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VA Nurse Investigated for Sedition After Letter to the Editor

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posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 08:25 AM
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A nurse working for the VA apparently is being investigated for sedition after writing a letter to the editor ripping into GWB and the WoT. I'm not surprised, but I think some will be. Sedition isn't a word you hear tossed around a lot, but I suspect that will change.

I haven't been able to verify any of the elements of this story, and I have stuff to do in the real world today, so I thought I'd just post this article and let people make of it what they will. Maybe someone else can follow up, or I'll do so later.



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Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has asked Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson for a thorough inquiry of his agency's investigation into whether a V.A. nurse's letter to the editor criticizing the Bush administration amounted to "sedition."

Merely opposing government policies and expressing a desire to change course "does not provide reason to believe that a person is involved in illegal subversive activity," he said. Bingaman said such investigations raise "a very real possibility of chilling legitimate political speech."

Laura Berg, a clinical nurse specialist for 15 years, wrote a letter in September to a weekly Albuquerque newspaper criticizing how the administration handled Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq Wwr. She urged people to "act forcefully" by bringing criminal charges against top administration officials, including the president, to remove them from power because they played games of "vicious deceit." She added: "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....Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times."

The agency seized her office computer and launched an investigation. Berg is not talking to the press, but reportedly fears losing her job.

Bingaman wrote: "In a democracy, expressing disagreement with the government's actions does not amount to sedition or insurrection. It is, and must remain, protected speech. Although it may be permissible to implement restrictions regarding a government employee's political activities during work hours or on government premises, such employees do not surrender their right to freedom of speech when they enlist in government service."


A little story relating to the VA. In my area, there's ONE doctor to treat 2000 vets, and the overflow is so bad they've stopped seeing new patients. They're sending them 50 miles, for 100 miles round trip for treatment that could be provided on site, if it weren't for the lack of funding/staff.

This isn't the only place feeling the strain.

This nurse is likely seeing a lot of things that are unpleasant and frustrating, promising young men torn apart and miserable, then forgotten and neglected. :shk:

There's a lot going on right now, but I think the disrespect shown to our vets by this government is disgusting. The lack of respect they show regular citizens is just as infuriating, IMO.

I better stop with the sedition.




posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 08:36 AM
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Funny if I read the Sedition Act correctly ( which was repealed in 1921 anyway ) its only sedition if its in time of war, and dispite the death and such in Iraq and Afghanistan this is not a declared war. So what exactly is the big deal then if she says she wants to see Bush and his buddies brought up on charges if the Act is no longer in place and we arent in a true state of war? Heck by what they are defining as sedition the rest of us can definately be investigated as well...



posted on Mar, 3 2006 @ 06:01 PM
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Calling for the prosecution of corrupt govt. officials is anything but sedition. If anything, the Neocons are seditious in their undermining of the democratic principles enumerated in the Constitution which they swore to uphold.

The Neocons are aware that what they are doing is contrary to their oaths of office. They know that a certain percentage of the public, and a few of the pol's who represent them, will call for their heads as the truths hidden within the bowels of this secret regime break out. IMO the allegations against this patriot serve two purposes.

First, they're simply testing the waters of public opinion to see whether they can get away with taking down another disenchanted middle-aged woman who sees through them. Second, the Neocons have a rich history of retribution against anyone in govt. employ who castigates or disagrees with their vitriolic hyperbole and murderous behavior. This is more of the same. It gives them a sense of revenge, which they love, and also serves the more useful purpose of chilling dissent.



posted on Mar, 3 2006 @ 11:28 PM
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This is the first time I've seen this on the board. I'm not sure if I've ever seen this woman, but my VA MD was telling me about this case. She works down the hall from him. He didn't go into any detail and we moved on.

I will say this. Criticizing the government is a right we Americans really have come to take for granted, which technically it isn't, without much thought as to how far is too far. We treat this freedom so casually that we say in casual conversation things that would be criminal under other circumstances. I'm certain this woman did not consider that her letter to an "alternative" monthly tabloid in Albuquerque, NM would make such waves. I don't read that publication regularly, but I wish I had picked that one up.

