Posts Tagged ‘Veterans’ Affairs’

Ronny Jackson, Trump’s V.A. Nominee, Faces Claims of Overprescription and Hostile Work Environment

April 24, 2018

Doctor Jackson has been accused of running a “hostile work environment” and may have over-prescribed medications….

Image result for ronny jackson, photos

Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician and nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, announced the results of President Trump’s first physical while in office in January.

WASHINGTON — The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is examining allegations that President Trump’s nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department oversaw a hostile work environment as the White House physician and allowed the overprescribing of drugs, according to congressional officials briefed on the committee’s work.

They have also received claims that Dr. Ronny L. Jackson drank too much on the job.

The allegations, which have been under investigation since last week, forced the postponement of Dr. Jackson’s confirmation hearing, planned for this Wednesday as senators scrutinize the nominee’s time leading the White House medical staff. Officials familiar with the allegations against Dr. Jackson declined to offer precise details but said that they suggest a pattern of behavior, not just one or two isolated incidents.

The committee did not announce a new date for the hearing.

“The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is postponing the hearing to consider the nominee to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in light of new information presented to the committee,” said Senators Johnny Isakson of Georgia, the committee chairman, and Jon Tester of Montana, its top Democrat, in a joint statement which did not detail the allegations.

Read the rest:

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/us/politics/ronny-jackson-veterans-affairs.html

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American Government: What is the “deep state”?

March 10, 2017

The Economist

And where does it come from?

THE Trump era is reshaping not just American politics but also its lexicon. Terms such as “fake news”, “alt-right” and “post-truth” have entered mainstream use, and kicked up debates about what they actually mean in the process. “Deep state” is the latest to gain attention, as leaks from inside the administration frustrate Donald Trump’s supporters. Right-wing websites such as Breitbart News warn of a “deep state” that wants to “terminate” Mr Trump. Some extreme sites talk of a “war” between the deep state and the president. “If it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state,” Bill Kristol, a conservative critic of Mr Trump, recently tweeted. But what does the term actually refer to?

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American pundits have often used “deep state” interchangeably with the bureaucracies of the military and spy agencies, especially those bits that leak against the government. Mr Trump’s relations with his spies have been tense since the intelligence community determined that Russia had tried to influence the election in his favour. He has publicly challenged their assessments of his team’s ties with Russia, chastised them for past intelligence failures and compared leaks against him to practices in Nazi Germany. His supporters cite “deep-state” leaks embarrassing to Mr Trump’s administration as evidence of a shadowy network of unelected government officials undermining the president. (The president has not publicly used the term.)

But the deep state started life as something else entirely. Citizens in Turkey, where the term originated, have long worried about the derin devlet (“deep state”), which refers to a network of individuals in different branches of government, with links to retired generals and organised crime, that existed without the knowledge of high-ranking military officers and politicians. Its goal was purportedly to preserve secularism and destroy communism by any means necessary, outside the regular chain of command. Starting in the 1950s Turkey’s deep state sponsored killings, engineered riots, colluded with drug traffickers, staged “false flag” attacks and organised massacres of trade unionists. Thousands died in the chaos it fomented.

In its present avatar, “deep state” seems set to go the way of “fake news” in American discourse, a once-useful term rendered meaningless by promiscuous repetition, often in reference to quite different things. Turkey is a pioneer here too. After a handful of city councils in Germany recently cancelled rallies in support for Mr Erdogan, Turkey’s foreign minister offered a simple explanation: “This is a systematic move of the German deep state.”

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2017/03/economist-explains-6

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While Trump Keeps Media Under Assault, He Quietly Dismantles The Federal Government — Steady demolition of the bureaucracy

February 26, 2017

The Trump Administration’s Not-So-Benign Neglect

While we’re watching the scandals du jour, the president and his top advisers are dismantling the federal government.

The rage felt by the president’s critics is real, and understandable, but it also plays into Trump’s broader agenda. His chief strategist Steve Bannon outlined that strategy this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, describing it as nothing less than the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Bannon’s comments this week suggest a darker, more nefarious purpose to the nascent Trump administration’s dysfunction. It may be the case that the Trump team is deliberately failing to staff, manage, and provide resources for federal agencies so as to sabotage and slowly dismantle them. To make matters worse, the Trump team might be leveraging the controversies regarding its disastrous national security moves to obscure and conceal that slow and steady demolition of the bureaucracy.

After the election, the administration was slow to deploy its transition teams, pick top officials, develop future budgets, and generally take the reins of government. By almost any measure, the Trump White House lagged behind prior transitions in these efforts—it was the dog that caught the car and didn’t know what to do next. To this day, the Trump administration lags in terms of picking its political appointees, let alone articulating a comprehensive policy agenda that goes much beyond “make America great again.” At the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the two largest federal agencies by budget and headcount, the Trump imprint on policy remains amazingly light. One can glean more about acquisition, health care, or war-making from presidential tweets than from the White House’s website.

Federal agencies require certain commodities to run: leadership, legislative authorization, funding, and people. The combination of these commodities results in programming, executed either by government employees, contractors, or local governments using federal grant funds. Every part of this formula has been neglected by the Trump administration.

The officials the Trump administration has appointed include personnel whose résumés are extraordinarily thin on governance experience and who are hostile to the government itself. Dr. Ben Carson, the former presidential candidate who is now leading the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has never worked in government. Neither has Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose donations have funded an anti-federal agenda for years. One appointee, Gov. Rick Perry, has plenty of public sector experience, but he previously took the position that his future agency (the Department of Energy) ought to be wiped off the map.

Beyond leaders, agencies need congressional authorization and funding to function. And yet, because the agencies lack political leaders beyond the midlevel transition teams deployed after the inauguration, they are woefully behind in preparing budgets for President Trump to submit to Congress. In years past, Presidents Bush and Obama submitted their budgets within a few weeks of taking office, thanks to Herculean amounts of work by their transition teams to develop detailed fiscal plans. These teams understood that the budget submission was the key to execution of their policy agenda. It’s possible that the Trump team doesn’t understand that linkage between funding and policy. It’s also possible the Trump team doesn’t care if agencies get new budgets because its ultimate goal is to starve these agencies. If Congress continues to pass continuing resolutions that freeze funding at current levels, while the White House’s hiring and regulatory freezes remain in place, federal agencies will begin to shrink by attrition.

Agencies need people to do their jobs. The government is staffed by 2.6 million federal civilian and 1.4 million uniformed employees. Most new leaders would look for opportunities to engage their workforce and enlist them in their agenda. Not Trump, who has instead opted to attack parts of the federal workforce (like the intelligence community) while holding political rallies before others (the CIA and troops). Trump’s hiring freeze has signaled disdain to the federal civilian workforce, as have many of his Cabinet picks and congressional allies, who have continued to rail against the scourge of bureaucracy and bureaucrats.

