* * * O P E N  L E T T E R * * *

October 17, 2000

From:    The National Veterans Organization                                   Veterans Due Process, Inc.
             7700 Alabama Street                                                         PO Box 68237
             PO Box 640064                                                                Portland, OR 97268
             El Paso, TX 79904-0064                                                  Phone: (503) 659-9912
             Phone: (915) 759-8387                                                     Email: VetDueProc@aol.com
            Email: Doug@NVO.org                                                      www.VDPI.org
             www.NVO.org                          

To: Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., 601 Mainstream Drive, Nashville, TN 37228
Governor George W. Bush, Jr., P.O. Box 1902, Austin, TX 78767-1902
Ralph Nader, P.O. Box 18002, Washington, DC 20036
Pat Buchanan, 6862 Elm St., Suite 210, McLean, VA 22101
Harry Browne, P.O. Box 2347, Arlington, VA 22202
John Hagelin, P.O. Box 1900, Fairfield, IA 52556
Howard Phillips, 23 North Lime St., Lancaster, PA 17602


SUBJECT: OMISSION IN ELECTION "ISSUE STATEMENTS"

Dear Presidential Candidate:

Texas-based National Veterans Organization (NVO) and Oregon-based Veterans for Due Process, Inc. (VDPI), are presently involved in a Billboard and Truth campaign across America, designed to reveal to the American people and, in particular the 39+ sailors injured in the attack on the USS Cole, important matters, which are not covered in your "Issues Statements." The primary issue we bring to your attention is the longstanding policy of the United States Veterans Administration (VA), to ignore the Rule of Law, and thereby break the promises that this country has made to those who served and sacrificed for it. [Attachment A]

Under existing federal law, Veterans injured in the military cannot appeal the wrongful denial of their claims by the Veterans Administration to United States District Courts, nor do they have the right to hire attorneys to represent them before VA Regional Offices or the Board of Veterans Appeals, even at their own expense. These are fundamental protections of the American system of justice and the U.S. Constitution, which these soldiers were injured defending, and that are available to claimants before other Federal agencies. NVO and VDP have recently caused the attached article and Billboard photo to appear in both the August 3, 2000, Washington Post newspaper and The Stars and Stripes, etc. This substantial media focus bears witness to the profound seriousness of this national problem, as do the ever increasing number of similar Billboards now being erected throughout America. They graphically illustrate an issue whose time has come to be dealt with.

Additionally, it is now well documented by court decisions, official records, and news reports, such as an ABC News 20/20 story on June 2, 2000, that two VA attorneys have been sent to prison for altering and destroying evidence in VA disability claims appeals. These criminal acts were committed in order to keep claims approvals below economic quotas, the reward for which was large cash bonuses for the attorneys convicted of destroying the records. The continuing crime, is the VA system, which continues to allow the ongoing quota and bonus policies, thereby maintaining a system that will continue to break the promises to those who have faithfully served their country. Incredibly, a recent letter from the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told the VA to hide this "grim picture of service to veterans" from Congress and the Public. [Attachment B]

The following issues are vital to our organizations, our country's defense interests, and to all Americans. Please provide your answers to the following questions so that we can let concerned citizens know how you feel, prior to their vote on election day:

1. The Veterans Administration Does Not Obey The "RULE OF LAW"
Chief Judge Frank Q. Nebeker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), which is a "specialty" non-judicial branch court established by Congress in 1988 for Veterans only, has continuously denounced at the Judicial Conferences of his Court, VA system-wide refusal to obey the Rule of Law , as in his October 17, 1994 "State of the Court." [Attachment C] Significantly, the "specialty" CAVC court does not use its existing fine and imprisonment powers to force VA and its attorneys to obey the law. Do you agree that the Rule of Law should also apply to the VA's processing of veterans' claims, and if so, what would you do to ensure that this is done, if elected President?

2. America's Judicial Branch U.S. District Courts Are Closed To Veterans
The VA is able to ignore the law and deprive veterans of due process because of a federal law that denies veterans with VA disability claims, access to U.S. District Courts , which do not tolerate VA contempt for the law. If elected President, would you support legislation to make the VA accountable to U.S. District Courts, by supporting the repeal of existing federal law that has closed the doors of the courts to veterans?

3. Veterans Are Denied The Right To Representation By An Attorney
In 1988, Congress passed a law which prohibits attorneys from charging veterans a fee, and thereby effectively precludes a veteran's right to obtain representation concerning VA claims before all VA Regional Offices. If elected President, would you support legislation eliminating the prohibition, thereby permitting veterans the freedom to have their own attorneys represent them in VA claims?

4. VA Quotas And Bonuses Breed Lawlessness.
VA attorneys recently sent to prison for destroying and altering veterans records in order to deny meritorious claims, told the sentencing courts that they were motivated by a desire to appear more productive, and thereby eligible for "bigger" bonuses under present federal incentive programs, which reward "cost efficiency" and "productivity." If elected president, would you support legislation to repeal such quota and bonus programs at the VA?

5. The VA Exercises Inordinate Influence Over Veteran Service Organizations
News reports reveal that during 1986, in order to neutralize Veterans' Service Organizations' (VSOs) increasing support for then pending Congressional Bills to make VA accountable to the Rule of Law, the VA "threatened" that if the Bill became law, VA might "curtail" the free office space, telephone service, postage, etc., provided to VSOs by the VA Administrator on a "discretionary" basis. The VSOs yielded to that threat by letter to Congress dated June 30, 1986. If elected President, would you support legislation to eliminate such discretion from existing VA law, and require VA to provide such facilities to chartered VSOs, as a matter of right?

Thank you for your response. The American people should know how you intend to support those who have served and sacrificed for their country.

Very Truly Yours,

Douglas McArthur Philip E. Cushman
Executive Director Executive Director
National Veterans Organization of America, Inc. Veterans Due Process, Inc.

Attachments:
A. Washington Post & Stars and Stripes articles concerning Billboards
B. OMB letter to VA from Toni S. Hustead, Chief, Veterans Affairs Branch, dated January 24, 1997. The Veterans Advocate, Nov.-Dec 1996, Vol.8, No. 3-4.
C. "State of the Court" by Chief Judge Frank Q. Nebeker, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, 3rd Judicial Conference - October 17-18, 1994.

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