OLBERMANN: On Monday, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, announced what he called a long overdue rule delivering justice to some of America's veterans-- long overdue in the sense, meaning, since the Vietnam War.
But in our fourth story: a top Republican is unhappy about the rule and he's blaming the veterans. Secretary Shinseki's announcement was about Agent Orange. Agent Orange-- the toxic defoliant which America dumped on Vietnam to kill the growth of plants that were used as cover by the Viet Cong. More than 19 million gallons of herbicides were sprayed during the war. Most of it, Agent Orange, sprayed on inland forests near Vietnam's borders, north of Saigon, and on a mangrove forest lining Saigon's shipping channels -- meaning it was not just killing trees. It was being breathed in by American soldiers. Soldiers who did not know exposure would later be linked to potentially fatal conditions such a Hodgkin's disease, soft tissue cancers and non- Hodgkin's lymphoma. So, in 1991, Congress passed a law to get treatment to Vietnam vets suffering from any of 12 diseases did have to prove they were caused by Agent Orange. On Monday, Shinseki wrote, quote, "The president and I are proud," unquote, to provide additional treatment under the 1991 law. It has been extended to cover Parkinson's, some leukemias and some heart disease. Enter former Republican Senator Simpson.
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