The Alarmingly Secretive Persecution of Siobhan Reynolds

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

I posted here last year on Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Treadway’s vendetta against pain patient advocate Siobhan Reynolds. Reynolds’ transgression was to publicly question Treadway’s prosecution of Kansas pain specialist Steven Schneider and his wife.

Treadway, no slouch at playing the media herself, first sought a gag order preventing Reynolds from criticizing the state’s case in public. She then sent federal agents to intimidate the patients speaking out on Schneider’s behalf. When all that failed, she launched a grand jury investigation into Reynolds, demanding Reynolds turn over a mountain of documents related to her advocacy. Treadway then sought, and was granted, an extraordinary seal on any and all documents related to the case. Reynolds isn’t permitted to share documentation from her case with anyone. She had to get permission just to let Reason and the Institute for Justice access the documents so they could submit an amicus brief on her behalf.

Reynolds’ case has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and the government is claiming some chilling powers. Here’s my colleague Jacob Sullum:

This level of secrecy, which the Associated Press says “has alarmed First Amendment supporters” who see it as “highly unusual” and “patently wrong,” is clearly not justified by the need to protect the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings. The 10th Circuit decided to seal even the Reason/I.J. amicus brief, which is based entirely on publicly available information. More generally, the gist of the case could have been discussed without revealing grand jury material, as Reynolds’ Supreme Court petition shows. Although the court-ordered redactions make the 10th Circuit’s reasoning as described in the petition hard to follow at times, the details generally can be filled in with information that has been reported in the press (which shows how silly the pretense of secrecy is). Furthermore, one of the main justifications for grand jury secrecy—that it protects innocent people who are investigated but never charged—does not apply in a case like this, where the target of the investigation wants more openness and it’s the government that is trying to hide information. As Corn-Revere argues, such secrecy turns the intended role of the grand jury on its head, making it an instrument of oppression instead of a bulwark against it….

I’d like to show you the Reason/I.J. brief defending Reynolds’ First Amendment rights, but I’m not allowed to!

Bonus points in this case for its ability to attract bipartisan authoritarianism:  Treadway is a Bush appointee, and this all got rolling under his watch. But the Obama administration is not only continuing the case against Reynolds, it’s also arguing in favor of keeping the case hidden from public scrutiny. There are no national security implications, here.  There are no government informants to protect (I guess we don’t know that for sure, but I can’t imagine why there would be, or why their names could be redacted). This is an obstruction investigation into a woman who has criticized the government for what she feels are wrongful prosecutions. It’s telling that Treadway, a federal prosecutor with a history of promoting the hell out of her cases, doesn’t want to anyone to know about this one.

But let’s recap: Treadway tried to censor Reynolds from criticizing her, Treadway, a federal prosecutor. She then tried to intimidate patients of the doctor Reynolds was advocating for from defending him. She then retaliated against Reynolds with a criminal investigation. And she has now gagged Reynolds and barred the public from knowing anything about that investigation. And thus far, on the latter two actions, the federal courts have backed her up.

This is scary stuff.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

55 Responses to “The Alarmingly Secretive Persecution of Siobhan Reynolds”

  1. #1 |  albatross | 

    Am I missing something, or is the Obama administration just about as into secrecy, persecuting whistleblowers, protecting the spy agencies and military from public scrutiny, and suppressing trials that could embarrass the state as the Bush administration was?

    This is mostly invisible to the MSM, for whom the comfortable narrative (Obama’s a liberal Democrat, so probably all too close to the dirty f–king hippies on civil liberties) dominates all else.

  2. #2 |  Brandon | 

    At least they’re consistent.

  3. #3 |  Pete | 

    This is terrifying stuff. This is the sort of thing… if this happened 60 or 70 years ago in a troubled European “democracy”, and this prosecutor, this King’s Agent wound up dead… there would be chapters in our history books dedicated to the freedom fighters who made that happen.

    Here it just gets one (me, now, I suppose) put on a watch list and labeled as a crazy person and potential terrorist.

    Radley, if you get a subpoena demanding my IP address etc WITHOUT an accompanying gag order preventing you from saying so, please let me know… but I think it’s a safe assumption the gag order will be there, threatening your freedom and financial security if you disclose the existence of any subpoena or disclose your reaction.

    Which is, again, terrifying.

  4. #4 |  Bad Medicine | 

    Be careful, or they’ll slap a gag order on The Agitator and you’ll have to replace your site with a blank page while they investigate every anti-government thing you’ve ever said…

  5. #5 |  delta | 

    Inarguably the most disappointing stuff about the Obama administration. He ran on a “more government openness” policy. This stuff has really stunk up the place.

