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George Weightman Walter Reed Army Hospital NARMC

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

So the general in charge of Walter Reed Army Hospital has been fired.

The Washington Post's series of articles exposing substandard living conditions for outpatients and a mind-numbing bureaucratic mess than vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were left to wallow in shamed the military and angered Robert Gates, the new Secretary of Defense.

What a difference a new secretary makes. Someone on top was made to take responsibility. That's rarely been the case since the beginning of the Iraq War. From the lack of troops to Abu Ghraib, the brass never seems to get tarnished.

But before you write a thank-you to the Pentagon for doing the right thing, please note that the new man in charge had the job before — and took issue with the Post's expose, saying the situation at the hospital was not a horrific, catastrophic failure.

Apparently, covering your butt is more important than taking care of the wounded.


Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

  • John Kreiser

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