks, which is still being investigated, do we plan to retaliate in any way? Or is there no price to pay? The mainstream media, once again, appear to be more interested in preserving their access to the halls of power, and in avoiding at all costs attributing any of the blame for this catastrophe to the Obama administration’s ineptitude and incompetence.
Hat Tip: BB
By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
President Obama’s administration has blocked more than half a million Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in the last six years, reports WorldNetDaily. This blatant circumvention of the law is causing some in the mainstream media to finally voice their concerns about how President Obama is running the government.
That is, unless you’re David Brooks of The New York Times. “And I have my disagreements, say, with President Obama, but President Obama has run an amazingly scandal-free administration, not only he himself, but the people around him,” Brooks declared on the PBS Newshour on May 29. “He’s chosen people who have been pretty scandal-free.”
That’s simply absurd. Perhaps, for the Obama administration, it’s proven easier to deny the media’s access to information that might reveal further scandals than to admit the truth about its own deep-seated corruption. But as we’ve written, the derelict mainstream media leave “many scandals uninvestigated, minimized, or outright ignored,” including Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, and even the maltreatment of veterans or endangerment of our air travel.
FOIA is one tool for discovering the truth. Newsweek investigative reporter Leah Goodman recently “said there were no Washington-based editors or reporters from major publications on the panel testifying before the [House Oversight Committee] because they were afraid it would have a ‘chilling effect’ on their relations with the federal departments they cover,” according to WND’s Garth Kant.
“Goodman said that was also the reason no one had done a major story on the problems with government agencies stonewalling FOIA requests.”
At Accuracy in Media, we have a lot of experience dealing with the government on FOIA issues, over many years. And they sometimes take years to resolve. As a matter of fact, we currently have filed dozens of such cases in our effort to fill out the record surrounding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in 2012. What we already know based on previously released information through other FOIA requests and lawsuits, as well as from the public record and individuals who have brought information to our Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, is chilling, and points to a systematic government cover-up.
Leah Goodman, Sharyl Attkisson and others laid bare the record of Obama administration stonewalling and corruption on FOIA at the House oversight hearing this week on Capitol Hill. The most transparent administration in history has been anything but. Even New York Times’ Assistant General Counsel David McCraw complained that the Times has to fight and sue at every turn to get the Obama administration to release information that the public has every right to know. That is ironic, considering that the Times is usually doing all it can to protect and defend the Obama administration. But there are exceptions, as we have cited before, such as New York Times reporter David Sanger who said, “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered,” and James Risen of the Times, who said that the Obama administration has been “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”
“When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, her staff scrutinized politically sensitive documents requested under public-records law and sometimes blocked their release, according to people with direct knowledge of the activities,” reported The Wall Street Journal last month. Records that Clinton and her aides held back included documents regarding the Keystone XL pipeline and President Bill Clinton’s speaking engagements.
Years later, these very same issues are still inciting controversy, as further Clinton and Obama administration corruption has been uncovered by authors such as Peter Schweizer. “As Clinton Cash makes clear, speech payments by Keystone XL investor TD Bank to Bill Clinton occurred at critical moments when Hillary Clinton’s State Dept. was making key decisions affecting the pipeline,” reports Breitbart News. “Moreover,” citing Schweizer, “Canadian corporations with an interest in the project hired several senior aides from Hillary’s presidential campaign to assist them in their efforts.” Millions of dollars flowed to the Clintons personally for “speeches,” and TD Bank got the decision it was hoping for from Hillary’s State Department. Smoking gun? You decide.
No matter how much journalists like David Brooks try to boldly and falsely assert that this administration remains scandal free, it is clear that the Obama administration is hiding as much information about its corrupt activities as it can, including those brought about by its former Secretary of State. By stonewalling, delaying, and blacking out as much information as possible, this administration is doing its best to conceal the scandalous actions that it has perpetrated.
