American Legion: White House Twisted Our Words on VA Resignation

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 09:21 PM

By Greg Richter

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The American Legion says the White House was "disingenuous" when it said the group was happy with the resignation of an official in the VA scandal.

In a Monday press conference, White house spokesman Jay Carney repeatedly pointed out that the legion had called for the resignation of VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel.

Carney said Petzel's resignation on Friday amounted to "significant progress" in the probe of secret waiting lists that left at least 23 veterans dead.

But ABC News' Jonathan Karl noted that the VA issued a press release on Sept. 20 saying that Petzel was retiring this year anyway.

The American Legion's Louis J. Celli Jr. said Tuesday on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" that the resignation means little and that the legion doesn't know why Carney interpreted its press release as meaning it was pleased.

"For the White House to spin that in such a way that made it look like we agreed with it, I just think was disingenuous," Celli said. "I don't know if he misunderstood. I can't speak for what he was thinking or what he said. But I certainly know what the American Legion's intentions are, and that is we want to see reform at the top of the VA."

The legion also has called for the resignations of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Undersecretary Allison A. Hickey.

Celli told Van Susteren the VA might have made a stronger statement if it had held Petzel on the job until the investigation is finished.

"This move by VA is not a corrective action but a continuation of business as usual," American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said on the legion's website.

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