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Impeach Bush

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 Cheney Says He's Above the Law.
 Lay's Million Dollar Bankruptcy
 Vinson & Elkins, Texas, Bush and Enron
 Detainees are POW's--Powell
 Census Secrets-Judge Stops Bush *
 WH Helps Enron
 Military into Enron
 GAO to Sue White House-Enron
 Bush Doubles HS After Veto Threat
 HS Veto Threat
 Where Did the Surplus Go?
* impeachable offense
Cheney Says He's Above the Law!
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite the threat of an unprecedented lawsuit, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday he would not give congressional investigators internal documents related to development of the administration's energy plan, including additional information on Enron Corp.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has been seeking more information about contacts between industry and the Bush administration's energy task force, headed by Cheney.

On the "Fox News Sunday" program, Cheney said the long-standing debate with the GAO was being revived by Democrats hoping to capitalize on the collapse of energy giant Enron.

"Now what's happened is we've come back around, as a result of the Enron corporate collapse, some of the Democrats on the Hill are trying to re-energize this and try to turn it into some kind of political debate," Cheney said.

Oh, we see..only democrats in Congress are looking into Enron and the energy plan. LIE!

"The fact is, Enron didn't get any special deals," he added on the ABC "This Week" program.

The Secetaries of State and Energy tried to help Enron and so did his National Security Advisor. LIE!

Cheney said the dispute involved investigators' requests, at the urging of Democrats, for "a listing of everybody I meet with, of everything that was discussed, any advice that was received, notes and minutes of those meetings."

Republican asked for such information on an almost daily basis from Bill Clinton. Did he whine and complain as much as this man? Bill Clinton had character and integrity, Cheney does not.

Cheney"It would make it virtually impossible for me to have confidential conversations with anybody ... You just cannot accept that proposition without putting a chill over the ability of the president and vice president to receive unvarnished advice.

"The net result of that is to weaken the presidency and the vice presidency," he added on ABC.

CONSIDERING SUIT

Comptroller General David Walker, head of the GAO, said he would decide this week whether to file suit to force the White House to turn over the information, which he said would be the first such action against a federal agency.

Walker says Congress and the GAO have a right to information on the task force because it was funded with taxpayers' money.

But Cheney said the GAO did not have the authority to demand such information.

In the case of impeachment the congress has absolute power to empower any agency of government to seek information. Using Cheney's logic, no president would ever be impeached because he's above investigation. This is as deep as it gets.

"Their jurisdiction extends to agencies created by statute. That's not me," he told the Fox program. "I'm a constitutional officer. And the authority of the GAO does not extend in that case to my office."

Constitutional officers are above the law?

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Cheney's decision was "unfortunate."

"It may be a matter of principle, but it's also a matter of law," the South Dakota Democrat told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"If this has to be resolved in the courts, I think that that may be the only recourse. The General Accounting Office is on solid ground in demanding that these records be turned over. The American people have a right to know what the facts are."

The energy plan announced in May called for more oil and gas drilling and a revived nuclear power program. It contained many provisions sought by Enron.

The White House has revealed that Cheney or the energy task force staff met six times last year with Enron representatives but has refused to provide other details on how the administration's policy was crafted.

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi told CBS, "I can assure you they are not hiding anything."

How can Lott know if they are not hiding anything. Nothing has been released YET! More Smoke!

Houston-based Enron, once ranked No. 7 on the Fortune 500 big businesses list, filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history on Dec. 2, hammering investors, eliminating thousands of jobs and raising questions about its ties to President Bush.

Walker began his pursuit of the energy task force last spring at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman of California and Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, both Democrats.


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Lay's $100 Million Bankruptcy
abcnews.com/wire/ap

HOUSTON (AP) Former Enron Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Kenneth Lay and his wife are struggling to avoid personal bankruptcy, his wife said Monday.

"Everything we had mostly was in Enron stock," Linda Lay said on NBC's "Today." "We've had long-term investments and those long-term investments have cash calls. Virtually other than the home we live in everything we own is for sale."

Kenneth Lay resigned earlier this month, saying the lawsuits and investigations into Enron's spectacular collapse in an accounting scandal were preventing him from properly running the company.

Attorneys suing Lay and other executives claim he sold 1.8 million shares of Enron stock for $101 million from October 1998 to November 2001, though it's not clear how many of those sales were required under stock option rules.

Linda Lay said her husband is an "honest, decent, moral human begin who would do absolutely nothing wrong."