Caught on hidden camera, Deputy Veterans Administration Chief of Patient Services (for the entire VA) Maureen McCarthy, MD, said many of our military veterans “have drug problems, some of which are caused by us and our prescribing.”
In the undercover video, she admitted that the combination of “opiates, like morphine and benzodiazepine like Ativan and Klonopin” are like “candy” for a lot of veterans, “it’s like they want it, they want it, they want it.”
“He had a ten foot step ladder and a rope,” says Bob Cranmer, the father of a Marine Iraq veteran named David who recently took his own life. “And for some reason decided to hang himself.”
On average each day, twenty-two U.S. veterans take their own life. In David’s case, he waited over a year to be seen by the VA, and when they did eventually see him, they prescribed him a combination of opiates and psycho-pharmaceuticals very similar to the ones described by Dr. McCarthy in the undercover video. When you watch the video above/on the right, you will see one VA official after another saying what Nurse-Anesthetist Joe Salmon admitted: “The VA does push pills.”
“In my opinion, they are creating drug addicts,” opined a senior volunteer at a New York Veterans Administration facility.
A VA facility in Wisconsin is under heavy fire for patient deaths due to over medication. This video illustrates that the over-medication problem extends to facilities in Pittsburgh, Little Rock, Buffalo, Minneapolis and the DC area. As an institution, the VA is far too eager to simply write prescription after prescription and quickly move on to the next patient, instead of dealing with the actual problems veterans face on a daily basis.
Bob Cranmer blames his son’s suicide on the VA. So do a lot of VA staffers, when caught on undercover video. Watch it here to find out why.
Our veterans deserve better!
P.S. Please forward this to the veterans (and their family members) on your list so they know they aren’t alone.
By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
The liberal media remain derelict in their duty to vet presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s record on Benghazi, just as they have abandoned any pretense of holding the Obama administration accountable for the many “phony” scandals including the IRS scandal, Fast & Furious, or even the VA scandal. We at Accuracy in Media have repeatedly exposed the mainstream media’s reluctance to question the Obama administration narrative on issues that might threaten their agenda.
Recent offenders circumventing the need to vet Mrs. Clinton’s and President Obama’s Benghazi record include CNN, Reuters and The New York Times—all of which consider themselves premier sources of information.
Rather than waiting for the process of sifting through and then reporting the details of the approximately 30,000 emails that former Secretary of State Clinton has submitted to the State Department—only about half the reported total 62,320 emails on her private email server—CNN instead turned to anonymous government sources for its alleged scoop. CNN’s Elise Labott wrote on April 27 that “the sources who described the emails said they offer no ‘smoking gun’ on Clinton’s actions in the days and weeks leading up to the attack or while the siege on the U.S. facility was ongoing.”
The next day Reuters published a very similar article by Mark Hosenball citing “two people familiar with the material” who made broad, sweeping claims about the information contained within those emails.
CNN’s Labott clearly stated that, like The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt, she was “not permitted to review the emails ahead of their release, but several government officials characterized them and offered detail on some of them on the condition of anonymity.”
But no “smoking gun” email from Mrs. Clinton is necessary to break this scandal wide open or prove that a Benghazi cover-up is still alive and well. And none may ever materialize from that corner, given her decision to wipe clean her private email server. Assertions by media organizations that releasing her emails, which were vetted by Clinton aides before being turned over to the State Department, will somehow clear her record are simply an attempt to throw sand in the eyes of the public.
In addition, Labott reports that “Several former Clinton staffers have told CNN [that Mrs. Clinton] did the vast majority of work in person or on the phone, which is evident by her emails.” Thus, evidence that could prove to be a smoking gun may not exist under those circumstances, even if Mrs. Clinton had directly influenced the security situation in Benghazi or participated in a post-attack cover-up.
Evidence has already been released demonstrating that the former Secretary of State’s aides became aware that this was a terrorist attack about a half an hour after the initial attack began on the Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. It strains credulity to presume that these aides did not inform then-Secretary Clinton of the known facts at that time.
