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Feds: 'We'll get back to you on that'

In a variation of the old “mistakes were made” theme, the Pentagon and White House are passing up an opportunity to explain how families of a number of dead military members were sent letters asking their loved ones to return to active duty, and assure people that it won’t happen again.

The letters went recently to the families of about 275 officers wounded or killed in action, and asked them to return to active duty. Then an Army announcement simply admitted the mistake was made and said the Army would apologize to the families.

Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, then asked about the situation at a press briefing with Tony Snow, the presidential spokesman.

“The AP reports that the U.S. Army sent letters to 75 officers who were killed in action encouraging them to reconsider – to consider returning to active duty,” Kinsolving asked. “And while General Richard Cody has apologized for this computer error, there’s no report of anyone being disciplined for this. And my question: What does the Commander-in-Chief of the Army have to say about this horrendous error, and about what else such computer errors could do?”

“I’d refer that to the Pentagon,” Snow said.

But the correspondent said he brought up the issue at the White House press briefing because he’d already tried to contact the Pentagon – without success.

The correspondent reported contacting the Pentagon division of public affairs seven times with the question, and being told either to leave a message or being left talking to an answering machine. When he left messages there was no promise that the call actually would be returned, he noted.

Reports said the letters were sent toward the end of December to more than 5,000 officers who had left the military recently. But included in that list were the names of 75 officers who were killed, and another 200 wounded in action, officials said.

The Army has offered no explanation for the mistake, except to say the database normally used for such correspondence with former officers had been “reviewed” to delete inappropriate names.

According to a BBC report, the U.S. Army is contacting those officers’ families personally to apologize for the error.

But the question about what else might have been compromised by such mistakes was left unanswered.

Kinsolving was able to ask about the status of a request for presidential pardons for two U.S. Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a dealer caught running drugs into the United States.

“Tomorrow Congressman Ted Poe, who, as you know, is a Republican…” Kinsolving started.

“No, I didn’t, but thank you,” said Snow.

“and from Texas … will hold a news conference about the 250,000 petitions asking presidential pardons for U.S. Border Patrolmen facing 10-year prison sentences because they shot a fleeing Mexican drug-pusher in his buttocks. Does the White House believe that the president’s fellow Texan and fellow Republican was wrong to do this?” Kinsolving asked.

“Why don’t you ask that – because that will be entertaining to do tomorrow, and I want to get back to you on it. I thought I had packed that with my materials today, but I didn’t,” Snow said.

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