Each of these forms of neglect advances the Bannon/Trump agenda of crippling the federal government. Unfortunately, we’re too busy paying attention to Russian intrigues, presidential conflicts of interest, and unconstitutional immigration policies to notice that the Trump team has already started its campaign to undo the state that has evolved since the New Deal to serve the American people.

We cannot ignore the scandals du jour. The Trump administration’s Russia ties represent a threat to national security and the rule of law; its immigration order threatens to tear apart the constitutional fabric that binds us together. However, we must see these scandals in context and stop Trump from leveraging our distraction to disassemble the government in front of our eyes.

Hillary Clinton Emails Show More Than Half of the People Outside the Government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State gave money — “Pay to Play”?

August 23, 2016

Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State — The frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton

By Stephen Braun and Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press | Posted Aug 23rd, 2016 @ 3:01pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.

Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton’s help with a visa problem and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm’s corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.

The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.

The AP’s findings represent the first systematic effort to calculate the scope of the intersecting interests of Clinton foundation donors and people who met personally with Clinton or spoke to her by phone about their needs.

The 154 did not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives. Clinton met with representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton charity, but they were not included in AP’s calculations because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties.

Last week, the Clinton Foundation moved to head off ethics concerns about future donations by announcing changes planned if Clinton is elected.

On Monday, Bill Clinton said in a statement that if his wife were to win, he would step down from the foundation’s board and stop all fundraising for it. The foundation would also accept donations only from U.S. citizens and what it described as independent philanthropies, while no longer taking gifts from foreign groups, U.S. companies or corporate charities. Clinton said the foundation would no longer hold annual meetings of its international aid program, the Clinton Global Initiative, and it would spin off its foreign-based programs to other charities.

Those planned changes would not affect more than 6,000 donors who have already provided the Clinton charity with more than $2 billion in funding since its creation in 2000.

“There’s a lot of potential conflicts and a lot of potential problems,” said Douglas White, an expert on nonprofits who previously directed Columbia University’s graduate fundraising management program. “The point is, she can’t just walk away from these 6,000 donors.”

Former senior White House ethics officials said a Clinton administration would have to take careful steps to ensure that past foundation donors would not have the same access as she allowed at the State Department.

“If Secretary Clinton puts the right people in and she’s tough about it and has the right procedures in place and sends a message consistent with a strong commitment to ethics, it can be done,” said Norman L. Eisen, who was President Barack Obama’s top ethics counsel and later worked for Clinton as ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Eisen, now a governance studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that at a minimum, Clinton should retain the Obama administration’s current ethics commitments and oversight, which include lobbying restrictions and other rules. Richard Painter, a former ethics adviser to President George W. Bush and currently a University of Minnesota law school professor, said Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton should remove themselves completely from foundation leadership roles, but he added that potential conflicts would shadow any policy decision affecting past donors.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon did not respond to the AP’s questions about Clinton transition plans regarding ethics, but said in a statement Tuesday the standard set by the Clinton Foundation’s ethics restrictions was “unprecedented, even if it may never satisfy some critics.”

GOP Vice Presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said the AP analysis was evidence of “pay-to-play” politics at Clinton’s State Department. He called for the foundation to be shut down and for an independent prosecutor to be appointed to investigate.

Some of Clinton’s most influential visitors donated millions to the Clinton Foundation and to her and her husband’s political coffers. They are among scores of Clinton visitors and phone contacts in her official calendar turned over by the State Department to AP last year and in more-detailed planning schedules that so far have covered about half her four-year tenure. The AP sought Clinton’s calendar and schedules three years ago, but delays led the AP to sue the State Department last year in federal court for those materials and other records.

S. Daniel Abraham, whose name also was included in emails released by the State Department as part of another lawsuit, is a Clinton fundraising bundler who was listed in Clinton’s planners for eight meetings with her at various times. A billionaire behind the Slim-Fast diet and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace, Abraham told the AP last year his talks with Clinton concerned Mideast issues.

Big Clinton Foundation donors with no history of political giving to the Clintons also met or talked by phone with Hillary Clinton and top aides, AP’s review showed.

Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest “microcredit” for poor business owners, met with Clinton three times and talked with her by phone during a period when Bangladeshi government authorities investigated his oversight of a nonprofit bank and ultimately pressured him to resign from the bank’s board. Throughout the process, he pleaded for help in messages routed to Clinton, and she ordered aides to find ways to assist him.

American affiliates of his nonprofit Grameen Bank had been working with the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative programs as early as 2005, pledging millions of dollars in microloans for the poor. Grameen America, the bank’s nonprofit U.S. flagship, which Yunus chairs, has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation — a figure that bank spokeswoman Becky Asch said reflects the institution’s annual fees to attend CGI meetings. Another Grameen arm chaired by Yunus, Grameen Research, has donated between $25,000 and $50,000.

As a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton, as well as then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and two other senators in 2007 sponsored a bill to award a congressional gold medal to Yunus. He got one but not until 2010, a year after Obama awarded him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Yunus first met with Clinton in Washington in April 2009. That was followed six months later by an announcement by USAID, the State Department’s foreign aid arm, that it was partnering with the Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit charity run by Yunus, in a $162 million commitment to extend its microfinance concept abroad. USAID also began providing loans and grants to the Grameen Foundation, totaling $2.2 million over Clinton’s tenure.

By September 2009, Yunus began complaining to Clinton’s top aides about what he perceived as poor treatment by Bangladesh’s government. His bank was accused of financial mismanagement of Norwegian government aid money — a charge that Norway later dismissed as baseless. But Yunus told Melanne Verveer, a long-time Clinton aide who was an ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, that Bangladesh officials refused to meet with him and asked the State Department for help in pressing his case.

“Please see if the issues of Grameen Bank can be raised in a friendly way,” he asked Verveer. Yunus sent “regards to H” and cited an upcoming Clinton Global Initiative event he planned to attend.

Clinton ordered an aide: “Give to EAP rep,” referring the problem to the agency’s top east Asia expert.

Yunus continued writing to Verveer as pressure mounted on his bank. In December 2010, responding to a news report that Bangladesh’s prime minister was urging an investigation of Grameen Bank, Clinton told Verveer that she wanted to discuss the matter with her East Asia expert “ASAP.”

Clinton called Yunus in March 2011 after the Bangladesh government opened an inquiry into his oversight of Grameen Bank. Yunus had told Verveer by email that “the situation does not allow me to leave the country.” By mid-May, the Bangladesh government had forced Yunus to step down from the bank’s board. Yunus sent Clinton a copy of his resignation letter. In a separate note to Verveer, Clinton wrote: “Sad indeed.”

