Second article in a series.
About six weeks ago, at the urging of fellow TomDispatch author Rebecca Solnit, I undertook the beginnings of an on-line memorial to the Fallen Legion of the Bush administration. It was, in effect, a proposal for a virtual "wall" made up of the seemingly endless and ever-growing list of top officials as well as beleaguered administrators, managers, and career civil servants who had quit their government posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven to retire by administration strong-arm tactics, cronyism, and disastrous policies. As a start, I offered 42 prospective names for a Fallen Legion (and brief descriptions of their fates). These ranged from well-known figures like the President's former chief adviser on terrorism on the National Security Council, Richard Clarke, former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to the archivist of the United States, the state director of the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho, and three members of the White House Cultural Property Advisory Committee (who resigned over the looting of Iraq after Baghdad fell to U.S. troops). I also called upon readers to aid my future efforts and to send suggestions to: email@example.com. (And I renew that call in this piece.)
The response has been, in a word, overwhelming. Hundreds of letters poured in -- from readers who took me to task for the omission of their own personal picks for such a "Wall" to notes of encouragement from courageous former officials already included in my listing (like Teresa Chambers, the U.S. Park Police Chief who was fired for speaking out and now has a website documenting her long struggle). Some of the fallen whose stories, sad to say, I hadn't even heard of, wrote in as well.
Here, then, is the second installment in what is by now an ongoing series at Tomdispatch dedicated to continuing to build the Fallen Legion Wall, "brick" by "brick." Included in this installment is one honorary legionnaire, former NFL football player Pat Tillman, and a consideration of some officials picked by readers for spots of honor whose departure from government service was less than clear cut. This new installment adds approximately 175 additional casualties to the rolls of "the Fallen." But bear in mind that this list is not yet close to being finished. Many suggested Fallen Legionnaires (even some who wrote in personally) do not appear below, but will take their bows in future follow-ups.
Jesselyn Radack: An attorney in the Justice Department's Professional Responsibility Advisory Office who worked on the case of John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, Radack warned federal prosecutors that interrogating him without his attorney present would be unethical. When the FBI interviewed Lindh anyway, Raddack told Tomdispatch, she "then recommended that [the transcript] be sealed and only used for intelligence-gathering purposes, not for criminal prosecution." Again, her advice was ignored. Later, when Lindh was on trial, Radack learned that the judge in the case had requested copies of all internal correspondence concerning Lindh's interrogation. Although Radack had written more than a dozen e-mails on the subject, she discovered that only two of them had been turned over and neither reflected her contention that the FBI had committed an ethics violation.
Checking the hard-copy office file, she discovered that the rest of her e-mail messages were missing. With the help of technical support, she "resurrected the e-mails from her computer archives, documented them, provided them to her boss, and took home a copy for safekeeping in case they ?disappeared' again." She would later turn over copies of the e-mails to Newsweek magazine in compliance with the Whistleblower Protection Act. She has paid a heavy price for her stand against the government. As she told TomDispatch:
"I was forced out of my job at the Justice Department, fired from my subsequent private sector job [with the law firm of Hawkins, Delafield & Wood] at the government's behest, placed under criminal investigations, referred to the state bars in which I'm licensed as an attorney, and put on the "no-fly" list. I have spent $100,000 defending against a criminal investigation that was dropped and a bar charge that was dismissed. The D.C. Bar Complaint is still pending after two years and despite the fact that I was elected to the D.C. Bar's Legal Ethics Committee."
Resigned, April 2002.
Sibel Edmonds: Hired shortly after the 9/11 attacks as an FBI translator of documents related to the war on terror (due to her knowledge of Turkish, Farsi, and Azerbaijani), Edmonds alleged security breaches, mismanagement, and possible espionage within the FBI in late 2001 and early 2002, and was fired. She then sued the Justice Department, alleging "that her rights under the Privacy Act and her First and Fifth amendment rights had been violated by the government,"
but her case was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the state-secrets privilege, which allows the government to withhold information to safeguard national security. A summary of a report by the Justice Department's Inspector General, released in January 2005, however "conclude[d] that Edmonds was fired for reporting serious security breaches and misconduct in the agency's translation program." Fired, March 2002
Stephen R. Kappes: deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine services resigned, according to the Washington Post, after a confrontation with Patrick Murray, chief of staff to the new CIA director and Bush administration enforcer, former Congressman Porter Goss, who was said to be "treating senior officials disrespectfully." According to the Baltimore Sun, a "former senior CIA official said that the White House ?doesn't want Steve Kappes to reconsider his resignation.'" Resigned, November 2004.
Robert Richer: After less than a year on the job, Stephen Kappes' replacement as the number two official in the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Operations "quit" the agency as well. In a highly unusual move, the former CIA station chief in Amman, Jordan, and head of the Near East division, attended "a closed session of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence? to answer questions about how his concern over a lack of leadership at the agency triggered his retirement." But before meeting with the Senate committee, he first went right to Goss and, according to a CIA agent whose identity (wrote the Washington Post), is protected by law, "Rob laid at his doorstep, in a collegial way, that Goss is out of touch? It fell on deaf ears." As a result, "Richer left the meeting angry and walked out of the Langley headquarters for perhaps the last time, several officers said." Retired, September, 2005.
