Tuesday, December 14, 2004

CDC Director's missing vertebrae

A Pacific News Service story, "Iranians say they're harrassed by U.S. security agencies" is of particular interest here because it recounts the case of NIOSH employees Aliakbar Afshari and Shahla Azadi, an Iranian couple recently fired without explanation and allowed no appeal. According to the Pacific News Service story,
Afshari and Azadi have been permanent residents for 17 years and NIOSH employees in [the NIOSH facility] in Morgantown [West Virginia] for seven. In May they were told, to their surprise, that they failed a background check and were escorted from the premises. Each had passed a previous check. They were told documentation of the recent check was classified.

Their attorney, Allan Karlin, resorted to the Freedom of Information Act, but the FBI said it had no related documents in Washington and are looking in other places. He says the government made no attempt to interview the couple’s co-employees and superiors. He learned that the Department of Homeland Security ordered the background check on individuals from “threat countries to the United States,” which includes Iran.

Karlin obtained 20 letters from diverse sources testifying to the couple’s upstanding characters.
We have become so inured to a federal terror bureaucracy run amok we forget to ask, "Why is the head of NIOSH's parent agency, CDC, letting this happen without a peep?" CDC Director Julie Gerberding has an obligation to defend and protect the many dedicated public servants at NIOSH from this kind of Kafkaesque crap. At the very least, she could have publicly insisted on due process.

Diagnosis: Absent spinal column.
Treatment plan: Backbone transplant.

Update, 12/17/04: For some follow-up and additional commentary see Jordan Barab's Confined Space site. Excellent (as usual).