The VA Scandal One Year Later: Whistleblowers Say Retaliations Have Continued Unabated (Video)

At a subcommittee hearing of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Monday, VA employees addressed lawmakers once again about the culture of whistleblower retaliation within the agency that keeps raising its ugly head.

Stars and Stripes reports that despite the increased scrutiny of the past year and a half, and the ongoing department overhaul,  whistleblowers are still facing retaliation. Indeed, if anything, according to Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), “we’ve taken steps backwards.”

At the hearing, Monday, the employees described a workplace culture where speaking out comes at great cost, even though VA Secretary Bob McDonald has made whistleblower protection a top priority.

One doctor who testified, last summer about wait-time manipulation, was demoted “and embarrassed in front of his patients.” Another employee – an Associate Director from Alabama –  was demoted and publicly humiliated by his superiors.

“The hostility they receive for their conscientious behavior shows that the retaliatory culture, where whistleblowers are castigated for bringing problems to light, is still very much alive and well in the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said. “The truth of the matter is, the Congress needs whistleblowers within federal agencies to help identify problems on the ground in order to remain properly informed for the development of effective legislation.”

Dr. Christian Head, who testified in July about wait time manipulation at the VA’s Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, said he has been demoted, embarrassed in front of patients and nearly turned away from an operating room while his patient was under anesthesia, awaiting surgery.

Head says in August he found that the locks had been changed on his office, and he was informed that he had been moved to a “tiny, dirty, poorly furnished closet-sized office” on a different floor. He said his supervisors have engaged in a continuous effort to undermine him since July, including preventing him from meeting with McDonald when the secretary visited the Los Angeles VA system earlier this year, saying his identification badge was expired.

When he complained of his mistreatment, he told Congressmen Monday, a supervisor told him, “If you don’t like it, you’re a whistleblower, take it to Congress.”

In submitted testimony, Head also detailed instances where he said employees experienced racial and religious discrimination.

Richard Tremaine, associate director of the Central Alabama VA Healthcare System, complained that “his superiors took away his leadership role and humiliated him and another whistleblower in emails sent systemwide after he reported malfeasance by system director James Talton, who was eventually fired after an investigation showed patient wait time manipulation Alabama VA hospitals.”

“I speak with you today, with a heavy heart, disgusted by continued cover-ups, a discrediting campaign through open-ended investigations, and the attempted destruction of my career, by the very VA I have always loved being part of,” Tremaine said.

More than 25 VA whistleblowers have received legal settlements for retaliations related to the scandal and about 120 cases are still pending. Still, Carolyn Lerner, special counsel for the Office of Special Counsel, said that, while the VA is reforming, she expects 40 percent of the agency’s cases to come from the VA this year, far more than from any other agency.

 “Despite this significant progress, the number of new whistleblower cases from VA employees remains overwhelming,” she said.

She testified that “about 80% of the time – when people come to us with a disclosure, they experience retaliation.”

Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) called on VA to end retaliation against Whistleblowers and insisted that disciplinary action against the offenders is key to nipping the problem in the bud.

Daaaang: Dems and Repubs Strike Deal to Ensure Congressional Role in Iran Deal

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What was Obama saying just a couple of days ago?

Oh Yeah:

President Barack Obama said Saturday that partisan wrangling over the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran and on other foreign policy matters has gone beyond the pale, singling out two senior Republican senators for particularly harsh criticism. “It needs to stop,” he declared.

Obama complained that Sen. John McCain of Arizona had suggested that Secretary of State John Kerry’s explanations of the framework agreement with Iran were “somehow less trustworthy” than those of Iran’s supreme leader.

“That’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries,” an exercised Obama said in a news conference at the end of the two-day Summit of the Americas. “And we’re seeing this again and again.”

Well Praise The Lord! Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have come together, put partisanship aside and “resolved key differences on the bill regarding Iran’s nuclear plan.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said Tuesday that negotiators had reached a bipartisan agreement on legislation allowing Congress to review a final nuclear deal with Iran.

