The United States will continue to suffer increasingly damaging cyber attacks against both government and private sector networks as long as there is no significant response, according to a recent U.S. intelligence community assessment.
Disclosure of the intelligence assessment, an analytical consensus of 16 U.S. spy agencies, comes as the Obama administration is debating how to respond to a major cyber attack against the Office of Personnel Management. Sensitive records on 22.1 million federal workers, including millions cleared for access to secrets, were stolen by hackers linked to China’s government.
U.S. officials familiar with the classified cyber assessment discussed its central conclusion but did not provide details.
Spokesmen for the White House and office of the director of national intelligence declined to comment.
Recent comments by President Obama and senior military and security officials, however, reflect the intelligence assessment.
Obama said during a summit in Germany June 8 that he would not disclose who conducted the OPM hack. But he said such attacks would continue.
“We have known for a long time that there are significant vulnerabilities and that these vulnerabilities are gonna accelerate as time goes by, both in systems within government and within the private sector,” the president said.
Last week, Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, said the increase in state-sponsored cyber attacks is partly the result of a perception that “there’s not a significant price to pay” for such attacks.
Privately, administration officials said the assessment appears to be an indirect criticism of the administration’s approach to cyber attacks that has emphasized diplomatic and law enforcement measures instead of counter-cyber attacks.
“The administration is expecting more attacks because they’re unwilling to do anything,” said one official. “They’re preparing for more attacks because we’re failing to deter and defend against them.”
Intelligence and cyber security experts agreed with the assessment that weak U.S. responses are encouraging more cyber attacks.
“Until we redefine warfare in the age of information, we will continue to be viciously and dangerously attacked with no consequences for those attackers,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, a former Defense Intelligence Agency director.
“The extraordinary intellectual theft ongoing across the U.S.’s cyber critical infrastructure has the potential to shut down massive components of our nation’s capabilities, such as health care, energy and communications systems. This alone should scare the heck out of everyone.”
James Lewis, a cyber security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, agreed. Lewis said the defensive approach that emphasizes closing vulnerabilities to cyber attacks is not working.
“Unless we punch back, we will continue to get hit,” Lewis said.
Lewis says that conducting retaliatory cyber strikes without starting a war is difficult but not impossible.
“There are a lot of ways to do this – leaking some party leader’s bank account could be a good start,” Lewis said. “Many people think a cyber response is the best way to signal where the lines are the other side should not cross.”
“We’re all coming to the same place – that a defensive orientation doesn’t work,” he added.
Rogers, the Cyber Command chief who has stated in the past that he favors more aggressive U.S. responses, acknowledged that the U.S. response to the OPM hack has been muted compared to the government’s highly-public response to North Korea’s damaging cyber attack in November against Sony Pictures Entertainment. The Sony hack was a failed bid by the North Koreans to derail the release of a comedy film critical of dictator Kim Jong Un.
Major incidents in recent months include the Sony attack; cyber attacks against the health care provider Anthem that compromised the records of some 80 million people; attacks against State Department and White House networks from suspected Russian government-linked hackers; the OPM hacking; and an Iranian-backed cyber attack against the Sands casino in Las Vegas.
Asked about the increase in state-sponsored attacks, Rogers said during a security conference in Colorado that one factor has been a lack of response.
Rogers earlier in congressional testimony has suggested a more muscular cyber policy that would include demonstrations and threats of retaliatory cyber attacks against hackers in a bid to create deterrence similar to the Cold War-era strategic nuclear deterrence.
In addition to more capable hackers, “you’ve got a perception, I believe, that to date there is little price to pay for engaging in some pretty aggressive behaviors,” Rogers aid.
“Whether it’s stealing intellectual property; whether it’s getting in and destroying things as we saw in the Sony attack; whether it’s going after large masses of data – OPM being the most recent but go back to the summer of ’14 and we saw a successful penetration of a large health insurance company and the extraction of most of the medical records and personal data information that they had.”
Nation states are only one part of the threat. Criminal groups also are conducting large-scale cyber attacks, Rogers said.
