Andrew Stephen of the Newstatesman exposes a scandal as big as Abu Gharaib. C-17s filled with wounded soldiers that we are not allowed to see roar in every day, Critical Care Air Transports carrying gravely wounded soldiers to the states. The numbers of those wounded reported by the Pentagon and the VA do not mesh.
The extent of this deception will absolutely knock your socks off.
The actual number of the wounded is being hidden from the press, and from Congress. The cost to care for them is being hidden. The extent of the damage to US equipment and to replenish the equipment lost is far larger than we are being told.
Bilmes discovered that on 10 January the number of wounded listed on at the Veterans Administration dropped from 50,508 to 21,649. Bilmes says it’s tin-foil hat time. The outrageous lies they tell, the information they manipulate happens all under the radar, and completely unreported by a compliant and worthless mainstram press.
Yet the story of the US wounded reveals yet another deception by the Bush administration, masking monumental miscalculations that will haunt generations to come. Thanks to the work of a Harvard professor and former Clinton administration economist named Linda Bilmes, and some other hard-working academics, we have discovered that the administration has been putting out two entirely separate and conflicting sets of numbers of those wounded in the wars...
...Let me pause to explain those deceptive figures. Look at the latest official toll of US fatalities and wounded in the media, and you will see something like 3,160 dead and 23,785 wounded (that "includes 13,250 personnel who returned to duty within 72 hours", the Washington Post told us helpfully on 4 March). From this, you might assume that only 11,000 or so troops, in effect, have been wounded in Iraq. But Bilmes discovered that the Bush administration was keeping two separate sets of statistics of those wounded: one (like the above) issued by the Pentagon and therefore used by the media, and the other by the Department of Veterans Affairs - a government department autonomous from the Pentagon. At the beginning of this year, the Pentagon was putting out a figure of roughly 23,000 wounded, but the VA was quietly saying that more than 50,000 had, in fact, been wounded.
What Bilmes had discovered was that the tally of US fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan included the outcome of "non-hostile actions", most commonly vehicle accidents. But the Pentagon's statistics of the wounded did not. Even troops incapacitated for life in Iraq or Afghanistan - but not in "hostile situations" - were not being counted, although they will require exactly the same kind of medical care back home as soldiers similarly wounded in battle.
A backlog of 400,000 cases are clogging up the Veterans Administration (expected to reach 874,000 by years ende), and this figure is being hidden from the press. It’s not just wounded soldiers who are being mis reported. The amoun of equipment that is being destroyed that will need to be fixed is exponentially higher than the government is reporting. Bilmes, a Harvard MBA, calculates that the amount of money being dumped down the drain could provide free medical insurance for every uninsured American for decades, and implement the 9/11 commission reports and secure Social Security for three generations.
To draw attention to her academic findings, Bilmes wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times of 5 January 2007 in which she quoted the figure of "more than 50,000 wounded Iraq war soldiers". The reaction from the Pentagon was fury. An assistant secretary there named Dr William Winkenwerder phoned her personally to complain. Bilmes recalls: "He said, 'Where did you get those numbers from?'" She explained to Winkenwerder that the 50,000 figure came from the VA, and faxed him copies of official US government documents that proved her point. Winkenwerder backed down.
Matters did not rest there.
The VA is supposed to be independent from the Pentagon. Yet it is run by Robert James Nicholson a GOP Republican Party chairman. So another Bush crony is caught lying his ass off, not just about the war, but about the very subject of the Walter Reed scandal: the cost of the war. The cost that will extend far beyond this generation of Americans. Almost half of all veterans from the first Gulf War reported to Vas for help and many are still receiving it. We are now seeing a long term, deeply felt repercussions of head injuries, broken marriages, unemployment, alcoholism, and outright poverty.
The right wing press has either supported this deception or turned a blind eye or simply missed the boat altogether. The WSJ boastd in 2002 that a short successful war in Iraq would guarantee low oil. When the war began, the cost of a barrel of oil was $23. Today it is over $50.00. The additional cost of oil might have more to do with oil supplies than the Iraq war. But the increased costs in oil are not just paid here at the gas pump, tanks and Humvees also need an addition estimated $150 billion of oil. Add that to the miscalculation.
The end of the story if far from being told. But it seems that under every rock we see another scandal, another lie, another deception. I asked in a diary posted a few days ago how bad would this get? A lot of cynics said as bad as I could imagine. We may never know how much this war costs. How many ways can you say –worse than anyone imagined?
Post Script- hidden in a comment by Frank Rich is the answer to the question of how bad will this get:
Either way, the pardon is a must for Mr. Bush. He needs Mr. Libby to keep his mouth shut. Cheney's Cheney knows too much about covert administration schemes far darker than the smearing of Joseph Wilson. Though Mr. Libby wrote a novel that sank without a trace a decade ago, he now has the makings of an explosive Washington tell-all that could be stranger than most fiction and far more salable.
no link- but utterly true- as I have been saying time and again, one day the truth of this will be uncovered and it will make us all ashamed.
no link to Frank Rich