In the first
installment of this series, I offered 42 names to begin what now seems an
endless – and ever growing – list of top officials as well as beleaguered administrators,
managers, and career civil servants who quit their government posts in protest
or were ridiculed, defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven
to retire by Bush administration strong-arm tactics, cronyism, and disastrous
policies. In the second
installment, I added what turned out to be a modest 175 further casualties
to the rolls of "the Fallen." With this latest installment, TomDispatch's tally
of the battling bureaucracy's casualties stands at approximately 243 – and rising
(so please continue to send your suggestions of deserving legionnaires to: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Despite this toll, now into the hundreds and counting, it seems that we've
barely scratched the surface. In fact, since the last installment, other commentators
have increased our knowledge of these folks by digging into what Tom Engelhardt
has aptly called the Bush administration's "war
with the bureaucracy" – a battle between the Bush administration and the
career civil servants (sometimes even Bush's own appointees), who constitute
"the only significant check-and-balance in our system since September 11, 2001."
In one such effort, Daniel Klaidman, Stuart Taylor Jr., and Evan Thomas, writing
for Newsweek chronicled a "Palace
Revolt" – a secret war waged not by black-ops troops in the wilds
of Waziristan, but behind closed doors in Washington where "loyal conservatives
and Bush appointees fought a quiet battle to rein in the president's power in
the war on terror." They profiled a number of the unlikely rebels, including:
Jack Goldsmith: A former assistant attorney general who, after working
in the general counsel's office at the Pentagon, was tapped to head the Justice
Department's powerful Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) – known as the "mini Supreme
Court" of the executive branch. There, his opinions against torture, among other
principled stands, brought him into direct conflict with David Addington, formerly
counsel (now chief of staff) to Vice President Dick Cheney. He became "a rallying
point for Justice Department lawyers who had legal qualms about the administration's
stance" that the president had near-absolute power and "the central figure in
a secret but intense rebellion of a small coterie of Bush administration lawyers."
All of this eventually led him to leave "his post in George W. Bush's Washington
to become a professor at Harvard Law School." Resigned, summer 2004.
James Comey: A former prosecutor and Bush nominee who served as deputy
attorney general from 2003-2005. In December 2003, after then-U.S. Attorney
General John Ashcroft recused
himself from a probe into the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity
(meant to discredit her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who
challenged White House justifications for the Iraq war), Comey appointed dogged
special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald. Then, during Ashcroft's hospitalization
in March 2004, as acting attorney general – and on the advice of his national-security
aide Patrick Philbin as well as Goldsmith – he further endeared himself to the
administration by refusing to reauthorize the president's illegal spying program,
angering White House figures from Addington to President Bush (who began referring
to Comey with various "put-down nicknames"). Resigned, summer 2005.
Patrick Philbin: A former OLC lawyer who then became national-security
aide to the deputy attorney general and was "the in-house favorite to become
deputy solicitor general. Philbin saw his chances of securing any administration
job derailed when Addington, who had come to see him as a turncoat on national-security
issues, moved to block him from promotion, with Cheney's blessing." He declined
comment to Newsweek but was reported to be "planning a move into the
private sector." Expected to resign soon.
Daniel Levin: A senior Justice Department lawyer who "fought pitched
battles with the White House" over the definitions of torture – "battles" which
"took their toll on his political future" and ultimately saw him leave to settle
into private practice. Resigned, 2005.
Newsweek noted that these "rebels were not whistle-blowers in the traditional
sense" nor were they "downtrodden career civil servants." They were actually
"conservative political appointees who had been friends and close colleagues
of some of the true believers they were fighting against." Despite their connections
to the administration, these public servants, at least in some cases, demanded
"that the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for
riding roughshod over the law" and "fought to bring government spying and interrogation
methods within the law."
Far from being atypical, these public servants, like their Fallen Legion sistren
and brethren, rebelled "at their peril" and some found themselves "ostracized
… were denied promotions, while others left for more comfortable climes in private
law firms and academia." Like others on (or soon to be added to) the Fallen
Legion list, they represent perhaps, the last bastion of viable opposition to
an almost totally unfettered administration. For years now, these bureaucrats
have stepped into the near-check-and-balance-less breach becoming a crucial
counterweight to an administration run amok – a counterweight of a sort the
founders of this country couldn't have imagined but surely would have applauded,
given their support for an elaborate system of checks and balances meant to
forestall the rise of tyranny and their antipathy to executive power, unnecessary
warmaking, and standing armies.
Some Fallen Legionnaires have merely been attacked and smeared but remain
in the fight, others have gone down swinging. Here are more for our ever expanding
roll of honor, starting with a couple of other casualties of David Addington,
who "[e]ven in a White House known for its dedication to conservative philosophy,"
Milbank in the Washington Post back in 2004, "is known as an ideologue,
an adherent of an obscure philosophy called the unitary executive theory that
favors an extraordinarily powerful president."
Matthew C. Waxman: The Pentagon's former chief adviser on detainee
issues was also set upon by Addington, who objected to his "insistence
that a new set of Pentagon standards for handling terror suspects adopt language
from the Geneva Conventions barring cruel, humiliating, and degrading treatment."
quit" and moved to the State Department where he now serves as principal
deputy director of the department's policy planning staff. Quit the Pentagon,
John B. Bellinger III: The chief legal adviser to then-National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice and another Addington-generated refugee to the State
Department. Bellinger was, during Bush's first term in office, a "special
target of Addington's needling" and, according to one colleague, was assailed
by him for espousing views that were "too liberal" or that gave "away executive
power." As a result, Bellinger left with Rice to be her legal adviser at the
State Department. Defamed, 2001-2004.