In November, Rogers said he argued for going public in naming North Korea’s communist regime for the Sony hack and having the president make a public statement that Pyongyang would pay a price.
Rogers said some officials in the administration favored a less public response to the Sony case.
“So one of my concerns was this time it was a movie,” Rogers said. “What if next time a nation state, a group, an individual, an actor decides I don’t like the U.S. policy, I don’t like a U.S. product, I don’t agree with this particular position taken by a company, or taken by an individual. If we start down this road, this is not a good one for us as a nation.”
Rogers said he argued strongly that “we cannot pretend that this did not happen,” and that the attack had to be linked to North Korea directly.
“My concern was if we do nothing, then one of the potential unintended consequences of this could be does this send a signal to other nation states, other groups, other actors that this kind of behavior [is okay] and that you can do this without generating any kind of response,” Rogers said.
On not naming the Chinese for the OPM hack, Rogers appears to have lost out during the administration’s debate on naming the Chinese.
“OPM is an ongoing issue,” Rogers said, adding that he would not discuss the specifics of internal discussions.
“But I would acknowledge, hey, to date the response to OPM, there’s a thought process and I’m the first to acknowledge to date we have to take a different approach.”
Asked if he agreed with doing nothing about the OPM response, Rogers suggested some action might be forthcoming.
“Just because you’re not reading something in the media does not mean that there’s not things ongoing,” he said. “So I would argue, let’s step back and see how this plays out a little bit.”
He defended the more public U.S. response to the Sony hack that included limited sanctions against North Korean agencies and officials, by noting that to date no similar cyber attacks by Pyongyang have been conducted.
The U.S. military was totally taken by surprise when Saudi Arabia attacked Houthi rebels in Yemen this week.
NBC’s Richard Engel says Arab nations, and former allies, no longer trust the United States due to the Obama administration’s new friendship with Iran.
The damage of Barack Obama’s disastrous foreign policy builds with each new day.
The Washington Free Beacon reported:
NBC’s Richard Engel reported Friday that U.S. officials were stunned they were not given any notice before Saudi Arabia launched attacks against Houthi rebels. According to Engel, military leaders were finding out about the developments on the Yemen border in real time.
Engel said officials from both the military and members of Congress believe they were not given advanced warning because the Arab nations do not trust the Obama administration after they befriended Iran.
“Saudi Arabia and other countries simply don’t trust the United States any more, don’t trust this administration, think the administration is working to befriend Iran to try to make a deal in Switzerland, and therefore didn’t feel the intelligence frankly would be secure. And I think that’s a situation that is quite troubling for U.S. foreign policy,” Engel said.
And, why would any US ally trust the Obama regime?
** The Obama administration intentionally leaked information on Israel’s secret military alliance with Azerbaijan in 2012.
** The Obama administration released a 1987 report on Israel’s top secret nuclear program this week.
In an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick in January, President Obama dismissed ISIS as the “jayvee”:
The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.
Yesterday, with much of Iraq now in the jayvee’s hands, Obama finally recognized it as enough of a threat to warrant the authorization of U.S. military action. Sort of:
To stop the advance on Irbil, I directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move towards the city.
What is magic about Irbil? For one thing, many American diplomats and other U.S. nationals are there. In fact, the State Department relocated staffers from the embassy in Baghdad to the consulate in Irbil on the theory that the Kurds could keep the jayvee out. And then Obama ignored warnings from the Kurds that, without U.S. military supplies, they could not defend their territory.
To this conditional authorization of force, Obama added another conditional one. He authorized airstrikes “if necessary” to help Iraqi forces break the siege of Mount Sinjar.
Here, one assumes, Obama is being disingenuous. How else besides through U.S. military action might the jayvees’ siege of Mount Sinjar be broken. Diplomacy?
Speaking of diplomacy, Obama’s reliance on it is what permitted the situation in Iraq to deteriorate to its current state. Months ago, it became clear that the jayvee was on the march and would not be halted without substantial U.S. assistance.
