Dana Jill Simpson, the Alabama attorney who stepped forward in 2007 to provide sworn evidence on how her fellow Republicans were framing Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges, today released a statement saying that President Obama's Department of Justice has declared a "war on whistleblowers."
Simpson gave my Justice Integrity Project and OpEd News contributor Roger Shuler of Alabama's Legal Schnauzer her statement for release first to OpEd News, the main outlet for several previous opinion columns she has written.
"We are getting dangerously close to becoming a "Dictator Democracy' where even our thoughts can get us in trouble," wrote Simpson, "and anything we do to bring truth to our citizens can get us thrown in jail."
Aside from CBS 60 Minutes and MSNBC interviews broadcast in 2008 about the Siegelman case, Simpson rarely speaks in public despite what she describes as more than 100 broadcast and cable invitations. Similarly, she has written only a few opinion columns. Most notable were those for OpEd News last year when she concluded that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was not likely to protect civil rights as much as most Democrats imagined, given Kagan's advocacy of more imprisonment for Siegelman and similar indications of excessive deference to secrecy and executive power.
Simpson's strong words now are prompted by the Obama administration's failure to follow up on whistleblower complaints such as hers nationally about the justice system. Instead, she denounces the Obama DoJ's coddling of corrupt office holders from past administrations and its retributions against whistleblowers and investigative journalists.
Simpson, who had a family member who worked for the Bush family and who was herself a longtime opposition researcher for Republican candidates, took daring steps in early 2007 by providing sworn testimony that helped make the Siegelman case an international human rights disgrace.
No Two-Party Oversight
None of this makes sense according to standard high school civics, whereby the two major parties joust with one another and rigorously hold each other accountable, with the press eager to pounce on any potential problems.
But OpEd News readers have seen many authoritative accounts of bipartisan deference, back-scratching and crony capitalism. In that Kabuki Theater, elite players go through the motions of disputing one another on such matters as social issues -- "guns, gays, abortion" -- but tend to stand as, in effect, citizens united against whistleblowers and reporters who dare delve into sensitive areas of law enforcement, war-making and similar foreign affairs.
The Final Straw
The last straw for Simpson, she says, was this weekend's announcement by WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange that the Justice Department had served secret legal papers last month to obtain comprehensive information about his Twitter account and that of others suspected of helping his organization provide secret documents on foreign affairs to reporters from mainstream publications.
Besides Simpson, three other prominent whistleblowers -- former FBI special agent Coleen Rowley, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds and retired Army Col. Ann Wright -- also recently protested the Obama administration's crackdown on confidential sources, as amplified below.
As further background, the Associated Press reports Assange's announcement. Salon's Glenn Greenwald provides hard-hitting legal commentary. FireDogLake's Cynthia Kouril points out that Twitter apparently decided to fight for the privacy of its subscribers whereas probable DoJ requests for subscriber records from other Internet services such as Google and Facebook apparently are still secret.
Simpson, who says her home was torched for unknown reasons in early 2007 soon after some in Alabama learned that she had volunteered to help Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy, concludes her statement below with a call for citizen action to protest the Justice Department's initiatives announced in recent weeks.
Siegelman Case Backgrounder
Among the many OpEd News reports on the Siegelman case is a two-part report by Joan Brunwasser interviewing yet another whistleblower in the case, former DoJ paralegal Tamarah Grimes, shown both above and below. [Simpson, who as a political volunteer who operated behind-the-scenes, remains reluctant to provide a photo, particulary in view of threats.] The Justice Department fired Grimes after she reported irregularities in the case to officials, including Attorney Gen. Eric Holder.