7:59 PM, Feb 23, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Veterans Affairs secretary lied about serving in the special forces, a report in the Huffington Post alleges.
"Robert McDonald, the secretary of veterans affairs, wrongly claimed in a videotaped comment earlier this year that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s," the report reads.
U.S. special operations forces (SOF) are composed of exhaustively trained and highly capable troops from each military service, including the Green Berets, Army Rangers, Delta Force and Navy SEALs -- but not the 82nd Airborne. They are certified to undertake the most dangerous and delicate missions, including, famously, the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Special operators are a close-knit community deeply hostile to outsiders who try to claim the coveted mantle of special operations.
McDonald, a retired corporate executive who took over the VA last June as the agency was sinking in scandal, made the claim in late January as he was touring a rundown Los Angeles neighborhood during a nationwide count of homeless veterans. He was accompanied by a CBS-TV news crew, which recorded an exchange between McDonald and a homeless man who told McDonald he had served in special forces.
“Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!” McDonald told the homeless man. That exchange was broadcast in a Jan. 30 CBS News story about the VA’s efforts to find and house homeless veterans.
In fact, McDonald never served in special forces. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975, completed Army Ranger training and took courses in jungle, arctic and desert warfare. He qualified as a senior parachutist and airborne jumpmaster, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division until he retired from military service in 1980. While he earned a Ranger tab designating him as a graduate of Ranger School, he never served in a Ranger battalion or any other special operations unit.
Whole thing here.
12:31 PM, Jan 21, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
There were lots of what they call “takeaways” in the speech. That’s the way that crack speechwriters craft them and the way crack correspondents report them. Most of those lines just roll over the rest of us. But there was one, last night, that jumped out at you.
12:44 PM, Jan 8, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
President Obama is in Phoenix Thursday, and his motorcade drove past that city's Veterans Affairs hospital without stopping. Politico's White House correspondent reports:
1:08 PM, Jan 6, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
President Obama is kicking off the year with a visit to Phoenix this week, but veterans at the Veterans Affairs hospital there shouldn't expect a visit from the commander in chief.
4:29 PM, Oct 27, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
If you work for the government and you don’t stay on the straight and narrow, then you risk being told to go home and take some time off … with pay and benefits. Might be for three months to a year – time enough to catch up on those overdue home improvement project. Could be for one to three years. Long enough to write that novel you’ve been thinking about.
11:29 AM, Sep 29, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Problems at the VA were largely – but not entirely – in the realm of scheduling. No one argued in favor the current system, which had veterans waiting in line for medical attention for months and even years. Even if the supervisors who cooked the books and paid themselves bonuses were all shown the door, the system would not be working as it should until the scheduling SNAFUs had been dealt with.
9:58 AM, Sep 29, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democrat Bruce Braley says those who want to know his commitment to our nation's veterans need only look at the website of his Senate campaign.
"If people want to know my true record on standing up for veterans, they can go to my website and look at Braley Truth Team where it lays out all of the things I've done for veterans in eight years," said the Iowa congressman in his debate this weekend with his GOP opponent, state senator Joni Ernst.
6:00 AM, Sep 9, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
American Crossroads, the pro-Republican super PAC, has a new ad Tuesday running in Iowa that targets Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley. The ad focuses on Braley's absence from 75 percent of the House of Representatives' veterans' affairs committee hearings. On the day of one 2012 hearing investigating claims of long wait times at VA hospitals, Braley attended three separate fundraising events.
Watch the ad below:
10:46 AM, Sep 8, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Bruce Braley, the Democratic congressman from Iowa running for the U.S. Senate, was not listed as present at a February 2012 House hearing with then-Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki. On February 15, 2012, Shinseki appeared on a panel before the House Veterans' Affairs committee, which began at 10:30 a.m. The secretary's testimony focused on the VA Department's budget, although one panelist raised concerns about long wait times at VA hospitals.
11:29 AM, Aug 28, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The VA has created a small public relations problem for itself. Which, to say the least, is something it did not need.
9:34 AM, Aug 18, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The legislative fix has been passed and signed into law, along with a generous appropriation of new money. Also, a new top person has been named and confirmed. So time to move on from the VA and its woes. But before doing so, consider the magnitude of the problems and their duration.