OT - The Gangsters Are Falling and They Can't Get Up
- From: "mozark" <swooning@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 14 Oct 2005 07:11:10 -0700
The Fallen Legion
By Nick Turse
In late August 2005, after twenty years of service in the field of
military procurement, Bunnatine ("Bunny") Greenhouse, the top official
at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of awarding government
contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, was demoted. For years,
Greenhouse received stellar evaluations from superiors -- until she
raised objections about secret, no-bid contracts awarded to Kellogg,
Brown & Root (KBR) -- a subsidiary of Halliburton, the mega-corporation
Vice President Dick Cheney once presided over. After telling congress
that one Halliburton deal was "was the most blatant and improper
contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional
career," she was reassigned from "the elite Senior Executive Service...
to a lesser job in the civil works division of the corps."
When Greenhouse was busted down, she became just another of the
casualties of the Bush administration -- not the countless (or rather
uncounted) Iraqis, or the ever-growing list of American troops, killed,
maimed, or mutilated in the administration's war of convenience-- but
the seemingly endless and ever-growing list of beleaguered
administrators, managers, and career civil servants who quit their
posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced out,
demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arming.
Often, this has been due to revulsion at the President's policies --
from the invasion of Iraq and negotiations with North Korea to the
flattening of FEMA and the slashing of environmental standards -- which
these women and men found to be beyond the pale.
Since almost the day he assumed power, George W. Bush has left a trail
of broken careers in his wake. Below is a listing of but a handful of
the most familiar names on the rolls of the fallen:
Richard Clarke: Perhaps the most well-known of the Bush
administration's casualties, Clarke spent thirty years in the
government, serving under every president from Ronald Reagan on. He was
the second-ranking intelligence officer in the State Department under
Reagan and then served in the administration of George H.W. Bush. Under
Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he held the position of the
president's chief adviser on terrorism on the National Security Council
-- a Cabinet-level post. Clarke became disillusioned with the "terrible
job" of fighting terrorism exhibited by the second president Bush --
namely, ignoring evidence of an impending al-Qaeda attack and putting
the pressure on to produce a non-existent link between al-Qaeda and
Saddam Hussein. (His memo explaining that there was no connection, said
Clarke, "got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. Do it
again.'") After 9/11, Clarke asked for a transfer from his job to a
National Security Council office concerned with cyber-terrorism. (The
administration later claimed it was a demotion). Quit, January 2003.
Paul O'Neill: A top official at the Office of Management and Budget
under Presidents Nixon and Ford (and later chairman of aluminum-giant
Alcoa), O'Neill served nearly two years in George W. Bush's cabinet as
Secretary of the Treasury before being asked to resign after opposing
the president's tax cuts. He, like Clarke, recalled Bush's Iraq
fixation. "From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam
Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," said O'Neill, a
permanent member of the National Security Council. "It was all about
finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying
'Go find me a way to do this.'" Fired, December 6, 2002.
Flynt Leverett, Ben Miller and Hillary Mann: A Senior Director for
Middle East Affairs on President Bush's National Security Council
(NSC), a CIA staffer and Iraq expert with the NSC, and a foreign
service officer on detail to the NSC as the Director for Iran and
Persian Gulf Affairs, respectively, they were all reportedly forced out
by Elliott Abrams, Bush's NSC Advisor on Middle East Affairs, when they
disagreed with policy toward Israel. Said Leverett, "There was a
decision made... basically to renege on the commitments we had made to
various European and Arab partners of the United States. I personally
disagreed with that decision." He also noted, "[Richard] Clarke's
critique of administration decision-making and how it did not balance
the imperative of finishing the job against al Qaeda versus what they
wanted to do in Iraq is absolutely on the money... We took the people
out [of Afghanistan in 2002 to begin preparing for the war in Iraq] who
could have caught" al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and Ayman
Zawahiri. According to Josef Bodansky, the director of the
Congressional Task Force on Terror and Unconventional Warfare, Abrams
"led Miller to an open window and told him to jump." He also stated
that Mann and Leverett had been told to leave. Resigned/Fired, 2003.
Larry Lindsey: A "top economic adviser" to Bush who was ousted when he
revealed to a newspaper that a war with Iraq could cost $200 billion.
Fired, December 2002.
Ann Wright: A career diplomat in the Foreign Service and a colonel in
the Army Reserves resigned on the day the U.S. launched the Iraq War.
