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Veterans Affairs spies, stonewalls on people investigating it
Washington Examiner ^ | 7/16/2004 | Mark Flatten

Posted on 07/16/2014 7:37:17 AM PDT by Mount Athos

Congressional staffers investigating data falsification and whistleblower retaliation at the Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in Philadelphia were given a workspace there that was wired with activated audio microphones and video cameras, the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs said Monday.

Committee investigators also glimpsed a notebook used by the agency's regional director that bore written instructions to ignore their requests for information, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said during a late-night hearing.

Miller, chairman of the veterans committee, said he is “shocked” by the directives from VA officials to ignore congressional investigators.

“You will not ignore this committee anymore,” Miller said to Allison Hickey, VA's under secretary for benefits, who testified at the hearing.

Miller sent two committee staff members to the Philadelphia facility July 2 to determine whether claims-processing data was being falsified to hide long delays and errors that could cost veterans the benefits they deserve because of illnesses or injuries linked to military service.

Before the meeting began, one of Miller’s staffers, Lauren Rogan, went to the bathroom, where she saw a notebook by the sink that included the phrase “ignore Rory,” a reference to her colleague Rory Riley.

Circled at the top of the page were the names of two whistleblowers who were cooperating with the committee to expose improper processing of veterans claims in a way that improved agency statistics but did not resolve the cases.

The notebook belonged to Lucy Filipov, acting director at the regional office. It apparently reflected an earlier conversation with Diana Rubens, who at the time was deputy under secretary for benefits.

After the meeting, case files and computers were placed in a room where Filipov insisted Rogan and Riley should work. As the two checked the room, they found the sound and video equipment were active, and they insisted on being moved.

The notebook page also included a disparaging remark about Riley, which particularly incensed Miller.

“I will not excuse it,” Hickey said when confronted during the hearing. “Without question, it is unacceptable.”

Miller was not impressed with the apology. “Your commitment is appreciated but it is not believed,” he said.

After the July 2 incident, Rubens visited the veterans’ committee offices and tried to “cover up” what had occurred, Miller said.

Rubens’ excuse was that the comments reflected in the note were not what she was saying, but rather comments being made by others in the department, which should be ignored, according to Miller.

Miller called Rubens’ explanation “totally implausible.”

Rubens became director of the Philadelphia office July 14. The VA’s announcement of the move from deputy under secretary did not characterize it as a demotion.

The exchange over surveillance and stonewalling was a bizarre twist in the committee's investigation into long backlogs veterans face when seeking disability compensation for service-connected medical conditions.

Whistleblowers told the committee of “gross mismanagement” and deceptive practices used at regional offices to hide the months-long delays veterans face when they file a disability claim.

Kristen Ruell, a quality review specialist in Philadelphia, said she faced retaliation after she tried to expose data manipulation, improper payments and other “gross misinterpretations of the law.”

Ruell was one of the two whistleblowers whose names were circled on the top of Filipov’s notebook.

“The VA’s problems are the result of morally bankrupt managers that through time and grade have moved up into powerful positions where they have the power to, and continue to, ruin people’s lives,” Ruell said.

Also Monday, the VA inspector general released a report that found an initiative to fast track the oldest disability claims resulted in veterans waiting longer to resolve their cases than they would have under normal procedures.

The initiative on two-year-old claims did allow VA to remove the oldest cases from its backlog statistics, thereby making its numbers look better at the expense of those seeking benefits.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events

1 posted on 07/16/2014 7:37:17 AM PDT by Mount Athos
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To: Mount Athos; All
the Statists Hate, Clarity!

2 posted on 07/16/2014 7:40:36 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics is always to pick up a weapon...0'Jihadist/"Rustler" Reid? d8-)
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To: Mount Athos

The hearings were POWERFUL and showed
that the whistleblowers are real heroes.

BUT .... Like the American people, the whistleblowers
came before the EXEMPT who were docile, useless,
and EXEMPT ...and did not really care.


Fast and Furious?
Boston Atrocity?
Southern Invasion?
Destroying Law?
Remaining in Contempt of Congress?
Gagging of Docs?
Lying to Congress?
Lying to America?
Ignoring Oath?


3 posted on 07/16/2014 7:45:04 AM PDT by Diogenesis
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To: Mount Athos

Lawlessness, treason, anarchy, facism. When does the next hard drive crash? Impeach him or die!

