The Disgrace of Walter Reed Is Indefensible

It is to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' credit that he has acted so quickly, efficiently and, yes, ruthlessly to set things right at Walter Reed. Gates' course has been a wise one. His firings have been more than symbolic. Both the general in charge of Walter Reed and the secretary of the Army have tendered their resignations. This is a welcome indication that, at least as far as this matter is concerned, "accountability" won't be limited just to the lowest member of the hierarchy that it can be plausibly pinned on.

Even wiser has been Gates' insistence that Walter Reed become an open shop for members of Congress. Without limitations, congressmen and senators can make their own investigations of what went wrong there. While many members of congress from both sides of the aisle will probably use this as an opening for a particularly tasteless photo-op while they deliver a prefab speech of righteous indignations, Gates still has done the right thing. In every sense of the term, Walter Reed had become a fetid mess. If ever a crisis needed the disinfectant that sunshine provides, it's the present one at Walter Reed.

As far as the Bush administration is concerned, longtime supporters (like myself) can only be shaking their heads in dismay and disgust over this scandal unless they've instead opted to man the partisan barricades. Taking care of our veterans, especially at a time of war, should have been a top priority. Being the flagship of all military hospitals, one would have thought that Walter Reed was providing outstanding service.

Dean Barnett is a columnist for and blogs daily at The day the Red Sox won the World Series was the happiest day of his life.

As has been the case too often with the Bush administration, we can only wonder how this has happened. Surely taking care of our veterans and recently returning soldiers was a priority for the administration. But if those were ranking priorities, how could the administration have done such a wretched job of tending to them?

For the Bush administration, the only available explanations for the disgrace at Walter Reed are that tending to our wounded veterans was a low priority, or that tending to our wounded veterans was a high priority and yet the administration was too inept to get it right.

Neither scenario puts the administration in a positive light.

Dean Barnett is a columnist for and blogs daily at The day the Red Sox won the World Series was the happiest day of his life.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 2924347.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...