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May 05, 2007

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Why the rush to praise Miss Buchanan?

Ben Stevens, son of Alaska U.S. Senator Stevens (R) was in the thick of this bribery and corruption scandal and he has not been charged with anything.

The Republican higher ups in Washington are still being protected against prosecution by the DOJ.

well geez, last I counted, we're looking at maybe A THOUSAND COUNTS OF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

maybe Ms Buchanan figued out that adding count number 1001 wasn't such a good career move after all

she just might be smarter than the average repuglican, Boo Boo

why board a ship that's sinking like a rock ???

As someone has already pointed out, sure, Cohen is indicting Republicans, but which Republicans? I don't know the internal Alaska scene well, so I don't know who in statewide politics could be getting protected. But it's easy to see from the lower 48 that an indictment of Ben Stevens could lead to Ted Stevens not running in 2008, which would create yet another tough hold, and potentially another loss, for the Senate Republicans. I'd be really interested to know if people in Alaska think the new USA is soft-pedalling this investigation (or steering it away from key targets) or not.

Don't forget this little trick either:

"The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/21/AR2007032102713.html

They were sacrificial lambs. Looks like this investigation was going on for a long time. They may have tried to bury it, but it was not be possible because of too much information was already out. They may be trying to make use of the situation. Who cares at the national level if they put couple of low level republicans behind the bars. It may help the new USA to establish himself by using few local republicans as sacrificial lambs and to show that there was no politics involved.

that would be the "Corrupt Bastards Caucus," right? Maybe calling themselves that is what tipped Cohen off.

It's easy to dance to the music when the spotlight is shining. Let's wait and see if these guys actually get nailed, or if this goes the way of the S&L prosecutions under the first Bush.

Just visiting to leave a note here for Meteor Blades:

That's an awesome front page post at DailyKos you wrote today (5:44 p.m. PDT), M.B., thanking the 156 Members of Congress who said "No." Beautifully done. Thank you.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/5/5/19118/67611

I'm seconding thanks to MB on post re Congress who said NO... can't remember (even at the time of the vote) since, any list of NO votes. I have qualms, my senator Wyden voting NO and yet, a member of the Intel Committee, allowing the STALL tactics to control what we still are hearing about the manipulation of intelligence reports... phase II may be a figment of my imagination by now... I would go on, and on, but as MB says simply... Thanks for the NO vote regardless of what they, the congress persons have done before and since...
at least on the vote to give Bush the power to make war, they voted sensibly.

Congress must never again relinquish their constitutional responsibility.

Oversight is important, but war powers are beyond measure.


Cohen is probably there primarily to do damage control; prosecute egregious malfeasance that can't be swept under the carpet, while keeping a lid on further filth.

In many respects, Alaska is run by the oil companies (and Ted Stevens isn't delivering the way he has for 30 years, so it wouldn't surprise this observer if he's removed from the 2008 ticket). The state is basically a glorified small town; fairly inbred and gossipy. The new Gov was elected because the political stench was so thick and vile that a majority voted against being played for fools by the existing power structure. There's a limit to what even Alaskans can stand.

Wouldn't surprise me one bit if Cohen tosses around a lot of Bright Shiny Objects to deflect attention from whatever resource deals are being cut with DoI behind the scenes.

Currently, the Alaska Permanent Fund payouts are based on oil revenues of around $30/barrel (IIRC -- that's an off-the-head recollection.) Right now, however, those barrels are going for about $55 - 60/barrel. So the Permanent Fund is ripe for siphoning. And as national politics shift, the oil company's grasp on ANWR is going to start slipping. So expect them to move fast.

I assume there are connections to the Native American DoJ group you covered last week, but how that group ties in to Cohen's appointment is not clear to me. I assume that Cheney's office will keep an eye on Cohen and all things Alaskan/ANWR related. I expect OVP will proclaim that because oil is a 'strategic resource' they can keep all oil-related info under a shroud of secrecy.

Folks

I agree that it bears watching whether Stevens, Jr gets indicted. It bears watching whether this case is prosecuted competently (though I'm not sure I'm one to judge). But if Cohen does a fair job, we need to be able to acknowledge that.

Acknowledge what, EW? Don't they have a tape of a meeting that's a smoking bazooka? Even a graduate of Regent University Law School could try a case like that!

There is another possibility....

These are cases that already had prosecutors assigned, and with the ongoing DoJ scandal, people like Cohen are afraid to do the job they were assigned to do (i.e. act as a fixer).

Just a quick note to say you do good work. I love following your 'wild speculations' all over the place; and the scorecard showing high rates of accuracy.

