Given this administration's shady record of crushing whistleblowers, railroading IGs and replacing them with dirty lapdogs, Shinseki's vow to "get to the bottom" of this latest deadly scandal while Holder and the FBI sit on the sidelines stinks to high hell.
Taking care of the nation's war veterans is an obligation that has existed since the days of the Continental Congress. But for decades, under both GOP and Democratic administrations, the men and women who served our country have been literally left to die by government caretakers.
Fifteen years ago, I reported on VA bureaucrats who took better care of administrative buildings and vacant hospitals than their own patients. Back then, an independent General Accounting Office found that the agency was spending more than $1 million a day to sustain unneeded hospital buildings. Another $35 million was squandered annually to perform upkeep on empty space, including unused lots and warehouses, while vets were forced to file malpractice suits over substandard care.
We "have created the damnedest country club in America," one VA watchdog activist I quoted said at the time. "Whatever toys they want, they get. Nobody is watching what they spend these millions of dollars on, and obviously, no one cares."
Fifteen years later, it's the same old, same old. More empty excuses, feckless denials and deadly red tape. The names change, but the game's the same: "Support the troops" platitudes and photo-ops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. "Screw the troops" in the bowels of the VA bureaucracy, where book-cookers were busy collecting bonuses instead of saving lives. And everyone at the top refuses to resign.
It's self-serving government as usual. I'd ask how "hope and change" is working out for the affected veterans. But they're not around to answer. Their chilling silence speaks volumes.