Clinton met with Yunus a second time in Washington in August 2011 and again in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka in May 2012. Clinton’s arrival in Bangladesh came after Bangladesh authorities moved to seize control of Grameen Bank’s effort to find new leaders. Speaking to a town hall audience, Clinton warned the Bangladesh government that “we do not want to see any action taken that would in any way undermine or interfere in the operations of the Grameen Bank.”

Grameen America’s Asch referred other questions about Yunus to his office, but he had not responded by Tuesday.

Earlier this month, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau acknowledged that agency officials are “regularly in touch with a range of outside individuals and organizations, including nonprofits, NGOs, think tanks and others.” But Trudeau said the State Department was not aware of any actions that were influenced by the Clinton Foundation.

In another case, Clinton was host at a September 2009 breakfast meeting at the New York Stock Exchange that listed Blackstone Group chairman Stephen Schwarzman as one of the attendees. Schwarzman’s firm is a major Clinton Foundation donor, but he personally donates heavily to GOP candidates and causes. One day after the breakfast, according to Clinton emails, the State Department was working on a visa issue at Schwarzman’s request. In December that same year, Schwarzman’s wife, Christine, sat at Clinton’s table during the Kennedy Center Honors. Clinton also introduced Schwarzman, then chairman of the Kennedy Center, before he spoke.

Blackstone donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Eight Blackstone executives also gave between $375,000 and $800,000 to the foundation. And Blackstone’s charitable arm has pledged millions of dollars in commitments to three Clinton Global aid projects ranging from the U.S. to the Mideast. Blackstone officials did not make Schwarzman available for comment.

Clinton also met in June 2011 with Nancy Mahon of the MAC AIDS, the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder. The meeting occurred before an announcement about a State Department partnership to raise money to finance AIDS education and prevention. The public-private partnership was formed to fight gender-based violence in South Africa, the State Department said at the time.

The MAC AIDS fund donated between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. In 2008, Mahon and the MAC AIDS fund made a three-year unspecified commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative. That same year, the fund partnered with two other organizations to beef up a USAID program in Malawi and Ghana. And in 2011, the fund was one of eight organizations to pledge a total of $2 million over a three-year period to help girls in southern Africa. The fund has not made a commitment to CGI since 2011.

Estee Lauder executive Fabrizio Freda also met with Clinton at the same Wall Street event attended by Schwarzman. Later that month, Freda was on a list of attendees for a meeting between Clinton and a U.S.-China trade group. Estee Lauder has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. The company made a commitment to CGI in 2013 with four other organizations to help survivors of sexual slavery in Cambodia.

MAC AIDs officials did not make Mahon available to AP for comment.

When Clinton appeared before the U.S. Senate in early 2009 for her confirmation hearing as secretary of state, then- Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, questioned her at length about the foundation and potential conflicts of interest. His concerns were focused on foreign government donations, mostly to CGI. Lugar wanted more transparency than was ultimately agreed upon between the foundation and Obama’s transition team.

Now, Lugar hopes Hillary and Bill Clinton make a clean break from the foundation.

“The Clintons, as they approach the presidency, if they are successful, will have to work with their attorneys to make certain that rules of the road are drawn up to give confidence to them and the American public that there will not be favoritism,” Lugar said.

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Bahrain, a Brutal Clinton Donor, Enjoyed ‘Expedited’ Access

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Crown Prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa in Washington, May 9, 2012.

 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Crown Prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa in Washington, May 9, 2012. | Photo: AFP
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New emails show Bahrain’s crown prince enjoyed easy access to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Newly released emails from Hillary Clinton’s time as U.S. secretary of state reveal that her staff helped grant access to Clinton Foundation donors, including the Bahraini al-Khalifa monarchy accused of killing and torturing hundreds of people during the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising there. The monarchy of Bahrain – which hosts a major U.S. military base that’s home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet as well as CENTCOM – gave the foundation US$32 million.

RELATED:
Clinton’s Wall Street Donors Literally Sipping Cocktails over Sanders Defeat

Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that released the documents on Monday, said in a statement that the emails show Clinton aide Huma Abedin “provided influential Clinton Foundation donors special, expedited access to the secretary of state.”

The emails show that top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band sent an email to Abedin in June 2009 saying that Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain, was coming to the Washington for two days and seeking a meeting with Clinton, noting he is a “good friend of ours.” Abedin wrote back that the crown prince had asked to see Clinton through “normal channels.”

She added: “I asked and she said she doesn’t want to commit to anything for thurs or fri until she knows how she will feel. Also she says that she may want to go to ny and doesn’t want to be committed to stuff in ny.”

Two days later, Abedin wrote to Band saying they were offering up a morning meeting between Clinton and the crown prince. “If u see him, let him know. We have reached out thru official channels,” she wrote to Band.

The foundation’s site says the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program pledged US$32 million for the foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative program.

The small kingdom of Bahrain faced massive protests at the height of the Arab Spring in 2011, with up to 35 people killed following a major government crackdown on the majority Shiite population.

At the time, the U.S. expressed its support for the government. Saudi Arabia sent 1,000 troops and the United Arab Emirates sent 500 troops to aid the minority Sunni government in cracking down on the protests.

RELATED:
Major Hillary Clinton Donor Caught Up in Fresh Panama Papers Scandal

Additionally, several human rights organizations and activists accused the government of Bahrain of widespread state torture against its dissident citizens during the arrests and imprisonments.

Bahrain used the expertise of U.S. police in its crackdown on the protests. John Timoney, senior consultant for police and security matters for Andrews International, was recruited by Bahrain for police training during the protests.

Timoney, a former Miami and Philadelphia police chief, spoke to NPR in 2012 just months after the crackdown and seemed to brush off the crackdown in Bahrain as a mere concern about traffic.

“Here’s where the problem comes in. It’s a small city … clearly, if you have unauthorized protests that are happening during the daytime, I mean, the traffic comes to a standstill,” he told NPR, justifying the crackdown.

The latest revelations come as a judge ordered the U.S. State Department Monday to review for possible release 14,900 of Clinton’s emails and attachments that the FBI found when investigating her use of a private email server as secretary of state.

The judge scheduled a hearing on the release date in late September, making it possible that the emails could become public before the Nov. 8 presidential election between Democrat Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump.

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Bahrain-a-Brutal-Clinton-Donor-Enjoyed-Expedited-Access-20160822-0022.html

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New Hillary Clinton emails reveal how foundation donors got access to Clinton and her close aides at State Department — U.S. Government Corruption, Lies, Cover Up, Criminality and Ineptitude?

August 23, 2016

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By 
The Washington Post
August 22 at 7:18 PM

 

A sports executive who was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and whose firm paid Bill Clinton millions of dollars in consulting fees wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past.

The crown prince of Bahrain, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons’ charity and who participated in its glitzy annual conference, wanted a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U2 rocker and philanthropist Bono, also a regular at foundation events, wanted high-level help broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during concerts.

