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President Obama: It’s time to clean house at the VA

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.

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