But Obama conditioned such assistance on the overhaul of Iraq’s government and sought that overhaul through diplomacy. Naturally, Prime Minister Maliki liked his government just fine so, naturally, no overhaul occurred. And then the jayvee continued its bloody march.
Ironically, Obama ended up liking Maliki’s government well enough when it came time to decide whether to grant the Kurds’ request for weapons and ammunition. Obama turned them down on the theory that he didn’t want to bypass the central government – unreformed though it was. And then the jayvee overran the Kurdish border.
Assuming Obama deems his conditions for using force satisfied – and, objectively, they surely will be – the questions become how much force is needed and will Obama authorize that much force.
As to the first question, Fox News’ military expert, Ret. Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said last night that “pin prick” strikes won’t be enough. He called for round-the-clock sorties.
Other military experts, including active service commanders in Iraq, say that air power won’t be enough. Apparently, the jayvee, having seized all sorts of U.S. military equipment and grown significantly in number off of its successes, has become Kobe Bryant after all. As Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, U.S. chief of the Office of Security and Cooperation-Iraq, put it: “[ISIS] is an army, and it takes an army to defeat an army.”
Gen. Bednarek was talking about “neutralizing” ISIS, though. Obama, presumably recognizing what doing so would entail, described his objectives much more narrowly as protecting Ibril and ending the siege of Mount Sinjar. These objectives can, perhaps, be accomplished without an army, and conceivably even with pin point strikes.
But if this is all Obama accomplishes, he will have accomplished little. And pretty soon, the jayvee’s blitz will produce another crisis that will grab the attention of even our criminally inattentive president.
“Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst,” said Mark Arabo, a Californian businessman and Chaldean-American leader. In an interview with CNN’s Jonathan Mann, he called what’s happening in Iraq a “Christian genocide” and said “children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”
“Right now, three thousand Christians are in Iraq fleeing to neighboring cities,” he told Mann. Arabo is calling on the international community to follow France’s lead and offer the Christians of Iraq asylum.
“You’re startling me with the severity of what you’re describing,” the CNN host said. “You said they are – beheading children?”
“They are systematically beheading children,” Arabo repeated slowly. “And mothers and fathers. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for generations.”
“There’s actually a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick… this is crimes against humanity. They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking crimes that you can think of.”
Mann asked about the ISIS letter sent to Christians in Mosul, demanding that they either convert to Islam, pay a fine or be put to “death by the sword.”
“It’s very clear they are killing people, but are Christians managing to escape by paying a fine?” he asked.
Arabo reports that after Christians pay the fine, the fighters take the Christian wives and children “and make them their wives – so it’s really convert, or die.”
This is a tweet that reportedly shows Yazidi children who escaped the fighters by fleeing to the mountains, but have died from lack of food and water there:
100 Retweets 13 favorites
A quick scan of Youtube shows the truth of what Arabo is saying – there are gruesome videos of heads on spikes, and many of live beheadings (one poor Christian is forced to say the Shahada ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet’ and then beheaded anyway.)
Warning: don’t google these things unless you have a strong stomach.
“They are absolutely killing every Christian they see,” Arabo said of ISIS. “This is absolutely a genocide in every sense of the word. They want everyone to convert, and they want sharia law to be the law of the land.”
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.
“Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now – where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife – which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.
Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it’s likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq.
“Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis,” Obama said between stops on the first of two days scheduled on the New Hampshire campaign trail. “There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.”
The greater risk is staying in Iraq, Obama said.
“It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.
The senator has been a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, speaking out against it even before he was elected to his post in 2004. He was among the senators who tried unsuccessfully earlier this week to force President Bush’s hand and begin to limit the role of U.S. forces there.
“We have not lost a military battle in Iraq. So when people say if we leave, we will lose, they’re asking the wrong question,” he said. “We cannot achieve a stable Iraq with a military. We could be fighting there for the next decade.”
Obama said the answer to Iraq – and other civil conflicts – lies in diplomacy.
