the need for critical skills

patrick martin 'reviews' glenn greenwald's new book at wsws.

it's a gush.

i wouldn't mind a rave.  a rave requires critical thought.

patrick martin's just gushing for paragraph after paragraph until the last 3.

if you're going to review a book, review it.

stop confusing book summary with book review.

'Trapped in an AA meeting with Judy Collins (Ava and C.I.)' is a book review.

we have suffered so much in terms of critical skills as the press has reduced music reviews to 1 and 3 paragraphs.

but book reviews should be the last critical format to fade.

presumably readers of book reviews are readers who read books.

so they should enjoy exploration and analysis.

and then comes something like patrick martin's nonsense and you really have to wonder what's left?

we really do need to sharpen our critical skills in this country.

we need to be less gullible and less sheepish.

but i really don't think that the government wants us to have critical skills.

i think they want to socialize us and lull us into a level of acceptance of just about anything.

therefore, critical reasoning skills are actually harmful to their notions of 'good government.'

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, May 30, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri bombs Falluja General Hospital again, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigns, a culture of secrecy exists at VA that goes beyond secret waiting lists, and much more.

Starting in the United States with the news that Eric Shinseki has resigned from his post as Secretary of the VA.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following statement today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray Press Office (202) 224-2834
Friday, May 30th, 2014                                                          
Murray Statement on the Resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki
(Washington, D.C.)  Today, Friday, May 30th, 2014, Senator Patty Murray made the following statement on the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.
“There are serious problems at the VA that won’t be solved simply by replacing the Secretary, but I am hopeful that this leadership change will spark structural, cultural, and personnel changes, from the top of the organization to the bottom, to make sure our veterans are getting the care and support they expect and deserve.
“I will be working closely with President Obama and his Administration as they look for a new Secretary who will provide strong leadership for the Department and who will work with me and others to make much-needed changes and improvements at the VA. This transition is also a time for every employee at the VA to step up and do everything they can to help veterans and work toward a culture of transparency as changes are being implemented. And as these changes are being made, I will work with my colleagues in Congress to make sure these improvements are being supported.
“I stand with veterans and families in Washington state and across the country in thanking Secretary Shinseki for his years of work for veterans and for his lifetime of service to the United States of America.
Kathryn Robertson
Deputy Press Secretary 
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510


Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) notes the periodical's own poll (which is still taking place) had shown the American people wanted Shinseki removed from his post and that the call from elected officials had been increasing as well:

Calls throughout the week had increased for the VA chief to step down. Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona – who once lauded Shinseki’s willingness to speak truth to power – joined that chorus “with some reluctance,” adding that if Shinseki did not step down voluntarily, the president should “fire him.”
Along with the Republican chairmen of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, Democrats had also begun to call for Shinseki to step down. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, up for reelection this year, pointed to a “systemic problem that this leadership has not been addressing.” Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) of Illinois, who lost both legs in the Iraq war and who served as a VA official, said Friday it was time for her former boss to resign.

Mulrine, like others, then goes on to miss the point when quoting various 'experts.'  She's not the only one missing the point.  Congress is far from perfect.  But Congress isn't responsible for this.

They're supposed to provide oversight, yes.  Maybe the press could have helped there.  I'm not referring to breaking scandals and certainly CNN and Drew Griffin and Anderson Cooper and others did their part and then some on that.  But I'm talking about the silence that allows nonsense about Congress to be said.

Right now, Bernie Sanders is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  But I can remember Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray having to demand the truth repeatedly in hearings, I can remember House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bob Filner calling VA's Allison Hickey out for her efforts to lie to the Committee.  I can, for example, remember all the times Chair Patty Murray had to demand the VA supply her with the facts regarding what was happening at Madigan Army Medical Center.  (What was happening?  Among other things vets with PTS were not being classified as such in what was clearly a 'cost-saving' measure by the government.)

I realize that outside of the Associated Press, few major outlets bother to show up the Congressional Veterans Affairs Committees hearings.  I grasp that.  And the cost cutting excuses for that.  But are you so stupid you don't notice a rare night hearing?  One took place Wednesday night, the House Veterans Affairs Committee called VA officials before it.

Why?  What was that hearing about?

It was about Congressional requests that are not being honored.  Congress is supposed to provide oversight.  But since 2009, the VA has stonewalled Congress and outright ignored requests for information.

You can blame the White House for that since it's over the VA.  I don't know that I would or wouldn't.  But it is a problem and everyone should be aware of it now and the White House should order the VA to start complying with all Congressional requests as, in fact, they're legally supposed to.

I'm not seeing where you blame Congress and say they weren't doing their job when they're requests for information are not honored even when they're made via subpoena.

Eric Shinseki took over the VA in January 2009.  When he did, he was immediately informed that one of the signature pieces of legislation, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, was in trouble.  While it was due to be implemented in the fall of 2009, Shinseki was told in January of 2009, the VA couldn't handle it, checks were not going to be going out.  That's when you inform Congress there's a problem.  He didn't.  He hired an outside contractor to examine the system and the results were the same: When the program was rolled out in the fall, many veterans would suffer because the system was inadequate.

Did Shinseki inform Congress then?


He stayed silent.  And nothing was said as fall rolled around.  Then a few problems emerged, a few veterans weren't getting their checks.  These semester checks would cover tuition, rents, etc.  And a few were having problems.  The VA immediately blamed the veterans and the educational institutions.  Their mouthpiece on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Corinne Brown, announced she'd been watching MSNBC at three in the morning and it was time for these institutions to get their act together.

It wasn't the colleges.

And as a few turned to many, finally in October, Eric Shinseki revealed that he'd always known there was a problem.  He revealed that October 14, 2009 when he appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The press didn't care to report that revelation.  Even those who were present ignored it.  For months after that, veterans continued to suffer.  Some families had to postpone Christmas because all the money was being used to cover bills as a result of their still waiting on checks they should have received in August and September.

This was outrageous.

Some of the liars in the press today wanted you to know about the antiquated computers at VA.


Thanks for that 2006 flashback.