So, is this anything worth looking at:
http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/05-04-2007/0004581293&EDATE=

---
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to Appoint Kenneth E. Melson as Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys

WASHINGTON, May 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Attorney General Alberto
R. Gonzales today announced that he will appoint Kenneth E. Melson as
director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) at the
Department of Justice effective on May 14, 2007. Melson has served as first
assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since June
1986 and will leave that position prior to taking office as director of
EOUSA. He will succeed Michael Battle, who served as director of EOUSA
since June 2005.
----
Looks legit to me. I have't seen either looseheadprop or Mary or Christy at FDL or maybe Josh at TPM say anything. Maybe I missed it.

You rock!

I would be less willing to assume sound leadership or skill in selecting subordinates. Given the backgrounds involved, it seems equally likely that the Alaska USA was intimidated by the purge scandal, or that his professional staff went ahead with the prosecutions anyway and he couldn't say "no".

The administration's behavior amply demonstrates why a good citizen should ignore "trust me" explanations, skip past Kennedy's "trust, but verify", and demand a Trumanesque "show me".

Buchanan is the one persecuting Chong and his bongs? I don't know why, but I always thought that was done out of SF. What a pile of junk that prosecution was.

I'd be thrilled to acknowledge that a Gonzales USAtty, or any USAtty, is doing a good job with a high profile corruption case. That's how it's supposed to be, and I don't think I'd hold back the plaudits in the face of evidence that the USAtty is conducting a fair, principled, capable, and aggressive prosecution of public corruption. I really wouldn't.

However, from where I (and I gather you) sit, there's not much evidence either way on that point. In a case that had already become highly publicized, no indictments at all probably wasn't a possibility. Even a complete Rove-goon hatchet job would have had to include the indictment of a couple of Republicans. So the mere fact that a couple of Republicans have now been indicted doesn't tell me much about how well and honestly the case is actually being conducted. Maybe it's an improperly motivated misdirect; maybe the most guilty parties just got properly indicted; maybe this is the first in a series of appropriate indictments. I don't know. But I haven't seen evidence that would lead me to conclude that the Gonzales USAtty is doing a fair prosecution. Maybe he is, but three indictments, alone, is not proof of that.

And, going right to the core meaning of this scandal: in a brighter past a USAtty might have got the benefit of the doubt in this situation, an assumption that they were doing their job honestly. Not anymore.

Looks legit to me. I have't seen either looseheadprop or Mary or Christy at FDL or maybe Josh at TPM say anything. Maybe I missed it.

I wrote to Josh about this, when he cited a WP article that said that Melson worked as a US prosecutor in Alexandria.

I looked it up, and sure enough we're talking the same Eastern District of Virginia where celebutantes like Monica Goodling and Matt Dummermuth got their prosecutorial chops.

IMHO, Melson was given the job because he was 2nd in command at that office, and a career employee, and was able to keep this "giving DoJ employees prosecutorial experience" process somewhat honest. With Melson gone to Main Justice, there are likely few people with any integrity in positions of power in Alexandria.

I'm sure the new USA is there to control things, bury what he can and keep this as low profile as possible. I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt. We won't get the full story as long as one of AGAGs picks is running the show

Is the timing of the surfacing of this Alaskan Republican scandal significant in the same way the timing of the Doolittle and Renzi raids might be? There has been some speculation (JM @ TPM) that Gonzales and his minions possibly have been too flat on their backs over the last month or so in the US-A fracas to effectively stifle and stall prosecution of political friendlies by Bush's own appointees. After months of the news going cold on several fronts, there sure seems to be an uptick in the last few weeks.

Muzzy,

If the headquarters of the DoJ works better with vacant positions AND the distraction consuming the top doggies, so that no work or oversight or governance is being done, I really do think we taxpayers could strip a few levels of hierarchy. Is there anybody in Abu's group that we would miss? Any positions which desperately need filling?

Nope.

Remember that each of these officials has a staff of secretaries and aides and gophers bringing them coffee and doughnuts and printed-out emails. Cutting people who do nothing but go to prayer meetings and political pep-talks - and their staffers - would save a pretty penny which could be better spent elsewhere.

Let the local offices bring the cases and do their duties and make sure the USAs have what they need to pursue investigations. Without interference from the top, they do seem to be much more productive.

Some history here on Alaskan Republicans. They've had a pretty firm grip on the state since oil (early 1970s). Democrats got the governor's office when independent right winger's split the votes. As the last Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles was coming to the end of his term, there was talk US Sen. Frank Murkowski would run for Gov. He got the Republican state house and senate to change the law so the incoming governor, not the out-going governor, would appoint the replacement for a vacant US Senate seat. Then he ran for governor and won. And appointed his daughter Lisa to replace him in the US Senate.

