Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Harry Mitchell calls out VA secretary on coverup

On Tuesday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on one of the great unseen scandals of the Iraq War - the epidemic of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans, and Bush Administration attempts to cover up the truth about how widespread the problem is (current estimates are that more than 1000 veterans attempt suicide every month.

During that hearing, Congressman Harry Mitchell (D-AZ5) took the Secretary of the Veterans Administration, James Peake, to task over he and his agency's refusal to release to Congress documents related to the incidence and handling of veterans' suicides.

From CNN -
Rep. Harry Mitchell, a Democrat from Arizona was particularly irate at what he sees as stonewalling by the VA. He said he has spent four months requesting specifics on what resources the agency needs to handle the suicide issue.

"That's not just an insult to me, it's an insult to me and our veterans," he said.

He was told to file a Freedom of Information Act request, a method more commonly reserved for the public and media, not congressional committee members, he said.

"I've tried to be reasonable," Mitchell told the committee, "I've tried to work with Secretary Peake's office, but Mr. Chairman, my patience is at an end."

Mitchell told Peake that if he does not receive the documents by Friday, he will push for a committee subpoena.

Mitchell's press release on the hearing here.

A CBS News report on the VA's coverup here.

A report on the hearing here.

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