Shinseki, at the start of his tenure as VA Secretary, was tasked with determining whether or not his computer system would change -- one had to.  DoD and VA were supposed to offer a seamless transition for those going from service member to veteran.  How?  They'd do it with electronic records.  But the two systems couldn't communicate -- this was all determined before Barack Obama was sworn in for his first term as President of the United States.  So one of the two would have to change.

Shinseki chose not to.  He also sat on this issue that Congress poured billions of dollars into.  He's been Secretary of the VA since 2009.  This was supposed to have been handled immediately.  Robert Gates told him to do what he wanted and the Pentagon would adapt.  Then Leon Panetta became Secretary of Defense.  He told Shinseki that whatever Gates had already approved was fine.  And still nothing.  Then Chuck Hagel becomes Secretary of Defense.

Something finally happens.

Hagel's not shedding any tears today over Shinseki's departure. Not after Shinseki tried to blame him to Congress.

April 11, 2013, Shinseki appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee which was irritated by the budget request coming to them late and not coming to them in full because, as they pointed out, what the administration submitted did not include all the costs -- even if you set aside issues of discretionary spending, the VA 'budget' request was a joke.  Ranking Member Mike Michaud noted the money that was being poured into the VA -- others did as well but he's the one who asked for a status on the electronic health record.  And this is where Shinseki chose to lie.  There was no progress, he admitted, but that was because Chuck Hagel hadn't added any input.

What the hell was that?  It's so high school cafeteria.  Did he think it wouldn't get back to Hagel that the House Veterans Affairs Committee was vocal about the fact that there was no progress on this issue despite the funds provided for it in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013?

It had nothing to do with Chuck Hagel.  Good for Hagel he wasn't going to stay under the bus.  He complained to Barack who had a sit-down with Hagel and Shinseki to ensure that a decision was made and there was no 'confusion' about the status.

If you're not getting what a little bitch move Shinseki pulled before Congress, grasp that Hagel was confirmed as Secretary of Defense on February 26, 2013.  Not two months later, Shisenski was blaming a multi-year delay to starting the program on Hagel.

You think this delay doesn't matter?  Iraq War veteran Travis Fugate testified at the Wednesday morning hearing. From his opening statement:

 In 2006, I went for a follow-up visit with an ENT doctor at the Lexington VA Medical Center. The nurse brought him a big stack of my paper military medical files, and he told her, “There’s absolutely nothing relevant that I need in there.” He told me the anatomy of my sinuses was so disfigured, he didn’t know what in my face tissue was natural and what was artificially implanted. He said he wouldn’t feel comfortable doing any further procedures, I trusted that decision because my experience was that the medics and Army doctors are all professionals, and I was used to putting my faith in them.
          For two years, things were OK. I went back to community college, and I started being active with many different disabled sporting events and programs where I had chance to meet other injured OIF veterans, and attended the Blinded Veterans Association national convention in August 2007 and returned to other BVA OIF peer group meetings since.
          Then in November 2008, three weeks before finals, I had to call my dad at 10 p.m. to tell him I thought I had one of those headaches that the doctors at Walter Reed warned me about. They said the damaged sinus and orbit area around my left eye could lead to a severe infection in area around my sighted eye. He took me to the ER, and I was in the hospital for 10 days with a serious infection. The upper left hemisphere of my face was so swollen that my eyelids swelled together, that was the last time I had any sight.
          In December I had been told that when sinus infections cleared maybe some vision would return like before. I strongly believe today the lack of having my eye surgery records in an electronic joint registry where both VA and DOD medical staff can find out immediately what treatments and surgery was done could have made a difference.

          In January, I returned to Walter Reed, where the doctors would have better access to all my surgery trauma records. I saw a retina specialist, and within five minutes, he’d scheduled a five-hour surgery the following day for detached retina and bleeding in left eye. Then, I have had more surgeries, the last one March 6th 2009 where they again tried to save my damaged retina because of another detachment but it failed and have no eye sight since then.

He strongly believes "the lack of having my eye surgery records in an electronic joint registry where both VA and DoD medical staff and find out immediately what treatments and surgery was done could have made a difference."  2008?  That's before the transition was supposed to take place.  If everyone gotten on it sooner, his vision probably could have been saved.  It's very sad that everyone didn't and that he lost his vision.  But this could be any number of veterans with the same issue or others.  That's why the electronic medical record is needed.  And the system's still not up and running.  How many more have to suffer?  The failure to implement this system falls on Shinseki.

In "Another VA scandal brought to you by Shinseki," Kat reports on the Thursday morning House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing:

What was being discussed?
The Eye Injury and Vision Registry of for DoD and the VA.  DoD has added 23,663 names to the list.  The VA?
One name.
Let me repeat that, one name.
1 name.
As VA admitted in the hearing, they had taken in $6.9 million in funding for this program.  Excuse me, that money was supposed to be the budget for 2010 all the way through this year.
And they've had the money and they've done nothing.
But they are looking to hire an independent contractor.
That's supposed to be good news.
Benishek's comments were about the five years VA's had money for this and failed to do anything but add one name to the list.

Do you really think the only failure at VA currently is the issue of secret lists?

If you're a gasbag or a reporter who never does any work, you may think so.  Those of us who've done the work, who've attended these hearings know the wait list is only one of many failures at the VA.  We also grasp that the VA has operated under a culture of secrecy.  They tell Congress there's progress, Congress requests proof of that, proof is not supplied and, if the veterans community is lucky, a press expose reveals the VA is lying.  Without that expose, the Congress is repeatedly stonewalled by Congress.

With the exception of field hearings, I believe I've only missed three Congressional VA hearings since 2006. I'm really not in the mood for lies and I'm especially not in the mood for lies from people who didn't bother to ever attend even one hearing in the last eight years.

On the Thursday morning hearing, Ruth reported on it in "Blind veteran describes computer issues" and I covered it in yesterday's snapshot and it's noted at the end of "VA did not make providing quality care a primary goal" and "A few comments on Senator Richard Burr."  We were going to cover it today. Hopefully, we'll have room and time.  But Shinseki's resignation and the press spin means we have to go the second hearing yesterday, yesterday afternoon's hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs.

First, let's note the statement Chair Jeff Miller issued today:

May 30, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following the announcement of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement.

