Apr 10, 2009 President Obama: It’s time to clean house at the VA
Imagine entering the military, risking your life in the line of duty, being treated at a Veterans Administration Hospital, complaining voluntarily about the VA hospital treatment to a reporter after speaking up at a town hall gathering there, and then having VA security stop the interview and strongarm the tape from the reporter. It happened this week at a Washington, D.C.-area Veterans hospital.
Here are links to the story:
WTOP radio reports that the VA is still holding WAMU reporter David Schultz’s tape: http://wtop.com/?sid=1647088&nid=25
David Schultz reports: http://wamu.org/audio/nw/09/04/n17090408-25952.asx
WTOP radio’s Mark Segraves calls the actions against the reporter and VA patient a crime: http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=695&sid=latest
The federal Reporters Privacy Act: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00002000–aa000-.html
EPIC on the Reporters Privacy Act: http://epic.org/privacy/ppa
Carlos Miller calls for the figurative head of the WAMU newsperson who told the onsite reporter to give up the tape to the cops adn leave: http://carlosmiller.com/2009/04/10/va-officials-seize-reporters-equipment-during-interview-with-veteran
The reporter’s friend speaks: http://blogs.govexec.com/fedblog/2009/04/solidarity_with_david_schultz.php
The Huffington Post speaks out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/10/reporter-david-schultz-ha_n_185654.html
Mark Segraves reports by audio: http://wtop.com/?sid=1647109&nid=93
Reporters Committee for Free Press speaks out: http://www.rcfp.org/newsitems/index.php?i=10702
Reason speaks out: http://reason.com/blog/show/132823.html
President Obama, immediate rectifying action needs to be taken on this urination on the First Amendment.
ADDENDUM: After I posted the foregoing blog entry, WTOP online reported that on the same day, the Department of Veterans Affairs had agreed to return the reporter’s tape without conditions for doing so. The tape’s return was crucial not only for the interview tha led to its seizure, but because it contained previously-recorded interviews that had no connection to any veterans hospitals. However, this move by the Veterans’ Affairs Department is too little too late after the seizure three days beforehand on April 7, 2009, and does nothing to show that any real effort will be made to avoid the repeat of such travesties of justice.
The Department of Veterans Affairs had an opportunity to address this seizure matter on its website, but did not do so.