“Mrs. Clinton actually issued a statement on the night of [the attack] stating, ‘Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,’ a clear reference to the Internet video,” I noted in a recent column criticizing Schmidt’s reporting.
The public record has already established that President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, AFRICOM’s Carter Ham, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey were all told that the assault in Benghazi was a terrorist attack almost immediately after they began. Yet the President and his administration still continued to blame a YouTube video titled “The Innocence of Muslims.”
As revealed in their book, 13 Hours, the Annex Security Team (AST) was also told by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency to stand down three times before they unilaterally left the CIA Annex one mile away and went to the aid of the beleaguered diplomatic personnel at the Special Mission Compound.
Labott continued, writing that CNN’s anonymous sources “added that contrary to charges by Republican lawmakers like McCain, there is no evidence that a ‘stand down’ order was given to prevent American forces from responding to the violence in Benghazi and none of the emails suggest Clinton was involved in any sort of cover-up regarding its response to the attack.”
Similarly, Hosenball writes that people “familiar with the emails” told him that the email cache “contains no support for Republican accusations that Clinton was involved in efforts to downplay the role of Islamic militants in the deadly 2012 attacks on U.S. installations in Benghazi” and “do not demonstrate that Clinton…was personally involved in decisions that resulted in weak security at the Benghazi outposts.”
“If the sources wouldn’t show them the documents, why are they so confident that what they are being told is the truth—especially if the information is self-serving to the administration, as these revelations clearly were,” I wrote regarding The New York Times.
The same standard should apply to CNN and Reuters.
The point is, how can all these reporters be certain they are getting the facts, sight unseen?
More information regarding the truth about the Benghazi scandal could become available in the near future. Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) requested that Mrs. Clinton appear publicly before the Select Committee in May and June, and has now “received more than 4,000 pages of documents and notes from the State Department’s Benghazi Accountability Review Board” investigation, according to USA Today. Rep. Gowdy offered for Mrs. Clinton to testify under oath that all the necessary documents had been submitted to the Select Committee, testimony which he says “would probably shut off that line of inquiry.” He was referring to the issue of how the emails were turned over from her private server to the State Department.
Mrs. Clinton, through her attorney David Kendall, stated this week that she is willing to take questions from Rep. Gowdy’s Select Committee—but only one time, and only in public. She is refusing the committee’s request to meet twice: once in private to discuss her controversial email usage while at the State Department, and once in public to talk about Benghazi. She has also refused to turn over her email server to the committee, but said that she did turn the rest of her emails over to the State Department. Whether any of the more than 30,000 emails that she destroyed contained communications about Benghazi, or any business of the Clinton Foundation that might reveal coordination over donations, may never be revealed. The public is instead being asked to blindly trust Hillary’s claims that the emails were all personal and had nothing to do with either one of these situations.
Both Labott and Hosenball reported last week that the State Department could be releasing Mrs. Clinton’s emails to the public very soon. With the deadline getting closer, why not just wait until the emails are released and review their actual contents? Instead, these three news organizations published “scoops” which only serve to reiterate and perpetuate the Obama administration’s Benghazi narrative.
Although certain mainstream media organizations refuse to acknowledge the facts about the ongoing Benghazi scandal, turning a blind eye to the truth is no excuse for taking the administration’s word about documents which will soon become public. Not that there are likely to be any smoking guns in these soon-to-be-released emails. The decision to publish articles based on the word of unnamed administration officials instead of demanding to see Mrs. Clinton’s emails first has perpetuated the image of these news outlets as little more than propaganda mouthpieces for the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton.
By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
While some in the media have demonstrated they are willing to challenge the narrative emerging from the Obama administration that downplays ongoing abuses by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), others on the far left such as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow have cast the administration’s chronic disservice to ailing veterans as a vast right-wing targeting conspiracy. VA Secretary Bob McDonald recently aided Maddow’s agenda by claiming during his appearance on her show that the VA was becoming “transparent” and desires “sunshine.”