She said the full truth isn't out about the Enron debacle.

"There's some things (Kenneth Lay) wasn't told," Linda Lay said. "That will all come out in the investigation."

She said Enron's outside counsel, the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins, and accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLC had told her husband everything was fine.

The Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation of Enron and Andersen. Securities regulators and 11 congressional panels also have opened inquiries.

Kenneth Lay had no idea former Enron executive J. Clifford Baxter who committed suicide was in any kind of pain, his wife said.

Baxter was found dead Friday in his car a few miles from his home in suburban Sugar Land. The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that he killed himself.

"It makes my heart ache, it makes Ken's heart ache," Linda Lay said. "Had we known, we would have picked up phones and called we would have gone and been with him."

Commentary:
Whaaa! The guy cashes out over $100 million in four years and he's broke? Anyone who can mismanage this much cash has to be a Bush fan.

I can't wait to hear conservatives whine about the need to overhaul bankruptcy laws again...oops, they can't. Campaign contributions will buy their silence. It's good to see some things never change.


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Vinson & Elkins, Texas, Bush and Enron
.abcnews.com/wire/ap

HOUSTON (AP) Vinson & Elkins' reputation took 80 years to polish and one client to smudge.

The largest law firm in Houston and the most profitable in Texas, Vinson & Elkins has been stung by accusations it showed poor judgment or worse in work for Enron Corp.

An Enron insider claims Vinson & Elkins blessed partnership deals that hid the energy trading company's shaky financial situation until it collapsed into bankruptcy.

Outside lawyers say the firm violated ethical standards by reviewing the accusations itself instead of demanding an impartial, outside review.

V&E has worked for Enron since the energy company's founding in the mid-1980s and Enron is now its biggest client, accounting for $35 million of its $450 million in billings last year.

Vinson & Elkins' work for Enron might not have attracted much attention but for an Enron executive's letter written in August to chairman Kenneth Lay.

The executive, Sherron Watkins, fretted that Enron could "implode in a wave of accounting scandals," and urged the company to hire a law firm to investigate murky accounting and partnership deals that helped keep billions in debt off Enron's books.

"Can't use V&E due to conflict they provided some true sale opinions on some of the deals," Watkins wrote. Lawyers write true sale opinions on the legality of transactions.

Enron ignored Watkins' plea and turned back to Vinson & Elkins. In October, V&E partner Max Hendrick III wrote to Enron's general counsel James Derrick Jr., a former V&E partner, that Watkins' charges could prove embarrassing but merited no further investigation.

Lawyers who specialize in suing other lawyers say Vinson & Elkins left itself open to attack by angry shareholders and ex-employees by not insisting that another firm be hired to investigate Watkins' claims.

"When you've got someone asking you to review your own conduct, there's a bias," said Sean Jez, who represents shareholders suing Enron officers and directors.

A legal malpractice specialist, Valorie Davenport, said big law firms fight over clients Enron's size and tend to gloss over problems to get and keep that business.

Vinson & Elkins won't say what role it played in approving the controversial Enron partnerships.

Watkins, the Enron executive who raised the accusation against the law firm, doesn't have documentary proof but "reliable sources communicated to her that the work was done," said her lawyer, Philip Hilder.

A spokesman for Vinson & Elkins, Joe Householder, said the firm couldn't discuss its work for Enron because it still represents the company.

"We are fully confident that everything we've done for Enron is to the highest professional and ethical standards," he said.

Founded in 1917, the firm specialized in working with banks to provide legal advice and financing to Texas' then-young oil industry, and it grew rapidly as the energy sector boomed.

"They did very good work, much of it humdrum work, like checking land titles. Attention to detail," said Harold Hyman, a retired Rice University history professor who wrote a book about the firm.

Vinson & Elkins partners, who once included former Texas Gov. John Connally, grew rich.

But the firm also developed a progressive reputation for doing pro bono work on civil-liberties cases and for hiring female, black and Jewish partners in the 1970s, before many other Texas law firms did.

The law firm has forged close ties with many Texas politicians, especially President Bush.

Two of its partners and a third who recently left were among the "pioneers" who raised at least $100,000 for Bush's presidential campaign. White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez sometimes mentioned as a possible Bush nominee to the Supreme Court is a former Vinson & Elkins attorney.

That's all we need. Another US Supreme Court judge beholding to Bush for his job. Enough already. Where are the ethics?

If this is the best Texas has to offer can you imagine how bad it must be?