“When you have civil conflict like this, military efforts and protective forces can play an important role, especially if they’re under an international mandate as opposed to simply a U.S. mandate. But you can’t solve the underlying problem at the end of a barrel of a gun,” he said. “There’s got to be a deliberate and constant diplomatic effort to get the various factions to recognize that they are better off arriving at a peaceful resolution of their conflicts.”
GOP: ‘Obama can’t seem to make up his mind’
The Republican National Committee accused Obama of changing his position on the war.
“Barack Obama can’t seem to make up his mind,” said Amber Wilkerson, an RNC spokeswoman. “First he says that a quick withdrawal from Iraq would be ’a slap in the face’ to the troops, and then he votes to cut funding for our soldiers who are still in harm’s way. Americans are looking for principled leadership – not a rookie politician who is pandering to the left wing of his party in an attempt to win an election.”
Obama, who has expressed reservations about capital punishment but does not oppose it, said he would support the death penalty for Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“The first thing I’d support is his capture, which is something this administration has proved incapable of achieving,” Obama said. “I would then, as president, order a trial that observed international standards of due process. At that point, do I think that somebody who killed 3,000 Americans qualifies as someone who has perpetrated heinous crimes, and would qualify for the death penalty. Then yes.”
Sex education for kindergartners?
In response to criticism from Republican Mitt Romney, Obama said the former Massachusetts governor was only trying to “score cheap political points” when he told a Colorado audience that Obama wanted sex education for kindergartners.
Video: Sex education for kindergarteners? “All I said was that I support the same laws that exist in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in which local communities and parents can make decisions to provide children with the information they need to deal with sexual predators,” Obama said.
Romney on Wednesday targeted Obama for supporting a bill during his term in the Illinois state Senate that would have, among other things, provided age-appropriate sex education for all students.
“How much sex education is age appropriate for a 5-year-old? In my mind, zero is the right number,” Romney said.
Obama said Romney was wrong to take the shot and incorrect on its basis.
“We have to deal with a coarsening of the culture and the over-sexualization of our young people. Look, I’ve got two daughters, 9 and 6 years old,” Obama told the AP. “Of course, part of the coarsening of that culture is when politicians try to demagogue issues to score cheap political points.”
“What we shouldn’t do is to try to play a political football with these issues and express them in ways that are honest and truthful,” Obama said. “Certainly, what we shouldn’t do is engage in hypocrisy.”
Romney himself once indicated support for similar programs that Obama supports.
In 2002, Romney told Planned Parenthood in a questionnaire that he also supported age-appropriate sex education. He checked yes to a question that asked: “Do you support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate health and sexuality education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools?”
For many, it is difficult to decide whether Barack Obama is intentionally trying to destroy the United States or that he is doing so as a consequence of some type of ideology-induced stupidity.
The damage wrought through the implementation of his absurd and impractical liberal “solutions” to national problems is readily evident.
When Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 the national debt of the United States was $10,626,877,048,913. As of Jun 26, 2014, the debt was $17,512,592,730,102.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2007 on the eve of the recession, there were 146.6 million Americans working. Today, after six years of the Obama Administration, there are 145.8 million Americans in jobs, 800,000 below the previous peak. Since Obama came into office in 2009, 7.2 million people have left the workforce, making the true unemployment rate 8.3 percent, not 6.1 percent. Median household income is down almost $2,300 from what it was when Obama took office. Real wages are lower than they were in 1999. Growth in the first quarter of this year was a negative 2.9%, the biggest downward revision from the agency’s second GDP estimate since records began in 1976.
In April, prior to the present massive and growing surge in illegal minor immigration, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Obama has created an “open borders” situation by failing to enforce U.S. immigration law. One could fairly conclude that the current crisis was a deliberate policy decision because the Obama indicated that he would expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that offers amnesty for illegal immigrant children and provides an incentive for exactly the type of mass illegal invasion we are witnessing on our southern border.
