12 September 2014

USAF Conceals All C-123 Agent Orange Exposure Information

Yesterday, in response to our suit in the US District Court of Washington DC, the Surgeon General of the Air Force determined which materials relating to C-123 Agent Orange exposures are to be publicly released.


Certainly, a loud echo of the 1996 memo from JAG attorneys in the USAF Office of Environmental Law which directed all C-123 Agent Orange information "be kept in official channels only."

In an action very unusual for involving a lieutenant general, he insisted AF would not release anything explaining his decision. VA recently did the same, releasing blank pages and withholding virtually everything.

You see our conundrum: The VA and the USAF say, without any basis, that C-123 vets were not exposed. Neither will explain anything about their research, references, correspondence, emails, staff contributors, reviews, approvals, reports, manuals, orders, regulations, notes, recordings, conclusions – all restricted from us, other than VA providing a contractor's selected monographs. 

The Air Force will not release any of its correspondence with VA, NIH, or CDC/ATSDR. ATSDR, like the others, continues to insist we were exposed and were harmed aboard our C-123s. Yet the Air Force has told Senator Burr its report was somehow "consistent" with ATSDR.

Exposed (CDC/ATSDR) is "consistent" with not exposed? (USAF)

What is the justification for any secrecy involving a 60-year old airplane, and our duties aboard it three to four decades ago? Since VA has decided in advance to refuse us care for our Agent Orange exposures, don't we have the right to insist they reveal completely their justification?

It seems neither agency is in tune with the President's executive order on transparency in government! The 2009 memo instructed federal officials "to make discretionary FOIA releases of documents that might be technically exempt from release (especially with respect to the "deliberative" b(5) exemption), to proactively post records of interest to the public, and to remove "unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles." General Travis somehow concluded the President did not include the military in his FOIA rule, and on his authority redacted virtually everything that might be relevant.

It is clear that DOD or VA place veterans ahead of whatever policy or hidden agenda they have regarding this problem of C-123 aircrew exposure.

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