Friday, May 16, 2014

Senator Richard Blumenthal says call in the F.B.I.

I live in Connecticut so Senator Richard Blumenthal is one of my state's two US Senators. 

He has proven to be a strong leader and I am glad that he represents my state.  He is a former prosecutor and he is one of the leaders on issues of combatting assault and rape.

He also serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. 

Yesterday, the Committee held a hearing about yet another VA scandal.

In this one, it is a shell game.  The VA has a public list of medical appointments that they flash to prove what a great job they are doing and how veterans are getting medical appointments within 14 days of requesting them.

The VA also has a secret list where they record appointments and veterans can wait weeks and months and years.

Making the secret list public would not help VA's image or allow officials to grab bonuses for the 'great' job they are doing.

The real list, where veterans wait and wait for medical attention, is said to have resulted in 40 deaths in Phoenix, Arizona alone.

This problem is not new or newly discovered.  As Mr. Blumenthal noted, "there is a history."

Senator Richard Blumenthal:  In addition, there is a history.  The GAO has reported, your own Inspector General has reported, these kind of problems in the past so there is a need now for more than just an investigation.  There's a need for action to restore trust and confidence, to assure accountability and transparency.  Our nation's veterans deserve the best medical care and nothing less.  The situation now presenting serious, pressing, unanswered allegations and uncertainty is intolerable and I have very severe and grave doubts that the resources now at the disposal of the Inspector General are sufficient to meet this challenge.  I think there is a need for more than just the kind of appointment that the President has made of Rob Nabors to oversee the Dept of Veterans investigation.  There's a need for resources going to the Inspector General and possibly involvement of other investigative agencies from the federal government because the resources currently available to the Inspector General may be insufficient.  In addition, there are 3,000 job openings across the country in the VA.  They're listed on USA  I urge that positions relevant to access medical care be filled immediately and that action be taken to restore not only the transparency and the accountability that we all expect from the VA. and also to deal with the disability claims backlog that continue to plague the VA.  The question now is what does the evidence show?  Is it criminal or civil and that judgment has to be made as soon as possible.

Most of all, Senator Blumenthal believes it is time to call in the F.B.I.

If the Committee is serious, they will back Mr. Blumenthal up on that action.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, May 15, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue,  the White House wants to deal more weapons to Nouri al-Maliki, they're also a little ticked off that he may take weapons from Iran as well, the Secretary of the VA appears before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and faces tough questions, a journalist who helped sell the war loses her job and we don't shed a tear here, and much more.

"Very serious allegations have been made about VA personnel and they're doing this in Phoenix and in other locations," declared Senator Bernie Sanders at this morning's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Sanders is the Chair of the Committee.

Chair Bernie Sanders:  I take these allegations very seriously as I know every member of this Committee does which is why I have supported an independent investigation by the VA Inspector General.  As we speak right now, the Inspector General's office is in Phoenix doing a thorough examination of the allegations.  My hope is that their report to us will be done as soon as possible.  And what I have stated and repeat right now is that as soon as that report is done, this Committee will hold hearings to see what we learned from that report and how we go forward.

These accusations that he takes seriously?  That veterans are being denied needed and timely care and that the VA has systematically covered this up by working two lists of patients -- one public and in the computers and one kept by hand.  Falsifying these records, it's alleged by whistle-blowers, has allowed various honchos to collect bonuses and receive praise in performance appraisals (which would also indicate that they received raises).  While this lying has been going on, veterans have suffered.

The April 9th snapshot covers that day's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.  At the start, Chair Jeff Miller stated the following regarding those who had suffered.

