3 March 2007

It would be reprehensible if the deplorable conditions were caused or aggravated by an ideological commitment to privatize government services

For the controversy over the disgraceful conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for which now top official resignations are occurring.

Here is a typical neocon reaction to the ensuing investigation, located not in the main blog post, but one of the comments:

Blaming the Bush administration for this situation is absolutely predictable Liberal fodder. We all agree it's a horrible discovery, and it angers us on many levels. Bush will coninue to address it, and we can fairly hold him accountable to see that happens.

A defense that is totally ignorant of the truth, at least from what this Army Times story is reporting, that the blame can be squarely placed on the Bush administration and its zeal for privatization:

The memorandum “describes how the Army’s decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was causing an exodus of ‘highly skilled and experienced personnel,’” the committee’s letter states. “According to multiple sources, the decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed led to a precipitous drop in support personnel at Walter Reed.”

The letter said Walter Reed also awarded a five-year, $120-million contract to IAP Worldwide Services, which is run by Al Neffgen, a former senior Halliburton official.

They also found that more than 300 federal employees providing facilities management services at Walter Reed had dropped to fewer than 60 by Feb. 3, 2007, the day before IAP took over facilities management. IAP replaced the remaining 60 employees with only 50 private workers.

“The conditions that have been described at Walter Reed are disgraceful,” the letter states. “Part of our mission on the Oversight Committee is to investigate what led to the breakdown in services. It would be reprehensible if the deplorable conditions were caused or aggravated by an ideological commitment to privatize government services regardless of the costs to taxpayers and the consequences for wounded soldiers.”

The letter said the Defense Department “systemically” tried to replace federal workers at Walter Reed with private companies for facilities management, patient care and guard duty – a process that began in 2000.

But the push to privatize support services there accelerated under President Bush’s ‘competitive sourcing’ initiative, which was launched in 2002,” the letter states.

During the year between awarding the contract to IAP and when the company started, “skilled government workers apparently began leaving Walter Reed in droves,” the letter states. “The memorandum also indicates that officials at the highest levels of Walter Reed and the U.S. Army Medical Command were informed about the dangers of privatization, but appeared to do little to prevent them.”

What a surprise that the word "Halliburton" makes an appearance, again, in another scandalous revelation about a Bush administration action that is deeply emblematic of a culture of corruption…

I imagine there is a lot more of this about, and perhaps we will see more of these accounts, or maybe we only get to glance at the tip of the iceberg, as the sordid depths of this depravity will fail to be exposed, due to a media that is more concerned with cult of celebrity than substantive issues.

Another tragic note in a war started by scared old men who used fear and ignorance to persuade trusting people to sacrifice their children.