In her letter of resignation, Wright told then-Secretary of State Colin
Powell: "I believe the Administration's policies are making the world a
more dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and
professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these
policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or
implement them." Resigned, March 19, 2003.
John Brady Kiesling: A career diplomat who served four presidents over
a twenty year span, he tendered his letter of resignation from his post
as Political Counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece on the eve
of the invasion of Iraq. He wrote:
"...until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by
upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the
interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer.
The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with
American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit
of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy
that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense
since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the
largest and most effective web of international relationships the world
has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger,
Resigned, February 27, 2003.
John Brown: After nearly 25-years, this veteran of the Foreign Service,
who served in London, Prague, Krakow, Kiev and Belgrade, resigned from
his post. In his letter of resignation, he wrote: "I cannot in good
conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. The
president has failed to: explain clearly why our brave men and women in
uniform should be ready to sacrifice their lives in a war on Iraq at
this time; to lay out the full ramifications of this war, including the
extent of innocent civilian casualties; to specify the economic costs
of the war for the ordinary Americans; to clarify how the war would
help rid the world of terror; [and] to take international public
opinion against the war into serious consideration." Resigned, March
Rand Beers: When Beers, the National Security Council's senior director
for combating terrorism, resigned he declined to comment, but one
former intelligence official noted, "Hardly a surprise. We have
sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at
all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror
is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military
and intel[ligence] resources and the relationships with our allies."
Beers later admitted, "The administration wasn't matching its deeds to
its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not
more secure... As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done.
And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I
got up and walked out." Resigned, March 2003.
Anthony Zinni: A soldier and diplomat for 40 years, Zinni served from
1997 to 2000 as commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command
in the Middle East. The retired Marine Corps general was then called
back to service by the Bush administration to assume one of the highest
diplomatic posts, special envoy to the Middle East (from November 2002
to March 2003), but his disagreement with Bush's plans to go to war and
public comments that foretold of a a prolonged and problematical
aftermath to such a war led to his ouster. "In the lead up to the Iraq
war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction,
negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and
corruption," said Zinni. Failed to be reappointed, March 2003.
Eric Shinseki: After General Shinseki, the Army's chief of staff, told
Congress that the occupation of Iraq could require "several hundred
thousand troops," he was derided by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz. Then, wrote the Houston Chronicle, Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld "took the unusual step of announcing that Gen. Eric
Shinseki would be leaving when his term as Army chief of staff
end[ed]." Retired, June 2003.
Karen Kwiatkowski: A Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force who served in
the Department of Defense's Near East and South Asia (NESA) Bureau in
the year before the invasion of Iraq, she wrote in her letter of
"...[W]hile working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office
of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and
Special Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the
environment in which decisions about post-war Iraq were made... What I
saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline.
If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence'
found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Hussein
occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one
need look no further than the process inside the Office of the
Secretary of Defense."
Retired, July 2003.
Charles "Jack" Pritchard: A retired U.S. Army colonel and a 28-year
veteran of the military, the State Department, and the National
Security Council, who served as the State Department's senior expert on
North Korea and as the special envoy for negotiations with that
country, resigned (according to the Los Angeles Times) because the
"administration's refusal to engage directly with the country made it
almost impossible to stop Pyongyang from going ahead with its plans to
build, test and deploy nuclear weapons." Resigned, August 2003.
Major (then Captain) John Carr and Major Robert Preston: Air Force
prosecutors, they quit their posts in 2004 rather than take part in
trials under the military commission system President Bush created in
2001 which they considered "rigged against alleged terrorists held at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.
Captain Carrie Wolf: A U.S. Air Force officer, she also asked to leave
the Office of Military Commissions due to concerns that the
Bush-created commissions for trying prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were
unjust. Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.
Colonel Douglas Macgregor: He retired from the U.S. Army and stated: "I
love the army and I was sorry to leave it. But I saw no possibility of
fundamentally positive reform and reorgani[z]ation of the force for the
current strategic environment or the future... It's a very sycophantic
culture. The biggest problem we have inside the... Department of
Defense at the senior level, but also within the officer corps -- is
that there are no arguments. Arguments are [seen as] a sign of dissent.
Dissent equates to disloyalty." Retired, June 2004.
Paul Redmond: After a long career at the CIA, Redmond became the
Assistant Secretary for Information Analysis at the Department of
Homeland Security. When, according to Notra Trulock of Accuracy in
Media, he reported, at a congressional hearing in June 2003, "that he
didn't have enough analysts to do the job... [and] his office still
lacked the secure communications capability to receive classified
reports from the intelligence community... [t]hat kind of candor was
not appreciated by his bosses and, consequently, he had to go."
