Laura Berg, a nurse working for the Veterans Administration, had her work computer seized after writing a letter to the editor that stated, “We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.”
Apparently, the rationale for the seizure was that “government equipment was used inappropriately…during government time for drafting an editorial letter.” This, despite the fact that there was no basis to suspect this whatsoever (and no evidence emerged to support this conclusion after the computer was seized). To top that, Mel Hooker, Chief of Human Resource Management Service at the VA, actually used the word “sedition” in a memo to Berg justifying the action.
Needless to say, the ACLU is up in arms over this, and their press release regarding Laura Berg has gotten a fair amount of media coverage. The ACLU says, “From all appearances, the seizure of her work computer was an act of retaliation and a hardball attempt to scare Laura into silence.” I’ve got to agree with them here. As Dave says: watch your back (especially if you’re a federal employee who works with returning Iraq war veterans).
So, the question for me is, who gave the order to seize her computer? The results of the ACLU’s FOIA request should be quite interesting. Has the Executive Branch of the Federal Government become so sensitized to criticism of the incumbent administration, that the folks working within it are taking initiative to suppress dissent on their own… or did these orders come from someone in the White House, pissed off that a federal employee would dare criticize the Bush Administration and advocate its removal from power? Either way, there’s cause for concern.