Being “Mad as Hell” May Not Cut It:

James Nicholson, Veterans Affairs Secretary, told lawmakers Thursday that he was “mad as hell” for not being told immediately about the theft of personal data on 26.5 million veterans. Nicholson was told 13 days later, and then he waited six more days before informing Congress and the public. Nicholson said in written testimony, “I will not tolerate inaction and poor judgment when it comes to protecting our veterans.” Then, perhaps he will ensure the VA finally takes action to secure the veterans’ data that the agency’s own inspector general has cited as vulnerable for at least the past five years. As Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), ranking minority member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee said yesterday: “The problem before us today is not unexpected. It has sprung from a culture of indifference at VA and grown strong among the leaders that allowed it to grow.” Committee chair, Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) asked Nicholson whether he would support offering a million dollar reward leading to an arrest or recovery of this data. Buyer said, “That million is nothing compared with what we are about to expend.” (VA has been authorized to spend up to $25 million to field calls about the theft.) Nicholson agreed to consider it.