Resigned, June 2003.
John W. Carlin: According to the Washington Post, Carlin, the
"Archivist of the United States was pushed by the White House... to
submit his resignation without being given any reason, Senate Democrats
disclosed... at a hearing to consider President Bush's nomination of
his successor." "I asked why, and there was no reason given," said
Carlin, but the Post reported that some had "suggested Bush may have
wanted a new archivist to help keep his or his father's sensitive
presidential records under wraps." Although he had stated his wish to
serve until the end of his 10-year term, and 65th birthday in 2005,
Carlin surrendered to Bush administration pressure. Resigned, December
Susan Wood and Frank Davidoff: Wood was the Food and Drug
Administration's Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director
of the Office of Women's Health; Davidoff was the editor emeritus of
the journal Annals of Internal Medicine and an internal medicine
specialist on the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee. Wood
resigned in protest over the FDA's decision to delay yet again, due to
pressure from the Bush administration, a final ruling on whether the
"morning-after pill" should be made more easily accessible -- despite a
23-4 vote, back in December 2003, by a panel of experts to recommend
non-prescription sale of the contraceptive, called Plan B. In an email
to colleagues, Wood, the top FDA official in charge of women's health
issues, wrote, "I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and
clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the
professional staff here, has been overruled." Days later, Davidoff quit
over the same issue and wrote in his resignation letter, "I can no
longer associate myself with an organization that is capable of making
such an important decision so flagrantly on the basis of political
influence, rather than the scientific and clinical evidence." Wood:
Resigned, August 31, 2005. Davidoff: Resigned, September, 2005.
Thomas E. Novotny: A deputy assistant secretary at the Department of
Health and Human Services and the chief official working on an
international treaty to reduce cigarette smoking around the world,
Novotny "stepped down," claimed Bush administration officials, "for
personal reasons unrelated to the negotiations"; but the Washington
Post reported that "three people who ha[d] spoken with Novotny... said
he had privately expressed frustration over the administration's
decision to soften the U.S. positions on key issues, including
restrictions on secondhand smoke and the advertising and marketing of
cigarettes." Resigned, August 1, 2001.
Joanne Wilson: The commissioner of the Department of Education's
Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), she quit, according to
the Washington Post, "in protest of what she said were the
administration's largely unnoticed efforts to gut the office's funding
and staffing" and attempts to dismantle programs "critical to helping
the blind, deaf and otherwise disabled find jobs." On February 7, 2005
the Bush administration announced that it would close all RSA regional
offices and cut personnel in half. Quit, February 8, 2005.
James Zahn: According to an article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in the
Nation magazine, Zahn, a "nationally respected microbiologist with the
Agriculture Department's research service" stated that "his supervisor
at the USDA, under pressure from the hog industry, had ordered him not
to publish his study," which "identified bacteria that can make people
sick -- and that are resistant to antibiotics -- in the air surrounding
industrial-style hog farms"; and that "he had been forced to cancel
more than a dozen public appearances at local planning boards and
county health commissions seeking information about health impacts of
industry mega-farms." As a result, "Zahn resigned from the government
in disgust." Resigned, May 2002.
Tony Oppegard and Jack Spadaro: Oppegard and Spadaro were members of a
"team of federal geodesic engineers selected to investigate the
collapse of barriers that held back a coal slurry pond in Kentucky
containing toxic wastes from mountaintop strip-mining." According to
the Environmental Protection Agency, this had been "the greatest
environmental catastrophe in the history of the Eastern United States."
Oppegard, who the headed the team, "was fired on the day Bush was
inaugurated... All eight members of the team except Spadaro signed off
on a whitewashed investigation report. Spadaro, like the others, was
harassed but flat-out refused to sign. In April of 2001 Spadaro
resigned from the team and filed a complaint with the Inspector General
of the Labor Department... he was placed on administrative leave--a
prelude to getting fired." Two months before his 28th anniversary as a
federal employee, and after years of harassment due to his stance,
Spadaro resigned. "I'm just very tired of fighting," he said. "I've
been fighting this administration since early 2001. I want a little
peace for a while." Oppegrad: Fired, January 20, 2001. Spaddaro:
Resigned, October 1, 2003.
