While it's heartening that Congress has heard testimony from the massacred U.S. Attorneys, and will hear today from the world's most famous undercover spy, Valerie Plame, Congress is long overdue to hear from the others out there who have had their careers destroyed by this Administration.
While I'm thrilled that the Democratic Congress is hearing from the fired U.S. Attorneys, and from Valerie Plame, who had her career destroyed (most can agree that she was at least compromised by having her undercover identity blown), I respectfully request that Congress hear from the the whistleblowers who have similarly had their careers trashed in a deliberate, vengeful, and outrageous way.
I was forced from the Justice Department for giving ethics advice that took a position that contradicted the position ultimately taken by Attorney General Ashcroft, namely that "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh was entitled to counsel. The FBI fired Sibel Edmonds for being disruptive when she complained that translations were not being done fast enough. Bunnatine Greenhouse alleged fraud and waste in the Halliburton/KBR contracts and got fired in return. U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers was placed on leave for saying her understaffed department had to curtail crimical patrols beyond the national Mall because of Interior Department orders requiring more offices to guard downtown national shrines. Linda Lewis was fired because the government did not take her advice on disaster planning and (surprise, surprise) couldn't find its ass with both hands when disaster struck.
But the juicy story here is what happened afterwards. Sibel Edmonds was slapped with a gag order, had the report vindicating her retroactively classified, and is being muzzled by the fictitious "state secrets" privilege. Lewis had her security clearance yanked and was locked out of her own kangaroo hearing.
I got the "Guantanamo treatment" lite: a bogus criminal investigation, for what I was never told . . . Referral to the state bars in which I'm licensed as an attorney based on a secret report to which I did not have access . . . The dubious distinction of being on the "no-fly" list.
There are countless other ordinary folks who have been punished for doing their jobs and speaking truth to power.
Although my story is different in its details, it shares many of the same elements with all these people’s sagas – abuse of government power, lack of due process (or any process at all), secrecy and silence, political overkill, and base vengefulness. The Administration’s vindictive response to its critics goes beyond questioning their truthfulness, competence and motives. It seeks to destroy them.
The Executive Branch machine attacks the person rather than the substance of his or her complaint. It shoots the messenger rather than addressing the message. It silences the critic rather than answering the criticism. It engages in intimidation, character assassination and professional destruction of those who break the code of silence. And it will not let go. As Jerome Doolittle, novelist and former White House speechwriter, characterized the Justice Department’s venomous attacks on me: “There is something primordial about Team Bush’s reaction to dissent, something reptilian. They’re like the gila monster, its jaws holding their poisonous grip even after its head is severed.”
“You are either with us or against us” – Bush’s Procrusteanized mantra during his inexorable march to war in Iraq – applies with equal or greater force to those who cross him, and more broadly, to anyone he perceives as an “enemy.” Bush’s us-or-them mentality, and the Administration's categorical thinking more generally, is exacerbated by their limitless capacity to nurse incandescent grudges.
One of the most disturbing things about my story is that it’s not an isolated incident. As bizarre, unbelievable and outrageous as it sounds, it is not uncommon. Sadly, I am not the only one. These vicissitudes have happened to everyone from military officers to Muslim guys playing paintball. The Justice Department's hardball and high-handed tactics are finally getting some attention now that they have been visited upon higher-profile to Justice Department attorneys. But you should hear from some of the little guys because what we experienced is just as bad --I would humbly argue, worse--as what those in positions of power have gone through at the hands of Team Bush.
Congress, I applaud your start, but you need to hear from us, and I submit, will hear things far worse.
originally published a dailykos.com