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June 27, 2007


This internal DOI investigation was not long after 9/11, and long before there were any chinks in the Bush/Rove/Cheney armor. With hindsight-based information about politicizing the inspectors general broadly and the corrupt behavior of the DOI IG in particular, and the Office of Special Counsel's poor record at protecting known whistleblowers, how credible does this report remain?

Well, as I said, they didn't speak to Cheney or Rove, by all appearances.

...Our review of the available documents and the rulings of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California support the conclusion that the Department had compiled the necessary information to support its various decisions related to the Klamath Project. [emphasis mine}

Excellent parsing there by DOI; I don't see Woolridge's name mentioned in the portion of the conclusion quoted. And I'll bet the unavailable documents included Cheney's and Woolridge's phone records, along with the voicemail Cheney left her.

Who was the IG at DOI and was he/she political? This points to a big failure. I think Henry will be pissed.

O/T I have been trying to find a place where the US gov. lists the "Budget Review Board" that was talked about in the "A Strong Push..." Angler article, and found nothing but a news conference( http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/02/20010223-1.html ) with Bush that only mentions it in passing. The Bolten memo states it at the last paragraph of the last page, but since we do not have a list of who this memo went out to, their is no way of knowing who is/are the "Budget Review Board." I also found it referred to in John Deans Find Law article, but again, only to say that he was surprised that it was chaired by Cheney.

Are we not to know who is on this board? Why is it not on Government website? Is this another Cheney secret society like the Energy Task Force?

from the Angler series:
"The vice president chairs a budget review board, a panel the Bush administration created to set spending priorities and serve as arbiter when Cabinet members appeal decisions by White House budget officials. The White House has portrayed the board as a device to keep Bush from wasting time on petty disagreements, but previous administrations have seldom seen Cabinet-level disputes in that light. Cheney's leadership of the panel gives him direct and indirect power over the federal budget -- and over those who must live within it..."

Bolten memo:
"6. Exceptions to the budget-neutrality requirement set forth in this guidance must be requested by the agency head and will be granted only when the OMB Director determines that the exception is appropriate in light of extraordinary need or other compelling circumstances. The agency head may appeal to the Budget Review Board."

John Dean: http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20031107.html
"Clearly, the most distinctive feature of the Bush II White House is the enormous power of the vice president. While this is a trend that began with vice president Fritz Mondale, Hult finds that Cheney is more powerful than all his predecessors.

To make this point, Hult cites a little known but telling fact: Cheney "chairs the President's Budget Review Board, which rules on appeals of OMB decisions regarding proposed funding for executive branch departments; no other vice president has held this position."

WTF is it- is Cheney at Versailles? In a hall of mirrors by himself?

Hi, EW. Don't know if you have seen these, but FYI, an Environment News Service article on Klamath from Aug. 2003 and the WSJ article it references mention more details about Unka Karl, Klamath, and the cabinet-level group:

"In March 2002, President George W. Bush created the cabinet level Klamath River Basin Federal Working Group.

The controversial 10 year plan for the Klamath Basin emerged and in April 2002 the Interior Department diverted water to the farmers - a move conservationists say set the stage for the massive fish kill in September 2002."



I had mistakenly attributed this interview to Sarah Taylor in an earlier diary response. Of course, you are correct, it was Ralston who was asked these questions. I'm sure you're onto something here, EW, that someone interviewed during the Lurita Doan investigation about power point presentations remembered Klamath as part of the talking points. Also, as you show above, there was fairly extensive questioning along this line during the congressional hearing. I don't think this would have been pursued as vigorously in the hearing if it hadn't been for a piece of information that someone on the committee received implicating Rove, and Rove had his fingerprints all over the Hatch Act violations.

IG of Interior is Earl Devaney, who was a Clinton appointee, and has been on the case again and again regarding the crooks at Interior. However, nobody effing ever listened to him, other than us Indian and Environmentalist types. TWICE he slammed Griles in conflict-of-interest reports, and was the one who exposed Johnnie Burton' scamming at MMS.

Now, what about the people in his office? And what about the recommendation he made to various USAs, including David Iglesias, that legal action be taken against Interior employees who engaged in clearly illegal behavior? Devaney himself I think is above board - but I think there are plenty of related people still to be held accountable.

MB Williams -- what's your take on theoretical manipulation of Klamath River not just to win farmers/ranchers votes with increased irrigation, but supply tweaking of hydroelectric power into western grid? I just can't help thinking there was something bigger to this than salmon versus farms...there would have been a trade-off on votes, too, with ranchers/farmers leaning towards B/C'04 and Klamath tribes leaning away if they were angered by the 2002 fish kill.

