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Meet Tom Fiscus
By Karen Bradley
The story I am about to tell has been only ONE of a series of stories we hear about in passing; stories about the bullying and McCarthyism that characterizes the Bush Administration. This particular story came to us through several pathways, the first one being my friend Bev.
Bev came to DC while my husband and I were working on the Kerry campaign and she introduced me to her good friend, Carolyn, who was married to a Judge Advocate General. We had a lively conversation about John Kerry's campaign and thoroughly enjoyed the "girl-time" we had. Four years later, Bev emailed me.
Do you remember my friend Carolyn, she asked? I did, vaguely. Bev told me Carolyn's husband was having a good deal of trouble and perhaps we could suggest help. I sent her to Jesselyn Radack's site and Daily Kos because I knew that a number of Bush whistleblowers were getting together for support and action.
Over the weeks that followed, Tom began to share his story with Jesselyn and with other online activists, and eventually it all came back to us, in DC. We have waited to tell it because we wanted Tom to tell it first. It's his story and it needs to be heard.
Yesterday he launched his website.
For nearly 37 years I was privileged to wear the uniform of my country. I wore it in Vietnam as an Air Force Academy cadet, in Germany during the Cold War, in Saudi Arabia for Operation Southern Watch and in the Pentagon on Sep 11, 2001. During the last 2 ½ years of that career, I was proud to have reached the pinnacle of my profession by serving as The 14th Judge Advocate General of the United States Air Force, the senior uniformed lawyer of that service.
If you have read accounts of the end of my military service, you saw how I was investigated by the Inspector General based on an anonymous allegation of unprofessional relationships. I was then punished under the very system I had upheld and defended for my entire professional life as a judge advocate. Some initial media accounts of the investigation noted the conflict between me and high ranking civilians in the Bush administration over torture and the detainee interrogations at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Since the media didn't know what they were on to, DOD officials quickly overwhelmed that thread. With a skill developed by much practice, the DOD leaked carefully selected half-truths from the incomplete investigation to poison the public perception of me.
Sid Blumenthal wrote about the case, and then went on to other stories. Jane Mayer wrote a piece for The New Yorker but it was scotched at the last minute. She does not know why. ABC News and 60 Minutes both initiated stories and then dropped them.
Meanwhile, Tom remains in a kind of limbo, unable to practice law and finding that rumors and innuendo follow him everywhere. We have inquired in high places and been met with serious pushback in the form of cautions, but they are cautions without real information. In other words, no one is talking, and everyone APPEARS nervous. Now there could be many reasons for this, ranging from insiders knowing something we don't know to serious threats against anyone who talks about this story.
And truly, my friends, Tom's story IS only one of many many peeks into how the Bush administration has operated. I am sure it is not even the worst story. But to quote him once again:
So much of what happened in my case, from the filing of the bizarre anonymous complaint against me, to my forced retirement as a colonel, was the product of outright illegal reprisal by senior civilian and military personnel in DOD. To challenge that reprisal in a calmer atmosphere, I filed a complaint of reprisal in November 2006. My complaint explains why those political appointees and some of my uniformed leadership wanted me crushed and shows the steps they took to effect the assassination of my career.
The complaint was filed over a year ago, I am still awaiting action. My efforts to engage my Congressional delegation have been fruitless with Senator Gordon Smith's (R-OR) office agreeing only to act as a conduit for communications received from the DOD. Neither Senator Ronald Wyden D-OR) or Congressman David Wu (D-OR) even acknowledged my requests for assistance. Despite all we have learned about the operation of the Bush administration in the three years since my case arose, people still have a hard time accepting that the Administration acts the way it does - the way it did in my case and so many others.
Tom is a warm and high-minded man, and he wants his story to be known, if only so people will continue to awaken and be aware of what has been done in the name of democratic freedoms. Please help us to share his tale. Let newspapers know, write letters and let Tom know via his site what you are doing.
Thank you, from those in the future who will benefit from truths over lies.