  6. #6 |  JS | 

    Living in America is scary stuff.

  7. #7 |  Chris K. | 

    Treadway needs truck treads all over her.

  8. #8 |  Bob | 

    Great fucking fuck fuck!

    When did Heinrich Himmler get appointed as the Attorney General?

    That’s right! I invoked Godwin’s law! There was just nowhere else to go.

  9. #9 |  Aresen | 

    Sadly, even if Reynolds won in the SCOTUS* on every point, Treadway’s ‘prosecutorial immunity’ would protect her from being sued for everything down to her underwear.

    *Given the opinions of Roberts, Scalia and now Sotomayor, I doubt that Reynolds will win, except on the narrowest of grounds.

  10. #10 |  M.A.DeLuca | 

    What this takes, then, is for men of good conscience to refrain from doing nothing. It’s easy for me, sitting here with nothing to lose in this particular affair, to suggest that those people who do know what’s going on to tell Treadway and the U.S. government to shove it and publish everything anyway and force Uncle Sam to back down or make even more draconian moves and further draw attention to these transgressions of liberty.

  11. #11 |  OBTC | 

    Are these the “freedoms” are soldiers are fighting and dying for?

  12. #12 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    This is [censored] [redacted]!

  13. #13 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “I’d like to show you the Reason/I.J. brief defending Reynolds’ First Amendment rights, but I’m not allowed to!”

    Where’s Julian Assange when you need him?

    Briefileaks to the rescue!

  14. #14 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Republicans and Democrats: two wings of the same bird of prey.

  15. #15 |  OBTC | 

    Radley:

    In a completely related matter: Did you previously report on this and I missed it or is this news for all of us?

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    News releases are available at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ks/press.html
    Oct. 20, 2010
    HAYSVILLE DOCTOR AND WIFE SENTENCED IN DEADLY PRESCRIPTION OVERDOSES
    http://www.justice.gov/usao/ks/press/Oct2010/Oct20a.html

  16. #16 |  J | 

    slightly related, sorry for the jack.

    http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=160466&catid=339

  17. #17 |  TomG | 

    Cynical in CA @ 14 – that is just a perfect saying ! May I use it ?

  18. #18 |  Random Nuclear Strikes » The problem with secrets | 

    […] Even if you think pain advocates are just drug pushers with degrees, that doesn’t excuse the actions of this US Attorney. […]

  19. #19 |  primus | 

    I believe it was Jefferson who warned against political parties as the force which will inevitably undermine and end democracy. Only if independents run and are elected will democracy return.

  20. #20 |  Jason | 

    With all the secrecy, you’d think the government is at fault.

    Just like in United States v. Reynolds where the “state secret” was that the USAF mechanic didn’t complete the repairs on a bomber because the parts weren’t available yet the USAF flew the plane anyway.

  21. #21 |  Elemenope | 

    I believe it was Jefferson who warned against political parties as the force which will inevitably undermine and end democracy. Only if independents run and are elected will democracy return.

    IIRC, it was Washington’s farewell address. Of course Jefferson may have expressed agreement, though such agreement if so expressed would surely be somewhat ironic given his commitment to partisanship in his latter political life.

  22. #22 |  MacGregory | 

    Yes, it is scary stuff, especially as we see more and more stories like this one:
    http://www.wsaz.com/newsohio/headlines/Investigators_Raid_Medical_Office_105873353.html

    The drug warriors have found some new witches. Let nothing impede their earthly justice of hellfire.

  23. #23 |  qwints | 

    Its pretty clear that the likelihood a promise will be broken is directly correlated with the amount it would reduce government power.

    Bush promised an end to nation building and Obama promised to reduce the scope of executive power.

  24. #24 |  André | 

    Hey Radley,

    “Murder case against ATF agent dismissed”
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/10/28/virgin.islands.atf.agent/index.html

  25. #25 |  Kris | 

    Radley, FYI, the Jacob Sullum link appears broken.

    For others, it appears this is the post he’s referencing.

  26. #26 |  Bob | 

    Hey Radley,

    “Murder case against ATF agent dismissed”
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/10/28/virgin.islands.atf.agent/index.html

    Basically… the guy was drinking massively and came at him with a good sized metal flashlight.

    Realistically? A guy with a .29 BAC is no match for any remotely trained individual. I would have that guy on the ground in 2 seconds. (I’m trained in boxing) And I’m a fat assed old guy.

    As such, the case was tried as Second Degree murder. The basis being that there was totally no reason to shoot the guy 5 times when taking the flashlight away and dropping him on his ass would have sufficed.