It might seem small potatoes compared to the rhetoric we commonly read here, but her call for citizens to "act forcefully" to remove the president and his administration from office is pushing it just a bit too far, especially for a government employee. I've dealt with VA employees who have been critical of our country's wars and truthfully their attitudes always come throgh and influence the relationship with the veteran. It was very prevalent in New Orleans.

This is the quote that gets me:


Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico, told The Progressive magazine: "We were shocked to see the word 'sedition' used. Sedition? That's like something out of the history books."


I think we need to pull that word out and dust it off a bit. Not that I think that Nurse Berg is guilty of sedition, but so that people will think just a bit before they shoot off a letter to the editor.

Small world, huh?


[edit on 2006/3/3 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Mar, 4 2006 @ 12:52 AM
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Sedition, there is a word that you really haven't seen thrown around in a while. I agree that there are certain actions and certain things that you can say (ex: kill the president; lets blow up this federal building) that could be classified as sedition and should be looked upon as a treasonous act. But this whole situation smells of Mcarthyism. Free speech is a key dynamic in a free society, and simply writing or voicing an opinion that contradicts or defies the ruling governments policies should be one of the most basic rights that a citizen shall be entitled to. Remember it wasn't so long ago that private citizens were yanked from their homes, labeled communist sympathizers, tried before a kangaroo court and publically defamed as enemies of the state, simply for expressing unpopular opinion.

I agree that this administration has a lot of dirty laundry, and they are doing their best to supress these secrets at all cost. I also agree that the situation with this nurse is an attempt to test the waters of public opinion, a.) to see how far they can they can push the American public in order to determine what will and will not be tolerated and b.) to create a sense of fear among dissidents in an attempt to shut them up through fear of persecution. I can only say that when your right as an American to complain or question the powers that be are removed, then you are no longer free or an American any longer.

These freedoms IMO should be maintained at all cost, even if it means a fight to the death. Taking away a countries ability to keep their rulers honest and in check would in essence leave them naked and vulnerable to tyranny on all fronts. And remember, many great men fought and died in order to be certain that these basic rights are in place and that should never be forgotten. Once freedom is removed, it is rarely ever easily regained.



posted on Mar, 4 2006 @ 01:24 AM
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She did do an interview recently, it was the first I heard about this. Wow it's getting to where free speech is only a right when those in power like what you are saying.

You can read a transcript of the interview or watch it online. Ths is from a 1 hr. newshow broadcast daily on free speech tv, and this show Democracy Now is also on Link tv.

www.democracynow.org.../03/02/148237



posted on Mar, 4 2006 @ 01:36 AM
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Criticizing the government is a right we Americans really have come to take for granted, which technically it isn't.


*ahem* I quote, from your own Constitution...



Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


There is no clause that says that the government is allowed to waive this Amendment, when it's citizens decide that "Criticizing the government," is what they wish to do to oppose what they find immoral,illigal,etc. In fact, it seems to say the exact opposite of that, which is probably why the Sedition Act was repealed in the first place, because it was grossly unconstitutional it the first place, which should never have been made into a law.

If you believe that critising the government should not be a right, I leave this thread with this quote.



Anti-governmental-defamation laws similar to the Sedition Act are still in place in some of the world's most repressive countries, including North Korea and Libya.


[edit on 4-3-2006 by sardion2000]



posted on Mar, 4 2006 @ 12:17 PM
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Originally posted by goose
She did do an interview recently, it was the first I heard about this. Wow it's getting to where free speech is only a right when those in power like what you are saying.


Actually if folks take the time to go to the link and read the whole article, it appears to be more about whether or not she wrote the letter on our time and on our computers. Hence the confiscation of the computer. Happens all the time. I don't see anywhere where it mentions them going to her home.

I also don't see where she was actually charged with anything, especially sedition.