In each case, according to emails released Monday from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, the requests were directed to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and confidante, Huma Abedin, who engaged with other top aides and sometimes Clinton herself about how to respond.

The emails show that, in these and similar cases, the donors did not always get what they wanted, particularly when they sought anything more than a meeting.

Huma Abedin, center, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, was often a point person for those requesting time or favors from Clinton at the State Department. Not all of those requests were granted.

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But the exchanges, among 725 pages of correspondence from Abedin disclosed as part of a lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch, illustrate the way the Clintons’ international network of friends and donors was able to get access to Hillary Clinton and her inner circle during her tenure running the State Department.

The release of the correspondence follows previous disclosures of internal emails showing a similar pattern of access for foundation contributors, and it comes as Republicans allege that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, used her perch in the Obama administration to trade favors for donations. Clinton and the foundation have vigorously denied the charge.

[Emails show that Clinton Foundation donors got access at State Department]

Huma Abedin, longtime aide to former US Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, Photo: Getty Images

The disclosures also cast new doubts on Clinton’s past claim that she turned over all her work-related email from her private server to the State Department for eventual release to the public.

Judicial Watch said Monday’s release from Abedin’s inbox included 20 previously undisclosed exchanges with Clinton that were not included in the approximately 55,000 pages of correspondence the former secretary gave to State. Also Monday, the State Department said the FBI had turned over nearly 15,000 emails and other documents that investigators discovered during a probe of Clinton’s email setup that she had not previously returned to State.

Clinton has said about 30,000 personal emails were deleted from the server. The FBI batch includes emails and attachments that were sent directly to or from Clinton, or that were part of email chains.

FBI Director James B. Comey has said there is no evidence that emails were purposefully deleted with an intent to conceal them, and a State Department spokesman said Monday that some of the records included emails that were purely personal.


FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016. Getty Images

It is not clear when the documents discovered by the FBI will become public, but attorneys for the State Department and Judicial Watch are negotiating a release that is likely to begin before the election and continue long after.

Josh Schwerin, a Clinton campaign spokesman, said in a statement Monday that Judicial Watch is a “right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s” and that the group is “distorting facts to make utterly false attacks.”

“No matter how this group tries to mischaracterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as Secretary of State because of donations to the Clinton Foundation,” he said.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Monday that there is “no clear sign” donors received access for their contributions.

The emails released Monday showed how requests from donors would often come through Doug Band, a longtime Bill Clinton aide who helped create the foundation, with Abedin as a primary point of contact. Band declined to comment on the newly released emails, and attorneys for Abedin did not respond to a request for comment.

There is no indication from the emails that Abedin intervened on behalf of Casey Wasserman, an L.A. sports executive who in 2009 asked Band for help getting a visa for a British soccer star trying to visit Las Vegas. Band indicated that the office of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) had already declined to help, given the player’s criminal record. A Boxer spokesman described the request to her office as “routine” but one with that Boxer did not assist, “given the facts of the case.”

“Makes me nervous to get involved but I’ll ask,” Abedin wrote to Band in May 2009 after he forwarded to her an email from Wasserman.

Band responded: “then dont.”

Wasserman’s charitable foundation has given the Clinton Foundation between $5 million and $10 million. In 2009 and 2010, his investment company paid Bill Clinton $3.13 million in consulting fees.

A spokeswoman for Wasserman said the businessman never contacted Bill Clinton on the matter and the visa was never granted.

Band and Abedin also responded dismissively when asked if they had any ideas on how to help Bono get his space station transmission: “No clue,” they each responded in turn.

The appeal appears to have had more success in the case of Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain. In June 2009, Band emailed Abedin that the prince would be in Washington for two days and was seeking a meeting with Hillary Clinton. “Good friend of ours,” he added.

Abedin responded that the prince had already requested a meeting “through normal channels” but that Clinton had been hesitant to commit. Two days later, Abedin followed up with Band to let him know that a meeting with the prince had been set. “If u see him, let him know. We have reached out thru official channels,” she wrote to Band.

Bahrain has a spotty human rights record but full relations with the U.S. government.

In a statement, the court of the crown prince said his participation at a 2005 foundation event “happened years before and was wholly unrelated to any meeting with Secretary Clinton,” adding that the prince is deputy head of state of an American ally and so he often meets with U.S. officials.

The new disclosures come as the Clinton Foundation and its international network of powerful donors have returned to the forefront of the presidential campaign.

On Monday, Bill Clinton sent an email to foundation staff and supporters outlining new steps and offering a defense of the foundation’s accomplishments. He wrote that the foundation would stop accepting corporate and foreign donations if Hillary Clinton was elected and that he would step down from the charity’s board, along with the board of a related Boston-based health organization. While he said his role would change, “the work itself should continue because so many people are committed to it and so many more are relying on it.”

[The inside story of how the Clintons built a $2 billion global empire]

The announcements did little to quell Republican attacks. The GOP nominee, Donald Trump, on Monday called for the foundation to be shut down altogether, describing the charity as “the most corrupt enterprise in political history.”

The newly released emails underscored the central role played by Abedin, a top adviser to Clinton’s campaign who has been working for her since Clinton’s time as first lady.

When S. Daniel Abraham, a major Democratic donor who had also given to the foundation, was visiting Washington in May 2009 and wanted to see Clinton, the emails showed that he placed a call to Abedin. “Do u want me to try and fit him in tomorrow?” Abedin emailed Clinton, who appeared to indicate in her response that she was willing to make time.

Abraham said in an interview Monday that he talked with Clinton about the Middle East and that his status as a donor had nothing to do with his ability to secure time with the secretary.

“It was about the issue that I have worked hard on for many, many years, Israeli-Palestinian peace,” he said. “I have been friendly with the Clintons since their White House days. As far as I am concerned it was all good. She never asked me for anything.”

Longtime Clinton friend and fundraiser Maureen White wrote Abedin in July 2009, saying that she would be in Washington three days later. “Would she have any time to spare?” White wrote.

“Yes I’ll make it work,” Abedin responded.

White went on to serve in the State Department under Clinton. White said she and her husband, Steven Rattner, gave $31,000 to the foundation before 2009 and $25,000 to the foundation in 2012. White said that she did not remember the specific exchange but that she has met often with Clinton as a longtime supporter and has worked on refugee and humanitarian issues in several capacities in and out of government.
“Usually when I told Huma I wanted to meet with Hillary Clinton, Huma made it happen,” White said.

In another email exchange, Democratic donor and activist Joyce Aboussie of St. Louis wrote to Abedin requesting a meeting between Clinton and a top executive of St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, one of the world’s largest coal producers.

“Huma, I need your help now to intervene please,” Aboussie wrote in June 2009. “We need this meeting with Secretary Clinton, who has been there now for nearly six months. This is, by the way, my first request.”

