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Hail to the bureaucrats

Editorial for March 15, 2007

Where does it stop? And how much are we expected to put up with?

Our government appears to be totally out of control, and our president and vice president show little interest or concern for those they were elected to serve.

The failures are huge. The latest revelation is the disgraceful treatment of our wounded veterans at our nation's military medical facilities, once considered a model of modern medical care. This outrage is a revolting dereliction of duty to our troops, and is akin to the federal government's miserable response to Hurricane Katrina.

Vice President Cheney had the gall to come out and blame "government bureaucracy" for the mess. Well, he and President Bush are essentially the lead bureaucrats, and this casts sharp doubt about their alleged support for our military personnel. When the curtain is pulled back, we once again see a gargantuan failure.

This situation didn't occur overnight; it's been going on for some time. It's unimaginable that White House officials did not know about this (don't they ever visit the wounded?), but nothing was done until the spotlight got too bright for them to ignore. We get the feeling that if these stories hadn't finally surfaced in the press and been investigated by Congress, it would be business as usual at Walter Reed and the other veterans' hospitals that are suffering from neglect, lack of funding, and cronyism.

If there are bureaucratic downfalls -- and this is a shocking one -- Bush and Cheney are the ones responsible for that bureaucracy. Yet it's always someone else's fault in Washington, D.C., and there is rarely any accountability.

This is the same team that couldn't respond effectively to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, partly because the guy they put in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had no background in dealing with disasters.

This is the same team that led us into Iraq under hyped pretenses -- they sought to blame bad information from the CIA for that -- and President Bush recently said the situation there will be left to "future presidents" to clean up. Note the plural.

There's more, of course: Last week, Lewis Libby, the vice president's chief of staff -- Cheney's top aide -- was convicted on four assorted felony counts of lying to the FBI, obstruction of justice, and perjury before a federal jury, in a case that stemmed from the deliberate unmasking of a covert CIA agent's identity.

That's treason in our book, and Libby ought to be under consideration for the death penalty. Instead, the vice president responded that he was "disappointed" in the verdict (realistically, can there be any doubt that Libby was acting on behalf of Mr. Cheney?), and there is speculation that a pardon will be forthcoming before Libby ever does time in a jail cell.

We'll probably never know the full extent of the harm that was done to the CIA in this case -- and for what? All for the politics of trying to get back at a critic of the administration's misguided and mishandled policies in Iraq.

Our nation has suffered badly under this administration, and the really sad news is: We have nearly two more years of this to go through.



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