Tag Archives: Congress investigation

What’s A “Shh” Among Friends Covering Up Suicides!

Dr. Ira Katz, the VA’s top mental health official told Congress he madea poor choice of words when he sent an email to his colleages about the issue of veteran suicides that began with “Shh.” The email in discussing veteran suicides, said: “is this something we should(carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?” Commmitte chairman, Rep. Bob Filner accused Kata of being more concerned about how data was interpreted than the health of vetrans. He also said Katz–as well as others involved–should be fired, and the VA was guilt of criminal negligence in handling data about the number of veterans who have committed suicide.

The head of the Veterans Administration, James Peake, said it was an unfortunate choice of words but he saw no reason to reprimand anyone. White House press secretary Dana Perno, said President Bush has “full confidence in Secretary Peake and believes that he is handling it appropriately.” Peake insisted there has not been any abnormal rise in the number of veteran suicides.

If the history of people in whom President Bush has confidence says anything, we can well accept that Secretary Peake will match the outstanding record of those who handled the Katrina episode.

Violence Hinders Growth Of Iraqi Forces

A report by the Government Accountability Office says there has been limited progress toward developing effective Iraqi forces who are capable of handling internal security needs due to the ongoing violence in the nation. Although, there has been some progress notes the report, “persistent violence an sectarianism, along with immature ministerial capacity, continue to impede” progress. Violence has prevented the Ministry of the Interior from developing an effective intelligence network. The GAO noted there was too much evidence of an inability to be specific as to the combat effectiveness of units with continual comments that a unit is not ready at this point.

The GAO report reflects the difficulty of members of Congress from ever obtaining an accurate estimation of progress or lack of progress in Iraq. The Bush administration has continually claimed Iraq combat readiness was at a level that simply was not accurate. During the 2004 presidential election, President Bush told the nation the Iraq army would soon have 125,000 combat ready troops, a figure that has turned out to be grossly exaggerated. There is need for some mechanism which will objectively evaluate what actually is happening in Iraq.

Marine Colonel Denied Right To Testify In Congress On Torture

Marine Colonel V. Stuart Couch told Congress the Pentagon was denying him the right to appear before a congressional subcommittee to present his ideas on what is wrong with interrogation methods that violate the law. “The Department of Defense has decided that I cannot testify. Please be advised that I am willing to testify before the subcommittee in the event that I am allowed to do so.” Congressman Nadler was furious at the decision because Colonel Couch has already discussed his ideas to the press and in after-dinner speeches, but is being forbidden to tell Congress what he has told the entire world. Colonel Couch is opposed to use of waterboarding and other methods of torture and was upset such interrogation techniques were used in order to obtain information from Mohammedou Ould Siahi, accused of aiding the 9/11 attackers. According to Couch, “in our zeal to get information we had compromised our ability to prosecute him.”

Republican Congressman Tent Franks defended torture saying, “sometimes we have to take measures to protect the innocent we don’t like.” It is unclear by his statement if he ever considers that the person being tortured might be among the innocent who are being protected. However, Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a former Navy instructor who trained people on interrogation methods told a congressional subcommittee, “I believe that we must reject the use of the waterboard for prisoners and captives and cleanse the stain on our nation honor.”