Letters: Government mendacity


The most recent government mendacity was revealed by the disclosure of Veterans Administration patients who died due to delays in care and, to hide the delays, a VA hospital’s secret list of patients waiting for appointments. This latest example of government mendacity follows the predictable outcome of a system designed to reward those who play the game by telling the boss what he wants to hear in order to enhance their own position and avoid discovery.

Another recent example of government mendacity is the underreporting of sexual assaults on women in the military. Because an assault would reflect badly on the officer in charge, or subordinate, and might result in a blemish on his service record, thereby denying him promotion or even resulting in a court martial, it was much easier to deny the victim’s complaint much less charge the perpetrator.

Other examples of government mendacity continue to be the reports of terrorists killed by U.S. drone strikes. The strikes are typically described as "precise" or "surgical" and kill only targeted terrorists. The reality, as reported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and three U.N. investigations shows that approximately one in five people killed by drone strikes are civilians.

Arguably, the most egregious example of government mendacity occurred during the Vietnam War when, in order to bolster the claim that we were winning the war, the body of any and every Vietnamese killed was counted as a Viet Cong. This lie was exposed when the official records were declassified and became the subject of a recent book by Nick Turse titled "Kill Anything That Moves -- The Real American War In Viet Nam." The government records revealed that there were many My Lai massacres and many thousands of civilians were killed in order to meet the command’s requirement to report as high a body count as possible. To do so meant promotion, reduced time on the line, more rest and recreation, or a shortened tour of duty.

The investigation about to be started by the House Veterans Committee will, I hope, show that care for veterans was delayed and even denied because neither qualified medical staff nor sufficient facilities were available. I hope that the VA scandal makes it clear to anyone paying attention that the very government agency investigating the disgrace, the U.S Congress, is the same agency that denied the proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders to increase VA funding in order to pay for more staff and new facilities. Our Veterans served with valor and honor; they deserve the medical care that they earned.

Veterans For Peace



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