How I Almost Got Arrested by the Department of Justice Security Today!
I am writing this in Barnes and Noble Café, on 555 12th St, NW, less than a mile from the Department of Justice building in Washington, DC. I was denied entrance to the building, and almost arrested, by a security guy who made it clear wouldn’t mind arresting me only to get out of the cold wind for a while!
As anyone who has ever been to DC will confirm, this city has a few basic rules; one of those rules is that showing up at a Federal building without an appointment (and demanding to see someone) is not the best idea. Particularly if you, like me, have olive skin!
So what brought me here?
As mentioned in my last post, we filed a complaint against P. Davis Oliver, the DOJ attorney leading the litigation on our Court Of Federal Claims (COFC) complaint. To summarize, in that complaint we outlined a series of facts, based on which we alleged that attorney Oliver is attempting to extort a settlement by making this process as expensive as possible for us.
Just over a month after the complaint was filed, we received correspondence from the DOJ Inspector General’s office, stating that the matter we raised was “more appropriate for review by another office or agency.” Therefore, they wrote us, the complaint was forwarded to the Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division. You can read the complete letter here. Note that no human names are mentioned anywhere on the correspondence.
About Mid January, I attempted to get a status on the complaint. A phone call to the number listed on the correspondence landed me in the wrong office. Again and again and again. Even though I was learning what not to say to the DOJ operator before s/he pressed a button to transfer me to yet another wrong office, by January 30th, yesterday, I still had not stumbled on the right combination of words to unlock the mystery of reaching room 3141. So, because I was scheduled to be in DC for a few days anyway, I decided to stop by.
That is how (or why) I found myself having a lovely conversation with the security guard outside the DOJ’s Business Entrance which, as I found out, is not open to the public and you have to have an appointment, with a specific person, to get in. Considering this possibility on the Metro ride in, I had decided to get the guard personally and emotionally involved in my quest to find someone in the magic room 3141. So showed him the IG correspondence. He studied the letter intensely for a few minutes but then we were again back to “can’t let you in.”
I would never make a good spy or social hacker!
Finally, after I gently made it clear that he could help, get me his supervisor, or arrest me, he coughed up a number. I called that number and, literally, read the letter on the phone to the operator. This time, I was transferred to someone who, at least, admitted knowing something about the secrets of room 3141. After another reading of the complete letter again, and a few “can I put you on hold” interruptions, he told me no one can find the complaint.
Their dog ate it, I am sure!
However, after a few more minutes of additional conversation, with me emphasizing that while I am not in the habit of stopping by Federal departments in really cold, windy winter days but now that I’m here, I need to get something for my troubles – even if that means more trouble – he gave me an email address and asked me to send another copy of the complaint and the letter from the IG.
And that is why I ended up at Barnes and Noble. After emailing the documents, I thought the experience would make a good post and, for the first time ever, blogged from a café!
I feel so… so… so hip, despite the pinstripe and tie!
I am not holding my breath for anything to happen though. Those of you who follow this blog know that we were forced to write to SECDEF himself before we magically received a case number for our complaint with the DOD Inspector General’s Office. I have absolute faith in DOJ bureaucracy as well and, as they used to say in my old neighborhood, one’ll get you three that we’ll have to write the Attorney General directly before this complaint is “found.”