Senate Letter 2009-05-19 -
That's a letter dated May 15th, 2009 from Congressman Brad Miller to the head of the Veteran's Administration General Eric Shinseki. The letter was written on behalf of Dr. Anna Chacko, then head of radiology at the Pittsburgh VA. At the time, the Pittsburgh VA was in the final stages of removing Dr. Chacko. Congressman Miller wrote the letter to urge the head of the VA to stop the process because Miller felt the action being taken was done in retaliation for her blowing the whistle on corruption. In fact, three weeks later, Shinseki intervened and Chacko was reinstated.
The VA has apparently developed a well-honed and scripted method of dealing with whistleblowers — humiliation, isolation, character and professional assassination,
That's from a memo the same Dr. Anna Chacko published recently in reference to the Pittsburgh VA. This memo was recently featured in a Pittsburgh Tribune story. Dr. Chacko has since been terminated from the Pittsburgh VA as of March. The accusations that Dr. Chacko is now making about the Pittsburgh VA mirror those she made last year when she was able to get Congressman Miller and General Shinseki to champion her cause and help keep her in her job.
The only difference is that both Miller and Shinseki are now standing on the sidelines refusing to intervene. The question is why. Dr. Chacko isn't saying anything different now than she was a year ago. The action of Miller and Shinseki was extraordinary in May of 2009 and it was acknowleged as such in Miller's letter. Furthermore, Miller used his role as chair of the investigative arm of the Science and Technology Committee to investigate the same Pittsburgh VA about a destroyed strand of legionella in 2008. Now, the situation is even more critical for Dr. Chacko. She's been terminated. Her charges are exponentially more serious than the situation surrounding the strand of legionella. So, what's changed?
Are Miller and Shinseki no longer of the opinion that Chacko's removal was done simply as retaliation for whistle blowing? Their lack of action in her support certainly indicates that's their opinion. Yet, they've said nothing publicly about the matter. The story in which Chacko's accusations were published was featured on the first page of the Metro section of the Pittsburgh Tribune. They went unchallenged as those she accused refused to comment. So, in the city of Pittsburgh, the perception is that a corrupt administrative removed a doctor trying to expose corruption.
If that's the case, Miller and Shinseki have a duty to investigate these claims. After all, neither had any trouble intervening a year ago. Of course, if they no longer believe, they similarly have a duty to speak out. Professional reputations are on the line. Both once championed Dr. Chacko's cause. If they now see that action as inaccurate it is their duty to explain themselves. So far, the investigative sub committee that Miller chairs hasn't announced any investigation even though he used their letter head to write the original letter.
The reasons for their silence and total distance from this story likely have to do with nothing more than cynical political calculations. This story has appeared only in the Pittsburgh Tribune. It hasn't appeared anywhere in Congressman Miller's home 13th district in North Carolina. In fact, the media there doesn't see the relevance of this story since the events took place in Pittsburgh. It certainly hasn't appeared in any D.C. area media. Neither responded for comment for this story.
If they no longer find Dr. Chacko credible, it would be politically embarrassing if not ending to come out and draw attention to their original mistake. So, it's much better to keep quiet and hope the story doesn't reach anywhere near them. That may explain their silence.