“It’s hunting season at the VA,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on April 24, announcing a special medical advisory group to fix the VA’s problems. “Nobody wants to talk about the good things. We’re the largest medical system in the country, so when something goes wrong, it becomes news.”
More than a few “somethings” are going wrong at the VA if the ongoing scandals in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix and Tomah, Wisconsin are any indication. Yet, as I noted in a previous column, when President Obama recently traveled to Phoenix, Arizona he asserted that “there were deficits with the way the VA is being run” but then called this a “case of bad apples and systems run awry.”
Secretary McDonald has presented similar talking points to the media, and some, such as Maddow, seem to be buying this narrative.
In reality, the VA scandal represents an insidious form of government corruption and mismanagement which will not cease until those responsible are held accountable. But accountability is the one thing lacking in Obama’s Washington largely due to a complicit media. They fail to hold President Obama accountable for government corruption and malfeasance by blaming low-level civil servants or ignoring ongoing scandals entirely.
The New York Times deserves credit for a recent story outlining the lack of accountability in the continuing VA crisis. However, it relegated this breaking and relevant news to page A16.
Secretary McDonald, who replaced disgraced former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, told NBC’s Meet the Press in February that “the department had fired 60 people involved in manipulating wait times to make it appear that veterans were receiving care faster than they were,” reports Dave Phillips for the Times. Then the VA clarified that “only 14 people had been removed from their jobs, while about 60 others had received lesser punishments,” he writes.
“Now, new internal documents show that the real number of people removed from their jobs is much smaller still: at most, three,” writes Phillips. Sharon Helman, “the only person fired” was “removed not for her role in the manipulation of waiting lists but for receiving ‘inappropriate gifts,’” continues Phillips.
In the meantime, VA employees feel empowered to retaliate against whistleblowers within the VA, likely because of these weak accountability measures.
“Once you talk to the media, you are on your own…The VA does not support you, and you are not representing the organization,” declared a Denver, Colorado VA Medical Center Director, as I pointed out in March. She continued, “The only thing you are representing is yourself, and then, once you are in hot water, nobody will help you.”
CNN also reported in March that a Los Angeles, California VA representative, Dr. Sky MacDougall, actually lied to Congress about wait times at the Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, and that Congress was investigating this incident based on their CNN report.
VA crises are spreading throughout the country like a wildfire. On March 30 Congressional members traveled to Tomah to hold a joint field hearing to discuss a death resulting from the over-medication of one patient, the over-prescription of drugs to other patients, and the neglect of an older veteran who came in and suffered from a stroke while waiting for care at the Tomah VA. The older veteran, Thomas Baer, died from complications due to a stroke after delays at the VA Urgent Care center, an unavailable CT machine, no helicopter, and after being driven by ambulance to a new facility long after the initial onset of his symptoms.
One of the witnesses, Ryan Honl, a combat veteran who suffers from PTSD, was a whistleblower at the Tomah VA Medical Center. Honl testified about how his electronic medical file was accessed by multiple persons at the VA. “However, as soon as I blew the whistle, I started hearing about my instability from other employees,” he writes in his official testimony. “In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, [Dr. David Houlihan’s] attorney alluded to my mental health status,” he states. “Shortly after while VA investigators were in the Tomah VA, Police Chief Huffman directed that a police report be done on me by my former supervisor…and two coworkers…four months after I resigned over a supposed ‘threatening incident’ that took place while I was an employee before I resigned.”
“Clearly, my mental health diagnoses are being used by those I reported in order to discredit me,” he writes.
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner told Congress earlier this month that “The number of new whistleblower cases from VA employees remains overwhelming,” according to Joe Davidson of The Washington Post. In fact, Davidson reports that her testimony revealed that “whistleblower cases reviewed by her office are almost 150 percent higher than historical levels. Nearly 40 percent of her office’s incoming cases are from VA, although her office takes cases from across the government.”