Shouldn't the congressman and the ACLU know already that you can't charge someone with sedition? Shouldn't that be more the basis of contention? The only place where I see sedition mentioned is by a congressman and the ACLU, both biased sources. If Mr. Hooker did say sedition then supply the letter so we can see it. Then remind him that you can't charge someone with sedition!



posted on Mar, 4 2006 @ 06:42 PM
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Originally posted by notbuynit

Originally posted by goose
She did do an interview recently, it was the first I heard about this. Wow it's getting to where free speech is only a right when those in power like what you are saying.


The only place where I see sedition mentioned is by a congressman and the ACLU, both biased sources. If Mr. Hooker did say sedition then supply the letter so we can see it. Then remind him that you can't charge someone with sedition!



Here are where the threatened charges of sedition is coming into play.


And the government announced it was investigating her for sedition - that's right, sedition.

V.A. human resources chief Mel Hooker wrote in a letter to Berg, "the Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition."



posted on Mar, 4 2006 @ 07:02 PM
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I'm going to see my MD next week. I'm going to try to get some inside info in this matter. To me it sounds like a human resources manager misused the word sedition and that really stirred up matters with the ACLU who would, of course, know the nuances of the law better than a HR manager. However, I'm pretty sure that her work computer belongs to the federal government and that they can remove it from her office at any time for any reason, whether she likes it or not.

Regardless, I think it is important for people, in general, and government employees, especially, to choose their words carefully when ranting about the administration. When a mere criticism begins to sound like a call for insurrection or violent action, then it's probably time to tone down the rhetoric. I know that if she were a service provider of mine, I would not be comfortable receiving further care from her given the indiscriminate tone of her letter.



posted on Mar, 6 2006 @ 08:23 AM
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OK folks I found this, now I am aware that the sedition act was repealed in 1921 but was it revised, can someone be arrested in the US for sedition?

www.dangerouscitizen.com...



posted on Mar, 7 2006 @ 03:14 AM
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After reading this I'm beginning to think they mght actually be able to charge her with sedition, her only saving grace is she did not say use violence, and could have meant impeachment. As the current law reads I am not sure if this law only applys to military personnel or civilians included. As I read it she is working for the military, if the law applys to people (contractors) working for the military, then it might cover her. Don't get me wrong I see this as an attack on free speech, but if I am reading this law correctly then the gov. might have a leg to stand on. Someone better at reading law jibberish, please tell me I am wrong and why.



www.dangerouscitizen.com...
CURRENT LAW

TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 115 - TREASON, SEDITION,
AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES

Sec. 2388. Activities affecting armed forces during war

(a) Whoever, when the United States is at war, willfully makes or conveys false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies; or

Whoever, when the United States is at war, willfully causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or willfully obstructs the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, to the injury of the service or the United States, or attempts to do so--

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both. [quote/]



posted on Mar, 8 2006 @ 11:23 PM
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I heard from a very reliable source today that Laura Berg received a personal apology from a high ranking official at the local VA. I think she is going to be satisfied with that. Her career is intact. The big dogs beat a hasty retreat.



posted on Mar, 9 2006 @ 03:18 AM
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Wow thanks Grady, I find it rather wonderful that I heard it here at ATS before I heard it elsewhere. I'm so glad they realized they had went too far. Do you think it's because this has gotten so much attention?



posted on Mar, 9 2006 @ 03:41 AM
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Absolutely, according to my source. They really had nothing against her legally and to compensate they went in "like goons" during work hours and removed her computer, which belongs to the government, by the way, in an attempt to intimidate her.

She was not as blameless as some might suggest, because she identified herself in the letter in question as a VA nurse. I think that's what got the local administration upset.

The administration handled it extremely insensitively and the media coverage caused them much in the way of embarrassment. So according to my source, who knows these things, she is sitting rather pretty right now, while the administration has egg on their faces.

