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WALTER REED PRIVATIZED

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Tue., 4/3/07
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The gross mistreatment of our wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is disgusting, but there also appears to be a scandal behind the scandal.

The Army Times reports that the head of the center warned last year that "patient care services are at risk of mission failure." Why? Because under George W's "competitive sourcing" directive, the Pentagon has been pushing to privatize as much of its work as possible. And in 2006, top officials awarded a $120 million contract to turn the facilities management over to IAP Worldwide Services, run by two former senior Halliburton officials. IAP, which brags that Dan Quayle is on its board, is the contractor that botched the delivery of ice to New Orleans during the Katrina fiasco.

Last year, knowing that privatization was coming, skilled public employees left Walter Reed in droves. Instead of having 300 federal staffers to handle facilities management, IAP has put in only 50 private workers to try to do the job.

Top army officials got urgent requests for additional staff, not only because so many were leaving, but also because the number of war wounded was increasing. The requests were denied, essentially to go along with Bush's rush to hand public services over to inept profiteers.



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