There should be little doubt that Obama’s open borders policy is meant to fundamentally transform the country’s demographics, produce millions of additional Democratic voters and welfare recipients and permanently undermine the national security of the United States.
The ATF “Fast and Furious” scheme, likely designed to erode Second Amendment rights, allowed weapons from the U.S. to “walk” across the border into the hands of Mexican drug dealers. The ATF lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which were used in crimes, including the December 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Obama’s IRS targeted his perceived political enemies, conservative and pro-Israel groups, prior to the 2012 election. Questions are being raised about why this occurred, who ordered it, whether there was any White House involvement and whether there was an initial effort to hide who knew about the targeting and when. Obama apparently lied when he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in IRS activities.
The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, although, on May 19, 2014, White House spokesman claimed Obama learned about the scandal only recently through press reports.
The unfolding sectarian violence in Iraq is just the latest crisis where the Obama administration seemingly has been caught off guard. From the Veterans Affairs scandal to Russia’s swift annexation of Crimea, news of the world somehow keeps taking Obama and his team by surprise. Or are they just lying to camouflage flawed or failed policies, which have harmed the United States?
The attack on our “consulate” in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was perhaps the most egregious of Obama’s many foreign policy failures because four Americans needlessly died due to a failure to provide adequate protection both before and during the attack.
Obama falsely blamed an internet video as the cause of the attack to hide the truth: the resurgence of jihadists in Muslim Brotherhood-governed Egypt, the continuing demand for the Blind Sheikh’s release (which underscored the jihadists’ influence), and the very real danger that jihadists would attack the embassy (which demonstrated that al-Qaeda was anything but “decimated”).
It is likely that a clandestine operation supplying weapons through Turkey to the Syrian rebels was being run out of Benghazi. Efforts were made not to draw attention to what was happening there. That could explain why local militias were paid to provide security, why requests for increased security were denied and why the US military was either unprepared to respond or told not to do so.
A Benghazi cover-up may have also prevented a thorough examination of the possible passivity or complicity of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood government in the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi and the potentially dangerous consequences of arming Islamic factions in Syria over which the US has little control, where the weapons we supplied may someday be used against us.
It should be obvious that Obama lied about Benghazi, he lied about Obamacare, the IRS, the VA scandal and in countless other instances.
Nevertheless, the liberal media remain willfully ignorant, will not report the truth and continue to protect Obama, regardless of the costs to the country.
Obama will survive in office until public awareness of his administration’s treachery matches its level of incompetence and exceeds the media’s capacity to tolerate corruption.
Jimmy Carter made mistakes. Barack Obama, a creator of crises, practices deceit and the willful betrayal of trust.
It does matter whether the damage inflicted upon our country results from ineptitude or premeditation.
It is ideology-induced treachery.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post revealed a memorandum dated April 26, 2010, sent from the Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Operations and Management (10N) to Network Director (10N1-23). That memo spelled out 17 methods being used by VA hospitals to cover up long wait times. Those tactics included:
* Telling veterans to call back after 30 days so that they would not appear in the records as having waited longer than 30 days;
* Use of a manual logging system;
* Creation and cancellation of new patient visits, marking those cancellations as “cancelled by patient” rather than “cancelled by clinic.”
The list goes on and on.
The White House claimed that it was utterly unaware of the memo, although Dr. Robert Petzel, the top health official at the Veterans Administration, admitted, “It’s absolutely inexcusable.”
So, what did the Obama administration know and when did it know it?
It knew, according to a 2008 briefing memo from the Department of Veterans Affairs, that the waiting times reported from the VA were not reliable: “This is not only a data integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it affects quality of care by delaying – and potentially denying – deserving veterans timely care.” Such problems, the document stated, “are systemic throughout the VHA.”
In 2007, then-Senator Obama, running for president, acknowledged massive problems within the VA. “No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months – even years – to get an appointment at the VA,” he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He continued:
When we fail to keep faith with our veterans, the bond between our nation and our nation’s heroes becomes frayed. When a veteran is denied care, we are all dishonored. It’s not enough to lay a wreath on Memorial Day, or to pay tribute to our veterans in speeches. A proud and grateful nation owes more than ceremonial gestures and kind words.