I note an ag lobbyist has a website which claims it attempts to consolidate info in an alleged effort to "improve the management and outcome of general stream adjudications and other complex water-related litigation affecting western people and the region's environment." Seems a bit light on info, but maybe that's the point; were they also trying to skew the judiciary's opinions?

Rayne, I think they were really worried about the 2002 election. After Slade Gorton's loss in 2000, there were real concerns about other losses in the PNW. From key points regarding a 2003 Wall Street journal article:

The decision that led to the death of 33,000 salmon in the Klamath River last year was made to help an Oregon Republican Senator get re-elected, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A story printed in that newspaper yesterday said Karl Rove, a top political strategist for President George Bush, pressured U.S. Department of Interior heads to ignore scientific recommendations and release more water to Klamath Falls' Republican farmers despite the threat of low water flows for lower river salmon.

"The largest fish-kill in America's history could have, and should have, been avoided if it were not for the political pressure put on scientists by administration officials looking for political gain," said U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) yesterday after reading the story.

Outlining several meetings between Rove, Department of Interior head Gale Norton, Sen. Gordon Smith and top Bush Cabinet members, the story said Rove drove a plan to make the farmers happy to help Smith get re-elected.

Making the farmers happy likely curried favor for the Republican Bush as well, the story indicated.

"In a darkened conference room, White House political strategist Karl Rove was making an unusual address to 50 top managers at the U.S. Interior Department. Flashing color slides, he spoke of poll results, critical constituencies and water levels to the Klamath River basin," the Post story said.

"At the time of the meeting, in January 2002, Mr. Rove had just returned from accompanying President Bush on a trip to Oregon, where they visited with a Republican senator facing re-election. Republican leaders there wanted to support their agricultural base by diverting water from the river basin to nearby farms, and Mr. Rove signaled that the administration did, too.

"Three months later, Interior Secretary Gale Norton stood with Sen. Gordon Smith in Klamath Falls and opened the irritation-system headgates that increased the water supply to 220,000 acres of farmland a policy shift that continues to stir bitter criticism from environmentalists and Indian tribes," said the story written by Tom Hamburger.

* * *

I know I wasn't completely surprised by the WaPo story when I read it last night, as I'd already heard so much of before, between when it happened and when I was researching Wooldridge when her relationship to Griles was uncovered earlier this year.

This could be huge, however, for Gordon Smith this time around. Maybe I need to be looking for a campaign job in Oregon soon ;-).

I'm in Eugene, OR. I knew that the farmers, the fishermen, and the Native Peoples were always at each others' throats about water rights, but I had no idea that there was federal DOI involvement.

Lots of lawyers involved with Trout Unlimited here in OR. I'm visualizing the campaign ad now: slow-moving montage of dead fish photos/video. On-screen print reads: "Klamath River Basin, 2002, after Gordon Smith diverted water to buy votes." Voiceover says, "In 2002, Gordon Smith asked George Bush for help with his campaign. Bush was happy to oblige. The result was the worst fish kill the state of Oregon has ever seen. Do you want to give him the chance to do it again?"

Vote DeFazio for Senate
(except, sigh, he's not running)
(this message paid for by blah blah blah blah).

Oh, tekel, that's pretty good.

MB Williams -- I hear you about 2002, although I'm surprise they would be that worried in hindsight. But as tekel put it at 14:42, "farmers, the fishermen, and the Native Peoples were always at each others' throats about water rights"; there were 1500 farms in question, and I wonder how many fisherman and Native Americans there would have been on the other side of the equation, if it would have been a wash that mirrored the vote in 2000. Seems like it would have been a tight race highly dependent on the candidates.

Rove would have been deployed to deal with the vote angle -- but was this was Cheney was working on? I've been prowling around in freeperland among the old threads related to Klamath; there's an echo chamber effect where one perspective sucks up most of the air in the threads. But there's one exchange that caught my eye, from July 2001:

[Comment:] The assertion that most of Upper Klamath Lake's water goes to irrigation is just simply factually incorrect. The amount of water from the lake that goes to irrigation is less than two feet of depth. The rest of the augmented lake elevation flows through the turbines of PP&L (Pacific Power and Light). PP&L maintains four or five generating powerhouses on the Klamath river. The farmer's water is simply being reallocated to electricity generatin. ESA is the tactic.
[Reply:] That is EXACTLY the lesson I learned during my visit to Klamath Falls this past weekend. Denying the farmers their irrigation water will not help the sucker fish and it will not help the salmon. What it WILL do is spin the turbines and produce electricity for California. That water has been stolen from the farmers in order to pull Davis' chestnuts out of the fire.

