Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey abruptly stepped down Friday as the Bush administration struggled to cope with the fallout from a scandal over substandard conditions for war-wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Harvey's departure, announced on short notice by a visibly agitated Defense Secretary Robert Gates, was the most dramatic move in an escalating removal of officials with responsibilities over one of the military's highest-profile and busiest medical facilities.
Gates said Harvey had resigned, but senior defense officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Gates had privately demanded that Harvey leave. Gates was displeased that the officer Harvey had chosen as interim commander of Walter Reed -- Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the current Army surgeon general and a former commander of Walter Reed -- has been accused by critics of long knowing about the problems there and not improving outpatient care.
The Secretary of Defense canning the Secretary of the Army because the Army Department is screwing up? Wow. One might almost think that something resembling leadership was breaking out in Washington. It's a hell of a shame that it took this long for some sort of action to occur, though.