"Everybody knows Eric Shinseki is an honorable man whose dedication to our country is beyond reproach. I thank him for his legacy of service to our nation. Unfortunately, Shinseki's tenure at the Department of Veterans Affairs will forever be tainted by a pervasive lack of accountability among poorly performing VA employees and managers, apparent widespread corruption among medical center officials and an unparalleled lack of transparency with Congress, the public and the press. Appropriately, Shinseki is taking the brunt of the blame for these problems, but he is not the only one within VA who bears responsibility. Nearly every member of Shinseki's inner circle failed him in a major way. Those who surrounded Shinseki shielded him from crucial facts and hid bad news reports, in the process convincing him that some of the department’s most serious, well documented and systemic issues were merely isolated incidents to be ignored. Eric Shinseki trusted the VA bureaucracy, and the VA bureaucracy let him down.”

“Right now, VA needs a leader who will take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability. VA’s problems are deadly serious, and whomever the next secretary may be, they will receive no grace period from America’s veterans, American taxpayers and Congress.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

I think that's a fair assessment.  I don't think many -- if any -- believe Shinseki set out to deceive or that he was trying to damage veterans.  He fought some members of Congress (Senator Jim Webb) to get those suffering from Agent Orange the help they need.  That's a major accomplishment and no one can take that away from Shinseki.  We gave him credit for that.  When there were some veterans groups attacking him because a veteran got arrested and would be prosecuted by a relative of Shinseki, we stated here that Eric Shinseki is responsible for his role as Secretary of the VA and he is not responsible for family members carrying out actions in other jobs and positions.

Shinseki couldn't provide oversight.  He was said to be to easy to please.  He didn't dig for answers.  The next person who heads the VA has to be determined and needs a new staff who will repeatedly probe various programs and various medical centers to ensure that problems within the VA are known at the top.

Now for yesterday afternoon's hearing.  We're going to the second panel and to Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations Linda Halliday.

Disability claims.  How's that going?  Shinseki had said it would be down to 125 days by 2015 -- Fiscal Year 2015 which means October of this year.  Mere months away.  And the number of days currently to process these disability claims?  249.

But, somehow, by magic?, in five months, that 249 is supposed to drop to 125.

This is part of the VA problem and where's the press on it?

With Quick Start claims-processing, Halliday explained, VBA had managed, over the last two years to drop down to 249 days -- from 291.  But in five months, they're going to magically halve the current 249 and have 125?

That's going to be some feat to pull off.  (No, they're not going to meet the deadline.)

If you paid attention to her testimony, you saw how it might happen.  VBA wanted to shave off 41 days -- just not count them -- and claim they didn't count.  That's the sort of nonsense that goes to a lack of accountability.  VA gets the numbers they want by lying about the numbers.  That needs to stop immediately.  You can't shave off 41 days, pretend they never took place, just because it will give you better numbers.  Honesty is a core value that needs to be stressed, taught and reinforced at the VA.

Quick Star has not improved the number of days for these claims -- despite having "quick" in the title -- but maybe it's done something with accuracy?


In 2011, the accuracy rate was 62%.  Last year, they raised that to 69% which might seem good except the October 1st deadline, when Fiscal Year 2015 kicks off?  Shinseki had pledged Quick Start would have reached 98% accuracy by that point.  So in five months, watch for it, the accuracy rate is supposed to jump from 69% to 98% on Quick Start's disability claims.

Quick aside, the VA's shell game with the backlog.  We called that out when it was presented in a hearing as the big new plan that was going to save every veteran.  Briefly, slap a ruling on a claim and then the claim isn't in the backlog!  No, but it may be in the appeals system.  And that's what's happened.  That is now the fast growing segment on disability claims.  The press is beginning to notice but mainly because VSOs are raising the issue.  But when this came up and we called it out here I noted at one point that if an error was made in the favor of a veteran it should be like a Monopoly card "Bank error in your favor."  And this led to e-mails about how the government couldn't afford it and I noted that the more likely scenario was veterans getting underpayment not overpayments.  In her testimony, Halliday addressed inaccurate claims that had been re-decided.  Here are the amounts through July 2012:  veterans were overpaid $463,000 and veterans were underpaid $2.8 million.

You can keep that mind as we note this exchange from the hearing. Chair Jon Runyan is the Subcommittee Chair.

Chair Jon Runyan: As you know, while VBA is reporting timeliness an equal, if not greater, concern is the accuracy for each veteran. VBA is looking at hundreds of thousands of claims. And the veteran is looking at one and only one. Ms. Halliday, accuracy, as highlighted in your testimony, is a serious concern.  I'd like to also ask you a question about of VBA's quality components Start.  You noted that VBA's Start program has several classification errors such as benefit entitlement, decision documentation/notification and administrative.  Mr. Murphy [VA's Thomas Murphy, from the hearing's first panel] responded to an inquiry of Star's failure to count error incidents with potential to effect veterans benefits such as when a claims folder lacked required evidence including medical examination or an opinion needed to make an accurate decision.  Can you comment on that?

Linda Halliday: Yes, I would appreciate that.  The OIG [Office of Inspector General] uses a broader definition of what constitutes an error.  We report errors that effect veterans benefits as well as those that have the potential to effect veterans benefits in the future if left uncorrected. We think this is important.  It's a veteran-centric approach. We do not feel that the Start program counts all of its errors.  There is a disagreement between what OIG considers an error and how VBA calculates its accuracy rate. I have a couple of examples here that we think might help you understand.  VBA does not consider an incorrect disability evaluation to be a benefit entitlement error unless the error impacted the veterans overall combined disability evaluation.  However, OIG would identify this case as an error because it has the potential to effect the future benefits if left undetected.  And that also has a corresponding effect -- it could effect other programs too as the ratings change.  Also, cases where VBA staff simply do not request or significantly delay requesting the mandatory routine future examinations to determine whether the temporary 100% disability rating should continue, we clearly call an error.  We see a significant financial impact associated with not managing those claims appropriately.  

Okay, right there is where the gas bags need to be paying attention.

Cooked books?  How did they get to that point?

With a long-standing practice of weaseling the truth.

