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Among other things, Morris Davis, retired United States Air Force Colonel, is an expert on military commissions. He served as Chief Prosecutor for the Guantanamo military commissions. He resigned from the position and retired from active duty last year and took a job with the Congressional Research Office (CRO) running the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division.

Last month Davis wrote an op-ed for the WSJ where he criticized the Administration’s decision to try some detainees via military commissions and others in civilian courts  . Davis wrote: “The administration must choose. Either federal courts or military commissions, but not both, for the detainees that deserve to be prosecuted and punished for their past conduct.” Davis defended the Military Commission system, asserting that it satisfied the Geneva Conventions.

According to CRO rules Davis’ op ed was permitted because his department did not research military commissions and Gitmo. But apparently freedom of speech is banned for people who work in the CRO, Davis was fired for disagreeing with the Democratic Congress and the President.

Morris Davis, the assistant director of the Congressional Research Service’s foreign policy and defense division and the former chief prosecutor of the U.S. military commissions, says that the American Civil Liberties Union plans to challenge his dismissal in a letter to CRS’s longtime director, Daniel Mulhollan, on Friday. The letter will contend that Mulhollan violated Davis’s First Amendment rights to free speech by firing him and will threaten the service with a lawsuit if he is not reinstated, says an ACLU spokeswoman.

“The irony is we’re located in the Madison Building,” says Davis, referring to the office building across the street from the Capitol where CRS is headquartered. “It’s named for the man who wrote the First Amendment.”

Asked for comment, Janine D’Addario, a spokesman for CRS and for its director, says that “as a matter of professional courtesy and out of respect for the confidentiality” of the staff, “CRS will not comment on personnel-related matters.”

But another CRS official (who asked not to be identified because of the issue’s sensitivity) confirms Davis’s firing and says it reflects persistent tensions between Mulhollan and some members of his staff over how far they can go in making public comments or publishing articles that might prove controversial with members of Congress. Another CRS researcher got into a similar dispute and was transferred to another job after publishing a newspaper op-ed criticizing congressional oversight of the Iraq War, the official notes.

“The director has a paranoid fear that somebody somewhere is going to say something” that draws criticism from members of Congress, says the CRS official. “The director is very strict about us giving out our personal views or taking a position on issues.”

..Davis, who resigned as the chief prosecutor for the U.S. military commission in 2007 over disputes about the fairness of the process, did not have specific responsibility for research on Guantánamo issues, the subject of his op-ed. Those are handled by another CRS unit, the Law division.

Davis says his problems with his boss arose on the evening of Nov. 10, after he alerted Mulhollan in an e-mail that The Wall Street Journal was about to publish an op-ed he had written about Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try the accused 9/11 conspirators in federal court while bringing others, including the alleged architect of the U.S.S. Cole bombing, to trial before revived military commissions. 

At the same time, Davis alerted Mulhollan that The Washington Post would be publishing a letter to the editor from him the next day taking President Bush’s former attorney general Michael Mukasey to task for publicly criticizing Holder for trying any detainees at all in federal court. In the letter, Davis accused Mukasey of “fear-mongering worthy of former Vice President Dick Cheney” for warning about the security concerns of trying the 9/11 defendants in federal court. The letter identified Davis the same way as the Journal op-ed did, as the former “chief prosecutor of the military commissions.” But neither publication made any mention of his current affiliation with CRS.

Shortly after he sent the e-mail, Davis says, he got an angry phone call from Mulhollan in which the CRS director asked him, “What the hell did I think I was doing? How would Congress react to this?” At a later 30-minute meeting in Mulhollan’s office, Davis says the CRS director demanded that he apologize and admit he was wrong for going public on the military commission issue. But Davis says he refused, specifically citing CRS regulations that permit officials to speak and write on areas outside the scope of their official duties

But Davis says that Mulhollan, citing a Wikipedia search he had conducted, had concluded that some of the reports that Davis’s division had conducted had indeed mentioned “military commissions,” and that therefore, Mulhollan was taking “disciplinary action”—specifically dismissing him, effective Dec. 21, when his one-year probationary period as a CRS employee expired.

Wait a second you mean to tell me that the guy made a personnel decision based on Wikopedia?  I wouldn’t make a blog decision based on Wikopedia. 

Davis says that he was later told that Mulhollan, in a meeting with other CRS staff members, said that he had gotten complaints from “across the street” over Davis’s articles, a reference to members of Congress. “He doesn’t want to see anybody from CRS in the headlines,” says Davis about his boss.

It is clear that Morris Davis is being denied his constitutional rights, and that his boss Mr Mulhollan needs to find some other method besides Wikopedia to make Human Resource decisions. This another absurd example of your tax dollars at work.

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