Abedin responded: “We are working on it and I hope we can make something work . . . we have to work through the beauracracy [sic] here.”

It is not clear whether the meeting took place. Neither Peabody officials nor Aboussie, who donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, responded to requests for comment.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/emails-reveal-how-foundation-donors-got-access-to-clinton-and-her-close-aides-at-state-dept/2016/08/22/345b5200-6882-11e6-8225-fbb8a6fc65bc_story.html

Related:

 (Wall Street Journal)

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Hillary Clinton’s 15,000 New Emails to Get Timetable for Release

WASHINGTON — The dispute over Hillary Clinton’s email practices now threatens to shadow her for the rest of the presidential campaign after the disclosure on Monday that the F.B.I. collected nearly 15,000 new emails in its investigation of her and a federal judge’s order that the State Department accelerate the documents’ release.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/23/us/politics/hillary-clintons-new-emails-release-state-department.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Read the rest:

 

After Media Exposes U.S. Department of State For Second Incident of Lying to the American People, or Changing or Editing Historic Record, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Orders an Investigation

June 4, 2016

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Washington (CNN) Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday slammed the selective editing of a video of a State Department press briefing on the Iran deal, calling it “stupid and clumsy and inappropriate.”

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He said he intends to find out who at the department was responsible for the action and added he didn’t want someone who would do that working there, telling reporters in Paris, “I would like to find out exactly what happened and why.”
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Kerry’s call for an investigation comes as fallout from the incident continues to grow, with Congressional Republicans demanding an inquiry into the clipped video.
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The State Department has acknowledged removing a portion of the video posted on its website but has so far not identified the official who requested the cut.
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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce sent a letter on Friday to the State Department’s Inspector General, Steve Linick, calling on him to investigate the matter.
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“In tampering with this video, the Bureau of Public Affairs has undermined its mission to ‘communicate timely and accurate information with the goal of furthering U.S. foreign policy,'” Royce wrote. “This is all the more troubling given that the video in question dealt with hugely consequential nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
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Does the U.S. Department of State have a Culture of Obfuscation and Deceit?
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Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Ji on September 5, 2012
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House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, meanwhile, sent a letter to Kerry late Thursday night requesting a number of items related to the incident, including documents identifying “by name and job title” those involved in making the request to delete the video and those who carried it out.
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Chaffetz also demanded documents that show the dates when the video was deleted and restored, and any memos or communications with the Office of the Legal Advisor or others about the move to remove the video footage. The committee gave the State Department until Wednesday to produce the materials.
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The State Department’s legal adviser announced this week that part of a video from a December 2013 press briefing addressing secret talks between the U.S. and Iran had been deliberately deleted before it was posted online. The State Department routinely posts on its site the briefing that it holds nearly every day with the diplomatic press corps.
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State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters that an unknown U.S. official made a request over the phone to delete several minutes of an exchange between reporters and a State Department spokeswoman. Kirby said the department technician who made the edit could not recall who requested it.
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John Kirby
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The deleted portion of the video involves questions about a previous press briefing in which then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland denied secret talks between the U.S. and Iran about a potential nuclear deal were taking place.
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Nuland told CNN she did not know about the talks when she made the comments at the briefing and had made what she believed was a truthful statement.
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“When I responded to that question at the podium in February 2013, I had no knowledge of any bilateral talks between the U.S. and Iran. As spokesperson, I was kept completely in the dark,” she said.
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After it was revealed in December 2013 that secret talks between the U.S. and Iran actually had taken place, then-spokeswoman Jen Psaki admitted the administration lied in order to protect the secret negotiations.
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Jen Psaki
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When James Rosen of Fox News — who asked the original questions of Psaki — tried to refer back to the video last month, he found the exchange had been deleted.
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Psaki, who now is the White House communications director, tweeted Wednesday that she was unaware of the episode: “I had no knowledge of nor would I have approved of any form of editing or cutting my briefing transcript on any subject while @StateDept.”
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James Rosen
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Psaki, speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday, called the video cut “a stunning case of poor judgment.”
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Marie Harf, the former deputy State Department spokeswoman, who worked under Psaki and is now an adviser to Kerry, told CNN she “had no knowledge of, nor would I have approved of, this editing.
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Harf, who currently handles communications regarding the Iran deal, added, “I have no idea who asked for the editing of the tape.
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Asked whether the inspector general should investigate what happened, Psaki said she would “let the State Department and their lawyers speak to that.”
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However House Republicans, who overwhelmingly opposed the Iran deal, aren’t waiting for the legal team to weigh in before speaking out.
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“This admission proves once again that the White House intentionally misled the American people about the Iran deal. If they truly care about transparency, the administration should investigate who requested this selective editing and why,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.
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Arkansas GOP Senator Tom Cotton, one of the leading critics of the deal, pointed to the incident as evidence that the deal was “sold to Americans through a parade of misleading ‘narratives,’ echo chambers, and outright falsehoods.”
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Kirby had originally called the deletion a “glitch” before admitting that the video had been deliberately trimmed. But he noted Wednesday that the entire transcript had always been available online.
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“We do not know who made the request to edit the video or why it was made,” Kirby said.
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Another senior State Department official said the technician found the request “unusual” and consulted her supervisor before making the edit. The supervisor, who also could not remember the name of the person who called, approved the request because it came from someone “from a certain level and credibility” in the Department of Public Affairs.
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“Although this person did not remember the person who called her, or the person they were calling on behalf of, she remembers it was not (Jen) Psaki,” this official said. “Jen did not request it, did not know about it and had nothing to do with it.”

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/03/politics/republicans-investigation-edited-state-department-iran-video/index.html

Related:

Regarding the 2,100 emails on Clinton’s server found to have contained classified information — and another 22 “Top Secret” messages containing intelligence deemed too damaging to national security to make public – The Former State Department Inspector General questioned how that material got there. He said it would take a deliberate act for the intelligence to “jump the gap” between the classified computer networks and Clinton’s personal server.

Obama Administration Culture of Deceit?

  • Benghazi attack the result of a video
  • You can keep your doctor
  • You can keep your health plan
  • “Not a smidgen” of corruption at the IRS

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen

Robert A. McDonald of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Photo by Joe Gromelski, Stars and Stripes

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admisistrator Gina McCarthy

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MIT economist Jonathan Gruber testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, before the House Oversight Committee health care hearing. Congressional Democrats charged Tuesday that Republicans are seizing on a health adviser’s self-described “thoughtless” and misleading remarks to attack President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

US Department of Veterans Affairs: Scandals started to boil when veterans died while waiting for care — Now US Senate investigation exposes dysfunctional VA inspector general and deadly practices in medical care

June 1, 2016

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has been dogged by scandal in recent years, but this incident suggests that the VA’s troubles may be more deeply rooted than bureaucratic red tape and funding woes.

