[Ed. – Well, there’s a (bleeping) surprise.]
On August 4th, Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson sends an email directly to Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin (he addresses him as “Griff”). The email states, “I wanted to share a couple of thoughts/questions on the Phoenix report now that you are back in the office.” This is followed by a list of concerns, the first of which reads:
“I was surprised to see no reference to the allegation of 40 deaths. Normally your reports clearly address whether an allegation was substantiated or not. What was the conclusion and is there a reason this very serious allegation doesn’t get directly addressed.”
IG Griffin responded saying, “As I mentioned, the mysterious “40 deaths” is being added to the draft. We will forward updated language soon.” The updated language said that while VA was aware of 40 patients who died while on wait lists, they could not “conclusively assert” that the deaths were connected to the waiting.
This language was so helpful to the VA that they couldn’t even wait for the report to be released. Instead the exculpatory conclusion was leaked by the VA. TheNavy Times headlined their story, “No proof deaths caused by delay in VA care, IG says.”
When the report was released, Dr. Foote, the initial whistleblower, called it a whitewash at best. “At its worst, it is a feeble attempt at a cover-up. The report deliberately uses confusing language and math, invents new unrealistic standards of proof … and makes misleading statements,” Foote told the House Veterans Affairs Committee.