This was the first big step that got people pissed at Frank. Then he ended the statel longevity bonus for senior citizens. (By this time the program was being phased out anyway, so a lot of people who'd planned their expenses based on the program got screwed.) There were various other fiascos. But despite all that Lisa won the seat out right over the former Dem Governor Knowles in Nov. 06. Somewhere in here Gov. Murkowski wanted to replace the dinky plane he got to fly on with a fancy corporate jet. There was lots of protest around the state. The Republican legislature even turned him down. He went ahead and bought it administratively. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, former mayor of Wasilla, and Republican golden girl, resigned from a key energy commision complaining the head of the Republican party had a serious conflict of interest. This was eventually found to be the case and he resigned his position, but stayed as Republican head. Gov. Murkowski was working with the oil companies behind closed doors to come up with an agreement. He gave it to the Legislature at the last minute. All the indicted guys were working with oil supply company Veco to get the oil companies' versions of bills passed. Despite an overwhelming Republican majority in both houses, the legislature balked. The governor was holding out on whether he'd run again, messing up all the Republicans who would run if he didn't. The pipeline contract didn't get approved. The gov hinted he could sign it without their approval. He called a special session. Things were getting messy and the gov's ratings were only higher than Ohio's governor. Sarah Palin, the former mayor of Wasilla and lady who resigned over ethical issues and challenged the head of the Republican party, soundly trounced Murkowski and others in the primary. And went on to beat Democrat Tony Knowles, running to regain his job as Governor.

So the Republican party imploded, to be saved by Sarah Palin. (Who's first action was to put the Gov's jet up for sale. It didn't get it's price on ebay and is still available if anyone is interested.) After the August indictment of one legislator, we all knew that others were coming. They seem to have a lot on Ben Stevens and we'll see how much clout Uncle Ted has to keep his son out of trouble. But the guys that have been indicted aren't heavy hitters. They asked for a few thousand to help the oil companies gain tens or hundreds of millions. Ben would be a heavy hitter. He didn't run again for Senate. Pete Kott, one of those indicted, was defeated in the Republic primary.

The legislators are being really careful at the moment. Sarah Palin is playing hardball with the oil companies. Whether her plan is a good one I can't judge. Even if it is, I'm sure the oil companies will do their best to make it fail. But the evidence gathered and reported on so far has further strengthened her hand.

Perhaps the hubris that brought down the Republic old guard in Alaska is a precursor of what will happen nationally.

I saw some folks with whose stories I was acquainted and thought I would add to the background information. There is a new ongoing comment period for the Mineral and Mining Service branch of Dept of Interior plan to auction ocean oil rig lease tracts; comment period ending in two months, and leasing to begin end of this year 2007. These are places in the Arctic Ocean and Chuckchi sea that are not yet in oil extraction mode. An interesting anecdote I began researching in checking into this was that during the CTWhitman tenure at EPA now ScotusChiefJustice JGRobertsJr, then at HoganHartman lent a hand in preparing the AK Dept of EnvironProtection's appeal of a mandate for one of Teck Cominco's zinc extraction sites in AK to install air pollution control. The Zn operation turns out to be a major source on world scale; and JGRJr's assistance met its Waterloo as AssocJusticeGinzburg wrote the 5-4 majority opinion which forced the Zn operation Red Dog Mine, to get cleaner, denying AK's appeal from a states rights perspective to override US EPA. Whitman's exit was multifactorial, and the energy and mineral extraction politics in AK likely figured into that equation. RedD's website has a forthright outline of its projected length of operation, and the profit sharing with the indigenous peoples, which looks like the tribal folks likely will miss most of the revenue unless the mining op discovers a lot more within the anticipated seven years of extraction. CJ-JGRobertsJr was in Fairbanks giving a convention talk last Thursday, and some newspaper writers offered some of these details to fill their column-inches, hat tip also to the appellate boutiquer HBashman for a nice photograph of the chief justice receiving a walrus carving. A few comments in a nearby thread last week got me going into this sidelight, there. I think the Rehnquist Supreme Court's permissiveness in the litigation over the energy task force provided a shield for some of these matters to occur; and I am still looking into the CAN boreal timber harvest which has some climate change science people concerned. Resource extraction is part of our civilization. Maybe we can help inform the oversight.

The politcal investigation in Alaska is supposed to be handled out of DC by the DOJ Public Integrity Section. Nelson Cohen needs to be replaced for other reasons if not for covering up for Stevens and crew.

Check out MakeTheArmyHonest.Com for why I beleive that.

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