The VA has become a very serious administrative threat because, often faceless, government bureaucrats can take away the civil liberties of veterans. The rule of law can serve as a safeguard against tyranny, because just laws ensure that rulers (government bureaucrats) do not become corrupt. Tyranny occurs when absolute power is granted to a ruler (or in this case a government bureaucrat). The rule of law is the principle that no one is exempt from the law, even those who are in a position of power. Yet at the VA, many government bureaucrats commit crimes every day with impunity because our agencies are failing to enforce the rule of law.
The administrative state describes a form of government that uses an extensive professional class to provide oversight over government, the economy and society. It creates a “network of small complicated rules” bringing about “soft tyranny.” It stands in stark contrast to a representative democracy with limited powers and reach. The Administrative state violates the constitutional principle of separation of powers, threatens civil liberties including the right to due process, and undermines the ability of citizens to have a meaningful say in politics and public policy. The administrative state empowers a distinct knowledge class to make important political and policy decisions, largely unchecked and unsupervised, at the expense of citizens’ voting power and the power of the legislature and the judiciary.
James Madison, wrote that the human tendency to accumulate power required a government with checks and balances “…to control the abuses of government.”
As you will see from some of the facts shown below, the Department of Veterans of Affairs has been allowed to police itself with very dire consequences for veterans. Petty tyrannical paper pushers are allowed to destroy the lives of veterans. The paper pushers have been able to infiltrate and control veteran’s lives using a dangerous language that denies choice. The Nazi’s coined this language by calling it “Amtssprache” which can be loosely translated into English as “office talk” or “bureaucratese”.
The Nazi’s found ways to disconnect any emotional sensibility they might have felt from prohibitive thoughts in order to continue their grisly work. They did it by developing a language that helped them to deny the reality of what they were doing and transfer the responsibility for their actions onto a faceless entity, like VA policy. In this extreme disconnection of thought and feeling innocent people died and perpetrators continued, immunizing themselves with their words and rationalizations. They blinded themselves to what they and their colleagues were doing in order to satisfy superiors’ orders so they could keep their jobs. During the Nuremberg trials, when Adolf Eichmann was asked, “was it difficult for you to send those tens of thousands of people to their death?’ Eichmann replied, ‘To tell you the truth, it was easy. Our language made it easy.’ Asked to explain, Eichmann said, ‘My fellow officers and I coined our name for our language. We called it an “amtssprache”–“office talk.” In our “office talk” you deny responsibility for your actions. So, if anybody says, “Why did you do it?” you say, “I had to.” Why did you have to?” “Superiors’ orders. Company policy. It’s the law”.’ Eichmann’s defense is also known as the “Nuremberg plea.”
In fact, what Eichmann said about the power of bureaucratically–obscure, euphemistically–mentioned language, shadowing operations few people participated in, provides a very clear example of how, by creating a culture that values following the rules, you risk also creating a culture that loses its moral compass or code.
The Eichmann defense is the most dangerous language (-have to, -can’t) because it is a language that denies responsibility for choice. Stating, “It’s my job”; “They told me to do it”; “I’m only following company policy”; “It’s the rules”; “It’s not my job”– shields ourselves from doing what is best and right.
There are many areas where the VA bureaucrats are acting with impunity, but one of the most insidious ways in which it exerts threats, fear, and control is by violating veterans privacy. The VA and other agencies are not enforcing existing privacy laws.
1) The prevalence of privacy violations at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has become an epidemic system wide; and
2) Even though the VA is one of the top Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy offenders, the Office of Civil Rights, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that enforces HIPAA, has largely ignored the VA’s problem; and
3) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report April 2016, in which the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) had not integrated proper audit logs in their new veterans’ processing computer system, called Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS); and
4) The VA has not been making everyone with access to its computer systems, who have committed a privacy violation, accountable for their actions, subsequently removing deterrents for those individuals who might be thinking about breaking laws and regulations or who might be inclined to be less diligent about adhering to existing laws and regulations; and
5) The VA has not been holding upper, middle and lower level managers accountable for privacy violations; and
6) The VA has not effectively stopped managers and employees from accessing the private information of both current and former VA employees who are Veterans; and
7) The VA has not been cooperating with other federal agencies responsible for enforcing and complying with existing privacy laws and regulations;
Veterans need your help with supporting legislation and changes to applicable regulations that require the VA to comply with and enforce existing privacy laws and regulations, as well as, make everyone, who was given access to the VA computer systems, accountable for violating privacy laws and regulations.