The OIG is the watchdog for the VA.  If they're calling it an error, it's an error.  Stop fighting the terms and definitions.  More plainly: Stop lying to make yourselves look better.

Tolerating these lies encourages more fudging and more dishonesty.

No Department should lie.  But with the VA, the lies just never end.  The next Secretary of the VA should make the announcement that what the OIG defines as an error will be the same definition that the VA will use.

Some of the gas bags are blaming it on a "vacationing Congress."  Gasbag Brent Budowsky (at The Hill) insists,  "Congress, deeply enmeshed in another one of its many ludicrous recesses of vacationing and fundraising, successfully demanded the head of the general." While Memorial Day was Monday, I've sat through three Congressional hearings this week.  The House Veterans Affairs Committee -- in full and in Subcommittees -- has held three hearings this week.

Wednesday night's hearing was covered by me in "VA did not make providing quality care a primary goal" and the Thursday snapshot, by Ruth in "VA censors who appears before Congress," by Wally in "Time for a criminal investigation (Wally)" and by Ava in "US House Rep Corrine Brown should retire."

We're talking about errors and they can have serious and lasting impact.  The IG found fault, as Halliday testified in the Thursday afternoon hearing, with VA's training of employees on Quick Start.  VA insists that is not the case.  Remember that when the problems with Quick Start continue.

El Paso is poorly served because it doesn't have a fully functioning VA medical center.  This was noted in the Thursday morning hearing.  US House Rep Beto O'Roarke shared the convoy approach it took to get a prescription filled -- a large amount of travel.  That's an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

The US needs more jobs.  The White House should be creating more jobs at VA.

In that Thursday morning hearing, US House Rep Phil Roe explained why VA doctors were so overloaded. It's not just the issue of the number of patients.  They're also having to do things that a clerical employee could do.  Roe talked about how, at his own medical practice, he could spend 50% of his work day on these tasks -- such as data entry.  The VA needs to be hiring more employees.  This is needed to reduce the workload of doctors (and allow them to focus on patients) and it's needed in a country where so many seeking work are confronted with a lack of jobs.

Obama says "change of culture" needed at VA.

Gasbags want to talk VA?  They can start with the issues above.  There are many more but the above are reality based issues as opposed to spin and conventional wisdom.

I've already offered my opinion that Iraq War veteran and former US Rep Patrick Murphy should be named by Barack as the next Secretary of the VA -- he's got the energy to tackle this, he's got the desire to and he has experience as a veteran and as a member of Congress.  Whomever gets nominated, the issue is not just the secret list.  There is a huge problem with accountability, there is a huge problem with honesty.  The VA needs to start complying with Congressional requests and it needs to stop inventing new definitions for terms like "error" to make itself look better.

Briefly to Iraq.  Since January, Nouri al-Maliki has been committing War Crimes.  He claims that terrorists are among those people in Falluja.  Falluja is a populated city with many civilians.  Nouri has been bombing it which is collective punishment -- when you attack a populated area because of the presence of 'evil doers.'  It is a legally defined War Crime.  The US government recognizes it as such in treaties and laws.

Yet they've looked the other way while Nouri's carried out War Crimes by bombing civilian areas of Falluja killing and wounding civilians.

A White House friend insists they are not looking the other way and notes Vice President Joe Biden's call to Nouri earlier this month as proof since Joe stressed the need to ensure the protection of civilians.

Well the call obviously did nothing because Nouri's continued to target civilians.

But I'll be fair and note that point -- much fairer than the White House is to Iraqi civilians.

NINA reports Falluja General Hospital has been hit with 7 mortars.  This is not the first time Nouri has bombed hospitals in Falluja or even the fist time that he's bombed Falluja General.  Also, NINA reports that Nouri's bombing of the residential neighborhoods of Falluja have left ten people injured today -- two of which were children.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports an Aljazeerah roadside bombing left 1 "explosives expert" dead, 2 corpses were discovered in Sharqat (Sahwa), an attack on a Ramadi police station left 2 fighters dead and two more injured,  and 3 women were killed in Wlowash Village when assailants stormed homes,.  All Iraq News adds that 2 Sahwa were killed in Muqdadiya with a third left injured,

Ban Ki-moon is the United Nations Secretary General.  Nickolay Mladenov is his Special Envoy to Iraq.

We noted Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's honor earlier this week but it's worth noting again.

Moving over to England where the Iraq Inquiry has still not released their report from their now years ago hearings.  The big delay of recent months has been correspondence between former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bully Boy Bush.   Rowena Mason (Guardian) reports today:

Tony Blair should ask the Chilcot inquiry to publish his correspondence with George Bush about the Iraq war, as releasing only the "gist and quotes" will allow suspicions to fester, Sir John Major has said.
The former Conservative prime minister, who lost power to Blair in 1997, said it was a pity the full papers were going to be withheld by the Cabinet Office.
The Chilcot inquiry has been accused of allowing a whitewash after it struck a deal with ministers to publish the gist of letters between Blair and Bush, but not the full correspondence.
The publication of the Chilcot report has been overdue for several years, with discussions in recent months focusing on 25 notes from Blair to Bush and 130 records of conversations.

Robert Fox (The Week) argues the report should be released as is:

According to The Independent, the report is likely to be emasculated because of America's refusal to allow publication of crucial notes and conversations between George W Bush and Tony Blair (and Gordon Brown when he succeeded Blair).
This is because Washington claims all records concerning the President of the United States are privileged and not for disclosure in any Tom, Dick and Harry inquiry.
The upshot is that the passages relating to Bush and Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq will be 'redacted' - inked out on the page. The same is likely to happen to mentions of some 200 meetings with the Blair cabinet and its committees.
There is now a real likelihood, according to sources close to the Chilcot committee itself, that the report will not be published at all. It is already woefully over deadline, and hugely over budget, costing just shy of £9 million.

The editorial board of the Guardian offers, "Sir John Chilcot has fought tenaciously for the right to publish the evidence he believes he needs to substantiate his report's conclusions. But there is one other person who could change the game. As the former prime minister Sir John Major has pointed out, it is in Tony Blair's gift to overrule the Cabinet Office and give permission for his correspondence to be released. He has said repeatedly that he wants the report published as much as everyone else. He should make it happen."

