"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Some Possible Abuses of Power under George W. Bush

There is strong reason to believe that the FBI was used in an effort to influence a Philadelphia election. The Philadelphia mayoral election of 2004provided a blatant example of how the abuse of federal power was used in an effort to influence voters. The FBI installed listening devices in the ceiling of Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s office before a regularly scheduled security sweep. The FBI also seized one of the Democratic mayor’s handheld computers. The agency quickly leaked that he was a subject of investigation, possibly in connection with fixing parking tickets or the fact that his brother got a part of a construction contract. The timing of these moves left the popular mayor in limbo, unable to defend himself against undisclosed charges and likely to lose votes as a result of the situation. Skeptics thought these actions part of an “October surprise,” aimed at placing City Hall in Republican hands in time for the presidential election of 2004. Believing Ashcroft was abusing his powers for political ends, black voters turned out in droves to give Street another term.

There are strong indications that the Department of Interior also used its power to help key Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff do business with Indian Tribes. Secretary Gail Norton also proved adept as using her supervision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the advantage of her party. In the fall of 2001, she met with leaders of the Mississippi Choctaw, the Chitimacha, and the Coushatta. Bush fundraiser Jack Abramoff represented these tribes. Each tribe was reported to pledge amounts approaching a million dollars to the 2002 campaign. Wayne Smith, second in command at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, reportedly used former business partner Phil Bersinger to raise funds. Bersinger’s approach to Linda Amelia of the Chinooks was so blatant that Ms. Smith thought an FBI sting operation was underway. Another group of Indian tribe leaders met with President Bush at a meeting arranged by Americans for Tax Reform, a group they helped to finance.

Norton’s accounting methods, designed to help wealthy ranchers, also reveal an inclination to abuse power. In September 2002, a federal district judge found Norton guilty on four counts of “fraud on the court” for lying about efforts to improve accounting methods with respect to collecting money from leased Native American lands. Apparently, millions had not been collected for decades. Other administrations had been remiss in correcting problems in the system, but the judge claimed Norton had reached new heights in disregard for court orders. Norton’s Department of the Interior also opened Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to as many as 51, 444 gas wells which will threaten water sources ranchers depend upon and interfere with agriculture in numerous ways.

There was evidence of monumental waste and fraud in the conduct of the Iraq War, but it was difficult to get a complete picture of what was going on. Even the staid Department of State joined in the cover-ups. Its inspector General suppressed reports that showed waste and fraud in the construction of the embassy complex in Baghdad, the largest in the world. The Department’s Inspector General derailed investigations of the Blackwater security firm and warned the former head of Public Broadcasting that both Congress and the Justice Department were investigating him for collecting twice for the same work and for billing two public agencies. Many thought the man shielded Blackwater because his brother was on a Blackwater board, but it is doubtful that he had this information. Although there have been some real horror stories about waste and fraud in the Iraq War, it has proven difficult to access detailed information. Contractor fraud cases are often dealt with under the Civil War’s False Claims Act. Someone with information files a “qui tam” suite in hopes that the Department of Justice will take up the case and that the filer will obtain about 18% of the judgment. The law provides that the information be sealed for 60 days while the Department decides what to do. In the past, it was not unusual for the DOJ to seek extensions of this time, but the Bush Department of Justice has developed a pattern of repeatedly seeking extensions and, thus, effectively gagging indefinitely those with information about fraud. The decision not to insist that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root adhere to established DOD accounting standards has effectively thrown a veil of secrecy over KBR’s activities there. Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction has complained that KBR did not “have certified billing or cost and schedule reporting systems” in place. There was no good way of knowing if the taxpayer was getting adequate value for payments. These payments were on a cost plus basis. Two years after made that comment, the Army Material Command made the same complaint in reference to learning what subcontractors were doing.

Sherman has written African American Baseball: A Brief History, which can be acquired from LuLu Publishing on line.http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?search_forum

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About Me

Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!