Injured vets tell pull Dick Cheney invitation over security demands
Sunday, July 27th 2008, 11:55 PM
His staff insisted the sick vets be sequestered for two hours before Cheney's arrival and couldn't leave until he'd finished talking, officials confirmed.
"Word got back to us ... that this would be a prerequisite," said the veterans executive director, David Gorman, who noted the meeting hall doesn't have any rest rooms. "We told them it just wasn't acceptable."
When Cheney spoke to the group in 2004, his handlers imposed the same stringent security lockdown, upsetting members, officials said.
Many of the vets are elderly and left pieces of themselves on foreign battlefields since World War II, and others were crippled by recent service in Iraq and Afghanistan. For health reasons, many can't be stuck in a room for hours.
"It was a huge imposition on our delegates," added David Autry, another Disabled American Veterans official.
Autry said vets would've had to get up "at Oh-dark-30 and try to get breakfast and showered and get their prosthetics on."
Once inside, they "could not leave the meeting room, and the bathrooms are outside," he said.
Cheney's office acknowledged the security requests, but insisted he is sensitive to combat veterans' needs.
Spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said the two-hour rule is "a recommendation, not a requirement," and "we always work to make sure the bathrooms are within the security perimeters."
"The vice president would never let us do anything that didn't help facilitate the needs of our veterans," Mitchell added.
Cheney has visited hospitalized wounded warriors and invited Walter Reed Army Medical Center patients for fly-fishing lessons around his swimming pool.
But the vice president's rules for speaking to groups seem more stringent than those of his boss.
Gorman first invited Bush, who has never addressed the group, but the White House declined last month.