We'll close with this from Anita Little's "NEWSFLASH: One More Reason Why Military Women Need More Protection from Sexual Assault" (Ms. magazine blog):

Though lawmakers such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have done much in the past year to bring the issue of military rape to the forefront of the U.S. Congress, a recent case of sexual assault in the Army shows that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Staff Sgt. Angel M. Sanchez, who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing a dozen women soldiers during his tenure with the military. A litany of charges against him, starting as early as 2011, were read in a pretrial hearing this week on a military base in Missouri. The charges ranged from forcing a woman soldier to perform oral sex in the barracks to spying on woman soldiers as they showered. Sanchez allegedly used his position to silence his victims, threatening them with dismissal from the Army if they didn’t meet his sexual demands.

Time for a criminal investigation (Wally)

Wally here filling in for Rebecca.

Wednesday night there was a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing about the ongoing VA scandal involving fake lists created to make it appear that the VA is scheduling appointments within 14 days of a veterans' request.

No, it's not happening.

And this is criminal.

While a lot of people have focused on bonuses, C.I.'s noted for weeks now, the scandal involves more than bonuses.  The lie was fraud and it was ripping off taxpayers.  But not just with bonuses.  The fake lists were used for evaluations and performance appraisals so people were getting raises off this.

That's why there needs to be a criminal investigation.

US House Rep Jackie Walorski asked the VA's Dr. Thomas Lynch and Joan Mooney if they would support the Justice Department launching a criminal investigation?

They both stated that would be up to the Inspector General.

Walorski then asked them if the IG called for that, would they support it?

They reluctantly agreed that they would.

I'm sure they'll try to weasel out of it.

But they are on record agreeing to support it if the VA IG recommends it.

I don't understand why Barack hasn't called for it.  As noted in the hearing, it's now been established by the IG report this week that there were two lists in Phoenix -- one a fake one to show the VA scheduling timely appointments and the real list where veterans waited weeks and months.

That report should have resulted in Barack calling for the Justice Department to open investigations -- both for fraud and for medical abuse.  There need to be criminal charges for what was done to veterans health as a result of their being forced to wait and wait.

US House Joke Corinne Brown (from my home state of Florida) doesn't think so.  She thinks veterans should rejoice over any crumbs tossed their way, that the VA does important work and what does it matter if someone ends up with cancer or dead.

Corinne Brown is an idiot and she needs to be pulled off the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Here's C.I.'s  ''Iraq snapshot:''

Thursday, May 29, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's War Crimes continue, the VA scandal continues, a VA official knew about the Phoenix wait list and did nothing to help the veterans, Congress holds hearings, Brett McGurk makes clear what the US government focuses on in Iraq (it's three letters but it's not s-e-x), and much more.

Starting in the US where James Warren (New York Daily News) notes, "By two counts (Military Times and ABC News), we’re up to more than 80 members of Congress calling for the scalp of Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki, including several Democratic senators who face very tough re-election fights as their party and President Obama strain to hold their Senate majority."  On CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper, US House Rep Steve Israel joined the call today.

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following yesterday:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, May 28, 2014                                                                          
(202) 224-2834

VETERANS: Murray Statement on VA OIG Interim Report

WASHINGTON, D.C --- Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released the following statement after the VA Office of the Inspector General released their interim report after their review of patient wait times, scheduling practices, and alleged patient deaths at the Phoenix Health Care System.

“Today’s interim report confirms what many of us have been saying for years: the VA has deep-seated structural and cultural challenges, and our veterans can’t afford to wait any longer for these problems to be solved. The VA needs to stop rewarding bad behavior and create a real system of accountability and transparency. It needs to put an end to what appears to be a pervasive culture of lying, cheating, and mismanagement. And it needs to act right away—without waiting for more reports to come out detailing even more system-wide failures. As I have told Secretary Shinseki, we are at the point where good intentions are no longer good enough—we need to see real actions to make sure our veterans are getting the support and care they expect and deserve, and we need to see that right away.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Again, that was issued yesterday.  Last night, there was no accountability from the VA for their actions. There was even an attempt by the VA to insist that the Phoenix secret list was not, in fact, secret from the VA.

Dr. Thomas Lynch: Congressman, I don't think these lists were secret --

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  How did you not find them, Dr. Lynch?  You were there.

Dr. Thomas Lynch: I did find them, Congressman!

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  How many were on the list?

Dr. Thomas Lynch: Pardon?

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  You told me you didn't even look at this list.

Dr. Thomas Lynch:  I told you we didn't document the numbers.  I told you we were aware --

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  You saw the list?

Dr. Thomas Lynch: We were aware of the problem.

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  Why didn't you report to the press and to Mr. Shinseki and to the President of the United States that there were 1100 veterans waiting for care on that list?  Did you tell anybody about this?  You waited 35 days.  35 days.  You said that you care about veterans, you care about them, they waited on a list, languishing!

Dr. Thomas Lynch: Congressman, I was focused on trying to improve the process --

US House Rep tim Huelskamp:  What about the 1100 veterans?  So you knew about these veterans that were waiting for care --

Dr. Thomas Lynch:  Congressman, I wish I had identified the number of veterans and we could have moved forward more quickly.

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  Did you try to do anything to get care for these veterans, 1100 veterans, waiting?  Some of them might have been on the list that died.

Dr. Thomas Lynch:  Congressman, we identified the processes and we put people on the ground --

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  Yes or no?  Did you do anything for those 1100 veterans?

Dr. Thomas Lynch:  Congressman, I put in place an understanding of the process which allowed us --

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  They are still waiting for treatment. Sir, I think that is your answer.  I yield back to the Chairman.

Again, that's from Wednesday night's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on the VA's inability to provide the Committee with information in a timely and accurate manner.  US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Committee Chair, US House Rep Mike Michaud is the Ranking Member.

The Committee held from one panel which was comprised of VA's Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Operations Dr. Thomas Lynch; the VA's Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs Joan Mooney; and the VA's Congressional Relations Officer Michael Huff.

Inability to provide information?

Since March 14, 2013, US House Rep Tim Huelskamp has been asking for a list of "those who had been punished."  He still hasn't gotten the list.