US House Rep Jeff Miller:  I had hoped that during this hearing, we would be discussing the concrete changes VA had made -- changes that would show beyond a doubt that VA had placed the care our veterans receive first and that VA's commitment to holding any employee who did not completely embody a commitment to excellence through actions appropriate to the employee's failure accountable. Instead, today we are faced with even with more questions and ever mounting evidence that despite the myriad of patient safety incidents that have occurred at VA medical facilities in recent memory, the status quo is still firmly entrenched at VA.  On Monday -- shortly before this public hearing --  VA provided evidence that a total of twenty-three veterans have died due to delays in care at VA medical facilities.  Even with this latest disclosure as to where the deaths occurred, our Committee still don't know when they may have happened beyond VA's stated "most likely between 2010 and 2012."  These particular deaths resulted primarily from delays in gastrointestinal care.  Information on other preventable deaths due to consult delays remains unavailable.   Outside of the VA's consult review, this committee has reviewed at least eighteen preventable deaths that occurred because of mismanagement, improper infection control practices and a whole host -- a whole host --  of other maladies plaguing the VA health care system nationwide.  Yet, the department's stonewall has only grown higher and non-responsive. There is no excuse for these incidents to have ever occurred.  Congress has met every resource request that VA has made and I guarantee that if the department would have approached this committee at any time to tell us that help was needed to ensure that veterans received the care they required, every possible action would have been taken to ensure that VA could adequately care for our veterans.  This is the third full committee hearing that I have held on patient safety  and I am going to save our VA witnesses a little bit of time this morning by telling them what I don't want to hear.  I don't want to hear the rote repetition of  -- and I quote --  "the department is committed to providing the highest quality care, which our veterans have earned and that they deserve.  When incidents occur, we identify, mitigate, and prevent additional risks.  Prompt reviews prevent similar events in the future and hold those persons accountable."  Another thing I don’t want to hear is -- and, again, I quote from numerous VA statements, including a recent press statement --  "while any adverse incident for a veteran within our care is one too many," preventable deaths represent a small fraction of the veterans who seek care from VA every year.  What our veterans have truly "earned and deserve" is not more platitudes and, yes, one adverse incident is indeed one too many.  Look, we all recognize that no medical system is infallible no matter how high the quality standards might be.  But I think we all also recognize that the VA health care system is unique because it has a unique, special obligation not only to its patients -- the men and women who honorably serve our nation in uniform -- but also to  the hard-working taxpayers of the United States of America.

As many as 40 veterans may have died while waiting for treatment from the Phoenix center.  In addition, veteran Barry Coates testified about what he went through.

He's owed an apology.  Not just from the VA but from that stupid idiot US House Rep Corrine Brown.  How dare that stupid idiot tell someone with stage four cancer that it's not so bad and, hey, she's got a friend who a doctor said would die in a few months and he's still alive, you just never know.

The only thing you never know is how embarrassing Corrine Brown will be.  It is time for Democrats to remove Brown from the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Yes, realizing the idiot couldn't be Ranking Member was wonderful and I applaud Democratic leadership for that.  I also applaud them for naming US House Rep Mike Michaud Ranking Member.  He's very effective and he comes across as someone who cares.

If you saw Barry Coates face (or his wife's face) when Corrine decided to be peppy as she rushed to rescue the VA and offer her useless crap, you know Brown has to go.  She has to go.

Minimizing stage four cancer?  To someone suffering from it?

To someone who is a veteran and who wouldn't be in stage four if he could have gotten the appointments he needed in a timely fashion?

Corrine Brown is not fit to serve on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  She and her vast wig collection need to move over to a Committee that's far less important so that her idiotic and insulting remarks will not be aimed at people who suffer because the VA failed them.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has no Corrine Brown fortunately.

So today's hearing included no lectures that stage-four cancer really wasn't that bad or insults of universities (another stunt Corrine Brown pulled -- that was in 2009 -- she was completely wrong on her facts as she attacked America's universities for, you know this is coming, a failure that was in fact the VA's).

The hearing was divided into three panels.  The first was Secretary of Veterans Affairs accompanied by the shifty Dr. Robert Petzel.  The second panel was the American Legion's Daniel Dellinger, Disabled American Veterans' Joseph A. Violante, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Tom Tarantino, Paralyzed Veterans of America's Carl Blake, Student Veterans of America's D. Wayne Robinson, Veterans of Foreign Wars' Ryan Gallucci and Vietnam Veterans of America's Rick Weidman.  The third panel was the VA's Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin and --

And we're stopping right there.

There is no transparency in this administration.  Hillary Clinton doesn't like accountability which is why she ran through four years as Secretary of State with no IG to monitor her.  It's also why State can't account for vast sums today.  John Kerry came into the post wanting a real and active Inspector General (and State now has one).

With all the VA scandals since Barack became president, why hasn't he found an Inspector General and not an acting one.  And we all know Griffin's tainted, right?  He's a Deputy IG really and he was nominated by Bully Boy Bush . . . after his own Blackwater issues.

