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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kate O'Beirne: What a Lady

Incredible. The following e-mail crossed my desk this evening.

I'll let the letter speak for itself. Keep in mind, though, that Kate O'Beirne is a member of the Ave Maria School of Law Board of Governors, that glorious body whose members - we are frequently reminded by Dean Dobranski and his ilk - include princes of the Church. That institution within an institution which condescends to discuss the madness of its chairman with neither student nor alumnus. Until now. And boy does "O'Bernie" stick her foot in it this time! Wow! Let nobody who reads this remain swayed by the Dean's attempts to paint the Board of Governors as upright, exemplary members of the Catholic community whose motives and actions we are not to question.

Keep in mind, too, that the exchange described occured between Mizz O'Beirne, a giant of political punditry (and, one concludes, an expert when it comes to rhetoric and spin), and an alumnus serving his country and trying to support his family in the process. David had better odds against Goliath than Capt. DeJak has if O'Beirne actually does unleash her husband on him.

Honorable administrators and Governors with honorable intentions engaging in honorable activities need not act dishonorably in pursuit of their goals. So, why have our administrators and Governors done just that? Is it really necessary to sacrifice the current and future careers of faculty, students, and now alumni upon the altar of Tom Monaghan's Mount Everest-sized ego?

Read on.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: [Capt. John M. DeJak]
Date: Sep 12, 2006 1:44 PM
Subject: Conversation with Mrs. O'Beirne
To: [AMSL Alumni Board]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On Wednesday, September 6, 2006 Mrs. Kate O'Beirne of the AMSL Board of Governors and Washington Editor of the National Review called me at work. I know not how she found my office number, there are several possibilities. I hope that no one from the law school forwarded that information, as my legal disclaimer at the bottom of all communications indicates that this is for the intended recipient only (that would include the information contained in my signature block).

In any event, Mrs. O'Beirne called at about 4:15pm. At the time she called I was in a conference and indicated to my secretary that I would phone her back. I did so around 4:23pm. When I reached her, she was extremely condescending on the phone and immediately attempted to get me to admit that I have participated in anonymous blogging. She told me that she knew who I was and to prove the point--and as an obvious attempt at intimidation--she named my undergraduate institution. (As a side note, I hope that this information was not provided to her by the law school as it is likely a violation of the Buckley Amendment (20 U.S.C. sec. 1232g).) She continued to relentlessly pursue the blog issues. I responded that I could not countenance that activity one way or the other. In the course of the conversation she alluded to the fact that her husband might be interested in defending her from criticism in certain blogs. Again, I indicated to her that I could not comment on blog issues. It is worth noting that her husband is a retired officer in the United States Army and recently--if not currently--White House Liaison to the Pentagon. I took this as a further attempt at intimidation and a thinly veiled threat regarding my employment with the United States Army. She, yet again, pressed me on the blog issues and I, again, indicated to her that I had no comment and could not countenance the activity one way or the other.

I did take the liberty of informing Mrs. O'Beirne that I have a definite position on the controversies that are currently embroiling the law school. This position is well known as I am a member of the AMSL Alumni Association Board of Directors and have made no attempt to conceal such a position. I also indicated my hope that the Board of Governors would take to heart the concerns of the faculty and alumni. Finally, I noted that--in my limited experience of academia--AMSL seems to be an anomaly in that a substantial majority of the faculty voted no confidence in the Dean and he is still in that position. To illustrate the point, I juxtaposed the position of Dean Dobranski at AMSL with the position of President Lawrence Summers at Harvard--who resigned after a faculty no confidence vote. She continued to be perturbed throughout the call and, finally, I asked her if there was anything else that she wanted. Apparently there was nothing else. At the end of our conversation, I told Mrs. O'Beirne to keep up the good work at National Review and we ended our call.

I am still unclear as to the ultimate purpose of Mrs. O'Beirne's phone call. Further, I am shocked and appalled at the tone and unprofessional manner in which Mrs. O'Beirne addressed me. Her attempts at what I perceived as intimidation and a thinly veiled threat were and are disgusting. My views on the issues surrounding the law school are well known as the minutes of Alumni Board Meetings are available, as is my December 2005 letter to the Wall Street Journal co-authored by Mr. Chris McGowan. I hope that this was a singular instance and that other alumni are not subject to this type of communication from a member of the Board of Governors.

Members of the Alumni Board are authorized to share this information, but I would ask that you redact my office phone number and address in my signature block. I continue to pray for the success and health of the law school and that the issues that face the law school are amicably resolved.

In Our Lord,

Administrative & Civil Law Attorney
[Address and Telephone Number Redacted]

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." -- G.K. Chesterton