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Powell Urges Bush to List Detainees as POWs-Report
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell has asked President Bush to reconsider a decision not to list detainees from Afghanistan being held in Cuba as prisoners of war, The Washington Times reported on Saturday.

"The secretary of state has requested that you reconsider that decision," a memo from White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez to Bush said, according to the newspaper.

The memo marks a break from the Bush administration's decision to refuse to call the 158 al Qaeda and Taliban detainees prisoners of war, a designation that would give them certain rights under the Geneva Conventions.

The United States, which began flying them from Afghanistan to a hastily constructed prison at a naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba two weeks ago, has been strongly criticized by human rights groups and some foreign politicians for its treatment of the detainees on flights and at the base.

The newspaper reported that the four-page internal memo, dated Friday, shows the National Security Council plans to discuss Powell's request at a meeting on Monday morning.

"Specifically, he has asked that you conclude that GPW (Geneva Convention II on the Treatment of Prisoners of War) does apply to both al Qaeda and the Taliban," the newspaper quoted Gonzalez as saying in the memo.

"I understand, however, that he would agree that al Qaeda and Taliban fighters could be determined not to be prisoners of war (POWs) but only on a case-by-case basis following individual hearings before a military board," Gonzalez wrote.

According to the memo Gonzales and most, if not all, members of the president's national security team are urging Bush not to retreat on the issue, the newspaper said.

"On balance, I believe that the arguments for reconsideration and reversal are unpersuasive," Gonzalez reportedly wrote.


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Judge Allows Bid to Get Secret Census Data
nytimes.com

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 — In a ruling that could limit the data government agencies can withhold from Congress, a federal judge in California has held that the Bush administration must give Democrats in the House access to census figures the administration wants to keep secret.

The judge, Lourdes G. Baird of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, in Los Angeles, based her decision on an obscure provision of a 1928 law called the Seven Member Rule. The law, which has never been applied, specifies that government agencies must turn over information if it is requested by seven members of the House Government Reform Committee or five members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

The administration is expected to appeal the decision, which was issued on Jan. 18, and the matter may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

Mark J. Rozell, a professor of politics at Catholic University and a specialist in the area of government secrecy, said that if the decision was upheld, members of the minority party in Congress could gain access to much more information than they get now.

The ruling would apparently not affect the question of whether the administration must give Congress the records of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, Mr. Rozell said.

In that case, the administration maintains that the General Accounting Office, Congress's auditing arm, has no authority to have the information.

As a practical matter, the Seven Member Rule benefits the minority party in Congress. The majority can seek information simply by issuing a subpoena.

After the 2000 census count was made, the Census Bureau conducted a survey of 314,000 households and determined that 12.5 million people had been missed by the regular count or counted twice. Those missed tended to be poor and were often members of minorities. Those counted twice were mostly white homeowners.

The Bush administration, over the objection of most Democrats, decided last year to use the raw head count and not the adjusted figures for redrawing Congressional districts and distributing government aid.

In April, Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the ranking Democrat on the Government Reform Committee, asked the Census Bureau for the adjusted figures for states, counties and even neighborhoods. The bureau refused on the ground that the figures were flawed.

Mr. Waxman and 17 other Democrats on the committee then filed suit under the Seven Member Rule.

The law states that if seven members of the House committee, called the Government Operations Committee until the last decade, or five members of the Senate committee make a request, a government agency "shall submit any information requested of it relating to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee."

Judge Baird said the law was so specific that she had no alternative but to rule the way she did. She implied that she might have ruled differently if material had been withheld on the grounds of national security, law enforcement requirements or the privacy of internal deliberations — the typical grounds for what is called executive privilege — but in the case of census figures, none of those grounds could plausibly be claimed.

The administration argued that the court lacked jurisdiction because what was at issue was a political dispute between the other two branches of the government. Judge Baird rejected that view.

In an interview today, Mr. Waxman said that if the ruling was upheld, the Seven Member Rule could become "an important tool for the public's right to know."

Commentary:
Secrets, secrets, secrets. Government of, by and for the people. Yeah right. And where's all that character and integrity we heard so much about in the last campaign? Does Bush really think he's above the law again?

On this day, Mr. Bush becomes eligible for articles of   impeachment and removal from office for violating article 6  of the Constitution.

Article 6: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land..."

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution..."