In fact, the shooting from 2007 that's again been in the news? Did we forget that?  Let's drop back to the Monday, September 17, 2007 snapshot:

Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that  a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad.  CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the liscense of Blcakwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory." 

Was anyone punished for those deaths?

 Griffin lost his State Dept job over that.

So why the hell is he an 'acting' anything in this administration?

It is a failure of leadership and accountability.

October 25, 2007, Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported:

 The State Department's security chief was forced to resign yesterday after a critical review found that his office had failed to adequately supervise private contractors protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
Richard J. Griffin, a former Secret Service agent who was once in charge of presidential protection, was told by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's deputy, John D. Negroponte, to leave office by Nov. 1. Griffin's chief deputy, Gregory B. Starr, will become acting assistant secretary for diplomatic security.
Griffin is the first senior official to lose his job over the widening private-contractor scandal. Under fire from Congress, the U.S. military and the Iraqi government after the Sept. 16 contractor killing of 17 Iraqi civilians, Rice on Tuesday ordered extensive changes in diplomatic security arrangements in Iraq and pledged stronger oversight.

Some job loss, he's remained in the administration under Bully Boy Bush and now under Barack.

And  Barack doesn't just keep him on, he makes him 'acting' IG.  What an insult to the Iraqi people.  Next time US Vice President Joe Biden wants to pretend in a phone call that he really, really wants to see the criminals in the incident pay, Nouri al-Maliki should ask him why the official charged with failure (a) hasn't been tried and (b) gets rewarded by Barack naming him "acting Inspector General" for the VA.

Ranking Member Richard Burr; [. . .] but we are here to take a look at the investigations that have already taken place and addressed certain deficiencies in the veterans system that no action was taken on or at least corrective action.  In Fiscal Year 2013, VA reported that 93% of specialty and primary care appointments and 95% of mental health appointments were made in 14 days of the patient or provider's date.  At first glance, these numbers seem to demonstrate that veterans are receiving the care they want when they want it. However, we know this is not the case.  I think if VA had asked hard questions regarding these statistics, we would not be here today discussing recent allegations surrounding many -- and I stress "many" -- VA facilities.  More importantly, we're here today to discuss when senior leadership in the Dept became aware that local VA employees were manipulating wait times to show that veterans do not wait at all for care.  It seems that every day there are new allegations regarding inappropriate scheduling practices ranging from zeroing out patient wait times to scheduling patients in clinics that don't even exist -- and even to booking multiple patients for a single appointment. The recent allegations were not only reported by the media but have even been substantiated by the General Accounting office, the Inspector General's Office and the Office of Medical Inspector. 

As usual, Kat will cover Ranking Member Burr at her site (we'll cover him in a moment from the first panel). Ruth has a Senator on the Committee, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and she'll cover him at her site.  Wally will grab Senator Heller for Rebecca's site.  At Trina's site, Ava will cover Senator Mazie Hirono.

We'll move to Senator Patty Murray's opening statement.