Something else was going on here that merited the attention of Cheney, "owner" of the energy and interior portfolios, just don't have enough info to make sense of it.

Interesting find, Rayne.

It should also be said that this was all done in the name of what people do with their "private" land, so it also served the ideological purpose of asserting private rights on public resources.

While I agree that the Big-Picture Cheney would love to decrease energy supplies from hydro-electric (as that would make it so much easier for Enron et al. to manipulate energy markets a la Enron.) However, by the Spring of 2001, the crisis in California had gotten so bad, legislators were urging price caps, the last thing BigEnergy wanted. Making it worse by decreasing power from the Klamath region at that time and place would only fuel (no pun intended) the anti-deregulation fever that was developing in the West at that point.

The people of Oregon are hopeful that these criminals will be brought to justice for this boondoggle. A few farmers that grow nothing of importance were given this great gift as a greater percentage of other's livelihoods died. This doesn't even take into account the fish they killed. A perfect indicator of what happens when you have a red corner in an otherwise blue state. One must thank Gordon Smith for the death of millions, it was his handlers that won in this one.
we, the people, or Oregon, hope that this instance will be remembered when the government stepped in and tried to kill us again. The idiots in DC can't decide if they should let Oregon's citizens live or die. leave us alone. you are irresponsible and you have no business pretending to be competent in dealing with people, not to mention wildlife.

MB Williams -- I'm still trying to lay out a timeline on this, to see if there's a connection, still speculative, although I do understand that the CA crisis was already critical. But here's Cheney, only mere weeks in office and fresh out of Energy Task Force meetings that include Ken Lay -- or maybe still in the middle of them -- and he's calling Woolridge in the DOI about Klamath? At that point is he really worried about 2002 or is he working something else? It's this part of WaPo's coverage that bothers me; why did they not provide a hair more detail as to when this voicemail from Cheney arrived in Woolridge's mailbox? Or did it get edited out?

The other situation brewing in background is the eventual sale of PacifiCorp; was this being positioned to drive up or drive down the price on the firm, or had the sale not yet been proposed? I've not yet done the homework on this bit (chasing kids [sigh]). It's another potential avenue that can be gamed by energy industry investors.

Looks like I have to give up on this line of inquiry for the evening, will see if I can't get back to it in the wee hours. Something just doesn't smell right and it's not just dead fish.

EW 15:38 -- Which suits their purposes perfectly. Given the circumstances, PacifiCorp could increase/decrease production based in theory on water levels while telling the public they were "forced" by ESA regulations to act in a particular fashion, perhaps in spite of pressure for caps. Rove could do the PR with the landowning class that was more likely to vote conservative and more likely to make donations to B/C'04 on the theme that landowners can do as they wish with "private" land, while Cheney "left no tracks" monkeying with water levels to both support the landowners and the energy industry. Doubtful that the actual intent was to "pull Davis' chestnuts out of the fire," but rather make use of the perfect storm that Enron's market manipulations had set in motion between 2000-2002.

Klamath River Basin is an intersection, isn't it, between the USA scandal's NAIS membership, tribal lands and FERC energy corridor likely addressed in the Energy Task Force dox?

Rayne, I'm right there with ya, babe, as I've spent much of the last day searching through Wooldridge, Norton and Griles' calendars looking for the earliest mention of Klamath. CREW only has Wooldridge's calendars from 2002-4 on their site, so I'm hoping to see if NRDC or FotE have earlier calendars.

I don't know if this is all just Cheney, or if Rove is involved, which makes it more plausible that it is about increasing House and Senate seats. But I can tell you that in 2002, Wooldridge was spending a whole lot of time on Klamath, according to her calendar.

Ooooh, I wonder if Wooldridge was rewarded for her work on Klamath with the Solicitor's job, once Myers retired in 2003.

This is a worthwhile discussion. Rove is out of his league in CA water politics. The essence of the northcoast river flows and anadromous fisheries restoration is a tale of incremental successes of Endangered Species Act. Replumbing these watersheds is a process extending to FDRoosevelt era, though much was done in the post repressed fifties. At least one operator's website has all documents removed from the public server, with access only to employees with intranet access. There is a two phase replumbing EIR for the Russian River beginning. And the Cesar script the governor is reading calls for more peripheral canal aqueducts to the La Brea tar pits urban sprawl. It would be excessive to wax eloquent on this in a narrowly defined thread. There was a statewide EIR in 1980 which revealed eastern Sierra pipelines to LA had potential to reverse habitat health, and ESA slowly caused that purloining of precious Owens and Mono waters to rollback. Power generation is in the political mix, for sure; but with the current FERC composition even after four years in court, only some of the information is in the public sphere. I had thought EW began some SDiego southern LA utility research a while back in the former discussion in which MBW participated here. Count agribusiness in the contentious discussion; figure why feedlot beef producers in Modesto many hundreds of miles from the Trinity watershed, worry about water rights bargained on the northcoast, or why that stripe of cattle husbanders worries corn ethanol is driving up feed grain prices because of demand pressure competition reducing the amount of corn dedicated for feed. And check the ownership of agribusiness spreads; many have links to the energy companies, a sensible diversification. For what Ralston's comments are worth, I shall peruse them again, and appreciate the links here.

i think rayne and john lopresti are onto something...rove is out of his league with water politics, but he and cheney get texas issues, like oil and energy from it. the klamath issue involves a tiny portion of the electorate, and i'm not sure if their miniscule numbers really could have turned the corner for the repubs. i'd need polling data. but i do know off the top of my head that gramma millie got shouted down by the big bad brokers of enron in 2001:
"Enron Corp. traders conspired to shut down a healthy power plant as blackouts rolled across California in early 2001, according to documents released Thursday.

In the brash language that has become a familiar coda to the electricity crunch, Enron traders and others were captured discussing in e-mail messages and telephone conversations how they could profit from the state's problems.

That set of tapes, in which traders chanted "burn baby burn" and gloated about inflating costs for "Grandma Millie" in California, inflamed the simmering controversy."
(via LA Times)

it's always about the power: politically, electrically, and from oil and coal.

There has definitely been an issue with rates, and room for movement; the question is whether the rate changes might have been an attractive component of the acquisition of PacifiCorp. Note this from 12-APR-06:

...Authorized in 1905, the Klamath Reclamation Project provides water for about 1,000 farms on about 180,000 acres straddling the Oregon-California border on the eastern side of the Cascade Range. The primary reservoir, Upper Klamath Lake, flows into the Klamath River. Water diverted to irrigate the project is returned to the river, along with water from Lost River and wells pumped to benefit salmon.

On most federal irrigation projects around the West, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built dams to provide low-cost power for irrigators. But on the Klamath Project, they ceded that responsibility to California & Oregon Power Co., which built dams to produce electricity. Copco has since been taken over by PacifiCorp.

PacifiCorp has said electric rates of 0.6 cents per kilowatt hour were 20 percent below market when they were negotiated in 1956, and are now 99 percent below the 6 cents per kilowatt hour charged for irrigation power in Oregon. Similar rates have been in place since 1917. The rate in California is 8 cents per kilowatt hour.

Lumping together the 220 customers on the project in California, 720 on the project in Oregon, and 300 off the project in California — including a golf course, cemetery and schools that pay 0.75 cents per kilowatt hour — PacifiCorp has said it loses $8 million to $10 million a year.

Seus said he expected a decision from the California Public Utility Commission this week on a proposal to impose the rate increase over four years for California farmers on the project.

Makes me wonder how many of the affected voters weren't in Oregon but northern California...how does that change the complexion of vote manipulation? Districts at the northern border neighboring Oregon are CA-01 (Mike Thompson-D), CA-02 (Wally Herger-R), and my personal favorite, CA-04 (John Doolittle-R). Ahem.

in those parts, they call it the "state of jefferson."
they wanted to secede.
you are goooood, rayne.

The consequences of Cheney's actions weren't so obscure.

As a consequence of the massive 2002 salmon dieoff, the 2006 salmon fishery was closed for 700 mile stretch from Oregon through California. No northern California salmon on the market last year.

This year, the fishery is scheduled to reopen but at a much lower level than usual, to protect the small stock of 4-year old fish. The population of 3-year old fish has rebounded, so hopefully Northern California salmon will come back, and not go the way of the Atlantic cod, whose fisheries were closed in the mid-90s and never reopened again.


Rayne, according to her Calendar, the very first call Gale Norton recieved as Secretary of the Interior was from John Doolittle. Kind of interesting, seeing that the vast majority of public land in his district is Forest Service, which comes under Dept. of Ag, not Interior.

