Pentagon recalls civilian workers
Shutdown Theater continued yesterday as Secretary of Defense Hagel woke up and realized that the 400,000 civilian workers at the Pentagon didn't have to be furloughed after all! So after consulting with lawyers, he announced that it was all a big mistake and the civilian workers could come back to work now.
Robert F. Hale, the Pentagon comptroller, estimated that more than 90 percent of about 350,000 furloughed Defense Department employees would return to work, many of them as soon as Monday. "We hope to move very quickly," Hale told reporters.
The Defense Department directly employs about 750,000 civilians. Pentagon officials had previously said about 400,000 of them had been furloughed because of the government shutdown. Hale revised that number Saturday, saying that 350,000 was a more accurate figure.
He said he could not precisely say how many people would be able to return to work because officials were still determining which employees qualified under the new law. He said he hoped that "no more than a few tens of thousands will remain on furlough," and maybe even fewer than that.
"Although we're very happy we're getting most of our people back," Hale added, "we haven't solved all the problems."
Regardless, the Pentagon announcement will dramatically scale back the government shutdown. Defense Department civilian employees had represented nearly half of the estimated 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed for the past week.
After consulting with Pentagon lawyers and other Obama administration officials in recent days, Hagel decided that he could justify recalling almost of the Pentagon's furloughed workforce based on provisions in the Pay Our Military Act.
In a statement, Hagel said the Justice Department advised that the law would not permit a blanket recall of all civilians working for the Pentagon. But he added that attorneys for the Justice and Defense departments agreed that the law does permit the Pentagon to eliminate furloughs "for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members."
Meanwhile, another iconic memorial has been closed despite the fact that it's an open air venue with no guards or other government personnel manning it. The Iwo Jima memorial, more formerly known as the US Marine Corps Memorial has been barrycaded and visitors are prevented from driving their cars up to the famous statue of the planting of the flag on Mt. Surabachi.
That apparently didn't do anything to stop an honor flight group from visiting.
The stop is a popular destination for veterans and tourists alike, and, in my observation, is usually completely unmanned and unguarded. But, for some reason, it's closed to the public during this federal government shutdown.
UPDATE: I'm told, "The Syracuse Honor Flight just knocked down the barrier and a couple hundred of them are at the Memorial now."
And check out this Chris Muir ("Day by Day" cartoon) photoshop titled, "Obamaha Beach":