Something strange is afoot with the story about H1N1 vaccination for Gitmo detainees. Robert Gibbs denied it earlier, saying that "There is no vaccine in Guantanamo. There is no vaccine on the way to Guantanamo." Case closed, right? Apparently, though, the statement was not as definitive as one would think. FoxNews reports that:
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Gibbs was correct in saying the vaccine is not currently on its way, but clarified that it is scheduled to be at the naval base on Cuba by the end of November.
This reminds me of a former president who famously said that a question of perjury turned on the definition of what the word is is. Fond memories aside, Gibbs's statement is exactly the kind of issue I warned about last week when I said that credibility is one of the most valuable commodities the federal government has in a public-health crisis. If the White House press secretary is juggling verb tenses to create a misleading impression that is directly contradicted by a Pentagon spokesman, it calls into question the veracity of other statements by federal officials on that subject, which is a problem we can ill afford should there be a more serious flu outbreak.