Like most Americans, I believe that when it comes for caring for our nation's heroes, we cannot accept anything less than excellence.  The government made a promise to the men and women who answered the call of duty.  And one of the most important ways we uphold that is by making sure our veterans can access the health care they need and deserve. So while the Department generally offers very high quality health care and does many things as well as, or better than, the private sector -- I am very frustrated to be here, once again, talking about some deeply disturbing issues and allegations. It's extremely disappointing that the Department has repeatedly failed to address wait times for health care.   So I was encouraged when you announced a nation-wide review of access to care.  And I am very pleased that the President is sending one of his key advisors, Rob Nabors, to assist in overseeing and evaluating that review.  His perspective, from outside the Department, will make this review more credible and more effective. But announcing this review is just the first step.  These recent allegations are not new issues --   they are deep, system-wide problems.  And they grow more concerning every day. When the Inspector General's report is issued -- and when the access review's report is given -- I expect the Department to take them very seriously and to take all appropriate steps to implement their recommendations. But there are also cases where the facts are in right now. There are problems we know exist.  And there is no reason for the Department to wait until the Phoenix report comes back before acting on the larger problem. The GAO reported on VA's failures with wait times at least as far back as the year 2000.  Last Congress we did a great deal of work around wait times, particularly for mental health care.  The Inspector General looked at these problems in 2005, 2007, and again in 2012.  Each time they found schedulers around the country were not following VA policy. They also found in 2012 that VA has no reliable or accurate way of knowing if they are providing timely access to mental health care.  But now the IG recommendations are still open. And the Department still has not implemented legislation I authored to improve the situation. Clearly this problem has gone on for far too long.   It is unfortunate that these leadership failures have dramatically shaken many veterans' confidence in the system. Secretary Shinseki, I continue to believe that you take this seriously and want to do the right thing.  But we have come to the point where we need more than good intentions.  What we need from you now is decisive action to: restore veterans' confidence in VA, create a culture of transparency and accountability, and to change these system-wide, years long problems.  This needs to be the wakeup call for the Department.  The lack of transparency and the lack of accountability is inexcusable and cannot be allowed to continue.  The practices of intimidation and of cover-ups must change – starting today.   Giving bonuses to hospital directors for running a system that places priority on gaming the system and keeping their numbers down, rather than provide care to veterans -- must come to an end.    But, Mr. Secretary it can’t end with just dealing with a few bad actors or putting a handful of your employees on leave. It has to go much further and lead to system-wide change.  You must lead the Department to a place where we prioritize the care of our veterans above everything else.  The culture at VA must allow people to admit where there are problems and ask for help from hospital leadership, VISN leadership, or from you.  This is the time for the Department to make real, major changes.  Because business as usual is unacceptable.

We'll focus on the first panel today with plans to pick up more of the hearing in Friday's snapshot.  Let's note two key exchanges.  What the Committee is addressing is is not a new issue.  It's new to the public because CNN broke the story in April.  But it's not new to the VA.
Ranking Member Richard Burr provided a walk through on just this when questioning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Mr. Secretary, were you aware that on October 25, 2013, the Office of Special Counsel requested that the VA conduct an investigation into the allegations of inappropriate scheduling at the Fort Collins Community Outpatient clinic?  And that since then, the media has reported about Mr. Freeman's e-mail of June 19, 2013 that explains how to game the system to avoid being on the bad boy list.  Were you aware of those?

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  Uh, Senator, I became aware of that-that, uh, that screen shot -- I believe that's what it was -- screen shot of an employee who was suggesting that there are ways to game.  I put that employee on administrative leave, uh, 

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  When was that?

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  That was last Friday.

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Mr. Secretary, it's my understanding that on June 21, 2013, VA received a report from the Office of Medical Inspector  regarding chronic understaffing issues at the Jacksonville VA Medical Center and that report described multiple patient scheduling problems including scheduling two patients for the same appointment slot and scheduling patients for a clinic that does not have any assigned  providers -- often referred to as ghost clinics.  And that on September 17, 2013, the Office of Special Counsel submitted a letter to the President of the United States on which the VA was courtesy copied the findings of that June 21st Office of Medical Inspector on the Fort Jackson Medical Center including the practice of double-booking patients and the use of ghost clinics.  Do you remember reading that report and receiving that copied letter to the president?
Secretary Eric Shinseki:  Uh, I can't say that I remember it today here.
Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Okay.  There was a December 23, 2013 report by the Office of -- by the Office of Medical Inspector  regarding the Cheyenne Medical Center in Fort Collins Clinic that found that several medical support assistants reported that, and I quote, "Medical Center's business office training included teaching them to make the desired date the actual appointment and, if the Clinic needed to cancel appointments, they were instructed to change the desired date to within 14 days of the new appointment."  Did you read that report? 
Secretary Eric Shinseki:  That, uh, report has come to my-my attention here recently.
Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Okay, on February 25, 2014, your Chief of Staff, Mr. [Jose D.] Riojas, submitted a response to the Office of Special Counsel which included the December 23 , 2013 Office of the Medical Inspector report on Fort Collins.  And in that letter, Mr. Riojas states, and I quote, "However as OMI" Office of Medical Inspector "was not provided any specific veterans cases effected by these practices, it cannot substantiate that the failure to properly train staff resulted in danger to public health or safety."  Were you aware of what your Chief of Staff wrote?
Secretary Eric Shinseki: I was.
Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Okay.  Mr. Secretary, were you aware that the GAO report entitled "VA Health Care: Reliability of Reported Out Patient Medical Appointment Wait Times Scheduling Oversight Need Improvement" which was publicly released in January 2013 and then on December 11, 2012, to that same report, your former Chief of Staff, John Gingrich, sent a letter to the GAO which stated, and I quote, "VA generally agrees with the GAO's conclusions and concurs with GAO's recommendations to the Dept"?  Do you remember that letter?   That report and your Chief of Staff's response?
Secretary Eric Shinseki:  In-in general, I do remember that report.

Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Mr. Secretary, you knew that there were specific issues relating to scheduling and wait times as early as June 21, 2013 at Jackson, December 23, 2013 at Fort Collins, as well as numerous IG reports related to excessive wait times in January '012 in Temple, Texas, September '012 in Spokane, Washington, October 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio, September 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  December '012, a GAO report questions the validity and the reliability of the reported wait time performance measures.  Which brings us to today in Phoenix.  On May 1, you publicly stated that you had removed Ms. Hellman as the medical director.  And you  stated then that that was to ensure the integrity of the IG's current ongoing investigation.  On May 5th, Dr. Petzel conducted a conference call with all medical directors, all VISN directors and the chiefs of staff -- a rather large group -- to discuss the ongoing face-to-face audits of all VA centers and large community outpatient clinics.  I have been told by sources that were on that call that during that call, Dr. Petzel made the statement that the removal of Ms. Hellman was, I quote, "political and that she's done nothing wrong."  If you're asking us to wait until the investigation is over, doesn't the same apply to people who work for you?  And, Mr. Secretary, from all I've described to you and the current investigation, why should this Committee or any veteran believe that change is going to happen as a result of what we're going though? 

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  I-I was not aware of, uh, the phone call you referred to and I will look into it.  Uhm, I would just tell you that, uh, my removal of the director, uh, placing her on administrative leave was at the request of the IG.  He is the lead in this, uh-uh, comprehensive review.  Uhm, I don't get out ahead of him.  Uh, he requested it.  And I, uh, put Director Hellman and two other individuals on administrative leave.

Let's start with Petzel.  Did Dr. Robert Petzel do what he's accused of?  No one knows at this point.  But what we do know -- because we reported on it here -- is that Dr. Petzel doesn't seem to feel compelled to shut his damn mouth in the midst of an ongoing investigation.  In the May 1st snapshot, we reported on the April 30th Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and noted:

The big disgrace that is the VA's Dr. Robert Petzel told the Committee, "I need to say that to date, we found no evidence of a secret list.  And we have found no patients who have died because they were on a wait list." Did you grasp what just happened because the press didn't?
I've heard Jen Psaki, Marie Harf, Victoria Nuland, Jay Carney, Robert Gibbs, Dana Perino and many more explain, when asked, that they couldn't what?
Pick any controversial and embarrassing topic and what do they say, "I'm sorry.  I can't comment on an ongoing investigation."But Petzel didn't say that -- despite it being an ongoing investigation.So, in fact, we now know that they can comment on an ongoing investigation, they just don't want to.
After denying any guilt, Petzel then declared, "We think it's very important that the Inspector General be allowed to finish their investigation before we rush to judgment as to what has actually happened."  But he rushed to judgment when he denied it.

The May 2nd snapshot included this:

 Scott Bronstein, Drew Griffin and Neili Black (CNN) report today:

He's the leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs the VA hospitals where dozens of U.S. veterans died waiting for simple medical screenings.

Yet in the six months that CNN has been reporting on these delays, Eric Shinseki has been silent. And he hasn't spoken out on the matter to any other news organization, either.
Early Friday evening -- after this story appeared on -- the VA gave a response, via spokesman Drew Brookie. He explained that the VA's inspector general's office (referred to as OIG), which is probing the matter, "advised VA against providing information that could potentially compromise their ongoing investigation at the Phoenix VA Health Care system."

Petzel doesn't seem to grasp these concepts.  If, after shooting his big mouth off in the April 30th hearing, he then shot it off again May 5th in a conference call, it's not a write-up, it's a goodbye.

As Burr made clear, this is not a newly emerging issue.  And the VA has been given multiple heads ups as far back as 2012.  What kind of leadership is Shinseki providing?