    However… and here’s the money shot… the prosecution needed to prove that the victim was actually the guy that died. (I assume that’s a nuance of Virgin Island law). They failed to do that. Boggle.

    Here’s the facts. The dirty secret the po pos do NOT want you to know. THEY ARE INCOMPETENT! They couldn’t investigate the rising of the sun. They NEED idiot shit like ‘confessions’ to ‘solve’ crimes.

    If you EVER find yourself in police custody. SHUT THE FUCK UP.

  27. #27 |  Elroy | 

    This level of secrecy, which the Associated Press says “has alarmed First Amendment supporters”

    Yeah, all those people with “First Amendment Sucks” bumper stickers were ok with the level of secrecy. How about saying it has alarmed most sane people?

  28. #28 |  Wavemanns | 

    I think I see a case that wikileaks should jump all over.

  29. #29 |  Marty | 

    #20 | Jason

    ‘With all the secrecy, you’d think the government is at fault.

    Just like in United States v. Reynolds where the “state secret” was that the USAF mechanic didn’t complete the repairs on a bomber because the parts weren’t available yet the USAF flew the plane anyway.’

    there’s a LONG history of this in the military- all of the dirigibles in service prior to ww2 crashed due to poor maintenance. they were so busy flying them for spectacularly popular pr events that they refused to take the time to maintain them.

  30. #30 |  Mattocracy | 

    I would like for those people who claim that team is D is better than team R to try to explain how Obama is any different than Bush. I would love to hear how someone can bullshit their way through this.

  31. #31 |  albatross | 

    Bad Medicine #4:

    Investigate every anti-government thing Radley’s ever said? That’s not an investigation, it’s a jobs program!

  32. #32 |  albatross | 

    I’m also curious why this sort of information doesn’t end up on Wikileaks or some such place, one way or another.

  33. #33 |  Joe | 

    Why does the state have this compelling need to keep us from trying to avoid pain? These government officials have a deep sadistic streak.

  34. #34 |  Yeppers « Oh, My! | 

    […] This IS scary stuff. […]

  35. #35 |  Tom Barkwell | 

    I’m convinced that 95% (perhaps more) of the American public has absolutely no idea about the egregious abuses of power their government inflicts on their fellow citizens on a routine basis. They honestly believe that their government would never act out of malice against anyone who wasn’t a dangerous criminal.

    And the most popular, powerful media outlets just dutifully record the statements of government officials and report their dictation as if it were fact-based “reporting.”

    One hopes that the Supreme Court will acknowledge the paramount role that free speech and open criticism of government powers plays in a free society, over every other concern. But I won’t be betting the farm on it.

  36. #36 |  Dante | 

    “Treadway is a Bush appointee, and this all got rolling under his watch. But the Obama administration is not only continuing the case against Reynolds, it’s also arguing in favor of keeping the case hidden from public scrutiny. There are no national security implications, here.”

    More and more, I am of the belief that the President of the United States is not really in control of the giant federal bureaucracy, and whoever is in control is turning this country into a police state. They alone are above the law, and if not they change the law in the middle of the night.

    Who is guarding the guards?

  37. #37 |  Aresen | 

    @ Joe | October 29th, 2010 at 9:55 am

    At a conscious level, I think they have rationalized it that the WoD is ‘too important’ to take the risk that someone may become addicted. I do not know how they can decide this is relevant for a terminally ill patient, but they do.

    I suspect there is also an element that still believes that the pain people suffer is part of “God’s Plan” and that we should not interfere with that.

  38. #38 |  André | 

    #36: “Who is guarding the guards?”

    The guard guards guard guards. Who polices the police? The police police police police. And who polices the police police?

  39. #39 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #17 | TomG == “Cynical in CA @ 14 – that is just a perfect saying ! May I use it ?”

    Thanks Tom, but that’s not my construction. I’ve heard/read it so many times now I’m not even sure to whom to attribute it. I know Butler Shaffer has written it many times too. Let’s just call it part of the public domain.

  40. #40 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #37 | Aresen — “I suspect there is also an element that still believes that the pain people suffer is part of “God’s Plan” and that we should not interfere with that.”

    Good point. Of course, God made everything, but he didn’t make marijuana. At least not for humans to smoke. Except that contradicts Genesis when God gave man dominion over all the creatures of the Earth. Maybe the devil made marijuana.

    I can understand how religious people would look upon rational people as aliens from another planet.

