By DANA LIEBELSON
The Navy and the Marine Corps may no longer be able to hide what really happened at Camp Lejeune—today, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced that his committee has published more than 8,000 Pentagon documents related to the water contamination on its website, many of which have never before been seen by the public.
“The Marines and other Americans who have been touched by this environmental disaster deserve nothing but complete candor from their government,” Leahy said today on the Senate floor. “I say to those Marines, we will find out what happened.”
In March, Leahy and a bipartisan group of eight other senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary Panetta, requesting that the Camp Lejeune documents be delivered within two weeks, unredacted. In the past, the Navy has cited all sorts of reasons for withholding the documents, including security concerns about releasing this “critical infrastructure information,” despite the fact that the location of water wells is already public.
Last month, the Navy cited the Privacy Act and refused to release the requested documents until the senators provided “an official request from a committee or subcommittee of jurisdiction.” Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) responded to the Navy with an official Senate Judiciary Committee letter—to which the Navy had no choice but to turn over the information.
According to Senator Leahy’s press release, some redactions were made on the documents made public today, such as “personally identifiable information and information that would be subject to the Privacy Act.”
The publication of these documents isn’t the only good news to come out this week for Camp Lejeune victims. Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed an important bill that would provide healthcare for Camp Lejeune veterans and their families. The bill now awaits action by the House.
POGO Director of Public Policy Angela Canterbury says, “After so many years of secrecy and injustice, it’s been a remarkable few days for those suffering because of the toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Senator Leahy is a real hero to them, and to us. He is a stalwart protector of the public interest and the public’s right to know.”
Senator Leahy is still waiting for the Navy to provide more documents related to Camp Lejeune. According to Canterbury, “POGO can’t wait to see what is in the formerly-secret documents made public today—and the ones the Navy has yet to turn over.”
Dana Liebelson is the Beth Daley Impact Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight. Image via truthout.org.