"Meanwhile, the bonuses continue,"  Huelskamp noted.  "You realize, the information that we have, this is from a website source, we can't get it from your agency, but at Phoenix an $843,000 worth of bonuses. So it wasn't just the director.  It was over a two year period.  My question, what we haven't received yet is the listing of those who lost their bonuses for failures in the system?  Who are we going to hold accountable?"

Inability to provide information?

As Ruth reported on the hearing the VA has also been denying Congress access to VA employees.  Ranking Member Mike Michaud explained to Joan Mooney that when the Committee requested testimony from subject matter experts, these experts aren't allowed to testify.

Ranking Member Mike Michaud:  Okay, we have an e-mail and we'll be glad to share it with you, Ms. Mooney, from a subject matter expert saying that that is the policy of the VA.  Now we can address that, I brought it to Sloan Gibson's attention, I've talked to the Secretary [of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki] a number of times about the fact that the relationship between the Department [of Veterans Affairs] and this Committee is getting extremely strained because we are not able to get the information that we need to.  We tried to, at the beginning of my term as Ranking Member, we tried to smooth out some of the requests as far as going directly to the subject matter expert.  That has not worked.  And so hopefully, we'll be able to get that working the way it should be working, rebuild our trust and open line of communication.

At this point, there is no trust or open line of communication.  This morning, I noted US House Rep Beto O'Rourke

US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:  I hope you will do that.  Another thing that struck me, you were talking about a failure within the VA that resulted from elevating a performance measure into a goal which could possibly have led to the scandal in Phoenix and other -- perhaps other-other parts of the VA.  If the current performance measures are not working what are some recommendations that you have for how we measure performance at our VHA system?

Dr. Thomas Lynch: I-I -- Don't get me wrong, I think that we need to have performance measures.  I think that they need to be tools that help us understand our system.  And I think we need to focus on our primary goal which is: are we seeing veterans, is our system growing, are we providing quality care?  When those become the goals of the system, then you cannot game performance measures.  Performance measures become a tool.  If you ignore them, then you're actually hurting yourself because you're not growing your system like you're supposed to and as a director or an administrator you will fail.

So, according to Lynch's testimony, the goals of the VA were not "seeing veterans" or the growing system or "providing quality care."  If those had "become the goals of the system, then you cannot game performance measures." Performance measures were gamed via secret lists. That happened.

Lynch also told O'Roarke about one of VA's potential "plans."

Dr. Thomas Lynch: Congressman, one of the options we have been discussing internally is whether or not we could partner with the Veterans Service  Organizations and use their membership and use their members as, uh, an opportunity to identify the kind of service we're providing and where they're experiencing delays.  I think there is an opportunity there that clearly needs to be explored further.

The VA gets billions of dollars.  It's proven currently to be inept and criminal.  The answer VA floats is to utilize the labor of the VSOs and the veterans?  With all that money, VA can't provide its own oversight?  It's going to need to tax the VSOs?

And am I the only one who remembers that it was just months ago when the VA was slamming the figures of the American Legion?  But now it wants to use these VSOs to do the job that the VA should be doing on its own?

US House Rep David Jolly noted the "frustration" on the part of the Committee "because we do have an Article I authority to ask the questions but our frustration is rooted in the fact that while we conduct the necessary oversight as part of our Article I responsibility, we continue to hear of a wait list and know that there are wait lists.  And we are held accountable for that, from our constituents.  It's kind of a remarkable process that our constituents hold us responsible for a wait list created by the administration.  And that's probably fair because we have to execute our responsibility."

And if you're not grasping why the Committee is frustrated, let's note this very basic request made in last night's hearing and the VA response to it.

US House Rep Julia Brownley: My constituents and my veterans in my community are also saying there not so concerned about how we got there right now at this moment, but they want to resolve this issue in terms of getting a timely response and making sure that their health care needs -- both physical and mental -- are taken care of.  We've got to figure out the longterm problems, without question.  I think the one question that I wanted to conclude on is that I'm happy that we're going to do sort of a national audit.  I want to understand what that includes.  Does it include the Oxnard CBOC [Community Based Outpatient Clinic] in my district?  Does it go down to that level?  And I want to know 

Dr. Thomas Lynch:  It is my understanding that the audit has now been extended to all VA health care facilities. 

US House Rep Julia Brownley:  Very good.  Very good.  And then, if the VA could provide us with a timeline of every single facility and when this audit is going to take place  and when it will be completed and what are the results of that so that we have a timeline that we can report back to our districts on but so that we can also monitor and watch to make sure that we're covering every single facility across the country. Phoenix has brought a lot to our attention but I'm concerned about so many other facilites across the country.  And if I could get your commitment today that you will provide us with that information, I would be very appreciative.

Dr. Thomas Lynch:  I will do my best to get you that information.  I think it is available --

We're going to stop him right there.  "My best"?

The hearing took place because the Committee is having to subpoena the VA for basic information that the VA is required to supply Congress with.  Brownley's request is a basic one and it's nothing more than compiling a list and schedule.  If the VA hasn't already generated that internally, they should get on that.  But there should be "my best" to provide that basic information to Congress.  It should be, "Yes, we will provide that information."

On the audit . . .

US House Rep Mark Takano:  You state, Ms. Mooney, that the -- that you think the audit might be complete within a week -- a week or two?

Joan Mooney:  Yes.

US House Rep Mark Takano:  My question to you may seem a little perverse but how can you get the audit done so quickly given the scale of the department?  And is that a realistic, uhm, turnaround time for you?

Dr. Thomas Lynch:  Congressman, maybe I'll try to answer that based upon what I know about the audits.  Uh, VA has mobilized resources from across our system.  We have asked each of the networks and facilities to provide volunteers to do these audits, to go out and evaluate hospitals so that we can get this audit completed in a timely fashion.

US House Rep Mark Takano:  Now, again, I go back to this issue of-of how good this information is that you're getting from people.  I mean, public officials have called for criminal investigations or turn this over to the Justice Dept.  Are people going to lawyer up, clam up?  I mean is that going to slow down the ability to get information out of people?

