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V.A. Nurse Accused of Sedition After Publishing Letter Critical of Bush on Katrina, Iraq
A Veterans Affairs nurse in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was investigated for sedition after she wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. In her first broadcast interview, we speak with Laura Berg, as well as an attorney with the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate has moved one step closer to renewing the Patriot Act. The Senate voted 84 to 15 on Wednesday to end a filibuster led by Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin. After Wednesday's vote, Feingold proceeded to read the Bill of Rights from the Senate floor. Feingold has long called on the Senate to add measures to preserve civil liberties.
Here in Albuquerque, a local Veterans Affairs nurse has felt the crack down on civil liberties firsthand. In September, shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck, Laura Berg wrote a letter to the Alibi, a local newspaper, criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. Berg wrote, "as a VA nurse working with returning...vets, I know the public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder." She urged readers to, "act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit."
The response to Berg's letter was harsh. Her office computer was seized. 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."
To date the VA has yet to issue a public apology to Berg. But pressure is building. In Washington, New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman has asked Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson to thoroughly investigate the VA's actions. 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."
* Laura Berg, Veterans Affairs nurse in Albuquerque.
* Larry Kronen, attorney with the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.