Senator Richard Burr’s office, in connection with a bipartisan group of Senators and Congressmen, have openly questioned a recent move by the United States Marine Corps’. The recent move was to keep secret information about the water infrastructure at Camp Lejeune, despite the data being available to the public for years.
Suspicious of the real intent, Senator Burr stated that the new classification could prevent the scientific community from future tests of the toxins known to have been in the water supply at Camp Lejeune for decades. Scientific studies have linked the cancer causing toxins to rare cancers in tens of thousands of Marines from 1957 to 1987.
It has surfaced that the EPA and the Navy were aware of the harmful water conditions as early as 1981, but they failed to take steps to abate the problem. In 2011, the EPA finally acknowledged what many soldiers and scientists suspected, that the chemicals were causing soldiers and their families to become deathly ill.
In an effort to try to help these military members and veterans, Senator Burr introduced the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act (S. 277). Unfortunately, the Act has been caught up in a battle for funding. The Department of Veterans Affairs has refused to pay for the illnesses and pushed the responsibility onto the DOD.
In response, it was proposed that the DOD would cut funding for military commissaries. The proposal was unsuccessful to this point. So long as a funding source remains illusive, the Act will be stuck in limbo, and so to will the injured servicemembers, veterans and family members.
With the new unexplained request to cause Camp Lejeune’s water infrastructure to become newly secret, many lawmakers have cried foul alongside Senator Burr. In a letter joining the cause are the signatures of 5 other supporters: Representative Brad Miller (D-NC), Representative John Dingell (D-MI), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Senator Kay Hagan (R-NC).
At the present, it is not believed that the requested redactions will impact the overall value of information contained in the report. After all, the information sought pertains to the impact of toxins on American soldiers. However, the lawmakers fear the request is an extension of overly ambitious secrecy efforts by the DOD through the Marine Corps’. If the move for more secrecy is successful, Senator Burr and the bipartisan group joining him fear the government will establish the ability to classify whatever it chooses.
Here, the water infrastructure information has been available to the public for years. Now that Congress is focused on identifying the liable parties and forming remedies, that same information is now deemed a “national secrecy concern” by the Marine Corps’.
If the Marines are successful, it may not be long before future reports on issues like Gulf War Illness and similar may be deemed classified under the guise of “national security” in an effort government or businesses to escape liability.
Our nation owes a debt to those servicemembers it put in harms way through careless construction, dumping and coverups at Camp Lejeune. Let’s hope the DOD, currently through the Marine Corps’, does not attempt to use these issues to expand its already aggressive preference toward classifying everything as a “national security concern.”
Last week, I personally traveled to DC to meet with Senator Burr’s office to discuss veterans’ issues, including the Camp Lejeune victims. His General Counsel Amanda Meredith assured me that the Senator is deeply committed to ensuring these veterans get the aid they need.
Please click here to email your Senator or Congressperson to support the fight for Camp Lejeune victims. Enough is enough.
[document file=”https://www.disabledveterans.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Joint-Congressional-Letter-to-Dr.-Frieden.pdf” width=”550″ height=”800″]