More support for the troops …

The Pentagon just discovered someone hadn’t signed the right forms, and stopped giving the VA access to the medical records of badly wounded soldiers.

Bush Administration style.

I have a good deal of sympathy with Hilzoy’s Inner John Yoo in terms of what to do about this. But there are more subtle means of extraordinary interrogation. Any or all of Armed Services, Veterans’ Affairs, Government Reform, and Appropriations (in either house) could have the relevant officials up to testify once a week until the problem is fixed. If they don’t come voluntarily, subpoena them.

Start at the SES level, and when those folks say “We can’t fix it; it’s above our pay-grade,” then summons first the Deputy Assistant Secretaries, then the Assistant Secretaries, and so on. Within a month you have Gates and DVA Secretary Jim Nicholson on the carpet.

I’m betting you wouldn’t have to have them on the carpet twice.

Note that there’s no policy issue here, no hidden plutocrat/theocrat/ neocon agenda, not even any corruption. Nothing but incompetence, indifference to the suffering of others, and bureaucratic small-mindedness. That’s one of the problems with putting into power a party that believes that all public employees are worthless scum: they’re likely to fulfill their own prophecy.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: