Saturday, November 19, 2005

More evidence of the coming Republican crack-up

It's really hard to see how they can keep in power right now, without moderating their policies:

Pentagon investigators have referred allegations of abuse in how the Halliburton Company was awarded a contract for work in Iraq to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation, a Democratic senator who has been holding unofficial hearings on contract abuses in Iraq said yesterday in Washington.

The allegations mainly involve the Army's secret, noncompetitive awarding in 2003 of a multibillion dollar contract for oil field repairs in Iraq to Halliburton, a Texas-based company. The objections were raised publicly last year by Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, then the chief contracts monitor at the Army Corps of Engineers, the government agency that handled the contract and several others in Iraq.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 - Even among the ambitious Republican aides driving the Clinton impeachment case in 1998, Michael Scanlon stood out.

He was 28, preppy, athletic. Hired as a spokesman for Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, Mr. Scanlon charmed reporters with his easy manner and willingness to trade gossip.

But in private, Mr. Scanlon was ruthless. He attacked his boss's political opponents with ferocity. That instinct would help him go after adversaries - and earn tens of millions of dollars - as an associate of the Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff in just a few short years.

The day President Bill Clinton testified to the grand jury about Monica Lewinsky, Mr. Scanlon fired off an e-mail message to a colleague objecting to "this whole thing about not kicking someone when they're down."

"You kick him until he passes out," Mr. Scanlon wrote in an e-mail message that was published in the Clinton biography "The Breach." "Then beat him over the head with a baseball bat, then roll him up in an old rug and throw him off a cliff into the pound surf below!!!!!"

Less than a decade later, Mr. Scanlon is in legal trouble for his business dealings with Mr. Abramoff, with whom he used his ties to the Republican House leadership to build a booming lobbying and public affairs business.

Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff collected about $82 million in fees from Indian tribes over four years. Their dealings triggered the investigation that led to the criminal conspiracy charge filed against Mr. Scanlon on Friday.

The prosecutor in the CIA leak case said yesterday that he plans to present evidence to another federal grand jury, signaling a new and potentially significant turn in the investigation into the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Three weeks after indicting I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and declaring the investigation nearly complete, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald announced a new phase in the investigation after the disclosure this week that a senior administration official revealed Plame's CIA connection to Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward in mid-June 2003.

Legal experts said Fitzgerald's decision to call upon a new grand jury is all but certainly because he is considering additional criminal charges in the case.

Two sources close to Karl Rove, the top Bush aide still under investigation in the case, said they have reason to believe Fitzgerald does not anticipate presenting additional evidence against the White House deputy chief of staff. Instead, lawyers involved in the case expect the prosecutor to focus on Woodward's admission that an official other than Libby told him about Plame one month before her identity was publicly disclosed in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak.

Then there's the Frist SEC investigation.

You just can't bet against all of these and expect to win.

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