Teresa Chambers: After speaking with reporters and congressional
staffers about budget problems in her organization, the U.S. Park
Police Chief was placed on administrative leave. Then, according to
CNN, just "two and half hours after her attorneys filed a demand for
immediate reinstatement through the Merit Systems Protection Board, an
independent agency that ensures federal employees are protected from
management abuses," Chambers was fired. "The American people should be
afraid of this kind of silencing of professionals in any field," said
Chambers. "We should be very concerned as American citizens that people
who are experts in their field either can't speak up, or, as we're
seeing now in the parks service, won't speak up." Fired, July 2004.
Martha Hahn: The state director for the Bureau of Land Management,
"responsible for 12 million acres in Idaho, almost one-quarter of the
state" for seven years, Hahn found her authority drastically curtailed
after the Bush administration took office. She watched as the
administration blocked public comment on mining initiatives and opened
up previously protected areas to environmental degradation. After she
locked horns with cattle interests over grazing rights, she received a
letter stating she was being transferred from her beloved Rocky
Mountain West to "a previously nonexistent job in New York City." "It's
been a shock," she said. "I'm going through mental anguish right now. I
felt like I was at the prime of my career." Hahn was told to accept the
involuntary reassignment or resign. Resigned, March 6, 2002.
Andrew Eller: Eller "spent many of his 17 years with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service protecting the [Florida] panther. But when his
research didn't jibe with a huge airport project slated for the cat's
habitat -- and Eller refused to play along--he was given the boot,"
wrote the Tucson Weekly. "I was fired three days after President Bush
was re-elected," said Eller. "It was obviously reprisal for holding
different views than [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] management on
whether or not the panther was in jeopardy, and pointing out that they
were using flawed science to support their view." Fired, November 2004.
Mike Dombeck: The chief of the Forest Service resigned after a 23-year
government career. In his resignation letter, the pro-conservation
Dombeck stated, "It was made clear in no uncertain terms that the
[Bush] administration wants to take the Forest Service in another
direction ...." Resigned, March 27, 2001.
James Furnish: A political conservative, evangelical Christian, and
Republican who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 as well as the former
Deputy Chief of the U.S. Forest Service (who spent 30 years, across 8
presidential administrations working for that agency), Furnish resigned
in 2002 due to policy differences with the Bush administration. "I just
viewed [the administration's] actions as being regressive," said
Furnish. In acting according to his conscience, instead of waiting a
year longer to maximize retirement benefits, Furnish lost out on about
$10,000 a year for the rest of his life. Resigned, 2002.
Mike Parker: In early 2002, Parker, the director of the Army Corps of
Engineers testified before Congress that Bush-mandated budget cuts
would have a "negative impact" on the Corps. He also admitted to
holding no "warm and fuzzy" feelings toward the Bush administration.
"Soon after," reported the Christian Science Monitor, "he was given 30
minutes to resign or be fired." In the wake of the devastation caused
by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Parker's clashes with Mitch Daniels,
former director of the Office of Management and Budget, can be seen as
prophetic. Parker remembered one such incident in which he brought
Daniels, the Bush administration's budget guru, a piece of steel from a
Mississippi canal lock that "was completely corroded and falling apart
because of a lack of funding," and said, "Mitch, it doesn't matter if a
terrorist blows the lock up or if it falls down because it
disintegrates -- either way it's the same effect, and if we let it fall
down, we have only ourselves to blame." He recalled of the incident,
"It made no impact on him whatsoever." Resigned, March 6, 2002.
Sylvia K. Lowrance: A top Environmental Protection Agency official who
served the agency for over 20 years, including as Assistant
Administrator of its Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance for
the first 18 months of the Bush administration, Lowrance retired,
stating, "We will see more resignations in the future as the
administration fails to enforce environmental laws." she said, "This
Administration has pulled cases and put investigations on ice. They
sent every signal they can to staff to back off." Retired, August 2002.
Bruce Boler: An EPA scientist who resigned from his post because, he
said, "Wetlands are often referred to as nature's kidneys. Most
self-respecting scientists will tell you that, and yet [private]
developers and officials [at the Army Corps of Engineers] wanted me to
support their position that wetlands are, literally, a pollution
source." Resigned, October 23, 2003.