4 posted on 07/16/2014 7:45:07 AM PDT by LALALAW (one of the asses who's sick of our "ruling" classes)
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To: Mount Athos

The VA requested some info from me. I send them a point by point response. They say they never got it. They didn’t tell me they never got it. They just moved on to the next step closer to rejection. I found out they were saying they didn’t get it when I checked on line. As far as I’m concerned the back pay just keeps adding up.

What I’ll never be able to understand is just how millions of people are doing Obama’s bidding including thousands who work for him. They didn’t want these back logs out so they cheated. They didn’t do it for bonuses. They were paid the bonuses because they were protecting their leader. Then they retaliate against whistleblowers and lie to congress.

When is congress going to do it’s job. The house is in the hands of the opposition just like the founding fathers intended so they can stop a tyrant. CLOSE THE CHECKBOOK!

5 posted on 07/16/2014 7:45:19 AM PDT by VerySadAmerican (Liberals were raised by women or wimps. And they're all stupid.)
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To: Mount Athos

Bottom Line: Government bureaucrats are avowed enemies of the very people who give them power and authority. It’s past time for the RESET button to be pushed.

6 posted on 07/16/2014 7:46:40 AM PDT by TADSLOS (The Event Horizon has come and gone. Buckle up and hang on.)
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To: Mount Athos

Why no mention of union complicity? Some of the whistle blowers have cited examples of open union hostility in the investigation.

7 posted on 07/16/2014 7:50:04 AM PDT by anoldafvet (Close the border!!!)
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To: Mount Athos

It’s all about the bureaucrats protecting their cushy government jobs.

8 posted on 07/16/2014 8:00:49 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (The cure has become worse than the disease. Support an end to the WOD now.)
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To: Mount Athos
We should assume that Obama and his administration are the bad guys. We should assume they will break the law and thwart any investigation. This should not be news to anyone.

Before we get all bent out of shape at the administration we need to remember that there are already procedures in place to deal with this situation. Congress has the power to put these people in jail. They have the power to impeach officials. They have the power to withhold funding. They have lots and lots of power to take action here.

I assume that the administration is corrupt so there is no reason to be disappointed in them. I did, however, think that our elected Republican representatives would stand up and protect us. Instead, they are doing nothing of any value. They are the ones that I am pissed at.

9 posted on 07/16/2014 8:01:44 AM PDT by nitzy
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To: nitzy

It is interesting how many of the people involved in lying and falsifying documents at the IRS and VA are women. I guess women are much more likely to be ultra-liberal RATS and have achieved these high positions, but are obviously nasty people.
Congress has failed in it’s oversight,but these agencies need to be cleaned out top to bottom.

10 posted on 07/16/2014 8:19:08 AM PDT by Oldexpat
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To: Oldexpat

I noticed that too.

11 posted on 07/16/2014 8:42:14 AM PDT by MichaelCorleone (Jesus Christ is not a religion. He's the Truth.)
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To: Oldexpat

Let me take that one step farther, Expat: the accelerated promotion of women and racial minorities according to the Peter Principle allows a substantial portion of them to reach relatively high ranks of which they are not worthy in terms of experience and leadership skills. Once at a certain level they hang on like barnacles or ticks. I say this with the honest admission that I know many high-ranking women and minorities who are every bit as worthy as their white male contemporaries. Sadly, that fraction is pretty low.


12 posted on 07/16/2014 8:42:21 AM PDT by Pentagon Leatherneck
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To: Mount Athos

It’s time to dismantle the VA and to just give the veterans vouchers for coverage and treatment with private and accountable health care providers.

13 posted on 07/16/2014 8:43:46 AM PDT by MeganC (Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.)
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To: MeganC

-— It’s time to dismantle the VA and to just give the veterans vouchers for coverage and treatment with private and accountable health care providers -—

It’s so simple a child can understand it, which tells us something about education these days.

14 posted on 07/16/2014 8:48:49 AM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
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To: Mount Athos

Bow down! Bow down before your government bureaucrat gods! You dare to question your gods! We shall smite thee with delay and denial! You do not vote the way your gods want you to vote! We shall plague thee with deletion and fraud! Pay tribute to your government bureaucrat gods! Kneel you puny mortals!

15 posted on 07/16/2014 9:11:44 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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