Why is it everything our executive branch does smells like the moldy cesspools left behind by Hurricane Katrina?
Found via Francis X. Archibald: this piece from today's WaPo on the Army's decision to replace Maj. Gen. Weightman with Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley (commander of Walter Reed from 2002-2004):
Here's where the story stops making sense. Much of The Post's article detailed the abuse by omission that Gen. Kiley, not Gen. Weightman, committed, first as head of Walter Reed, then in his current post as Army surgeon general. Gen. Weightman, who very well might deserve his disgrace, has commanded Walter Reed for only half a year, while Gen. Kiley, now back in charge of Walter Reed, headed the hospital and its outpatient facilities for two years and has led the Army's medical command since...
(T)he evidence compiled so far suggests that Gen. Kiley has been more complicit in the scandalous neglect of Walter Reed's outpatient facilities for longer than Gen. Weightman has been. It also indicates that the Army's reshuffle is really about projecting the appearance of accountability, not punishing those most responsible.
So, to recap. First they punished sergeants and said there wasn't a problem besides, you know, the liberal media. Then they fired the facility's commander and replaced him with someone who was apparently an even bigger asshole. And when that didn't placate the people (damn those upstart journalists!), they forced their political appointee (Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey) to resign.
A visibly angry Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced the resignation in a brief statement this afternoon, saying he was "disappointed" by the Army's response to disclosures of inadequate outpatient care at Walter Reed and bureaucratic inertia in dealing with wounded soldiers.
Well, it's nice to know that Gates has a pulse on this one. But how does getting rid of Harvey deal with the Kiley problem? Apparently Kiley was Harvey's choice, which alone should have been a firing offense, but Kiley's still there. And are we to believe that Harvey didn't discuss the Kiley option with Gates before he made the appointment?
At least Gates isn't happy with Kiley as a replacement:
Appearing before reporters at the Pentagon, Gates indicated that he was dissatisfied with Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the Army surgeon general, who was named by Harvey as a temporary replacement for Weightman.
"I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed," Gates said. "Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems."
Does that mean he'll be replaced? Here's the WaPo, again:
Shortly after Gates spoke today, the Army announced that Maj. Gen. Eric R. Schoomaker, currently the commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Md., would become the new commander of Walter Reed and of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command.
Sounds like it, in an indirect way. Which is the only way anything good every happens with this administration. This bunch is provisionally adequate only when cornered like a rat in a trap.
Bush, by the way, has called for a "comprehensive review" of care for our war wounded. Well rah-rah. Way to get out in front, Mr. President. It only took him a week. Thank God he's so principled, eh?
The 101st Fightin' Chickenhawks
By the way, I just went to check Harvey's military experience. Anybody want to guess?
His official biography (which includes this line: "Secretary Harvey's number one priority is the well being of Soldiers and their families") makes no mention of him ever serving in uniform. So what background inspired President Bush to appoint this man in 2004, in the middle of a ground war in the Middle East?
Prior to becoming the Secretary, Dr. Harvey spent much of his career with corporations that provided products and services to the federal government, particularly the Department of Defense. He has been involved in over 20 major defense programs and was a member of the Army Science Board in the late 1990s.
Prior to his appointment as the Secretary of the Army, Harvey held various professional, management and executive positions within the Westinghouse Corporation from 1969 to 1997, including President of the Electronics Systems Group, President of the Government and Environmental Services Company, and Chief Operating Officer of the multi billion dollar Industries and Technology Group. Most recently Harvey was a Director and Vice Chairman of Duratek, a company specializing in treating radioactive, hazardous, and other wastes, as well as a member of the board of several other corporations.
Yeah, I'll just bet that a career technocrat from the defense industry made improving the lives of soldiers his top priority.
One last thing: The emerging storyline appears to be about privatization. Expect Democrats in the House to explore with subpoenas the Army's aggressive campaign to privatize care at Reed by farming the job out to big private contractors... such as IAP World Wide Services ("one of the companies that experienced problems delivering ice during the response to Hurricane Katrina"), which received a $120 million contract for facilities management.
It's the same story, over and over. Only the names and the scandals change. We are being led by lying incompetents whose first instinct is always something underhanded, whose true allegiance isn't to the country, or to the field officers who sacrifice for honor, or for the enlisted men and women who form the backbone of the force. There is a name for such people:
I say again: FILE CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST THESE PEOPLE.