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Life Arts    H2'ed 10/9/09

More Collateral Damage from the Siegelman Case: Talking with DOJ Whistleblower, Tamarah Grimes

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Finally, on June 1, 2009, I wrote to the new Attorney General, full of faith and hope that he would step in and make things right. Someone I trust assured me that Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys Chief of Staff Terry Derden would never be part of this sham. Within days of sending the letter to Attorney General Holder, I received a scathing letter from Terry Derden, terminating my employment with the Department of Justice.

How discouraging.

This experience has altered my priorities and made me more determined than ever to fight for justice. I know firsthand how selective prosecutions are engineered in the Middle District of Alabama because it almost happened to me. When Leura Canary learned of my complaints, she summoned me to her office to attempt to threaten and intimidate me. According to her own sworn statement, on November 1, 2007, Canary socialized for several hours at the bar in the Embassy Suites Hotel with her cousin and colleagues from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in Washington DC.

During that time, the group discussed my complaints and began to speculate on what I might have done, or could have done. The next day, on the basis of nothing more than this baseless speculation, I was referred for criminal investigation. After two unsuccessful attempts to subject me to selective criminal prosecution in the Middle District of Georgia, I was terminated for my denials that I had done what I was accused of. According to DOJ, my continued assignment posed an unnecessary and unacceptable risk to operational security. I was escorted from the building by security and told not to return.

I waited three long weeks to learn why. The answer is equally stunning. I was no longer "afforded the opportunity to gain access, to Secret and/or Confidential NSI (National Security Information) or grand jury information." My job in the civil division did not involve Secret or Confidential National Security Information and, as a civil employee, I am precluded by statute from accessing grand jury information. In other words, my employment was terminated because I could no longer access material that I am neither required nor legally entitled to access as part of my job!

Sounds like a Catch-22 to me!

Mr. Derden adjudicated that this was "tantamount to loss of my security clearance," but it is not, because I am neither required nor legally entitled to access the information anyway.

There was a method to this madness: the Merit Systems Protection Board in Atlanta refused to grant a whistleblower stay of my termination because it does not have jurisdiction over security clearance issues. Somehow "tantamount to loss of my security clearance" has been construed as an actual loss of my security clearance for purposes of Merit Systems Protection Board review which triggers a duty on behalf of the Department to grant me a hearing on the revocation of my security clearance as my right to due process. I was never given the opportunity to be heard on the revocation of my security clearance because my security clearance was never officially revoked.

My honesty and integrity have been called into question, which has rendered me virtually unemployable in my field. I am not employed. My family has no income. I was without insurance for a few weeks while the government processed the conversion to COBRA benefits. In July, I applied for and received unemployment benefits. The Department of Justice has appealed on the premise that my termination was the result of misconduct connected with my employment.

There is a hearing scheduled on Wednesday, October 7, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. If I lose unemployment benefits, I will be forced to repay the benefits I have received. This month I am unable to pay my mortgage. If I am unable to find a job in the very near future, foreclosure of our home is imminent. All of this pain and heartache is the result of my decision to speak out, to tell the truth, to perform my duty as a federal employee and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Let's pause here. When we return, Tamarah will tell us more about how sticking her neck out has taken a toll on her and her family. Please join us.


Special thanks to Andrew Kreig and Roger Shuler.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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