Silencing Siobhan

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As a former
collegiate middle-distance runner, I have a high tolerance for pain.
In fact, I only have "lost it" one time, and that was
when I showed up in the emergency room with a kidney stone. (At
that point, I realized that if I were tortured, I would talk.)

Thank goodness,
a friend of mine was the ER doctor on call and he quickly gave me
four hits of morphine, which quickly quieted me and made the rest
of the morning a bit more tolerable. It was only the second time
I had taken morphine, and both times the alternative was experiencing
pain beyond my toleration limits.

When I was
in graduate school at Auburn University, my wife worked as a counselor
at a local hospital, and one of her clients was a man who was 92
years old who had been put into care because he was "suicidal."
What had driven him to such a state? The government said he was
"addicted" to pain medication and denied him the drugs
that kept him from being in a state of constant pain.

Unfortunately,
this man's story is the story of a lot of people in this country
who live in agony due to health conditions or have complications
post-surgery that leave them debilitated. Siobhan Reynolds had a
husband with a serious congenital connective disorder who seemed
to be responding to treatment from Dr. William Hurwitz, who then
was a highly-respected pain specialist practicing in Virginia.

Unfortunately
for both Soibhan's husband and Dr. Hurwitz, Paul
McNulty
was the U.S. attorney in that area and he had dedicated
himself to the directives from then-Attorney General John Ashcroft,
which ramped up not only the Drug War but also the entire culture
of lying and misconduct that now is utterly out of control at the
U.S. Department of Justice (sic). One of the areas of emphasis for
the McNulty-Ashcroft DOJ was going after doctors writing pain prescriptions,
and Dr. Hurwitz's high profile made him the perfect target for the
feds.

Harvey Silverglate
gives the case a lot of attention in his outstanding Three
Felonies a Day
. McNulty's efforts to destroy Dr. Hurwitz
also translated into an effort to destroy those patients who had
responded positively to the doctor's treatments, and one of those
patients was Siobhan's husband Sean.

Two years after
Dr. Hurwitz was convicted by a federal jury, Sean died of a cerebral
brain hemorrhage, and whether or not it was due to the fact that
his debilitating pain elevated his blood pressure to dangerous levels,
nonetheless he was dead and his wife blamed the feds. Unlike many
people who just accept federally-sponsored injustices and just go
away, Siobhan Reynolds fought back by establishing the Pain Relief
Network, which became a voice in support of doctors accused by federal
prosecutors of writing pain prescriptions that, according to the
government, "have no medical purpose."

Ironically,
physicians do not determine what constitutes a "medical purpose."
That is done by political appointees and bureaucrats at the Drug
Enforcement Administration and DOJ, even though none of them are
medically qualified to make such judgments. However, they are "politically-qualified,"
and they do have the power and authority to destroy the lives of
others, and many of them revel in just that.

Ms. Reynolds
was not someone who would be silenced, and her efforts grabbed notice
from both Newsweek
and the New
York Times
. Among the things she did was to publicize
the problems inherent in targeting pain specialists and she also
provided information for doctors under investigation by the government's
drug warriors.

Unfortunately
for Ms. Reynolds and for all of the people she had helped, the feds
decided that the last thing they wanted was a public critic who
might actually be responsible for holding federal prosecutors and
investigators responsible for what they were doing and saying. When
Ms. Reynolds and the Pain Relief Network decided to support Stephen
and Linda Schneider, who were on trial in Kansas for (What else?)
writing pain medication prescriptions that "had no medical
purpose, federal prosecutor Tanya Treadway fought back by abusing
the law.

Treadway unsuccessfully
demanded a gag order against Ms. Reynolds and the PRN, and then
sought a change of venue, which the judge in the case also refused.
Undaunted, Treadway first started a campaign of harassing Dr. Schneider's
patients and then Treadway decided to seek possible criminal charges
for "obstruction of justice" against Ms. Reynolds.

What makes
things even worse is that Treadway is demanding that the
grand jury proceedings and material be kept secret. The irony should
not be lost here. Federal prosecutors are notorious for leaking
grand jury material when it helps their cases. For example,
the reason Martha Stewart even met with federal investigators (the
meeting that was ground zero for the charges against her) without
counsel was because U.S. Attorney James Comey's staff illegally
was leaking grand jury material to the media in order to damage
the stock price of Martha Stewart Living.

(While it is
a felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison for leaking
grand jury material, no federal prosecutor ever has been indicted
or convicted of such acts, despite the fact that this is a known
and regular practice of the feds. So, Treadway is able to pursue
a "Heads I win, tails you lose" strategy, given that she
does not have to worry about accountability.)

The investigation
has depleted the funds for the PRN and Ms. Reynolds finally
shut it down
. In announcing the closing of her organization,
Ms. Reynolds pointed out the legal irony in a recent Facebook post:

It is important
to note that PRN has been refused standing in federal court to
sue the federal government in defense of the patients' Constitutional
rights; this, when the Sierra Club has been given leave to sue
powerful entities on behalf of insects.

She closes
with this warning:

The Drug
War is a beast. I believe that the only effort that has a chance
at changing the current state of affairs is the Liberty Movement,
informally led by Congressman Ron Paul. (Emphasis mine)

Thus, it ends
for Siobhan Reynolds. A federal prosecutor is trying to bring criminal
charges against someone who simply had the courage to speak out
against prosecutorial misconduct and to stand up for those patients
who must suffer needlessly because, frankly, prosecutors want to
boost their own careers by destroying the lives of doctors, their
families, and their patients.

Ms.
Reynolds did not quit because she lost courage; she quite because
the government stacked the deck against her. She quit because a
federal prosecutor is able to manipulate the legal system and the
judges refuse to object to an obvious injustice.

Siobhan Reynolds
is a remarkable person, someone who has my full admiration and the
admiration of many other people. Furthermore, she has paid a real
price for standing up to the feds and now has exposed just what
a morally-bankrupt operation the U.S. Department of Justice (sic)
really is, and the feds do not take kindly to people who reveal
the immorality of federal prosecutors.

Indeed, the
Drug War is a beast, but it is a beast only because of the
beasts that inhabit that zoo known as the DOJ. The beasts at the
DOJ demonstrate the conscience of a snake and the morality of a
shark. Would be that Siobhan could have stood against them longer,
but even for that brief time, she was able to get out the message
that those who pursue the Drug War against doctors do not do so
because of concern for patients, but because the real purpose of
the DOJ is to destroy the innocent.

January
1, 2011

William
L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him
mail
], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland,
and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig
von Mises Institute
. He
also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit
his blog.

The
Best of William Anderson

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