If VA whistleblower cases are up 150 percent when compared to “historical levels,” why aren’t the media questioning President Obama’s leadership on this issue?
“Monday’s session demonstrated that VA’s entrenched culture of retaliation against whistleblowers endures, a year after revelations exploded over poor service and the covering up of long patient wait times,” writes Davidson.
Then he defends Secretary McDonald, writing, “The retaliation continues despite the solid efforts of the current VA secretary, who replaced one driven out by the scandal.”
Accountability and professional standards are set by those at the very top. Secretary McDonald was confirmed last July, yet it appears that little change has happened at the VA under his leadership, nor that of his boss, President Obama.
In previous articles covering the ongoing VA scandal I pointed to the media’s reluctance, if not outright refusal, to implicate the Obama administration for its role in facilitating the ongoing corruption at the VA.
But in some far-left circles this has been taken to the furthest possible conclusion, that the scandal is about to be exploited by the “right wing” for its own purposes.
MSNBC’s Maddow recently minimized the poor treatment received by veterans at the VA, warned that the right wing would soon push to privatize the VA, and gave Secretary McDonald a platform to claim that the administration was actually being “transparent” on this issue.
“One of the reasons I want you to be here tonight, Mr. Secretary [Robert McDonald], is because I do feel like VA is about to have political challenges that it has not faced in at least a generation, if not more, and veterans groups have been able to hold off some of those challenges in the past,” said Maddow on her April 15 show. “…I’m not sure that VA has the political backup right now to fight those battles. And honestly, I’m here partly because I want to sort of raise the flag that this is coming.”
The graphic on the MSNBC broadcast read, “V.A. Secretary on Right-Wing Efforts to Privatize VA.”
Secretary McDonald responded to her by emphasizing the VA’s alleged transparency and desire for “sunshine.” He said:
“That’s why we’re here. We want to get out. We want to be transparent. We now publish our data every two weeks online. Sunshine is a great, transparency is a great benefit to us. We’re gonna do our share. We’re gonna improve the results of the VA. We’re working very hard to do that, and hopefully veterans will be happy with the care we provide them. It’s the most exciting mission that we could possibly have.”
Both participants in this highly disingenuous interchange may have wished to assure the public about the VA’s integrity, but the growing news about corruption at the VA, prompted in part by Congressional hearings held by Rep. Jeff Miller’s (R-FL) House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, makes it less and likely that the public can be fooled by such false assurances.
Veterans actually served by the VA certainly aren’t being fooled, and a number of them have contacted me after reading my articles on this continuing scandal to say that things are bad, and in some cases even worse than I described.
As is true for most MSNBC shows, Maddow’s presentation of this scandal was highly misleading as well. Veterans groups are now actively asking for change themselves. For example, the price tag for the VA Medical Center in Denver, Colorado has ballooned from $328 million to $1.73 billion. As a result, “The American Legion in Colorado held a protest last year in which members held up ‘JUST BUILD THE DAMN THING’ signs and carried shovels, symbolically ready to build it themselves,” reported The Washington Post’s Emily Wax-Thibodeaux in March.
There is no doubt that the VA is a behemoth of a bureaucracy, and McDonald seems like a sincere and capable manager. But regrettably he also seems to have been captured by the Obama administration’s culture of deceit, of punishing whistleblowers, and of failing to hold people accountable. Hopefully, for the sake of America’s veterans, of which he is one, that culture will change, and change fast. McDonald was caught exaggerating his service history earlier this year, which may have contributed to skepticism about whether he is the right man for this job.
Rachel Maddow’s transparent attempt to cast the VA scandal as the fabrication of right-wing political forces bent on destroying an embattled institution serves as a red herring designed to provide Secretary McDonald, and thereby this administration, with a platform to praise the past successes of this corrupt, mismanaged bureaucracy—at the expense of those veterans who have died or been neglected. But MSNBC and other complicit media aren’t interested in accountability, they’re interested in covering for the Obama administration.