Senator Murray wanted to note past claims the VA had made to the Committee.

VIDEO of Senator Murray questioning Secretary Shinseki


Senator Patty Murray: Secretary Shinseki, Deputy Under Secretary for Health Bill Schoenhard told me at a hearing in 2012 that gaming is so prevalent, as soon as new directives are put out, they are torn apart to find out how to get around the requirements. Testimony from a VA mental health employee said the exact same thing. At the same hearing Linda Halliday from the IG's office told us, 'If we have seen scheduling practices that resulted in gaming the system to make performance metrics look better at the end of the day, over the past seven years, they need a culture change. To get that culture change, I think they really need to hold the facility directors accountable for how well the data is actually being captured.' That was more than two years ago. The standard practice at the VA seems to be to hide the truth in order to look good.  That has got to change once and for all. And I want to know how you're going to get your medical directors and your network leaders to tell you -- whether it's through this survey or in the future -- when they have a problem and will work with you to address it -- rather than pursuing these secret lists and playing games with these wait times?

Secretary Eric Shinseki: Senator, if there's anything that gets me angrier than just hearing allegations, is to hear you tell me that we have folks that can't be truthful because they think the system doesn't allow it. (See Secretary Shinseki’s full response here.) 

Two media reports on Wednesday predicted -- actually, they presented as fact, not a prediction -- that the Democrats on the panel would rush to rescue the VA and Shinseki seeing both as a proxy for the White House while the Republicans would hammer.
That really didn't happen.  Burr always hammers on accountability (Burr is a Republican Senator).  He conducted himself as he always does.  There was a Republican who didn't seem prepared for the hearing but grinned a lot.  I won't mention his name.  Otherwise, the Republicans were focused.

So were the Democrats including Chair Bernie Sanders who expressed outrage.  We'll try to quote from him tomorrow.

But the Committee -- even the grinning Republican -- made the hearing about veterans' needs.

We've noted repeatedly that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee sets the gold standard for Congress.  They work together regardless of personal or political differences.

Here, we credit that to the members and to the community they serve but also to the tone that former Chair and former Senator Daniel Akaka set.  When Senator Patty Murray became Chair, she also demonstrated support and respect for the Committee members -- not just the ones on her side of the aisle.  And Ranking Member Richard Burr offered the same as leader of the Committee's minority.

Today, the members and Chair Sanders again put the veterans first and made it about whether or not the veterans were being served.  They should all be applauded for that (even the grinning Republican).

In the US, this is Iraq related, Jill Abramson has been fired as executive editor of the New York Times.  (You can read Rebecca's second-hand account of my alleged involvement -- I have no comment and, as Rebecca notes, I have not discussed the alleged events with her.)  Kia Makarechi (Vanity Fair) notes: "She 'got fired with less dignity than Judith Miller, who practically started the Iraq War,' Buzzfeed’s Kate Aurthur."  Huff, Kate, huff!  Throw in a pout too.

Kate Aurthur is aware that restyled Jill was a War Whore?

When it mattered, she was a War Whore.  She sold the illegal war.

Jill's tried to rewrite history and, due to her ascent at the paper as well as a general hatred for Judith Miller, Jill's been semi-successful at fooling the ignorant and the uninformed.

Jill worked out this whole novel where, despite being the DC bureau chief of the paper, she couldn't stop Judith, she just couldn't stop her, it was beyond her skill set!
Because that didn't play except with the stupid -- any real media critic knew better -- Jill then spread rumors that Miller  had some sort of relationship with Arthur Sulzberger.  And that became part of folklore as well despite being false. Jill, of course, waited until after Miller was the target of everyone to join in.

When it all exploded she started claiming Judith Miller was out of control.  She went around pimping that lie and a lot of idiots in the press lapped it up.  Judith Miller was not 'controlling' Jill, she was not 'circumventing' her.
David Weigel, probably because he was fired from the Washington Post for his own questionable ethics, rushes to defend Jilly.  He wants us to know, Jilly didn't like video.