Central Intelligence Agency (30-90 personnel): Kappes and Richer were not alone. The Washington Post recently reported that under Porter Goss -- a Bush appointee who is "close to the White House"-- "[a]t least a dozen senior officials -- several of whom were promoted under Goss-- have resigned, retired early or requested reassignment." The Post also noted that in "the clandestine service alone? Goss has lost one director, two deputy directors, and at least a dozen department heads, station chiefs and division directors -- many with the key language skills and experience he has said the agency needs." Since Goss took over, according to Robert Dreyfuss in the American Prospect, "between 30 and 90 senior CIA officials have made their exit, some fleeing into retirement, others taking refuge as consultants. Others, unable to retire, have stayed, but only to mark time at the agency." Resigned/Retired/Reassigned, 2004-2005.
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division (dozens of employees): According to a recent report in the Washington Post, the agency responsible for enforcing "the nation's anti-discrimination laws for nearly half a century, is in the midst of an upheaval that has driven away dozens of veteran lawyers and has damaged morale for many of those who remain, according to former and current career employees." The Post notes that -- in addition to a 40% drop in "prosecutions for the kinds of racial and gender discrimination crimes traditionally handled by the division" over the last five years, "[n]early 20 percent of the division's lawyers left in fiscal 2005, in part because of a buyout program that some lawyers believe was aimed at pushing out those who did not share the administration's conservative views on civil rights laws." Additionally, it was reported that "dozens" of those who remained with the agency were reassigned "to handle immigration cases instead of civil rights litigation." According to Richard Ugelow, a law professor at American University who left the Civil Rights Division in 2004,"Most everyone in the Civil Rights Division realized that with the change of administration, there would be some cutting back of some cases. But I don't think people anticipated that it would go this far, that enforcement would be cut back to the point that people felt like they were spinning their wheels." Retired/Resigned, 2005.
The Office of Special Counsel (7 employees): After Elaine Kaplan, a Clinton-appointee who headed the U.S. Office of Special Counsel -- the agency that investigates federal whistleblowers' allegations -- failed to be reappointed to a second term by President Bush, she tendered her resignation stating, "in these times of heightened concern about national security, it is very important that OSC be viewed as a credible, non-partisan advocate on behalf of whistleblowers." She was replaced by Scott Bloch, a Bush appointee who has been called "a gay-hating, secretive, partisan, political hack" and previously served as deputy director of the Task Force for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Bloch, reports the Project On Government Oversight, went on to order "more than 20 percent of his headquarters legal and investigative staff to relocate or be fired. According to a letter of protest filed? by three national whistleblower watchdog groups, those targeted for forced moves [were] all career employees hired before Scott Bloch became Special Counsel, as part of a purge to stifle dissent and re-staff the agency with handpicked loyalists." Most refused to uproot their lives and, within a mandatory 60-day time limit, move from Washington, D.C. to Dallas, Oakland, or Detroit and were dismissed as a result. Fired, 2005.
Individual Ready Reserve (73 soldiers): Members of a special reserve program of "inactive troops" who are still under contract to the armed forces and were called back to service due to the Bush administration's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they "defied orders to appear for wartime duty, some for more than a year, yet the Army has quietly chosen not to act against them." Refused service, 2005.
Brent Scowcroft: A retired Lieutenant General, national security adviser to President Gerald Ford, and longtime friend and former national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, Scowcroft served as the chairman of President George W. Bush's President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). This group advises the chief executive on "the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, of analysis and estimates, of counterintelligence, and of other intelligence activities" and is composed, says the White House, of "distinguished citizens outside the government who are qualified on the basis of achievement, experience, independence, and integrity." In August 2002, Scowcroft wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal whose title made its point abundantly clear: "Don't Attack Saddam." As a result, "his old friends in high office -- Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, and so forth -- stopped speaking to him" and his appointment to the PFIAB was not renewed when his term expired in 2004. Failed to be reappointed, 2004.
John J. DiIulio Jr.: The first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, he quit his post after only seven months on the job. In an interview with Esquire magazine DiIulio disclosed, "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything -- and I mean everything -- being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis." He also decried "a virtual absence as yet of any policy accomplishments that might, to a fair-minded nonpartisan, count as the flesh on the bones of so-called compassionate conservatism." Resigned, August 2001.
David Kuo: After serving in the White House for two-and-a-half years as a Special Assistant to the President and deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, he left his post in 2003. Kuo wrote, "I have deep respect, appreciation, and affection for the president," but went on to say that "[t]here was minimal senior White House commitment to the faith-based agenda" and that there never really was great concern over what he called "the ?poor people stuff.'" Resigned, December 2003.