Subcommittee Chairman Murtha Holds Hearing on Walter Reed

March 7, 2007
Blog
The Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. John Murtha (PA-12), held a hearing on the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this afternoon. The witnesses were Lieutenant General Kevin C. Kiley, M.D, Army Surgeon General, who was in charge of Walter Reed during much of the period in question, and General Peter Schoomaker, Army Chief of Staff. In his opening remarks, Chairman Murtha singled out Dr. David Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, as bearing responsibility as well. Mr. Chu was quoted on January 25, 2005 by the Wall Street Journal saying veteran's benefits were "taking away from the nation's ability to defend itself."

Watch an excerpt of Chairman Murtha's opening remarks:

Chairman Murtha:

"I think it goes beyond General Kiley, I think this goes beyond General Schoomaker. I think it goes to Dr. Chu. Dr. Chu who has tried to arbitrarily cut medical funds and thinks that'll keep the costs down. That doesn't keep the cost down. It also goes to the former Secretary of Defense who said we'll do with whatever we have in order to get by."

The Subcommittee also inquired about the reported "gag order" placed on wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. The Army Times reported:

Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet

Kelly Kennedy, Army Times - February 28, 2007

Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

"Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media," one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training.

Watch Reps. Moran, Murtha, and Young question the witnesses and discuss the larger problem of military secrecy, including the attempts made by Spec. Pat Tillman's family to learn the truth about his death.

Chairman Murtha:

"Secrecy doesn't work. We gotta work together if we're going to solve this problem. This is unacceptable to think that a family can't find the details when they've looked through this thing..."