No, David, Jilly didn't like it when she wasn't the star of a video.  She went on all the shows she could promoting herself -- harming the paper but promoting herself.  And that's one of the chief reasons she got fired. And, David, if you're going to promote a lie about her salary, you might want to explore said salary.  Jill's real good at playing the victim.  Her perks from the job (benefits) need to be factored in -- especially the cost that kept increasing.
Shhh, nobody wake David, he needs his fantasies.
Jill's creative in her recall of events from the early '00s.  She spread war, she didn't sound alarms about Judith Miller's reporting. She gladly took credit for Miller's stories in 2002 and 2003.
When the war went bad, Jill suddenly began weaving a tapestry of deception.

Her downfall was never in question -- the only issue was when she would be toppled.

The media had refused to hold their own accountable.

Judith Miller provided a lot of cover allowing many War Cheerleaders, War Hawks and War Whores to pretend they weren't taking part in the selling of an illegal war.

This week, the scored evened out a little with War Whore Down Jill.

Maxim Lott (Fox News) reports that the US State Dept is in a tizzy over the possibility that Iran is supplying Iraq with weapons:

Officially, both Iraq and Iran deny the arms deal. But documents obtained by Reuters 
indicate that a deal was struck, and photos discovered by the military blog War is Boring show that Iranian sniper rifles are now turning up on the battlefield. State Department officials said that the U.S. is doing everything it can reasonably do to support Iraq in its fight against ISIL extremists – which should lessen the need for Iranian weapons.

First off, it's as though the administration didn't change at all following the 2008 elections.  Second of all, is this really fear that Iraq might find a new supplier?

Al Bawaba explains, "The U.S. plans to seal a $1 billion arms deal with Iraq, AFP reports. The deal includes warplanes, armored vehicles, and surveillance aerostats and is valued at $790 million."  Chris Popcock (AIN Defense) notes:

The U.S. has approved an Iraqi request for 24 Beechcraft AT-6C Texan II turboprop strike aircraft. Together with associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support, the sale would be worth an estimated $790 million. Iraq is the first announced customer for the AT-6, which lost the controversial U.S. Air Force contest for a Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft to the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano.

. Gareth Jennings (Jane's Defence Weekly) reminds, "The requests must first be approved by Congress before contracts can be finalised. No timelines were disclosed."  The US government is little more than a gun runner these days, a weapons dealer.
And what does Nouri do we these weapons the US government hands him?
Kills civilians.  He's a War Criminal.  For months, he has targeted the residential areas of Falluja, bombed them, killing and wounded civilians.  War Crimes, legally defined War Crimes.
National Iraqi News Agency reports Falluja's hospital (I'm assuming Falluja General) received the corpses of 8 civilians and treated ten injured civilians.  Nouri keeps bombing.  Every day the civilian death toll rises.  And in addition to that, Falluja Teaching Hospital received 4 corpses of civilians and treated six more who were injured from Nouri's bombings.
More weapons for Nouri announced today because he's used them so well, right?  Killing Iraqi civilians is suddenly something the US government wants to support and aid him in doing more of.

In other violence . . .
National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baghdad car bombing left 2 people dead and seven more injured, a central Baghdad suicide bomber took his own life "at the entrance gate of the Karrada Court" killing 1 other person and leaving five more people injured, Baghdad Operations Command states there were 2 suicide bombers targeting the Karrada Court and that six bystanders died with forty injured, the count then increased to 10 dead and forty-six injured (plus 2 dead suicide bombers), the Ministry of Defense stated they killed 11 suspects in Hilla, Joint Special Operations Command announced they killed 5 suspects in Falluja, Joint Special Operations Command also stated they killed 35 suspects outside of Falluja, security forces state they killed 6 suspects in Algelam, a Ramadi battle left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and two police officers injured, an Albu-Dhyab battle left 9 rebels dead,  Sahwa leader Aziz Mohammed Khalaf and a friend was traveling with were both shot dead in al-Zab, a Hammam al-Aleel roadside bombing left four police members injured, a Sadr City car bombing killed 2 people and left ten more injured, a Mosul car bombing left 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 civilian dead (two more civilians injured), a Qawsiat bombing left two Iraqi soldiers and two civilians injured,  and a Qayyarah bombing claimed the life of 1 police member and left two more injured.

Through Wednesday, Iraq Body Count counts 456 violent deaths so far this month.

We will include the Ashraf community next snapshot.  There's just not room in this one.