LOS ANGELES – When President Barack Obama announced the resignation of Secretary Eric K. Shinseki for reported illegal activity throughout the disgraced VA bureaucracy, he proclaimed the retired General was “offended that bad news didn’t get to him fast enough.”
How bad does illegal activity have to get before it’s considered bad news and how fast does it have to travel before it’s considered fast enough?
Moreover, when was the Secretary offended and how offended was he?
Even more concerning, the President suggested “the structures didn’t exist to deliver it [bad news].”
Contrary to this twaddle, a structure already existed to deliver bad news to the Secretary; it’s called e-mail.
In fact, just a few days after he was confirmed Secretary of the VA on January 21, 2009, the newly appointed Presidential Cabinet Member was delivered bad news regarding the Los Angeles VA and it was sent via e-mail and his receipt of it was acknowledged by a Department head.
Over the next 5 ½ years, Secretary Shinseki was repeatedly notified through direct e-mail along with news reports in this medium and other sources about the rampant malfeasance, mismanagement and misconduct at the largest VA in the nation.
Unlike the no-nonsense leadership of a fully devoted Drill Sergeant, General Shinseki remained indifferent and restrained toward investigating and reprimanding misconduct under his command.
And while President Obama declared that he first learned about the Phoenix VA’s bad news through news reports, more than a year and-a-half ago he was delivered bad news about the Los Angeles VA through U.S. Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.
The record reflects that numerous emails were delivered to Secretary Shinseki along with certified letters to President Obama regarding the bad news at the Los Angeles VA, and both public servants ignored the heads-up warning.
The old adage “you can run but you can’t hide” proved true three years ago when the bad news about the Los Angeles VA was legally and officially served upon Secretary Shinseki and Donna M. Beiter, his LA executive director, naming them as co-defendants in a landmark lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU).
Joining the ACLU legal team as co-counsels were prestigious national law firms and renowned legal scholars, including Harvard Law School’s distinguished professor, Laurence H. Tribe, who was Barrack Obama’s mentor when he was a law student at Harvard.
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), a highly regarded Veterans service organization joined as a major plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Secretary Shinsek, a disabled Veteran of the Vietnam War, was a keynote speaker at VVA’s 2011 national convention in Reno, Nevada where he praised his fellow Vietnam War Veterans.
On May 28, 2012 during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., President Obama proclaimed: “One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam — most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there. You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again.”
The ACLU lawsuit charged co-defendants Shinseki and Beiter with illegal use of Federal VA property that was exclusively deeded in 1888 for disabled and homeless Veterans.
By the VA’s own admission, nearly half (47%) of all homeless Veterans today are from the Vietnam War era.
In November of 2009, President Obama and Secretary Shinseki jointly promised to end all Veteran homelessness in five years.
Thus, it’s logical to conclude that President Obama would respect his esteemed law professor’s judicious position as co-counsel in the ACLU lawsuit as well as honoring his own 2012 Memorial Day speech promising to respect and care for our Vietnam War Veterans.
And, it’s reasonable to presume that Secretary Shinseki would unhesitatingly settle the lawsuit on behalf of the multitude of his fellow Vietnam War Veterans who are homeless and hungry while serving to fulfill his and the President’s promise to end all Veteran homelessness by this November.
Instead of accepting responsibility for the bad news about his VA Secretary and Los Angeles VA director who were accused of misappropriating Federal VA property when they should’ve been providing housing and care for disabled homeless Veterans, President Obama’s Department of Justice and U.S. Attorneys (DOJ) aggressively fought the lawsuit on behalf of the VA defendants.
Clearly, the DOJ’s challenge to the lawsuit was legally and morally indefensible. To no one’s surprise, the bad guys lost.
Incredulously, Secretary Shinseki remained in denial about the adjudicated bad news, even disavowing U.S. District Judge S. James Otero’s Federal Judgment entered against him and his co-defendant for engaging in nine sham real estate deals that were ruled “unauthorized by law and therefore void.”
Instead of accepting responsibility for the illegal activity of defendants Shineseki and Beiter, President Obama’s DOJ shamefully appealed the Federal Judgment at the added expense of the American taxpayer while prolonging the misery and suffering of tens of thousands of disabled homeless Veterans in Los Angeles who need to be safely housed and cared for on these sacred grounds.
Let there be no misunderstanding; if anyone should be offended it’s the 20,000 war-injured and impoverished Veterans who remain homeless and hungry on LA’s skid row and in back-alley squalor.
If anyone else should be offended it’s the relentless bearers of bad news forewarning Secretary Shinseki and President Obama about this illegal activity and misconduct that forced Los Angeles to become our nation’s capital for Veteran homelessness.
But why should the Obama Administration take heed of such bad news when Secretary Shinseki was one of the wrongdoers?
Consequently, this bad news became old news, which is now new news because the President and ex-Secretary are unyielding in denying they had any previous knowledge of the mountainous evidence of illegal activity, not only at the Los Angeles VA, but throughout the entire VA system.
The record reflects that Secretary Shinseki begrudgingly resigned amidst claims of being “offended that bad news didn’t get to him fast enough.”
- Forthwith, President Obama needs to accept full responsibility and genuinely apologize for his Administration’s disgraceful failure to honorably serve America’s Veterans over the past 5 1/2 years.
- President Obama must announce that his DOJ is withdrawing its Appeal of the Federal Judgment against the VA defendants and immediately fire Donna Beiter in addition to directing the DOJ and FBI to fully investigate and prosecute her and her accomplices for a multitude of illegal activity.
- President Obama must direct the DOJ and FBI to fully investigate and prosecute the far-reaching crime and corruption at every VA facility across the nation.
- President Obama must clean house at all VA’s and bring in new, competent and trustworthy public servants, and the vast majority must be Military Veterans.
- Henceforward, President Obama must operate our VA hospitals as monuments of honor and gratitude for our nation’s selfless war-injured Veterans, not as disgraceful cesspools of government crime and corruption for the greedy and ungrateful.
The Bible reassures; “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven.”
Indeed, and this is a time and season for good news at the VA, not bad news; a time for giving, not taking; a time for honesty, not lying, a time for integrity, not corruption; a time for vision, not complacency; a time for function, not dysfunction; a time for forceful and demanding leadership, not an officer and a gentleman; a time for devoted Drill Sergeants, not a restrained General.
God Bless America and the Veterans Revolution!
U.S. Army, 1965-67, Schofield Barracks, Hqs., U.S Army, Hawaii. Director, The Veterans Revolution, Captain, the Old Veterans Guard, and Director, We the Veterans.