By Max Lewontin, Staff
The Christian Science Monitor
MAY 31, 2016

Accusations of poor care and frequent over-prescription of opioid painkillers once earned the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wis., the nickname “Candy Land.”

Now, a US Senate investigation has revealed that a VA inspector general’s review of the facility discounted evidence and witness testimony, while the agency’s internal watchdog also declined to make its investigation report public.

OxyContin (oxycodone) is an opioid pain medication that can easily result in addiction when it is improperly prescribed or over-used.

The report is the latest blow to the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs that has been dogged by a myriad of scandals in recent years, including veterans dying while waiting for care. The Tomah scandal suggests that the VA’s problems are not merely administrative, but may actually involve a level of willful neglect.

In 2014, investigators at the VA found doctors were frequently over-prescribing painkillers, with some veterans nicknaming former chief of staff David Houlihan “candy man” as a result. The deaths of three people under care at the facility also remain under investigation.

 

But the investigation by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, due for release Tuesday ahead of a hearing, found that the inspector general, which is tasked with keeping an eye on VA facilities, did nothing to identify wrongdoing at the facility.

“Perhaps the greatest failure to identify and prevent the tragedies at the Tomah VAMC was the VA Office of Inspector General’s two-year health care inspection of the facility,” the report notes, according to an advance copy obtained by USA Today.

Following news reports of the death of Jason Simcakoski, who died of “mixed drug toxicity” after having taken 13 medications prescribed by the hospital in a 24-hour period, the VA launched another investigation, finding doctors at the facility had failed to properly advise Mr. Simcakoski of the risks of taking the drugs. They also bungled the immediate emergency response after discovering him unresponsive in his bed in August 2014, the VA’s report found last year.

The controversy over conditions at Tomah and the inspector general’s inaction has also become a political battle between a current and a former Wisconsin senator locked in an election contest.

Tuesday’s hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m., Central time, at the Cranberry County Lodge in Tomah, is expected to feature testimony from VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson and new Inspector General Michael Missal.

The replacement of the watchdog came amid other critiques of the office’s investigations in other states, including Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas, USA Today reports.

While Mr. Missal has promised greater transparency, the investigator who led the Tomah inquiry and decided to keep it secret, Dr. John Daigh, is remaining in his current role, the paper reports.

Johnson said the IG’s delay in making its findings public were part of a larger pattern. “The reasons the problems were allowed to fester for so many years is because in the inspector general’s office, for whatever reason, for years, the inspector general lacked the independence and had lost the sense of what its true mission was, which is being the transparent watchdog of VA system,” he told USA Today.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2016/0531/Did-watchdog-turn-blind-eye-as-Wisconsin-VA-hospital-dissolved-into-Candy-Land-video

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Senate investigation finds ‘systemic’ failures at VA watchdog

By 
USA Today
May 31, 2016

WASHINGTON — A Senate investigation of poor health care at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wis., found systemic failures in a VA inspector general’s review of the facility that raise questions about the internal watchdog’s ability to ensure adequate health care for veterans nationwide.

The probe by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee found the inspector general’s office, which is charged with independently investigating VA complaints, discounted key evidence and witness testimony, needlessly narrowed its inquiry and has no standard for determining wrongdoing.

One of the biggest failures identified by Senate investigators was the inspector general’s decision not to release its investigation report, which concluded two providers at the facility had been prescribing alarming levels of narcotics. The facility’s chief of staff at the time was David Houlihan, a physician veterans had nick-named “candy man” because he doled out so many pills.

Releasing the report would have forced VA officials to publicly address the issue and ensured follow up by the inspector general to make sure the VA took action. Instead, the inspector general’s office briefed local VA officials and closed the case.

A 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran, Jason Simcakoski, died five months later from “mixed drug toxicity” at Tomah days after Houlihan signed off on adding another opiate to the 14 drugs he was already prescribed.

The 350-page Senate committee report obtained by USA TODAY also chronicles instances where other agencies could have done more to fix problems at the Tomah VA Medical Center, including the local police, the FBI, DEA, and the VA itself, but it singles out the inspector general.

“Perhaps the greatest failure to identify and prevent the tragedies at the Tomah VAMC was the VA Office of Inspector General’s two-year health care inspection of the facility,” the report concludes, adding that despite the dangerous drug prescriptions, the IG did not identify any wrongdoing.

After news reports chronicled Simcakoski’s death last year, VA officials conducted another investigation with very different results and ousted Houlihan, a nurse practitioner, and the medical center’s director.

“In just three months, the VA investigated and substantiated a majority of the allegations that the VA OIG could not substantiate after several years,” the committee report notes.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the committee, which is holding a hearing on the findings in Tomah on Tuesday, told USA TODAY the failures were “systemic” and indicative of a troubling pattern.

“The reasons the problems were allowed to fester for so many years is because in the inspector general’s office, for whatever reason, for years, the inspector general lacked the independence and had lost the sense of what its true mission was, which is being the transparent watchdog of VA system,” he said.

The conclusions echo other recent findings about the office tasked under federal law to be an independent watchdog exposing problems at the VA and making recommendations for improvement. The Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency that reviews whistleblower reports of wrongdoing, issued blistering critiques in recent months of the office’s investigations in Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas, which it said were incomplete and overly narrow.

USA TODAY also has reported that the VA inspector general failed to release the findings of 140 health care investigations and sat on the results of more than 70 wait-time probes for months.

While a new inspector general, Michael Missal, took over the office last month andpromised comprehensive investigations and greater transparency, the lead investigators on health care remain in place, including John Daigh, the physician who made the decision to keep the Tomah report secret.

A spokesman for the Office of Inspector General, Mike Nacincik, said Friday that IG officials had not finished reviewing the Senate report and so could not comment on the findings. But he said that at the time, Daigh felt it was appropriate not to release the Tomah report when it was finished in 2014 because the investigation did not substantiate wrongdoing.

“The OIG has learned important lessons from the Tomah VA Medical Center health care inspections,” Nacincik said.

Daigh’s office opened its Tomah investigation in 2011 after receiving complaints that Houlihan and a nurse practitioner, Deborah Frasher, were prescribing “massive doses of opiates to veterans with post traumatic stress disorder” and employees feared retaliation if they raised concerns. The complaints also said some patients kept getting early refills, suggesting they were abusing or selling their medications.

Little progress was made on the case until February 2012, when Alan Mallinger, a physician in the inspector general’s Washington, D.C., office, was put in charge. It was his first case as lead investigator, the Senate committee found.

Over the next two years, he and his team conducted dozens of interviews, pored through more than 225,000 emails and analyzed opioid prescription rates at hospitals and clinics across the Great Lakes region.