“What I’m most proud of is we’ve kept the pure integrity of the process in place and the President cannot lift, while Congress is reviewing this, cannot lift the congressionally mandated sanctions, which is what they’ve been trying to do and push for over the past couple of weeks,” Corker told reporters as he headed into a classified briefing on the emerging Iran agreement with Secretary of State john Kerry and other top administration officials.”While Corker said that “no one should ever count their chickens before they hatch,” he expressed optimism that when the bill comes up for a vote in the committee later Tuesday it would pass, as expected.

This means that passage of the bill through the chamber is more or less certain and they may even have enough votes to override President Stompyfoot’s veto.

The bill also requires the President to make a series of detailed reports to Congress on a range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missiles work, and its support for terrorism globally, particularly against the U.S. and its allies.

Obama commanded that the partisanship stop, and by Jove – it stopped!

Maybe it was all the grubering?

Mark Thiessen thinks so:

Remember Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare architect who as caught on tape boasting how the president had taken advantage of the “stupidity” of American voters to pass his health-care law?

Well it seems, Obama is applying the “Gruber Doctrine” once again — this time to foreign policy.

The Gruber Doctrine is based on the premise that, in the words of the now infamous MIT professor, “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and that the “basic exploitation of the lack of . . . understanding of the American voter” is “really, really critical” for enacting your preferred policies.

That is precisely what Obama is doing when it comes to Iran and Cuba.

With Iran, the administration is once again relying on a “lack of transparency” to ram through its nuclear deal. Even Iran’s foreign minister dismissed the administration’s talking points describing the framework agreement as “spin.” Obama is warning that the only alternative to his deal is “another war in the Middle East ,” even though he has yet to reveal the key details: Will sanctions relief be front-loaded, as Iran insists, or will sanctions come off gradually, as the Iranians meet certain performance benchmarks? Will there be any transparency into Iran’s past secret nuclear activity, information that is critical to verifying its compliance today? Will there be “snap inspections” and access to all Iranian facilities, both civilian and military? Iran says no.

Obama is counting on the fact that Americans won’t be able to follow all the details about “centrifuges” and “domestic enrichment capacity.” He won’t share the details but wants us to trust him that there will be “unprecedented verification.” If you believe that, you probably still think that if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.

Last week, your humble bloggress was probably the first pundit to note that with these Iran negotiations, Obama was putting the Gruber doctrine to work on a world-wide scale. 

UPDATE:

PJ Media: Unanimous: Senate Committee Gives Bipartisan Approval to Iran Bill

PJ Media: Inside the Kerry Briefing of ‘Skeptical and Quiet’ Senators on Iran Deal

Nice Deb Now at PJ Media

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I’m very pleased to announce that I am now writing for PJ Media at their PJ Tatler blog. My first post was published this morning: Flashback: Jeb Bush Awarded Hillary Clinton ‘Liberty Medal’ on the Eve of 1st Anniversary of Benghazi Attack – so head on over there and give it some traffic.

I will be posting at the Tatler about three times a day while hopefully still maintaining this blog where I will continue to rant and rave as I see fit.

Thanks as always for your readership – and please do visit me at my new gig.

Our Weasel Of The Week Nominees!!

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It’s time once again for the Watcher’s Council’s ‘Weasel Of The Week’ nominations, where we pick our choices to compete for the award of the famed Golden Weasel to a public figure who particularly deserves to be slimed and mocked for his or her dastardly deeds during the week. Every Tuesday morning, tune in for the Weasel of the Week nominations!

Here are this weeks’ nominees….

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Left wing Cartoonist Garry Trudeau!!

 The Noisy Room : My nomination this week is Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame. You’d think
a cartoonist would know better and have more sense.

After receiving the George Polk award, Trudeau proclaimed in his acceptance speech that the brave French satirists of Charlie Hebdo were hate-spewing fanatics and said that “free speech… becomes its own kind of fanaticism.”

Spoken like a true Progressive/Marxist who has no clue about the brutality and barbarity of radical Islam – he is basically comparing the victims to the murderers in that statement. The George Polk award should be rescinded immediately. What dhimmitude coming from a whiny, wealthy American elitist Leftist. And the New York Times thinks Trudeau’s blathering is comprised of wise, nuanced words. Figures.

For basically condoning the executions of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, Trudeau should get ushered into the Hall of Fame of Weasels and a one-way ticket to join ISIS. I’m sure he’d be right at home with the downtrodden there. I’ve noticed an overreaching mantra from the Left that First Amendment rights should be curtailed and controlled. Trudeau is a fascist weasel of the first order.


Racist Judge Olu Stevens!!

The Watcher: What kind of excuse for a judge scolds a three-year-old and her parents in court who were victims of a home invasion and armed robbery as ‘racists’ because the little girl admitted she was now afraid of black men?

Meet Louisville, Kentucky 30th Judicial circuit Judge Olu Stevens.

At the sentencing trial of one of the robbers, a victim’s impact statement written by the little girl’s mother was entered into evidence. Part of it said, “Whenever we are running errands, if we come across a black male, she holds me tight and begs me to leave. It has affected her friendships at school and our relationships with African-American friends.”

Judge Stevens’ response? To excoriate the victims of the crime in open court as racists and to sympathize with the criminal who traumatized a young child and her family.

“I am offended. … I am deeply offended that they would be victimized by an individual and express some kind of fear of all black men,” he said.

“This little girl certainly has been victimized, and she can’t help the way she feels,” he said. “My exception is more with her parents and their accepting that kind of mentality and fostering those type of stereotypes.”

Not only did he chastise the victims of the crime, but he let Gregory Wallace, one of the two black perpetrators who pleaded guilty to the March 21, 2013, crime off on probation because “he deserves a chance to redeem himself.”

Can you even imagine the headlines nationwide if a white judge let off an armed robber who had victimized a black family out of racial solidarity? But since this is a black judge, other then the local Courier-Journal, this passed by with barely a mention.

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SHRILLERY

The Watcher: Oh, why not? Just the thought of this grifter, con artist and serial liar without any accomplishments except staying out of jail having the nerve to believe she’s entitled to run for president entitles her to a shot at the Golden Weasel.

Although, I have to admit, at least she knows what it is to be homeless and poor. After all she told us how broke she and Bill were when they left the White House, and Hillary wouldn’t lie, now would she?

 

If the American people are stupid enough to fall for her crap, they deserve everything that will happen to them.

Well, there it is. What a despicable group of  Weasels…ANY OF THEM COULD WIN! Check back Thursday to see which Weasel walks off with the statuette of shame!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum.

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, and you won’t want to miss it...or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

Checking in on the Jayvee Team

With so much of the world’s attention in recent weeks being on Iran, ISIS must be feeling a little neglected — because they appear to be acting out even more than usual.

“Hey, we’re an existential threat too,” they seem to be saying as they post pictures of themselves playing soccer with human heads.”

“Hey, we may not have nukes – yet – but we can make pretty nifty cartoons of your president being decapitated.”

“Make no mistake – we’re the meanest kids on the block.”

The Islamic State is demanding a $30 million ransom to release hundreds of Christian hostages. Fox News reports ISIS jihadists are demanding $100,000 for each hostage. “They know we cannot come up with this kind of money so they’re hoping other groups and countries will come up with the money,” Fox quoted an unnamed Assyrian leader. The jihadi army captured 250-300 civilians in attacks on 35 Assyrian villages in the Hasaka province on February 23. Islamic State fighters killed nine Assyrians attempting to defend their homes. So far the Islamist group released 23 hostages who were told to leave the country rather than return to their homes.

No joke – they really are the meanest and most demented kids on the block. They remind me of the evil inbred freaks in the Texas Chainsaw massacre. Only those freaks actually retained an ounce of humanity. They need to be stopped cold by a military willing to unleash overwhelming force on them.

Sadly – that won’t be happening as long as the current pResident is in office.