MB Williams -- Hmm. Very interesting. Wonder if DOI has domain over hydroelectric? (I should probably know this, but I don't...) I went poking around in Thomas.gov late last night/early morning, note that he submitted a bill re: hydroelectric back in 1997, but it looks like it got buried in committee. There were requests for funding submitted in a defense appropriation in 2001, but I don't think it passed, think Doolittle voted nay on at least two requests for funds.

Seems like we're missing a few pieces; how do we get to Cheney from Doolittle? And Cheney doesn't do anything if it doesn't involve energy and the exercise of power in some way; what's in this for him? Were there possible construction contracts that Halliburton was in line for, or was this part of a bigger picture we're not seeing -- a la Enron or the FERC energy corridor planning?

Yup. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, as mentioned in one of my previous comments, is a subset of the DOI.

But that's rather interesting: Doolittle calls Norton-DOI, not Bureau of Rec? And he votes against funding for dam improvements in 2001?

Hey MBW, while we're trying to figure out angle of approach, which if any of the Northern CA tribes might have used lobbyists? I doubt most of these could afford it, but I'll rely on your expertise here.

Rayne, I think I might have found something - Yes, DoI has domain over hydroelectric in most cases (Bureau of Reclamation in the West.) In fact, I found the July 19, 2001 testimony by Deputy Director of the Office of Policy Analysis, William Bettenberg re: "Electricity Generation and Transmission; Hydroelectric Relicensing Procedures" before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In the testimony, Bettenberg stated that he served as the Hydropower Coordinator for the Department.

Now, the reason I was looking for Bettenberg was that his name came up in Norton's calendar on July 10th - in a meeting with Wooldridge, Eric Ruff (then director of Communications), press secretary Mark Pfeifle and, get this, Italia Federici.

Was Federici called in to work the Klamath PR? I think it's time to pull up the Wayback Machine for www.creaonline.org and take a look.

BTW, Bettenberg was Director of MMS during the Reagan Administration, and is blamed for the worst royalties scandal prior to the most recent one under Johnnie Burton.

Update on above comments. Gale Norton also testified on July 19, 2001 before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The subject of the hearing was Dianne Feinstein's newly submitted bill, S. 976, "The California Ecosystem, Water Supply, and Water Quality Enhancement Act of 2001", which, not surprisingly, included $20 million for drought-stricken Klamath Basin farmers.

Wow. Federici? Nice work!

So now we have to figure out the scam...yes, I've completely lost objectivity, but when certain names come up repeatedly in criminal enterprises, it's really hard to remain objective. Kind of like trying to surprise suspicion when one hears the name "Gotti."

Now, it's quite possible that the July 10th meeting was in regards to ANWR (Norton was scheduled to testify before the House that week as well, but on the Cheney energy plan), but I can't figure out why then Bettenberg would have been in on the meeting, unless it was his expertise on allowing BigEnergy to make off with billions in royalties. Also, Wooldridge was designated by Norton to be her "personal liaison" on all things related to Caliornia energy - Wooldridge did not work on ANWR.

Need to find out where those PacifiCorp dams sit; I wonder if they were on tribal lands?

Rayne, did you PacifiCorp is owned by Berkshire Hathaway?

It's interesting to note that the four dams are the subject of negotiations to be dismantled.

MBW -- yes, I knew that Mid American Energy, a subsidiary of B-H, had purchased PacifiCorp in 2006. Which is rather odd since the Scotch company that owned PacifiCorp had only purchased it in 1999; the owner claimed that PacifiCorp was too cost intensive, required more money than the Scotch were willing to pay in exchange for inadequate returns. Made me wonder who the hell did their due diligence prior to acquisition...

And the dams have been earmarked for quite a while, pretty sure I've seen discussions going back before 1997 about them -- so why the request for hydroelectric improvement funds rather than retirement funds by John Doolittle in 1997? (Which he then votes against in 2001...)

Wondering who wanted to bid on either the improvement contract(s) or the demolition contracts.

Still wondering if PG&E (Enron-owned) was buying power from PacifiCorp, and if Portland G&E (also Enron-owned, I believe) was buying power from PacifiCorp in 2001.

Noticed that the Klamath River Basin dams owned by PacifiCorp were not published on a map at the company's website for reasons of national security. [sigh]

MBW -- beginning to wonder if some of this info might draw the wrong kind of attention...? Found more info last night, will try to email it to you.

Again, another story Jason lepoold wrote about before the WaPo did

also notice how the journalist people love to hate has been scooping everyone on the US attorney scandal getting exclusive interviews with the USA's

Funny how you don't hear anything about his good work

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