Dr. Thomas Lynch:  I am sure that there are people who are concerned.  I think that the IG is also our partner in this.  They have also been evaluating facilities -- particularly those with concerns.  They have authorities that we don't have to obtain the information that we need.  

Stop.  The Inspector General's office is not VA's "partner."  The IG exists to investigate VA.  The VA IG is already tasked with investigating over 40 VA medical centers currently.  They released an interim report on Phoenix this week.  They will not be able to release a report on the other medical centers for awhile.  So to claim that the two are working together is false in so many ways.

The IG is independent.  It can't coordinate with VA leadership in an investigation and be independent.  If Lynch understands what's going on an expressed it accurately to the Committee, the Committee needs to immediately take testimony from the IG's office because Lynch's remarks, if accurate, would indicate several walls in place to protect the independence of the IG office have now collapsed.

For the most part, the Committee did a good job.  Most part?

If I tell you a certain idiot not smart enough to grasp that when your wig has bangs, the bangs go directly in the front, will you know who I'm talking about?

If I say she referred to "Sinseki" and to hiring "hundreds of new peoples" and that someone "tol us" and "in fac" and "acquasations" and  all these words that, quite frankly, are not words and are beneath the US Congress.  If I told you that, you'd know who I was talking about, right?  If I told you she was among those called out this week by Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report, you'd know who I was talking about, right?

Corrine Brown, the biggest embarrassment in the House.   "Accusations," not "acquastations."  She really doesn't need to speak in public.  If her district is so desperate that she's the best they have to send to Congress, so be it, but she really needs to stop speaking in public unless she wants to be a monument to stupidity.  As Alex Leary (Tampa Bay Times) points out:

A stampede of Florida politicians, Republicans and Democrats, have joined the national outcry about problems at the VA. But Rep. Corrine Brown remains convinced about one thing:
“We’re doing fine in Florida,” she said this evening at a VA hearing, listing projects in the state.

Leary notes that Friday Senator Bill Nelson declared "heads should roll" over Florida VA conditions and that the Tampay Bay Times has "reported the story of a Largo veteran, Horace Lalley, a patient at the Young VA Medical Center, who died in 2012 of bladder cancer that his family says was misdiagnosed for years as a urinary tract infection."  Again, she needs to stop speaking in public.

This morning, there was another veterans hearing.

US House Rep Tim Huelskamp:  Mr. Minney, my final question is about this electronic medical record that has been plaguing the VA and the DoD in attempting to communicate.  My understanding is that this often happens in the private world, they do communicate, it's actually a fairly regular process.  But the VA and the DoD cannot do that. That's my understanding.  Can you describe the situation that occured with Travis, given the current status, would that likely occur again? A veteran walks in and says "here's my medical records" -- where they show it's just paper.  Is that still the situation in many cases?

Glenn Minney: Yes, it is.  Travis is one of the unique individuals because he actually did have a copy of his health records.  But I've spent 21 years in the Navy as a corpsman in the medical field.  And then once I retired, I actually went to work for the VA.  So I can tell you right now DoD health records, they're not being transferred into the VA health system

This was a House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing.  US House Rep Mike Coffman is the Subcommittee Chair and US House Rep Ann Kirkipatrick is the Ranking Member.  Blinded Veterans Association's Glenn Minney, veteran Rerry Kebbel and veteran Travis Fugate were the first panel.  The second panel was VA's Dr. Maureen McCarthy,  Lorraine Landfried, Dr. Mary Lawrence and Pat Sheehan.

I'll cover this hearing in tomorrow's gina &  krista round-robin.  We'll also note it in tomorrow's snapshot.

If the exchange above didn't make clear, there are serious problems with the 'seamless transition' of electronic records from the DoD to VA.
US House Rep Mark Takano:  One of my first Committee hearings was about this issue of the medical records not being able to be transferred from DoD into vista and I can barely contain the anger I feel about this situation and the millions and millions of dollars that have been spent trying to solve this situation and to hear that in the interum months between my first hearing and now that there seems to be no way to bridge this gulf between these two Departments.  It's bad enough to see a casualty of war but it's even worse to see that casualty of war made even more tragic by this systemic failure between these two Departments.  I don't know what to do about this.  It is frustrating to be a member of Congress and not be able to say "Fix this thing" and have it fixed. 

Phil Roe is a member of Congress and a doctor.  He noted something shocking.

US House Rep Phil Roe: Last year we had the VA and DoD come in and they just burned a billion dollars. A billion.  We're worried about three million?  We burned a billion dollars trying to make the DoD and the VA health care records speak to each other and they can't. They just quit.

We have noted this failure in snapshot after snapshot.  We've noted where the fault lies (Eric Shinseki) and who's failed on this (Eric Shinseki) and the press has ignored the failure in this area.

Maybe Roe's remarks will finally result in some coverage?

Meanwhile, Nouri's War Crimes continue in Iraq.  NINA notes his bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods have left 5 civilians dead today and eleven more injured ("including two members of the civil defense").  He just keeps on killing civilians and injuring them while pretending he's a leader.  And one worthy of a third term.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baquba mortar attack left 2 people dead and five more injured, a Tuz Khurmatu roadside bombing left 4 family members dead, an al-Muqdadiyah bombing left two police members injured, an al-Aali Village battle left 2 Sahwa dead and a third wounded, 1 sniper was shot dead in Falluja, security forces say they killed 13 suspects in Falluja, Tigris Operations Command states they killed 14 suspects in Diyala Province, a Qayyarah bombing left 3 police members dead, a home invasion outside of Mosul left 1 police lieutenant-colonel dead, 5 farmers were shot dead in Shamsiat Village,  All Iraq News notes 3 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Shurqat, 1 Sahwa was kidnapped in Shurqat, and the Basra Health Dept states the morgue has received 7 corpses (gun shots) in "the last three days."  Still on violence, Prashant Rao (AFP) notes that yesterday's death toll climbed to 74.

All Iraq News notes Ayad Allawi has sent a letter to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani "demanding him to intervene in the political and security affairs."  Adil E. Shamoo and Foreign Policy in Focus are becoming the Corinne Brown on Iraq.  Shamoo insists that it appears Iraq held free and fair elections.

