If you saw this dynamite CNN piece linked elsewhere but skipped it because you didn’t have time to read it all, clear your schedule and make amends. It’s not news that vets who need cancer screenings frequently land on interminable wait lists — CNN’s been all over that story too — but it is news that the local VA might go so far as to cook its own books in order to hide the evidence of those wait times. What do they do when a senior citizen with blood in his urine comes to them begging for an appointment? Simple: They take his name, put it on their private waiting list, then erase him from the hospital’s data system so that there’s no trace that he ever came by.

Hopefully he won’t die before something on the calendar opens up. Hopefully.

According to [former Phoenix VA Dr. Sam] Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor’s appointments for veterans within the computer system.

Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, “they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there’s no record that you were ever here,” he said.

According to Foote, the information was gathered on the secret electronic list and then the information that would show when veterans first began waiting for an appointment was actually destroyed.

“That hard copy, if you will, that has the patient demographic information is then taken and placed onto a secret electronic waiting list, and then the data that is on that paper is shredded,” Foote said.

They’re supposed to schedule everyone within 14-30 days but they knew that was impossible. So instead of entering a patient’s intake info into the official VA system, where the unacceptable wait times would be noticed, they entered it into a private off-the-books system, compounding a bureaucratic nightmare with corruption aimed at avoiding oversight. “Multiple” sources at the Phoenix VA confirmed for CNN that Foote’s account of how things are done is absolutely true. His estimate of how many vets have died while on the “secret list”: 40 already — with 1,400 to 1,600 still on the secret list, waiting.

And yes, the director in Phoenix apparently knew this was going on. Who else did? And which other VAs have mastered the art of the cover up?

There’s a grotesque punchline to all this but I’ll make you read the Free Beacon for that.