  41. #41 |  The Chilling Effect | The Agitator | 

    […] addendum to yesterday’s post on the federal government’s persecution of Siobhan Reynolds. This is the video AUSA Tonya […]

  42. #42 |  fwb | 

    Has anyone here ever looked for the “secrecy” powers in the Constitution for the United States? It would be a good exercise in learning one more small part about the REAL authority of our fed government. Not that knowing the truth will change things. Just that knowing is an important factor in everything.

    Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes!

  43. #43 |  Chris Curvey | 

    Looks like this has picked up some traction in the MSM.

    http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/star-chamber-106287528.html

  44. #44 |  random guy | 

    Dante,

    People seem to think the bureaucracy is inefficient. The truth is that it is terribly efficient at one thing: growing government power.

    So its not a matter of the president being unable to control the political machine. Its that the machine is so precisely calibrated to growing executive power that none of them see any reason to fuck with the controls. Just let it run and rake in the rewards.

    Remember, if any government policy, agency, or activity, seems hopelessly backwards to you its most likely because you ascribed goals to it that it never had. Like if you think of public education as a means to educate children, then its not very good, but if you consider it as a conditioning device to get children to abandon ideals and reason in the face of petty bureaucrats, then it is remarkably successful.

  45. #45 |  sigh | 

    If we can’t speak out against wrongdoing, we’re hosed. This sort of thing isn’t acceptable.

    On a tangent, “Bob” –

    “Basically… the guy was drinking massively and came at him with a good sized metal flashlight.

    Realistically? A guy with a .29 BAC is no match for any remotely trained individual. I would have that guy on the ground in 2 seconds. (I’m trained in boxing) And I’m a fat assed old guy.”

    You are obviously not qualified to comment on the matter, either in the practical use of force or the legal problems associated with it.

    An untrained man can kill you with one good blow from a solid flashlight (a trained or lucky man can do it with empty hands), drunk or not. The person who pulls the trigger has to weigh the value of Mr. Flashlight’s life vs., at minimum, the risk of getting whacked on the head, and *then* having his weapon taken and used to do who knows what. That’s not even taking into consideration other parties present. Your “boxing” training doesn’t mean a damn thing when it comes to something like this. Go get some relevant training, then some experience dealing with belligerents looking over the sights of a gun, then come back and tell us you’re going to let some drunk idiot swing a maglite at you while you’re trying to hop in your car and drive a third party to safety.

    I’m no fan of the ATF, and it really sucks to be that guy, but when you start something you get to deal with the consequences. That’s a justified shoot, law enforcement or not.

  46. #46 |  Bob | 

    #45: sigh

    The guy brought a gun to a flashlight fight. against a drunk opponent.

    Here’s the problem. The SECOND the BATF agent pulled his gun, he eliminated all other options. His hands were now fully occupied, and his only option was to shoot.

    That’s the fucking problem.

  47. #47 |  Aaron | 

    A century ago, Americans would have grabbed a public employee like this and used some tar and feathers. Fifty years ago, they would have hung her in effigy and demanded her immediate dismissal. Today? She’s “just doing her job.”

    A century ago, Germans would have executed a public official like this. Fifty years ago, she was “just doing her job.”

    Hmm…

  48. #48 |  Militant Libertarian » The Alarmingly Secretive Persecution of Siobhan Reynolds | 

    […] The Agitator […]

  49. #49 |  FreeWestRadio.com » Blog Archive » The Alarmingly Secretive Persecution of Siobhan Reynolds | 

    […] The Agitator […]

  50. #50 |  demize! | 

    One can only hope that said prosecutor gets a horribly painful incurable disease and her healthcare provider insists on proscribing Midol, because Dilauded is highly addictive. Trifling, I know. But that’s how I roll.

  51. #51 |  KenB | 

    Franz Kafka, call your office.

  52. #52 |  Orinoco | 

    This administration guards the secrecy of this case with almost the same zealousness as they do the president’s SAT scores.

  53. #53 |  iconoclast | 

    My Russian wife–who grew up in the USSR–is aghast at actions like these and other bureaucratic intrusions on our freedom. She keeps saying that this country is turning into something she recognizes–and doesn’t like. I wouldn’t dare tell her about this outrage because she would tell me about how, at least in the USSR, one could bribe the corrupt officials to leave you alone. In the USA we don’t even have that option.

  54. #54 |  Medical Fraud in Wisconsin | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty | 

    […] rights activist Siobhan Reynolds is currently under criminal investigation simply for speaking out against the federal prosecutions of doctors accused of writing pain […]

  55. #55 |  Militant Libertarian » Siobhan Reynolds, Chronic Pain Advocate, Dies In Plane Crash | 

    […] This, obviously, made her dangerous to the War on (some) Drugs establishment. So the prosecution (entirely in secret, of course) […]

Leave a Reply