Well if you don't count the documented -- with photographs -- ballot boxes tossed on the side of the road (with ballots in them).  From the May 5th snapshot:

Interesting picture documenting the credibility of the Iraqi elections.

El Sábado 3 de Mayo de 2014 15:37, Iraq Films <info@iraqfilms.com> escribió:
Ballot Boxes filled with Votes found on Suqoor Street just in front of the Agriculture college in Mosul University

Judge Qassim Al Aboudi the formal spokesman of the So called independen​t electoral commission in Iraq posing proud in a picture with the Mulla Style Military Commander of the Asaaib Militia in Baghdad Now what is an election official doing with a militia commander in the first place ???

There's the fact that Falluja and Ramadi weren't allowed to vote -- two of the most populated Sunni cities in the country, that even an NGO has questioned the vote in Australia (they feel the official tally is incorrect -- the NGO has made its concerns known to the United Nations, if they go public, we'll note their concern), that 2 million electronic voting cards were issued . . . to dead Iraqis who somehow managed to vote (talk about persistence).

Shamoo's either confused or lying here:

After the elections of 2010, Dawa Party head Nouri al-Maliki‘s Shia-backed coalition brokered a deal with other groups to win a second term for al-Maliki as prime minister. The central government under al-Maliki continued to enjoy the support of the oil-rich eastern and southern regions, which are Shia bastions. But al-Maliki accuses the Sunni Gulf states and Saudi Arabia of funding terrorist organizations in Iraq.

Nouri did not broker an agreement.  They're talking about The Erbil Agreement.  The US brokered it.  Nouri didn't have the standing with the political blocs to broker it.  The US government was behind that.

Shamoo wasn't paying attention in real time.  Foreign Policy In Focus really needs to learn how to be factual.  The US brokered The Erbil Agreement.  When it almost immediately fell apart, Barack was on the phone to Ayad Allawi.  These are what is known as "facts."  They were noted in real time here.  You can visit the following from November 2010 for starters:

On the elections, All Iraq News notes that Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission has extended the contesting of results period to Sunday (it was supposed to end today).

Moving over to the topic of oil, Baghdad is miffed at the KRG.  Despite generating tremendous oil revenues and despite it being the fifth month of 2014, the KRG has received no federal funds from Baghdad for the year -- has still received no funds.  Nouri's attempted to use these funds to blackmail the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. Possibly, as a result of this, last week, the KRG supplied Turkey with oil.  There is no oil and gas law in Iraq.

That didn't stop the State Dept's Brett McGurk from Tweeting 18 points last week:

2/18 This is an unfortunate development given the reasonable deal that has been on the table w/benefits for citizens in all parts of Iraq.
3/18 Our position: the US does not support export of oil from any part of Iraq without the appropriate approval of the federal government.
4/18 This position is based on careful assessments of pathways to stability, economic models to max growth, existing laws, political risks.
5/18 We have informed all interested parties that any such transactions exposes them to potential legal risks.
6/18 This does not mean we take sides in internal disputes within Iraq.
7/18 Our aim is to encourage measures that have the broadest-possible consensus and help pull the country together.
8/18 Thus, we have worked intensely with all sides to forge a long-term solution on matters of energy exports and revenue sharing.
9/18 Over the past year, we helped develop a proposal with all sides that offers a win/win/win outcome.
10/18 The proposal resolves legal uncertainty over KRG exports and guarantees auto transfers for all revenues derived from KRG oil to Erbil.
11/18 It would immediately derive substantial and reliable revenues for the Iraqi people including tens of billions of dollars for the KRG.
12/18 We have encouraged the KRG to accept such a deal, thereby guaranteeing monthly revenue allocations based on Iraq’s total output.
13/18 We have also encouraged the GOI to guarantee full monthly revenue transfers to Erbil, regardless of budget deadlock. No excuses.
Moving over to news out of London.  RT reports:

An agreement to release details of communications between former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and ex-US President George W. Bush has been reached, promising to finally make public some extracts from sensitive conversations prior to the 2003 Iraq war.
The classified information is likely to be released as part of the Iraq inquiry – or Chilcot inquiry, after its chairman Sir John Chilcot – which was announced in June 2009 by Britain's then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The investigation aims to explore the UK's role in the Iraq war. The inquiry completed public hearings in 2011, and it was hoped the details would be delivered the same year.  

At the Iraq Inquiry's website, the following was posted today:

 On 28 May 2014 Sir John Chilcot wrote to Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, to record his pleasure that agreement had been reached on the principles that will underpin disclosure of material from Cabinet-level discussions and communications between the UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States.  These documents have raised difficult issues of long-standing principle.
Agreement had already been reached on the details of what the Inquiry will publish in relation to more than 200 Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings. 
Detailed consideration of gists and quotes requested by the Inquiry from communications between the UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States has now begun.  It is not yet clear how long that will take but the Inquiry and the Government should work to complete the task as soon as possible.
Once agreement has been reached, the next phase of the Maxwellisation process can begin.  That process must be completed before the Inquiry's report can be finalised and sent to the Prime Minister

The Inquiry intends to submit its report to the Prime Minister as soon as possible.   

BBC News adds, "A deal between the Chilcot Inquiry and the government to publish only "quotes or gists" of discussions between President Bush and Tony Blair in the run-up to the Iraq war has been described as "disappointing" by the mother of soldier who died in the conflict."  Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) believes recent events suggest "that Chilcot himself gave quite a lot of ground some time back."  Rowena Mason (Guardian) reports:

However, on Thursday, a number of politicians raised concerns that the Chilcot inquiry had capitulated to the demands of the Cabinet Office by agreeing not to publish the full correspondence. John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, said the failure to publish the entire dialogue "confirms suspicions of whitewash" and undermines the credibility of the whole report.
The level of disclosure was also criticised by Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, who said it was crucial the public was not simply given the partial truth about the decision to go to war in Iraq. "It's a shame it has been going on for so long and they are still unwilling to tell us the whole truth," he said.
Andrew MacKinlay, former Labour MP for Thurrock, who sat on the Commons foreign affairs committee, said he thought Chilcot had surrendered in a "bad, bad day for democracy and justice". "The establishment of this country, and the security and intelligence services have won again. Truth has lost out," he said.