On July 29, 2014, in partial response to my suit in the US District Court of Washington DC for information due me under the Freedom of Information Act, VBA sent a letter. It seems inaccurate and incomplete....in the extreme!
VBA stated, in effect, they had no records relating to the C-123 issue except the three or four Internet pages on the VA web sites. They denied knowing anything about the current IOM study, other than that it is underway.
Their denial is so broad, they even denied their VBA staff preparing the letter Secretary Shinseki sent to Senator Burr regarding the C-123 veterans. Good thing, because the letter was riddled with errors. A perfect example of how Secretary Shinseki was torpedoed by his staff as they went about their personal agendas.
As for the information which surely exists, VBA insists there were no notes taken before, during or after any of our meetings. No knowledge of the hundreds of pages of letters and forms and source documents the C-123 veterans provided. No knowledge, no records, no recordings, no emails, no correspondence, Nada.
But how can VBA deny the existence of the September 27, 2012 $600,000 contract they let to A.L. Young Consultants? How can they deny existence of documents approving the contract, arranging the funding, receiving the contractor's reports, correspondence, distribution within VBA and VHA...how can they honestly evade answering the FOIA in a formal response? How can they deny correspondence between VBA and Joint Services Records Research Center? How can they deny ordering VAROs, such as Portland, to deny C-123 veterans' claims and then deny existence of the emails which were already provided the claimants?
Because this is the VA. What can you do? Appeal?
They do as they wish, as there are no individual penalties for deception or evasion. And they take their sweet time about their inaccurate and incomplete response – the FOIA was given them in October. Instead of responding in the 20 days FOIA requires, VBA opted to ignore it and take until the end of July to respond. So much for VBA adherence to the President's own directives, and statements from the President about FOIA being a fundamental element of American democracy.
This fits in perfectly with the overall VA policy of delay, delay until we die. That's not just a phrase...they mean it.