I can see both sides. She should not have written such a vitriolic letter which included her job description. That embarrassed the VA. The HR people should have called her into the office, sat her down and discussed just what the heck she was thinking, instead of going into her office without warning like Elliott Ness and his gangbusters.

But, with the ACLU behind her and the media coverage she came out looking like a victim of Big Brother, which is an image the system doesn't really want to portray.

I hope both she and the VA learned a lesson from this.



posted on Mar, 10 2006 @ 02:16 AM
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Well GP, I hope your info is correct and the retreat is soon complete and the apology is sincere. And three cheers for the ACLU!

However I disagree with you that she did something wrong. She represented herself as a nurse at the VA because it was pertinent to her experience which informed her belief that the war was wrong. The fact that her experience and position enhanced the weight of her argument should not be held against her. As they admitted, there was no evidence she wrote the letter on company time or with company resources.

An individual should be supported when they are govt. employees and come forward with information and opinions which are seemingly harmful to the govt's goals provided they do not reveal legitimate govt. secrets, such as the identity of a CIA covert agent. This govt. is duplicitous in so many ways it boggles the mind.

Your suggestionl that she should have learned a lesson serves to support the govt's chilling of dissent when the govt. is really and truly going Big Brother as fast as it possibly can. And in case you didn't notice, I couldn't disagree with you more on that issue.



posted on Mar, 10 2006 @ 03:01 AM
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You obviously did not read my response carefully enough. I was not so much assigning blame as I was enumerating some of the aggravating circumstances, which included both sides in this issue. I am often disappointed that people will post a disagreement with my positions when they have not adequately perused or pondered my posts.

My source is rock solid.



posted on Mar, 10 2006 @ 12:03 PM
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On the contrary. I read the entire post and was responding specifically to the part of your post that stated:


She was not as blameless as some might suggest, because she identified herself in the letter in question as a VA nurse.


This suggests that she was at least partly to blame for identifying her personal and professional experiences as a VA nurse in support of her position on the subject of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. If you wish to retract your assertion that she was somehow at fault I will withdraw my criticism of your position.



posted on Mar, 10 2006 @ 12:39 PM
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It was my intention to draw attention to the fact that she was accountable in some measure for the problem. Responsibility or blame are different than legal culpability. I never said that her action justified the over the top response of the VA management.



posted on Mar, 10 2006 @ 12:58 PM
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This individual used a government-owned computer system, presumably during working hours, to generate an anti-government article for this periodical. She also made sure that she identified herself as a government employee.

All government employees that utilize computer systems in the performance of their jobs do so with the understanding that the system is to be used for official use only, and that no personal business or affairs will be conducted using said system. Most employees sign waivers to that effect, and can be instantly terminated for violations of this policy. Every computer system is configured with warning signs to this effect. For example, in the DoD, every computer system flashes the following warning banner during system logon:

"Use of this or any other DoD interest computer system constitutes consent to monitoring at all times.

This is a DoD interest computer system. All DoD interest computer systems and related equipment are intended for the communication, transmission, processing, and storage of official U.S. Government or other authorized information only. All DoD interest computer systems are subject to monitoring at all times to ensure proper functioning of equipment and systems including security devices and systems, to prevent unauthorized use and violations of statutes and security regulations, to deter criminal activity, and for other similar purposes. Any user of a DoD interest computer system should be aware that any information placed in the system is subject to monitoring and is not subject to any expectation of privacy.

If monitoring of this or any other DoD interest computer system reveals possible evidence of violation of criminal statutes, this evidence and any other related information, including identification information about the user, may be provided to law enforcement officials. If monitoring of this or any other DoD interest computer systems reveals violations of security regulations or unauthorized use, employees who violate security regulations or make unauthorized use of DoD interest computer systems are subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

Use of this or any other DoD interest computer system constitutes consent to monitoring at all times".

If the woman wants to be a crank, that fine. But be a crank on your own time using you own computer and your own e-mail address. They taxpayers do not subsidize individual policial activisst while they are supposed to be working......







 
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