But they didn’t look into whether Houlihan and Frasher were prescribing opiates in dangerous combinations with other drugs – something the VA later concluded was rampant. One of the inspector general’s employees who reviewed charts from patients of Houlihan and Frasher actually noted during the investigation “A LOT of polypharmacy – patients on both uppers and downers, would really love to have a pharmacist look at some of these combos.”

But that didn’t happen because it was outside the scope of the investigation.

“The allegation that we had was that he was using opioids to treat PTSD, and that was the allegation we looked at,” Mallinger told Senate investigators.

They did have independent experts listen to audio of interviews with former Tomah pharmacists who recounted dangerous amounts of narcotics prescribed at the facility and said Houlihan would get hostile if they didn’t fill them. The experts told Mallinger’s team they were alarmed by what they heard. One said the facility could be in danger of losing its DEA license.

But Mallinger said his team did not have those experts review prescription data and could not independently corroborate the concerns with evidence and so discounted them.

“It was not valuable in terms of supporting allegations,” he told Senate investigators.

In the end, the IG didn’t have a standard for deciding when to substantiate allegations and instead decided ad hoc by committee. Their report, released after intense media scrutiny last year, concluded Houlihan and Frasher were among the highest prescribers of opiates in a multistate region, raising “potentially serious concerns.” But those conclusions “do not constitute proof of wrongdoing,” the report concluded.

The IG investigation team had intended all along to publish a public report on the findings, but Daigh decided instead to brief local VA officials and close it privately.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
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“I do not publish reports that repeat salacious allegations that I can’t support,” he told Senate investigators. “So to write a report with all sorts of accusations that I can’t support and throw that into a small community destroys the community and destroys the VA.”

After the report was released last year, a separate VA clinical review found Houlihan had failed to meet standards of care in 92% of cases and Frasher failed in 80%, according to a VA report provided to the Senate committee.

Houlihan and Frasher could not be reached for comment. Houlihan’s lawyer did not respond to a message seeking comment. Houlihan defended his record in an interview with WKOW in March.

“I am a good doctor, I do care very much for my patients,” he said. “There is a need for good care, great care for our veterans and I think my record really has shown that I’ve done that.”

Nacincik, the spokesman for the new inspector general, Missal, said he is reviewing the office’s operations “with an eye towards making enhancements.”

“We believe that our actions will enhance OIG investigations and increase the confidence that veterans, veterans service organizations, Congress and the American public have in the work of the OIG,” Nacincik said.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/05/31/senate-probe-finds-systemic-failures-va-inspector-general/85063032/

Related:

“It’s a system that’s gone completely haywire,” said Ryan Honl, a Gulf War veteran who in October resigned from his position as a secretary in the Tomah VA Medical Center’s mental health clinic after two months, filing a federal whistleblower complaint on his way out. – Image credit: Darren Hauck/ Center for Investigative Reporting

Opiate prescriptions at the VA medical center in Tomah have skyrocketed under psychiatrist David Houlihan, the hospital’s chief of staff. – Image credit: Center for Investigative Reporting

The number of opiate prescriptions at the Tomah VA more than quintupled from 2004, the year before David Houlihan became chief of staff of the hospital, to 2012, even as the number of veterans seeking care at the hospital declined. – Image credit: Darren Hauck/ Center for Investigative Reporting

http://www.jsonline.com/multimedia/photos/tomahs-va-hospital-candy-land-b99423960z1-288223791.html

Memorial Day 2016 — U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has mistakenly declared thousands of veterans to be deceased and canceled their benefits

May 30, 2016

VA moves to fix the problem, but results aren’t clear; veteran proves he’s alive with congressman’s help


Thousands of living veterans had their benefits cut when the Dept. of Veteran Affairs mistakenly declared them dead.

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By BEN KESLING
The Wall Street Journal
Updated May 25, 2016 6:22 p.m. ET
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The Department of Veterans Affairs has mistakenly declared thousands of veterans to be deceased and canceled their benefits over the past five years, a new snafu to emerge at the embattled department.

The VA has made the error more than 4,000 times over a half-decade because of employee mistakes or erroneous cross-checking of data by the department’s computers, among other reasons, according to correspondence between the VA and the office of U.S. Rep. David Jolly (R., Fla.) reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The VA changed its procedures to address the issue, but it isn’t yet clear whether the new system is effective.

“Although these types of cases represent a small number of beneficiaries in comparison to the millions of transactions completed each year in our administration of benefits, we sincerely regret the inconvenience caused by such errors and work to restore benefits as quickly as possible after any such error is brought to our attention,” a VA spokesman said in a statement.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald  — A great guy who has failed to fix the Veterans Administration

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the latest data represented an increase in the error rate or what prompted the VA to tackle the problem.

For veterans, benefits checks can suddenly stop appearing.

MORE READING

“Generally, I just don’t think people understand how bad it could be. It could be one day you’ve got a house, and the next you don’t,” said Navy veteran Michael Rieker of Dunedin, Fla., whose benefits were cut off last year. He was able to have the benefits restored initially, but a few months later they again were cut off, and he had to go through the restoration process a second time.

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Mr. Rieker, 69 years old, contacted Rep. Jolly, his congressman, and was able to prove to the VA that he was still alive; the agency then resumed his monthly benefits payments.

“Mistaken deaths by the VA have been a widespread problem impacting thousands of veterans across the country,” Mr. Jolly said in a statement.

Every year, about 400,000 veterans or others receiving VA benefits die and their awards are canceled, according to department statistics. Of the roughly two million veterans declared deceased in the past five years, 4,201 cases involved incorrect declarations that the VA eventually corrected before resuming payments to the still-living beneficiary.

PFC Josh Stein, 22, a double amputee rehab patient, lost his legs to an explosion in Iraq in 2006. Getty

The VA noted that such errors make up less than 1% of all benefits terminations each year and that the accuracy rate of terminations because of death is 99.83%, according to the department’s most recent figures. The department said it doesn’t keep records of the causes of the errors.

In the first instance of Mr. Rieker’s canceled benefits, a VA employee had identified him as Michael G. Rieker—though his middle initial is “C,” according to a department letter sent in December.

The VA’s system automatically cross-checks veterans’ names with the Social Security Administration’s so-called Death Master File. The list apparently contained a Michael G. Rieker.

That system was created, in part, to solve another problem at the department: payments that continue to dead people.

Over the past decade, the VA has used what is called the death match program to prevent people from cashing benefits checks sent to deceased veterans. In 2010, the VA’s inspector general said the program had led to 382 arrests and recovery of $40 million in fraudulent payments.

Under a new system instituted late last year, the VA sends a letter to the beneficiary believed to have died and waits 30 days for a response before terminating the benefits and declaring the person dead. The department said it doesn’t have statistics on whether the new system has reduced such errors.

