Another one bites the dust
WASHINGTON - Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey abruptly stepped down Friday as the Bush administration struggled to cope with the fallout from a scandal over substandard conditions for wounded Iraq soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.Those who let the mess at Reed happen deserve to be canned. Our wounded fighting men and women deserve the best, nothing less.
Harvey's sudden departure was the most dramatic move yet in an escalating removal of commanders with responsibilities over one of the military's highest-profile and busiest medical facilities.
Hours earlier, President Bush ordered a comprehensive review of conditions at the nation's network of military and veteran hospitals in the wake of the Walter Reed disclosures.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Harvey had resigned, but senior defense officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Gates had asked Harvey to leave. Gates was displeased that the officer Harvey had chosen as interim commander of Walter Reed — Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, a former commander of Walter Reed — has been accused by critics of long knowing about the problems there and not improving outpatient care.
Milblogger Chuck has an excellent post on some other recent Walter Reed news. It is too long and good to do credit by excerpting it here. Instead I suggest you go read it at Chuck's site. It is well worth your time.
Update- James Joyner points to this Washington Post editorial.
YESTERDAY THE Post reported that Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley heard years ago from a veterans advocate and even a member of Congress that outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was distressingly squalid and disorganized. That commander proceeded to do little, even though he lives across the street from the outpatient facilities in a spacious Georgian house. Also yesterday, the Army announced that Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, the head of Walter Reed since August, had been relieved of his command. His temporary replacement? None other than Gen. Kiley.To me it would seem the Kiley nomination would be no improvement at all at Walter Reed. I like the Youngs, particularly Beverly. I'd definitely believe Mrs. Young if she said Kiley was not being helpful or was useless. The Post editorial says just that.
Here's where the story stops making sense. Much of The Post's article detailed the abuse by omission that Gen. Kiley, not Gen. Weightman, committed, first as head of Walter Reed, then in his current post as Army surgeon general. Gen. Weightman, who very well might deserve his disgrace, has commanded Walter Reed for only half a year, while Gen. Kiley, now back in charge of Walter Reed, headed the hospital and its outpatient facilities for two years and has led the Army's medical command since. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and his wife say they repeatedly told Gen. Kiley about unhealthful conditions in outpatient facilities.
While Gen. Kiley was ignoring Walter Reed's outpatients, he was assuring Congress that he was doing just the opposite. A staffer for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) told us yesterday that Gen. Kiley told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2005 that the performance of the medical holdover program, which covers 69 of the 76 residents of Building 18, "is a good-news story." In response to questions Mr. Davis submitted, Gen. Kiley stated, "the Army Surgeon General has made their care the medical treatment facilities' top priority." At best, Gen. Kiley was ignorant of the conditions at Walter Reed.
Then will conditions really improve at Walter Reed? There was this bit in the AP article.
The Army announced Friday that Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, 58, will be the new commander of Walter Reed, which is located in Washington.
Maybe Kiley isn't being appointed after all. Whoever is put in command I hope takes charge of fixing this mess.
Also blogging on this news- Don Surber,
Linked to- Basil, Is it just me, Jo,