VA Secretary: " What'd ya want from me anyway?"

President Bush punishes VA Secretary Jim Nicholson for the missing data by putting a “death grip” on the secretary’s hand.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson told Congress today that he was sorry about that “little screw-up” in which private data of 26 million veterans and 80 percent of the active military was stolen.

“I am totally outraged as to this loss of this data and the fact that an employee will put veterans at risk,” Nicholson told the House Committee on Government Reform. “But it is my responsibility now to fix this. It is doable. It won’t be easy and it won’t be overnight because we will have to change the culture.”

Which culture Nicholson was talking about wasn’t clear. Surely he isn’t talking about the Mayan culture. Or the Culture Club. Because I am not even sure if there is a Culture Club anymore. Okay, maybe there is. Don’t you long for the heyday of Boy George? I sure don’t.

A VA employee took home a computer and it was stolen. Files in the computer contained birthdays, Social Security Numbers, favorite colors, shoe sizes and the names of pets of veterans discharged after 1975 as well as information as to whom were the very first people they ever kissed. (I’m one of those veterans — First kiss: A blonde in a bikini named Gigi, Summer 1970.) The VA didn’t disclose the information until three weeks after it happened and the full extent of the data was taken, including revelations about the private information of active duty service members, was made known only recently.

Even though Nicholson said that those affected will receive a free credit check, he has yet to personally send me a letter explaining the shenanigans that have been taking place at the VA. Also unknown at this time is whether every veteran and service member whose personal information was purloined will be compensated with 40 acres and a mule.

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