Caring for those who serve – and for their families – is a fundamental responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief.
He concluded, “The VA will also be at the cutting edge of my plan for universal health care.”
But Obama now claims that he was only informed of bureaucratic snafus from the newspapers. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated that the Phoenix falsifications of wait lists were news to Obama:
We learned about them through the reports. I will double check if that is not the case. But that is when we learned about them and that is when I understand Secretary Shinseki learned about them, and he immediately took the action that he has taken.
Apparently he was reading the wrong newspapers. Problems with veteran wait times have been heavily covered by the media for years. In 2010, the Los Angeles Times wrote:
Some veterans wait up to six months to get their initial VA medical appointment. The typical veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars waits 110 days for a disability claim to be processed, with a few waiting up to a year. For all veterans, the average wait is 161 days. The VA says a ruling on an appeal of a disability rating takes more than 600 days on average. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA, an advocacy group, says the average delay is 776 days. Up to 17% of veterans’ disability ratings are incorrect, the VA says. Thousands of dollars in disability payments hinge on the ratings, which are determined by the VA. The agency says it hopes to eventually cut the error rate to 2%.
In February 2013, lawmakers accused the VA of covering up five veteran deaths from Legionnaires’ disease, with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) stating, “This has got the federal government’s footprints all over it. I am stunned at the coordination that took place and that is occurring at the highest levels of government to try and counter the blame.” The VA originally claimed that a minor Legionnaires’ outbreak had killed no one.
In March 2013, a whistleblower told the Daily Beast that the VA “routinely disseminated false information about the health of America’s veterans, withheld research showing a link between nerve gas and Gulf War syndrome, rushed studies out the door without taking recommended fixes by an independent board, and failed to offer crucial care to veterans who came forward as suicidal.” The whistleblower said that his bosses responded by attempting to intimidate and silence him, and that he was even admonished. He said that almost 2,000 suicidal veterans did not receive proper follow-up.
In November 2013, CNN reported:
Military veterans are dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at U.S. veterans hospitals… Military veterans are dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at U.S. veterans hospitals, a CNN investigation has found. What’s worse, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is aware of the problems and has done almost nothing to effectively prevent veterans dying from delays in care.”
CNN reported at least six patient deaths at just one facility. Money was even given to the VA to fix the problem. It wasn’t fixed. Debra Draper at the Government Accountability Office explained, “Long wait times and a weak scheduling policy and process have been persistent problems for the VA, and both the GAO and the VA’s (inspector general) have been reporting on these issues for more than a decade.”
So, what did President Obama know, and when did he know it? He knew plenty. And he had plenty of time to do something about it. He just didn’t. And crocodile tears now come too little too late.
This actually happened on the Senate floor this afternoon. Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) asked for consent to take up and pass the Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, a bill that would make it easier/possible for the scandal-plagued department to fire employees based on poor performance. The House overwhelmingly passed the legislation on Wednesday, with a bipartisan vote of 390 to 33. (Only Democrats objected.)
Surely the Senate would follow suit, right? Not exactly. Senator Bernie Sanders, a union-backed socialist from Vermont, objected on behalf of Senate Democrats to Rubio’s request. Instead of taking any action now, Sanders said he is going to hold a hearing – several weeks from now.
Sanders, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, has been one of the most outspoken defenders of the VA against allegations of misconduct. When asked about reports of multiple deaths related to long wait times at the VA healthcare system, Sanders told CNN: “People die every day.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) on Thursday offered a lukewarm assessment of the House-passed legislation, describing it as “not unreasonable.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) was not happy. “As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, I am disappointed, and – frankly – shocked that Senate Democratic leaders chose to block legislation that would hold VA managers accountable,” Boehner said in a statement. “As we head home to honor the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, it’s fair to ask why Senate Democrats won’t stand up for more accountability?”