It took civil rights litigators and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico to “act forcefully” in reminding the government of the Constitution and her right to free speech.
The Department of Veterans Affairs retreated then finally apologized to the shaken Ms. Berg.
Even then, she noted, one superior told her it was preferred that she not identify herself as a V.A. nurse in any future letter writing.
Ms. Berg was a true patriot, working to care for the soldiers wounded in Bush's war of choice - and still just two sentences published in a local paper got her branded as a traitorous, dangerous enemy of the state. She was lucky. What if her senator had been one of mine - John Cornyn or Kay Bailey Hutchison - two of the biggest carriers of Bush's holy water in Washington. I assure you that they would not have lifted a blue-blooded finger to help a critic of their beloved Commander in Chief.
As a matter of fact, I found myself in a quandary not long ago when I decided to write a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I knew that if any e-mail was going to be read, it would be that one, and it wouldn't matter what name was at the bottom. And if Big Brother thought Ms. Berg's letter to the editor was treasonous, they would have shot me on sight after reading my letter to Bush's sworn enemy. Not that it was seditious. I simply asked that Iran avoid any provocative action for the last thirteen months of Bush's presidency so that he couldn't seize the opportunity to launch another war.
But I was critical of the administration's policies and Bush's lack of sanity, and included a brief passage on the possibility of even the sending of the letter being held by the Bush administration as an act of treason:
President Bush and his small minority of followers would call this letter treasonous, and brand me as a traitor for writing it. As I am sending it over the internet, I have little doubt that it will be read by government eavesdroppers, and I must confess that I considered not sending it at all for fear of being seen as a traitor.
But I consider myself a patriot, loyal to the values and principles upon which America was founded. When those principles are abandoned by those in power, it is they who become traitors, for my loyalty was never pledged to them, but to the principles they vowed to follow and preserve.
This being the present situation, I have come to the conclusion that continued loyalty to an administration that has cast those principles aside is traitorous. And if sending this letter is the current leadership's measure of a traitor, then let them call me one publicly. Because if supporting the policies of this administration is the measure of a patriot, then I will wear the badge of "Traitor" with pride, and I will glory in my treachery.
When my wife read it, she went bonkers. She instantly broke into tears of fear and anger. She said to me, "You have seen what they do to people. Why would you put your family at risk like that?"
I told her that it was out of love and concern for my family that I was writing it. I explained to her that if there is a war between the U.S. and Iran, it is an absolute certainty that nuclear weapons will be used by both sides. She said that Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons. I replied that if we went to war with Iran, it is certain to be World War III, because every Muslim nation in the Middle East will perceive it as war on Muslims. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and they are already becoming more hostile to America. Syria has just been attacked by Israel, reportedly due to secret dealings with North Korea in which they are trying to establish a nuclear weapons program. While there has never been public mention of Saudi Arabia possessing nuclear weapons, it would be naive to dismiss that possibility. Russia has a huge stockpile, and has seemingly allied itself with Iran. China and North Korea are unlikely to remain neutral. Israel will not hesitate to launch a nuclear attack if war ensues.
I told my wife that I could not live with myself if my two year-old daughter was killed or disfigured by a bomb or radiation poisoning, knowing that I foresaw the danger, and yet did nothing at all to try to stop it.
Through hers tears she asked, "Will you be able to live with yourself when they come in the middle of the night and take your whole family?"
I asked her if she really wanted our baby and her 13 year-old sister to live in a world like that. She said that one letter wouldn't change anything, and if everyone else is writing letters then my letter wouldn't make any difference anyway. "You've got a family to think of. Why would you jeopardize that when your letter won't matter one way or the other?"