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WH Changed Draft Plan to Help Enron-Lawmaker
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House apparently changed a draft energy proposal circulated by the State Department last year to add a provision aimed at helping energy-trader Enron Corp. in India, a Democratic lawmaker says.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California wrote Friday to Vice President Dick Cheney, who headed the administration's energy policy task force, to point out the change.

A week ago Waxman said he had found 17 policies in the White House's May 2001 energy plan, including the India provision, that were either advocated by Enron or benefited Enron.

He said in his letter to Cheney on Friday that it now appeared the India provision had been missing from the draft energy policy proposal circulated by the State Department during an interagency review in March 2001.

"Instead, the provision appears to have been added to the plan during the period in which the White House directly controlled the drafting," Waxman wrote.

The White House has strongly denied that its energy plan was crafted to help Enron, President Bush's biggest political patron, and has sought to keep the financial scandal around the now-collapsed energy trader from spreading to the Bush administration.

The added provision recommended that the U.S. secretaries of state and energy help India maximize its domestic oil and gas production, Waxman said.

"The energy plan does not discuss this recommendation or explain why maximizing oil and gas production in India should be a U.S. national energy priority," Waxman said in his letter to Cheney, a copy of which was provided to Reuters.

But he asserted that the recommendation "benefited Enron by formally enlisting two Cabinet secretaries in Enron's conflict with the Indian government."

Enron's $2.9 billion gas-fired power plant and adjacent liquefied natural gas facility at Dabhol, about 155 miles (250 km) south of Bombay, has been idle since last June due to a tariff dispute with the government.

Last week the White House acknowledged that the administration had intervened with Indian officials last year in a bid to salvage the Dabhol plant, and also noted that former President Clinton's commerce secretaries had made similar appeals on behalf of Dabhol.

But the White House has rebuffed calls by Waxman and other lawmakers for the energy task force's records. On Friday the head of the Congress' auditing arm, the General Accounting Office, said he would decide within days whether to take the administration to court to try to get the records.

Commentary:
Two Cabinet members are now involved in helping Enron, the secretaries of State and Energy, plus the Vice President. A few weeks ago the White House swore they did nothing to help Enron. They lied right to our faces.


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Congress Should Call Army Chief About Enron - Group
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A consumer watchdog group said on Friday that Congress should call Army Secretary Thomas White to testify in the collapse of energy giant Enron, since he was formerly a high-ranking Enron executive.

The group, Public Citizen, accuses White of taking action that could have benefited Enron soon after he became Army secretary last spring. He left his position as Vice Chairman of Enron Energy Services to take up the Army job.

White spent 11 years as an Enron executive. He also appears to have held more Enron stock than any senior official in the Bush administration, having declared ownership of between $50 million and $100 million in Enron stock and options when he joined the administration in May 2001.

Tyson Slocum, research director for the energy program at Public Citizen, said White should be called to testify to one of the nine committees probing the company's collapse.

An Army spokesman said he believed White would testify if Congress asks him to do so. "I'm sure he would, if he is called. He has provided written answers to lawmakers who asked for them, and he was up front in his confirmation hearings," said Maj. Steve Stover.

CHEERLEADING FOR PRIVATIZATION

Public Citizen criticized White for pushing to shift more control of military base utilities into private hands just a few weeks after he became Army secretary last year.

"In his first major speech, he outlined that he was going to be very aggressive in privatizing utility sources at bases over which he had jurisdiction," Slocum said. This area was a rich source of potential income for Enron.

In fact, White had also led the charge from the other side. He was Vice Chairman at Enron Energy Services when a subsidiary of his division got a $25 million contract in 1999 to upgrade, operate and maintain all utility systems from electricity and gas to waste and storm water at Fort Hamilton, New York.

The Pentagon, in White's defense, says that as Army Secretary he was only promoting a policy to privatize utilities that was in place when he arrived. "He just thought it was smart business practice," said Col. James Allen, an Army spokesman.

White's cheerleading for utility privatization lasted nearly until Enron's dramatic collapse. On November 28, just a few days before the company filed for bankruptcy, he issued a memo urging the Army to privatize more of its utilities.

It was probably too late to help Enron, which saw its bonds downgraded to "junk" status the same day. White had already sold all his Enron stock, it emerged in a letter he wrote this week to Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.

In the letter, White denied that as Army Secretary he had taken any action to help Enron.

Commentary:
Bush's need to take care of Enron is now involves the US Military at a time of war. What more can be said...Enron saturates every part of our government because Bush is president.