Russell Tice: A former intelligence agent with the National Security
Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Tice worked at the NSA up
until May of 2005 when, he
notes, he was "given [his] walking papers and told [he] was no longer a
federal employee." Tice, who worked on "special access" programs, what he and
other insiders called "black world programs and operations," publicly
blew the whistle on illegal NSA spying on U.S. citizens that began in 2002.
As he put it, "We need to clean up the intelligence community. We've had abuses,
and they need to be addressed." Tice also made charges about possible espionage
within the Defense Intelligence Agency and incompetence by the FBI. As a result,
he said, "retaliation came down on me like a ton of bricks." Fired, May 2005.
James Robertson: Until recently one of eleven federal judges serving
on the top secret the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts, Robertson submitted
his resignation – "in protest of [President Bush's illegal domestic
spying program] according to two sources familiar with his decision." As Carol
D. Leonnig and Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post reported, "Robertson
indicated privately to colleagues in recent conversations that he was concerned
that information gained from warrantless NSA surveillance could have then been
used to obtain FISA warrants." Said "one source, who spoke on the condition
of anonymity because of the classified nature of the FISA warrants, 'What I've
heard some of the judges say is they feel they've participated in a Potemkin
court.'" Resigned, December 2005.
Col. Ted Westhusing: A military ethics scholar and full professor at
West Point who – wrote T.
Christian Miller of the Los Angeles Times – "volunteered to serve
in Iraq to be able to better teach his students." While in Iraq, Westhusing
was tasked with overseeing USIS, a Virginia-based private security company with
$79 million in contracts, to "train a corps of Iraqi police to conduct special
operations." In the course of his duties, he received a report detailing corruption
and human rights violations by USIS and Iraqi police trainees. Wrote Miller,
"In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion
he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor, and country
had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely
heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military." Westhusing expressed
feelings disillusionment and talked of resigning his command. Then, less than
a month before his scheduled return home, Col. Ted Westhusing, according to
the Army, committed suicide with his service revolver. A note in his room severely
criticized his commanding officers and proclaimed, "I cannot support a msn [mission]
that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied. I came
to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more."
Committed suicide, June 5, 2005.
David Kay: The head of the Iraq Survey Group – the organization the
Bush administration tasked with locating Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq resigned from his position as chief weapons inspector
citing a lack of resources to complete the task. According to the
Boston Globe, he said "that he believed no such weapons existed and
that the failure to find them raised serious questions about the quality of
prewar intelligence." He added, "We are in grave danger of having destroyed
our credibility internationally and domestically with regard to warning about
future events. The answer is to admit you were wrong, and what I find most disturbing
around Washington … is the belief … you can never admit you're wrong." Resigned,
Michael Scheuer: A 22-year veteran of the CIA who worked in the Agency's
Counterterrorist Center and once headed its Osama bin Laden task force, he resigned
his post, wrote the Christian
Science Monitor, publicly "criticizing the Bush administration for going
to war in Iraq and for the way it has conducted the war on terror in general."
Scheuer, author of Imperial
Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, a book critical of
the Bush administration's counterterrorism policy (written under the pen name
of the situation at the CIA at the time of his resignation:
"I've never experienced this much anxiety and controversy. Suddenly
political affiliation matters to some degree. The talk is that they're out to
clean out Democrats and liberals. The administration doesn't seem to be able
to come to grips with the reality that it was a stupid thing to do to invade
Iraq... If it goes too far like this into the political realm our fortunes overseas
are going to be hurt."
Resigned, November 2004
Lt. Colonel Steve Butler: The vice chancellor for student affairs at
the Defense Language Institute, he had a letter published in the May 26, 2002,
County Herald in which he said, "Of course Bush knew about the impending
attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed
this war on terrorism. His daddy had Saddam and he needed Osama." As a result,
the Ph.D. and former combat pilot was relieved of duties at the DLI and threatened
with court-martial. In the end, an Air Force spokesperson intimated that Butler
would most likely face "administrative
or nonjudicial disciplinary action." Further details have never been made public.
Suspended from his duties, May/June 2002.
Clark Kent Ervin: The improbably-named Houston Republican with close
ties to the Bush family, he served as associate director of policy for the White
House Office of National Service from 1989 to 1991 under President George H.W.
Bush, then, under President George W. Bush, as inspector general at the State
Department. In December 2003, when Congress was out of session, he was appointed
the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. According to a
report by ABC News, "Clark
Ervin made himself very unpopular by issuing a series of stinging reports
on security programs that he said had failed, officials he called inept, and
fraud that he suspected." He alleged that millions of dollars had been
wasted or were unaccounted for by the department and exposed lax
airport security (undercover investigators were able to sneak explosives
and weapons past screeners); federal air marshals who were sleeping on the job
and tested positive for alcohol or drugs while on duty; and lavish spending
by the Transportation Security Administration ("executive bonuses of $16,477
to 88 of its 116 senior managers in 2003, an amount one-third higher than the
bonuses given to executives at any other federal agency"; $1,500 paid for
three cheese displays and $3.75 for each soft drink served at a TSA banquet).
After reporting these findings, among other unwelcome information, Ervin failed
to be renominated when his term as IG expired. Asked for comment, White House
spokesman Scott McClellan, stated, "I don't get into speculating about who might
be nominated," adding only the obligatory, "We appreciate the job he has done."
Failed to be reappointed, December 2004.
Nick Turse is the associate editor and research director of TomDispatch.com.
He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle,
the Nation, the Village Voice, Daily Ireland, and writes
regularly for TomDispatch. If you have further legionnaires to recommend for
our series, please send them to the address below with the subject line: "fallen
legion." If you have whistles to blow yourself, or have confidential and unexposed
muck you think Nick should rake, send your insider information with the subject
line: "info" to email@example.com
Copyright 2006 Nick Turse