James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Monday, March 12, 2007

Reed problems no surprise in Congress

Just as I finished writing the piece above, another blogger sent me an article by Seth Stern, of CQ Today, an arm of Congressional Quarterly. Stern reports that senior congressional Republicans knew about the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center long ago.

C.W. (Bill) Young, R.-Fla., former chairman of the house Appropriations Defense Committee, and Thomas Davis III, R. -Va., former chair of the House Government Reform Committee both told Stern in interviews that they had known about problems at the facility for a long time.

Young said he didn't go public with the information because he didn't want to embarrass the Army while it was fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he did take some steps to make life better for the wounded – steps such as pushing to fund a new phone system at Fort Carson so patients could more easily make medical appointments. He also said he and his wife visit military hospitals almost weekly.

Davis said he knew about the problems since some time in 2004 and that he ordered the Government Accountability Office to conduct several studies of veterans' complaints.

However, both of the then-committee chairmen said they don't think money is the solution to all problems and declined to seek more money for the medical facilities.

“We are not appropriators; I don't know what else we could have done,” Davis was quoted as saying.

Some Democrats also apparently were aware of the problems long ago, Stern reported. (How could they not be?) They included John Murtha, the Pennsylvania anti-war activist who was the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. Murtha said he sought appropriations to address problems at military hospitals. He also charged that the Bush administration has intimidated military personnel to keep them from telling him and other members of Congress about the problems at the hospitals.

He didn't say anything about how the various small and on-line news agencies quoted in the piece above knew all about the problems, but then he apparently wasn't asked about that.

Support our troops.