by Cathy Burke
WASHINGTON D.C. – The first time President Barack Obama heard about allegations of phony waiting lists that hid long — and allegedly deadly — lapses of care for ailing veterans was from an April 23 CNN report, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.
“If you mean the specific allegations that I think were first reported by your network out of Phoenix, I believe, we learned about them through the reports,” Carney said, according to CNN.
Carney said that although the president wasn’t aware of the fake patient lists at the Phoenix, Ariz., Department of Veterans Affairs facility, he’d known of the VA’s general problem with long wait times and inadequate care for several years.
The Washington Times reported Monday that internal memos show the Obama-Biden transition team was told in late 2008 of the problems with care at the Arizona facility.
Carney dug in, however, insisting that “then-candidate Obama [in 2008] identified problems with the VA and committed himself, if being elected, to making sure we enhance the budgets we provide to the Veterans Affairs Department so we can better serve our veterans.
“We asked for and received from Congress significant increases in the VA budget . . . You have more veterans being served,” he said.
The White House spokesman said Obama is standing by embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, saying also: “Accountable individuals must be held to account.”
But ABC News’ Jonathan Karl got into a testy exchange with Carney over last week’s resignation of Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health in the VA, who was already due to retire this summer, according to the Free Beacon, which printed a transcript of the dialogue.
“Jay, how can you suggest that his resignation comes as accountability when the VA put out a press release on Sept. 20 saying he was leaving? That’s almost eight months ago,” Karl said. Cutting off Carney’s referral to the American Legion, Karl barked: “I don’t care what the American Legion has to say. I’m asking what you have to say.”
“Well, I would point you to the American Legion, which obviously has a deep interest in this matter and has been reported on significantly by your network and others in terms of what they’ve said about this issue,” Carney responded.
Town Hall’s Guy Benson wrote Monday, “We can now tack the VA scandal onto the growing roster of controversies the President of the United States allegedly first learned about via news reports,” citing Obama’s lack of awareness of the problems with the Obamacare launch and NSA snooping.
Benson went on to reprint a tweet from The Blaze staffer Steve Krakauer on an Obama campaign promise — from 2007:
Steve Krakauer account
“When 400,000 veterans are stuck on a waiting list for claims, we need a new sense of urgency,” said Sen Obama in 07: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=93227