Eric Schaeffer: After twelve years of service, including the last five
as Director of the Office of Regulatory Enforcement, at the
Environmental Protection Agency, Schaeffer submitted a letter of
resignation over the Bush administration's non-enforcement of the Clean
Air Act. He later explained:
"In a matter of weeks, the Bush administration was able to undo the
environmental progress we had worked years to secure. Millions of tons
of unnecessary pollution continue to pour from these power plants each
year as a result. Adding insult to injury, the White House sought to
slash the EPA's enforcement budget, making it harder for us to pursue
cases we'd already launched against other polluters that had run afoul
of the law, from auto manufacturers to refineries, large industrial hog
feedlots, and paper companies. It became clear that Bush had little
regard for the environment--and even less for enforcing the laws that
protect it. So last spring, after 12 years at the agency, I resigned,
stating my reasons in a very public letter to Administrator [Christine
Resigned, February 27, 2002.
Bruce Buckheit: A 30-year veteran of government service, Buckheit
retired in frustration over Bush administration efforts to weaken
environmental regulations. When asked by NBC reporter Stone Phillips,
"What's the biggest enforcement challenge right now when it comes to
air pollution?," the former Senior Counsel with the Environmental
Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and then
Director of EPA's Air Enforcement Division, was unequivocal: "The Bush
Administration." He went on to note that "this administration has
decided to put the economic interests of the coal fired power plants
ahead of the public interests in reducing air pollution." Resigned,
Rich Biondi: A 32-year EPA employee, Biondi retired from his post as
Associate Director of the Air Enforcement Division of the Environmental
Protection Agency. He stated, "We weren't given the latitude we had
been, and the Bush administration was interfering more and more with
the ability to get the job done. There were indications things were
going to be reviewed a lot more carefully, and we needed a lot more
justification to bring lawsuits." Retired, December 2004.
Martin E. Sullivan, Richard S. Lanier and Gary Vikan: Three members of
the White House Cultural Property Advisory Committee, they all resigned
from their posts to protest the looting of Baghdad's National Museum of
Antiquities. In his letter of resignation, Sullivan, the Committee's
chairman, wrote, "The tragedy was not prevented, due to our nation's
inaction," while Lanier castigated "the administration's total lack of
sensitivity and forethought regarding the Iraq invasion and the loss of
cultural treasures." Resigned, April 14, 2003.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, eyes began to focus on the Federal
Emergency Management Agency and the political appointees running it.
What had happened to the professionals who once staffed FEMA? In 2004,
Pleasant Mann, a 17-year FEMA veteran who heads the agency's government
employee union told Indyweek:
"Since last year, so many people have left who had developed most of
our basic programs. A lot of the institutional knowledge is gone.
Everyone who was able to retire has left, and then a lot of people have
moved to other agencies."
Disillusionment with the current state of affairs at FEMA was cited as
the major cause for the mass defections. In fact, a February 2004
survey by the American Federation of Government Employees found that
80% of a sample of remaining employees said FEMA had become "a poorer
agency" since being shifted into the Bush-created Department of
Homeland Security. What happened to FEMA has happened, in ways large
and small, to many other federal agencies. In an article by Amanda
Griscom in Grist magazine, Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility, made reference to the
"unusually high" rate of replacement of scientists in government
agencies during the Bush administration. "If the scientist gives the
inconvenient answer they commit career suicide," he said.
However defined, the casualties of the Bush administration are legion.
The numbers of government careers wrecked, disrupted, adversely
affected, or tossed into turmoil as a result of this administration's
wars, budgets, policies, and programs is impossible to determine.
Although every administration leaves bodies strewn in its wake, none in
recent memory has come close to the Bush administration in producing so
many public statements of resignation, dissatisfaction, or anger over
treatment or policies. The aforementioned list of casualties includes
among the best known of those who have resigned or left the
administration under pressure (although not necessarily those who have
suffered most from their acts). Perhaps no one knows exactly how many
government workers, at all levels, have fallen in the face of the Bush
administration. Those mentioned above are just a few of the highest
profile members of this as yet uncounted legion, just a few of the
names we know.
[NOTE: If you know of others, or are one of the "fallen legion"
yourself, please send the information (and whatever supporting material
you would care to supply) to fallenlegionwall@xxxxxxxxx with the
subject heading: "fallen legion" to add another name to the "wall."
This is a subject TomDispatch would like to return to in the future.]
[Special thanks to Rebecca Solnit for providing the idea for this
piece, and so "commissioning" it.]
Nick Turse works in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia
University and as the Associate Editor and Research Director at
TomDispatch.com. He writes for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco
Chronicle, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch on the
military-corporate complex, the homeland security state, and various
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