If you were to pose that question to Tamarah Grimes, a former paralegal in the DOJ's Middle District of Alabama, she almost certainly would reply, "Heck, no!"
Grimes blew the whistle on prosecutorial misconduct in the case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, which took place under the Bush regime. But much of the abuse Grimes has suffered as a result has happened on Obama's watch.
Joan Brunwasser shines unflattering light on the Obama DOJ in a compelling two-part interview with Grimes at OpEd News. You can check out the full interview here and here.
What conclusions can we draw from Brunwasser's splendid piece? Failure to address abuses in the justice system is the great shame of the Obama presidency. And if the situation does not improve quickly--if Obama does not show some Alan Grayson-like guts on the matter--his presidency might be at risk.
As Grimes and Brunwasser make clear, it no longer is a matter of "looking back" at abuses under the Bush administration. The abuses are happening right now--under Obama. And there is little sign that they are going to be addressed anytime soon.
How long are progressives, who put Obama in the White House, going to tolerate an administration that turns a blind eye to grotesque abuses in the justice system.
How grotesque are the abuses? Consider that Grimes wrote a letter on June 1, 2009, to Eric Holder--Obama's attorney general--and eight days later, she was fired from her job. (See the complete letter to Holder below.)
It's hard to imagine a more clearcut case of unlawful retaliation. But the Obama Justice Department now is trying to ensure that Grimes does not receive unemployment benefits, and she has been denied health-care insurance--and she has a special-needs child! A hearing regarding Grimes' benefits was held on October 7, and a final decision has not been reached.
Is that change we can believe in? Is this the administration that is pushing for health-care reform? Sheez. Here is Grimes, from Brunwasser's story:
My honesty and integrity have been called into question, which has rendered me virtually unemployable in my field. I am not employed. My family has no income. I was without insurance for a few weeks while the government processed the conversion to COBRA benefits. In July, I applied for and received unemployment benefits. The Department of Justice has appealed on the premise that my termination was the result of misconduct connected with my employment.
If I lose unemployment benefits, I will be forced to repay the benefits I have received. This month I am unable to pay my mortgage. If I am unable to find a job in the very near future, foreclosure of our home is imminent. All of this pain and heartache is the result of my decision to speak out, to tell the truth, to perform my duty as a federal employee and defend the Constitution of the United States.
This is how the Obama administration rewards whistleblowers. And this comes after the Middle District of Alabama, led by Bush appointee Leura Canary (who still is on the job), had heaped abuse on Grimes:
I know firsthand how selective prosecutions are engineered in the Middle District of Alabama because it almost happened to me. When Leura Canary learned of my complaints, she summoned me to her office to attempt to threaten and intimidate me. According to her own sworn statement, on November 1, 2007, Canary socialized for several hours at the bar in the Embassy Suites Hotel with her cousin and colleagues from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in Washington DC.
During that time, the group discussed my complaints and began to speculate on what I might have done, or could have done. The next day, on the basis of nothing more than this baseless speculation, I was referred for criminal investigation. After two unsuccessful attempts to subject me to selective criminal prosecution in the Middle District of Georgia, I was terminated for my denials that I had done what I was accused of. According to DOJ, my continued assignment posed an unnecessary and unacceptable risk to operational security. I was escorted from the building by security and told not to return.
Did this make a lick of sense? Nope:
I waited three long weeks to learn why. The answer is equally stunning. I was no longer "afforded the opportunity to gain access, to Secret and/or Confidential NSI (National Security Information) or grand jury information." My job in the civil division did not involve Secret or Confidential National Security Information and, as a civil employee, I am precluded by statute from accessing grand jury information. In other words, my employment was terminated because I could no longer access material that I am neither required nor legally entitled to access as part of my job!
Then Grimes had to watch the DOJ's Office of Special Counsel, reporting to Obama, issue a report stating her allegations were "unsubstantiated." Never mind that she had presented e-mails that proved Canary had not recused herself from the Siegelman case as she had claimed:
In reading the Office of Special Counsel report [that dismissed Grimes's claims of prosecutorial misconduct], I am reminded of the famous children's fable The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. Like the prime minister in the story, Interim Special Counsel William E. Reukauf would have you believe that the actions of the Department of Justice are irrefutable--even in the face of e-mail communications which clearly contradict its position--so much so that only the incompetent and unreasonable fail to recognize its merits.
Like the emperor, I feel duped by the Office of Special Counsel. Federal employees have access to the Office of Special Counsel's whistleblower's website which prominently features its whistleblower duties. Relying upon the information I obtained from the Office of Special Counsel website, I placed my trust, my career, my entire life and the lives of my family in the hands of the Office of Special Counsel on the premise that whistleblowers are protected from retaliation by federal law. Based upon my personal experience, nothing can be further from the truth.
Grimes also has had to endure insults from federal prosecutors, who now theoretically answer to Holder and Obama, claiming she had not made her allegations under oath. What is the truth about that matter?
I have been called a "coward" and a liar by federal prosecutors Louis Franklin, Steve Feaga and J.B. Perrine because I have not given testimony under oath. As these career prosecutors well know, I am prohibited by statute (18 USC 207) from giving testimony under oath to any court or federal official on behalf of any party other than the United States in any matter in which I had substantial participation. This is a lifetime prohibition. I can only surmise that calling me names for not testifying under oath was an attempt to provoke me into breaking the law so that they could attempt a third criminal prosecution against me.
Are these the actions of honest and ethical federal prosecutor who hold themselves to a higher standard as representatives of the Department of Justice--or are these representative of the less-than-honorable conduct these prosecutors have exhibited all along?
Why is madness still going on in the Middle District of Alabama? Why has Team Obama been so reluctant to clean up the cesspool? Grimes offers a possible answer. And it points a finger directly at U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL):
I think the appointment of Sen. Sessions to chair the Judiciary [Committee] is a key factor in the holdovers, especially Leura Canary, who is a Sessions protegé. Sen. Sessions wields a great deal of influence with the Republican minority. The Obama Administration favors diplomacy and appears somewhat hesitant to follow through on some key issues. The Administration certainly has a clear majority to pursue its agenda without Republican support should it choose to do so. I suspect that there have been some concessions made on some issue which allow the holdovers to remain in office.
Grimes Letter to Holder