Difficulty keeping track of veteran deaths poses other problems. In September 2015 the VA’s Office of Inspector General issued a report noting that about 35% of the department’s approximately 870,000 pending applications for enrollment into the VA health-care system as of September 2014 were for people reported as dead by the Social Security Administration.

The report noted that most of the pending records are likely outdated, though the record system makes it unclear. Such a convoluted system helps “create unnecessary difficulty and confusion in identifying and assisting veterans with the most urgent need for health-care enrollment,” the report said.

In March, the enrollment system updated more than 130,000 dates of death in conjunction with Social Security’s official rolls to cut back on pending applications.

Despite being declared dead twice by the VA—the second time was merely because the initial instance hadn’t been fully fixed by the VA—Mr. Rieker had good things to say about the agency.

“Every time I call they have been responsive,” said the veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. “Personally I believe they are just inundated; they are so overstacked with things to do, they can’t keep up.”

The former boat crewman became well-known locally for a few days, thanks to television and newspaper coverage the first time around.

“I walked into the sandwich shop, and they were like, ‘Hey, it’s the dead guy!’” Mr. Rieker said.

Write to Ben Kesling at benjamin.kesling@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/thousands-of-living-vets-declared-dead-and-lose-benefits-in-past-five-years-1464174000

Related:

Veterans Affairs Whistle-Blower Says Many Veterans Still Improperly Denied Needed Medical Care

May 26, 2016

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Veterans Affairs whistle-blower Scott Davis appeared on the Fox News Channel’s morning show “Fox and Friends” on Thursday, May 26, 2016, during the 6 am hour to report on the latest from the V.A.

Davis says that while the V.A. is proclaiming reforms and better management at the beleaguered U.S. federal government agency charged with managing veterans’ health care and other matters, the agency still suffers from perhaps illegal sleight of hand.

Davis says the V.A. has illegally denied health care to more than 22, 800 U.S. military veteran by illegally and improperly changing their administrative listing as “not eligible.”

He said more than 300 U.S. military veterans have died awaiting V.A. medical care.

Sadly, several veterans who were awaiting long periods to get medical care committed suicide before they were seen by V.A. doctors.

Two years ago, reports from Davis and others claimed the V.A. improperly manipulated government records to hide the fact that veterans were forced to wait inordinate amounts of time to receive medical appointments because of improper management and accounting at the V.A.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs at that time, General Eric Shinseki, resigned during the scandal and President Obama appointed Robert McDonald, a former Proctor and Gamble executive, to take over and the V.A. and root out corruption and wrongdoing at the agency.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald — pushing back?

Just a few days ago Robert McDonald said to reporters:

“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?  And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”

People with almost daily contact with the V.A., myself included, can attest that there is still something very much amiss at the V.A., two years after Mr. McDonald came on-board charged by President Obama with fixing the problems.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Related:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald Is Sorry He Compared Hospital Wait Times To Disneyland — In Britain Taxpayers Are Up In Arms Over a One Hour Wait By Their Version of the IRS

May 25, 2016

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald — pushing back.

I was waiting to see a doctor in a in U.S military clinic on a U.S. Army Base when Veterans Affairs Secretary (and retired U.S. Army General) Eric K. Shinseki resigned as secretary of veterans affairs on May 30, 2014.

The wait to see the doctor is usually so long that the U.S Army — and most other U.S. Military and Veterans Affairs clinics and hospitals — invests heavily in cable TV, wide screen TVs and the like. I was in great pain when General Shinseki was on the TV that day, and I badly needed the doctor’s help, but didn’t want to go to the emergency room where service is extra-slow. Oddly, General Shinseki looked like he felt he was in far greater pain than me. He wore the face of a guy thinking he was the victim of some immoral railroading.

I love General Shinseki. He’s a great man. Fair and honorable. But as he resigned, a voice in my head said softly, “Another victim of government red tape.”

General Shinseki was undoubtedly used to people following orders — being a U.S. Army General and all. But government bureaucracy doesn’t work that way. It’s slow. The employees of the U.S. Government bureaucracy work on their own time line in their own way. They do not tolerate criticism. And if anyone in great pain is rude enough to go to the front desk or nurses station and say,

“Psst. We’ve been waiting here an hour already, Ma’am. If the doctor can’t see me soon I think I’d better drive  over to the emergency room before I pass out, Ma’am.”

Well, by saying that, thinking it might actually prompt some response, I had to wait two hours more. And I report this, my fellow Americans, knowing that I will probably get audited by the IRS for telling this story.

And woe be unto me the next time I need a doctor. They might just inject me with floor cleaner and finish me off.

What Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald doesn’t get is that he is at the top, perhaps, of the most dysfunctional group of people most retired American military men and women ever encounter.

And why is Robert McDonald seated at the top of the Department of Veterans Affairs? Well, The Washington Post told us why in a news article on Friday, 30, 2014:

“Eric K. Shinseki resigned as secretary of veterans affairs Friday (May 30, 2014), apologizing for a scandal in which employees throughout the VA’s massive hospital system conspired to hide months-long wait times that veterans faced when seeking care.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/shinseki-apologizes-for-va-health-care-scandal/2014/05/30/e605885a-e7f0-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html

We might add, often times the people “seeking care” are in great pain or distress and seeking care because they need care, and they’ve been promised care, and they can’t get any care without some kind of Herculean effort — which is hard to muster up when one is in pain. People at this moment are seeking care — and finding any kind of care very hard to get.

The problem is not with those in need of care. The problem is guys in positions of authority who say imbecilic things like:

“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?  And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”

Move on it eventually?

Let me give Mr. Robert McDonald a clue. Go somewhere else to measure. We know the wait times increase misery. The wait time problem is real. People have killed themselves while waiting. Why don’t we lickety split speed things up by whatever method you suggest. Try something. Anything. And report beck to Congress before even one more veteran dies while they are “on hold.”

Our “satisfaction with the experience” is zero. No need to measure or take a poll. Get to work. Lets start talking about reducing the pain and reducing the suffering and making health care sometimes earned on the battlefield a lot more readily available.

Or tell us why that’s impossible. And resign.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

P.S. What we are seeing in the VA could well permeate our entire national health system under Obamacare.

Related:

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The Washington Examiner

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Monday compared the length of time veterans wait to receive health care at the VA to the length of time people wait for rides at Disneyland, and said his agency shouldn’t use wait times as a measure of success because Disney doesn’t either.

“When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” McDonald said Monday during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”

McDonald’s comments angered House Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted out Monday afternoon, “This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/va-secretary-disney-doesnt-measure-wait-times-so-why-should-va/article/2592021

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Related:

(Don’t ever call the “Help Line” at IRS. Nobody ever answers)

Above: This is an actual photo of the U.S Government’s Veterans Affairs Department.

“What’s your satisfaction with the experience?”

— Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald