As the American toll in Iraq climbs
toward 2,000 dead and 15,000 wounded, and the horror of those shortened or constricted
lives continues to sink deep into American communities, various memorials to
the fallen American soldiers, journalists,
contractors, and sometimes Iraqis as well have sprung to life. Arrays
of combat boots; labyrinths and candlelit displays for the dead; actual walls
and "walls" on-line;
"walls" as well as walls of words; not to speak of websites with ever-growing
military and civilian
casualty counts. The American Friends Service Committee, for example, has
an exhibit, "Eyes Wide
Open," that has long traveled the country, featuring "a pair of boots honoring
each U.S. military casualty, a field of shoes and a Wall of Remembrance to memorialize
the Iraqis killed in the conflict, and a multimedia display exploring the history,
cost and consequences of the war." The exhibit began with just over 500 combat
boots and now features almost 2,000.
Informal memorials and citizens' efforts are part of the growing movement
against George Bush's Iraq War. Walls of every sort are being built. In Asheville,
North Carolina, for example, as part of a "peace
park," townspeople have been building their
own Iraq Wall with each "sponsored" stone representing one American who
has died there. Planned also is "a memorial to the Iraqi dead, presently estimated
at over 100,000." Sometimes these projects are very personal, even individual,
ranging from spontaneous displays of candles on beaches to, in the case of one
reader who wrote in to Tomdispatch, a garden/labyrinth of the American dead
built in her own backyard.
These "walls," each with its own character, all influenced by architect Maya
Lin's Vietnam Wall in Washington (which movingly reflected a grim American disaster
and defeat), are signs of a growing sense that this war is a horror and a dishonor
to which the honorable have fallen (a sense backed strongly by the latest opinion
But the particular dishonor this administration has brought down on our country
calls out for other "walls" as well. Perhaps, for instance, we need some negative
walls built, stone by miserable stone, to cronyism, corruption, and incompetence.
In the next few weeks (as in the last few), we seem certain to see the dishonor
of this administration spread around widely. In addition to the Iraq situation,
ever devolving into further chaos
and anarchy, there was, of course, the recent catastrophic failure of FEMA;
then the squalid fall of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as "the Hammer" got
hammered. There is the ongoing fiasco of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's
sale of family stock in a "blind trust" just before its price plummeted. He's
now under investigation for possible violations of insider trading laws and
has just subpoenaed his "personal records and documents." Soon, it seems, there
will be dishonor to
go around as the expected Fitzgerald indictments in the Plame case come
down. (Caught in the crosshairs of Plame case scandal is the New York Times,
a paper tied in knots and at war with itself, which managed to loose both former
Ambassador Joseph Wilson's famed op-ed on Saddam's nonexistent Niger yellowcake
and Judith Miller, the near-neocon journalist whose reporting helped
bring us to the edge of the Iraq War. To catch up on this aspect of things,
make sure to read Jay Rosen's remarkable recent columns at his PressThink
With all this in mind, it seems a worthwhile endeavor to remind the world
of those who opposed an administration whose actions, in the end, are likely
to make the no-bid
Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s look like a tempest in... well, a teapot
in the no-bid Halliburton era. Bernard Weiner of the
Crisis Papers blog has already written a kind of verbal "wall" to honor
those mainly journalists and bloggers of every sort who fought
to hold the line against this administration in media bad times and are here
to watch the process of rollback happen. At Tomdispatch, we had another idea.
Below Nick Turse has created the beginnings of a "wall" to quite a different
legion of the fallen; in this case, the governmental casualties of Bush administration
follies, those men and women who were honorable or steadfast enough in their
government duties that they found themselves with little alternative but to
resign in protest, quit, or simply be pushed off the cliff by cronies of this
administration. Here are the first 42 names of those we thought might be put
on such a wall (and brief descriptions of their fates).
The Fallen Legion
Casualties of the Bush Administration
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
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
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,
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,
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
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, not security."
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 10,
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
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 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,
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 resignation:
"…[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,
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 Guantánamo
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 Guantánamo
Bay were unjust. Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.
Colonel Douglas Macgregor: He retired from the U.S. Army and stated:
love the army and I was sorry to leave it. But I saw no possibility of fundamentally
positive reform and reorganization 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,
John W. Carlin: According to the Washington Post, Carlin,
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 19, 2003.
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,
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
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
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
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."
"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,
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
"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 Todd] Whitman."
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, November 2003.
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
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 other topics.
Copyright 2005 Nick Turse