WASHINGTON (CN) - A former federal prosecutor sued the Justice Department, claiming he provided it with evidence that 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta was raising money for terrorism in the United States before 2000, but was fired for not signing off on an illegal search and seizure related to the case.
John Doe sued the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board in Federal Court, claiming the Department fired him for blowing the whistle on federal misconduct.
He also claims that the Justice Department smeared him Soviet style, claiming his substantive disagreements with his bosses stemmed from mental problems.
Doe describes himself in the lawsuit as a veteran federal prosecutor, "having received numerous awards and recognition for outstanding performance, including the highest award of the United States Attorney General."
But Doe says he ran afoul of leadership in the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2003 when the U.S. attorney, a Bush appointee, and other officials harassed him for refusing to authorize an illegal search and seizure proposed by a law enforcement agent.
"Despite the objection by John Doe, the illegal search and seizure was approved by John Doe's superiors, including the U.S. attorney. Therefore, John Doe prepared a memorandum to disclose the proposed illegal search and seizure," the complaint states.
Doe says his memo prevented the illegal search and seizure, but got him booted off the case, which involved domestic fundraising for terrorist groups.
"His superiors then increased their pressure on John Doe to conform to their political goals," the complaint states. "In the summer of 2003, the USAO [U.S. Attorney's Office] suggested that John Doe's conflicts with their leadership must be the product of a psychological condition. John Doe met with a psychologist identified by the USAO, who found no need for any treatment or assessment, viewing the matter as a leadership problem."
This led to stress and anxiety, and ultimately to medical leave. When he returned to work in 2004, the USAO ramped up its retaliatory acts, disciplining him for his conduct during his "emotional crisis," Doe says.
The complaint states: "John Doe made additional disclosures regarding his supervisors' misconduct from 2005 through 2008 which are protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act. These additional protected disclosures included reports of misconduct by his superiors in disciplinary proceedings, in political hirings, and in mishandling of a terrorist investigation."
Though he says he was given special work accommodations to cope with stress and anxiety, it all ended in 2008 when the Justice Department came under fire from allegations that it covered up misconduct, including allegations of perjury, paying informants to set up innocent people, beating suspects and tampering with recordings. The allegations were specifically made against the agent whom Doe says asked him to authorize the illegal search and seizure in 2003.
But his supervisors continued holding the 2003 disclosure against him, even as he presented new evidence that "suggested that Mohamed Atta was in the United States before 2000, and in John Doe's district," he claims.
He states: "On May 3, 2008, John Doe and two case agents continued their work on the Money Exchange case. The three were convinced that they had evidence of terrorist fund raising, including money provided to a group listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, prior to September 11, 2001. On May 5, 2008, John Doe provided his Money Exchange Memorandum to the Acting United States Attorney and his own supervisors. He also provided the Memorandum to the AUSA in another district, to the case agents in his own district, to the DOJ Terrorism Unit Coordinator, and to three other attorneys in DOJ familiar with the Money Exchange case."
Despite his efforts, Doe claims, his supervisor criticized him again for the 2003 disclosure, ordered him to "retrieve the May 5 Money Exchange Memorandum from all recipients," and accused him of going outside the chain of command.
He claims his 2003 disclosure, his belief that the money exchange case was connected to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and his likelihood of appearing as a witness for the defense in new trial motions got him demoted and ultimately fired.
He claims the Justice Department used his health as an excuse.
The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board wrongfully denied his appeal and released his private medical and personnel information, Doe claims.
"These actions were a concerted effort by the USAO through certain of its employees to intimidate and coerce John Doe and to humiliate and embarrass him in the eyes of the public in an effort to destroy his credibility as a witness in the new trial motions. These actions were also in retaliation for numerous instances of whistle blowing by John Doe," the complaint states.
He sued under the Rehabilitation Act, seeking damages to be determined at trial and reinstatement.
He is represented by J. Michael Hannon.