Now I'm not one to go about sticking up for federal employees, as I worked on-site as a contractor at a federal facility, where some of the folks I worked with were what I termed "professional welfare recipients" due to their utter lack of work (not all of them, but close to 40% of the folks I knew). However, I will defend them against what I found from the Environmental Resource Center, and it's a doozy:
Federal climate, weather, and marine scientists will be subject to new restrictions as to what they can say to the media or in public, according to agency documents released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under rules posted last week, these federal scientists must obtain agency pre-approval to speak or write, whether on or off-duty, concerning any scientific topic deemed “of official interest.”
And how, you ask, does this affect normal citizens?
Any “fundamental research communication” must “before the communication occurs” be submitted to and approved by the designated “head of the operating unit.” While the directive states that approval may not be withheld “based on policy, budget, or management implications of the research,” it does not define these terms and limits any appeal to within Commerce;
National Weather Service employees are allowed only “as part of their routine responsibilities to communicate information about the weather to the public”; and scientists must give the Commerce Department at least two weeks “advance notice” of any written, oral or audiovisual presentation prepared on their own time if it “is a matter of official interest to the department because it relates to department programs, policies, or operations.” (emphasis mine)
Or should we fear what happened to this guy:
"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said." (emphasis mine)
And this guy was a retired Colonel from the Marine Corps and here's what he had to say about his run-in with the First Amendment haters:
"I confess to having been furious that any American citizen would be singled out for governmental harassment because he or she criticized any elected official, Democrat or Republican. That harassment is, in and of itself, a flagrant violation not only of the First Amendment but also of our entire scheme of constitutional government. This effort to punish a critic states my lecture's argument far more eloquently and forcefully than I ever could. Further, that an administration headed by two men who had "had other priorities" than to risk their own lives when their turn to fight for their country came up, should brand as a threat to the United States a person who did not run away but stood up and fought for his country and was wounded in battle, goes beyond the outrageous. Although less lethal, it is of the same evil ilk as punishing Ambassador Joseph Wilson for criticizing Bush's false claims by "outing" his wife, Valerie Plaime, thereby putting at risk her life as well as the lives of many people with whom she had had contact as an agent of the CIA. ..."
So I guess when you add this to this, we live in dark times, and I fear it is only going to get worse.