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GAO Brandishes Lawsuit in Energy Task Force Probe
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congress' top investigator said on Friday he will decide late next week whether to take the Bush administration to court -- in a potentially historic legal fight -- for withholding details about how it developed its controversial energy policy.

With the Enron scandal putting both sides on edge, Comptroller General David Walker told Reuters, "I'm hopeful the administration is now going to reconsider its position and cooperate with us ... But we're on a short fuse."

Walker, head of Congress' General Accounting Office, said he would decide after Tuesday's State of the Union address by President Bush whether to pursue legal action to force disclosure of information the White House contends is protected by executive privilege.

"It could happen Wednesday, Thursday or Friday," Walker said. "If we did go to court, it would be the first time in history that we would have ever taken a federal entity or official to court. We need to try to do everything we can to avoid it. But we're committed to do our job."

Two Democratic congressmen released a letter on Friday urging the GAO to file suit against Cheney's office.

Reps. John Dingell and Henry Waxman for nine months have been demanding release of details about the task force Cheney led that drew up a White House energy policy calling for more oil and gas drilling and a revived nuclear power program.

Bankrupt energy trading giant Enron Corp., which was Bush's biggest political patron for many years, reportedly was closely consulted by the task force, along with others in the energy industry. Environmentalists have said they were shut out of the task force's discussions.

California's Waxman and Michigan's Dingell wrote in the letter that task force details were vital to congressional consideration of energy policy, "particularly with recent questions concerning the influence of officials of Enron."


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Bush Would Nearly Double Homeland Security Spending
Retuers.com
January 24, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saying "they still want to come after us," President Bush on Thursday proposed nearly doubling spending on homeland security to $37.7 billion in 2003 to protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

The new money would go toward equipment and training for police, firefighters and emergency medical teams; securing U.S. borders, combating bioterrorism, and sharing intelligence among government agencies and federal and local authorities.

The White House has already forecast deficits of $106 billion for fiscal 2002 and $80 billion for 2003, putting the squeeze on proposals favored by Democrats, such as health-care reforms, and fueling an election-year budget battle. Democrats have, however, largely backed Bush's anti-terrorism measures.

DEMOCRAT DECLARES VICTORY

A spokesman for the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, said the homeland security package contains elements the administration had previously dragged its feet on by threatening to veto a Democratic security package.

"It is in a way a big victory for the Democrats who have been saying for months that we need to do this," said the spokesman, David Sirota.

Bush proposed an $18.2 billion increase in spending on homeland security, to $37.7 billion from $19.5 billion.

Commentary:
Moral of the story...NEVER trust a Bush. Within two months Bush went from threatening to veto more spending for Homeland Security to doubling spending.


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Bush Threatens to veto security bill
govexec.com
November 7, 2001

Congressional appropriators left a White House meeting with President Bush Tuesday night, no closer to an agreement over spending to fight terrorism, after Bush threatened to veto any bill exceeding the $686 billion cap on the 13 regular bills and the $40 billion supplemental already passed.

Byrd and House Appropriations ranking member David Obey, D- Wis., both advocate a $20 billion domestic security spending package in addition to the supplemental.

But Young and Senate Appropriations ranking member Ted Stevens, R-Alaska--both eager to avoid a veto showdown with the President--also pushed hard in the hour-long session for Bush to let them designate any funding beyond the $40 billion as a "contingent emergency." That way, the president would have the option to decide whether to spend those funds by formally designating them for emergency use.

Commentary:
Bush theatens to veto $20 billion for Homeland Security In November of 2001. In January of 2002, he supports spending $37.7 billion. His veto threat was a joke and democrats got it right again. Bush should be ignored on all matters regarding national security.


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Where Did the Surplus Go?
cbo.gov
(in billions of dollars)
  2002 2002-2011
January 2001 Projection 313 5,610
     
Legislative Changes    
Tax Law
-38 -1,275
Defense Appropriations
-33 -301
Nondefense Appropriations
-11 -249
Debt Service and Other Costs
-9 -595
Subtotal
-91 -2,420
     
Economic Changes -148 -929
Technical Changes -94 -660
Total Changes
-333 -4,008
     
January 2002 Projection -21 1,602

Commentary:
The Bush camp is trying to tell us the War on Terrorism caused the drop in the surplus, but those who know the facts know it's a lie.

The tax cut is the largest cause of the drop in the projected surplus. Adding to this is the cost of servicing the debt which rose by $595 billion. In fact, the increased debt costs were almost twice as high as the military increases.

It seems obvious republicans should not be allowed to lie about the failures of their policies.


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