Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More Heads Roll in the Walter Reed Scandal

The Army surgeon general, Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, has been forced to retire. I was amazed by his recent testimony in front of Congress (yes I watch C-Span religiously). This man, while serving as SG and while he was in charge at Walter Reed before that, stated that he never walked around the facilities. According to his own testimony, he never walked into certain buildings at all….yet he was the man in charge??? WOW!

If you are the person in charge of a facility that is across the street from your office and you never set foot in the facility, never talk to the workers to see what is going on for yourself, then there is some level of passive negligence involved. I don’t know of any other job where such an executive would not be fired.

How much effort does it take to do a walkthrough of a facility once a week, wave at the people, talk to patients, talk to maintenance staff, etc? That would take 20-30 minutes a week (at most). Was he SO busy that he could not do this? In order to have good situational awareness….you HAVE to do this. How did he ever check the work of his subordinate commanders without occasionally checking on things on his own? I don’t mean to suggest he should have micro-managed, but he should have done it just to have a clue of what was happening with his own staff.

Meanwhile, some in Congress are calling for more Bush administration resignations; this time in the Justice Department (and possibly within the White House), due to the improper firings of 8 Federal Prosecutors, and because of the FBI’s illegal snooping on American citizens.

It appears that there was a lot of collusion between the White House and Alberto Gonzales regarding the firings and that the action was politically motivated. Apparently the White House even considered firing all Federal Prosecutors, in order to replace them with people who would carry out a strict political agenda. (Audio Report). Karl Rove, Gonzales, and others are expected to be ordered to testify before Congress. This is something that Rove has been able to generally avoid because Republicans controlled the Congress for most of Bush's time in office. But now, Democrats are in control and they will try to drag him in for hearings. So this should be interesting. I am sure that Bush & crew will try to claim Executive privilege.

Some may ask….what is the big deal? Federal Prosecutors serve at the mercy of the President- he can get rid of them at any time. However, if these firings were politically motivated, it could have a chilling effect on all the other Prosecutors, including the career Assistant Prosecutors who serve under the political appointees, and who do the daily work. Once prosecutors feel this kind of threat, then they can no longer be impartial. This in turn could have an impact on the administration of Justice, and could impede fair and speedy trials…. Which are required under the Constitution. Justice could not be served properly under this environment.

There is also the issue of members of Congress intimidating Prosecutors and attempting to influence federal investigations.... all ethics violations (at the least) and violations of Federal Law (at most).

Also, there is the fact that Gonzales lied to the Congress in his previous testimony (under oath) when he was asked about this matter a few months ago.

So this is very much a big deal.


Superdestroyer said...

If you think you can walk around just Building 2 (Heaton Pavillion) let alone the entire campus in 30 minutes, then it is obvious that you have never been to Walter Reed.

Brian said...

I was not suggesting that in that time frame he could cover every inch of the entire property. That's silly. I have never been there, but I know it is a large facility...from the bit of reading that I have done regarding the hospital.

What I am suggesting is simply this... as the top manager of the facility, he should have set foot in the place on a regular basis...perhaps once a week AT LEAST 20-30 minutes at a time....doing management walk-thru's and speaking to his people....getting a sense of what is going on right across the street from his office.

Now he doesn't have to visit every single inch of the property on such a walk-thru...and he doesn't have to walk-thru the same building or same floor everytime... or talk to the same people each and everytime. But by going to different locations each time.... eventually...you could cover the majority of the facility and get some sense of what is happening.

That's Basic Management 101... not to mention, common sense.

If I am the GM/CEO of a chain of 10 Grocery stores in the same general area... I'm going to visit a few of them on a regular basis (once a week... or even once a month) to see what the conditions are in my stores.... is the Produce fresh, is the meat & milk still being displayed past their expiration dates, are the floors clean, are the shelves in order and properly stocked, any obvious safety issues to be concerned with, etc?... Just a general concern for your business. That's standard procedure in most industries. So why wouldn't the commanding medical officer not check on troops/patients and staff for a few minutes out of a week?

I think if he would have done that... he probably would have been aware of the leaky roof, the mold issues...and the roaches/rats, etc in building 18...and the personnel problems in the rest of the facility.

And its possible that he did know...and just didn't want to admit he knew and did nothing about it.

But saying that he never visited... & never checked anything out... never talked to his people.... that's just unacceptable for the person who is in charge.