Vindication for Laura Berg, the VA nurse in Albuquerque who was investigated by her boss for “sedition” because she criticized Bush in a letter to the editor of her weekly newspaper. R. James Nicholson, the secretary of Veteran Affairs in Washington, D.C., responded on March 14 to Senator Jeff Bingaman, who had expressed his concern about Berg’s treatment.
“Let me be clear: Her letter to the editor did not amount to sedition,” Nicholson wrote to Bingaman. “The use of the word ‘sedition’ was not appropriate. . . . No further action has been taken or will be taken related to the employee in this matter.”
Berg also received an apology from the facility director, he said, and “appropriate action” was taken against Berg’s boss who leveled the sedition charge, Nicholson added.
“This is exactly the kind of acknowledgment we wanted to receive,” says Peter Simonson, executive director of the New Mexico ACLU. “It provides some confirmation that activities like this weren’t being broadly perceived as threats to national security, which, as preposterous as it sounds, appears to have been the mentality of at least one administrator at the VA.”
Simonson praises Berg for standing up for her rights.
“A lesser person would have buckled under the scrutiny or pressure, or simply not raised the issue at all,” Simonson says.
“It’s a victory,” says Berg. “I’m vindicated. We still do have First Amendment rights in this country. Let’s please all of us make use of them. Speak clearly and strongly.”