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February 10, 2006

VA nurse investigated for sedition for letter to editor

"This is how it starts people," writes Kos diarist Maccabee. He's talking about Laura Berg, a VA nurse who is being investigated for sedition for writing this letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Alibi:

“I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government,” it began. “The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!” She mentioned that she was “a VA nurse” working with returning vets. “The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder,” she wrote, and she worried about the hundreds of thousands of additional cases that might result from Katrina and the Iraq War.

“Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence,” she wrote. “This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. . . . We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.

Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.” [The Progressive]

Berg's supervisors seized her computer and informed her that she was being investigated for sedition. Her file may also have been passed on to the FBI.

Hat tip to commenter SL.

Roxanne gets right to the heart of the issue. The VA is equating dissent with sedition.


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Lindsay Beyerstein links to a story about a VA nurse being investigated for sedition. Her offense? She wrote a letter to the editor which included the following: [Read More]


Wow. That is crazy. I know a lot of people who work at the VA. They are going to be pissed off when they hear about this!

If it weren't for the institutions that bind him (loosely) to the constitution, Bush would surely have imposed fascism on us by now.


I wrote, and my local paper published this letter to the editor:

Please consider how fear and insecurity have corroded our once common notion of living under the rule of law. An open and shut matter of upholding a law is being passed off as suspendable or at least negotiable. I find that alarming.
To our senators, I wrote:
"Your republic, gentlemen, is under attack from within. See how your nation is dragged to a moment when the right thing, though not the easy thing, cries out to be done! We are witnessing a serious and ongoing breach of duty by President Bush. The quality and quantity of evidence that this is so has mounted to the point that only a prompt and thorough investigation will counter the crisis of public trust in our institutions. Just as it is incumbent on the president to uphold the laws and the constitutional freedoms we cherish, it is incumbent on you in your capacities to make the checks and balances work. The moment to do that balancing is right now. By your action or inaction, you will signal whether you stand for the republic and the laws and offices that are its backbone or stand with a particular officer and the panic of the day.
There is nothing exceptional about the overreaching of arrogant power. Such overreaching was foreseen by the drafters of the constitution. Law entirely adequate for restoring the proper role of the executive sits, ignored, on the books. Will you ignore it too? There has never been a crisis of national security so severe as the one being manufactured by the president's misguided presumptions and disdain for the law."
The president continues to ignore, and his advisers try to shout down, the well informed legal critics who point out the simple laws Bush breaks in the name of national security. He must listen to his citizens and reach accord rather than continuing to divide the nation further.
FISA enables every security goal the president has claimed. Why should he not abide by that law? He would do his party less injury and fulfill his oath of office if he were to just admit his mistake and cease dividing his countrymen.
Our government is in enough of my life already. By claiming the power to spy unchecked upon me, it threatens me more than a scheming religious fanatic holed up in a cave in Pakistan.

That is pretty defensible in terms of its facts, as were Ms. Berg's statements. It is along the lines of the letter-to-the-editor campaign that called for. I am leaving my name off precisely because reprisals such as are now visited upon that nurse would cause serious financial harm to my family. If they can cost you your job, those who despise YOUR freedom to speak can silence you. I know we live amid deepening shadows of fascism and McCarthyism.

Man, they can't even spell fascism at the daily kos.

This nurse is being investigated-- she is not charged with sedition.
I don't even have to ask if her boss is a repub--clearly whoever he is,
he --and his bush appointed superiors, aim to further the bush agenda by making an example of this woman exercising her right to free speech. The message is clear: if you express opposition to the bush regime you will be harassed at the very least and could lose your job--you'd have to sue to get it back---- so just be quiet!
Just another attempt by the bush crew to stifle dissent-- another example
of the "you're either with us or against us" policy in action.
The charge of "sedition" will never fly in court-- but the free speech of VA folk will indeed be chilled.
Yet another piece of the Constitution is chipped away-- thanks to the
criminal bush regime.

My only disagreement with the post is that I think this 'started' some time ago.

You do wonder what it will take before ordinary people get angry about this.

The Source article is dated Feb 8th, but the events beban last September and are still going on. Evidently they passed her "file" of to the FBI.

"Mel Hooker, chief of the human resources management service at the Albuquerque VA, wrote Berg back on November 9 and acknowledged that “your personal computer files did not contain the editorial letter written to the editor of the weekly Alibi.”

But rather than apologize, he leveled the sedition charge: “The Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition,” he said. “In your letter . . . you declared yourself ‘as a VA nurse’ and publicly declared the Government which employs you to have ‘tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence’ and advocated, ‘act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.’ ”

Berg, who is not talking to the press, is “scared for her job” and “pretty emotionally distressed,” says Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.

“We were shocked to see the word ‘sedition’ used,” Simonson tells The Progressive. “Sedition? That’s like something out of the history books.”

In a press release, Simonson also said: “Is this government so jealous of its power, so fearful of dissent, that it needs to threaten people who openly oppose its policies with charges of ‘sedition’?”

Trackback isn't working for me, here's my trackback.

And that's one of the scarier posts I've read in a long while. Thanks for putting it up.

And what is interesting to me is that there has not been much evidence of a spirit of professionalism among law enforcement that would blanket this down. You know, do the pro forma investigation and then quietly bury the nutty ideas their political bosses come up with.

Or - maybe that has happened and the cases we are reading about are only the tip of the iceburg.

That was an increadable tradegy for all the country. And I still can't understand why so little was done to prevent the consequences.

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