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Friday, May 29th

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The Veep’s Pipeline Push

A two-year-old letter by Vice President Dick Cheney that pushed a controversial Alaska natural-gas pipeline bill is getting renewed scrutiny because of recently disclosed evidence in the Justice Department's corruption case against Sen. Ted Stevens. In a conversation secretly tape-recorded by the FBI on June 25, 2006, Stevens discussed ways to get a pipeline bill through the Alaska Legislature with Bill Allen, an oil-services executive accused of providing the senator with about $250,000 in undisclosed financial benefits. According to a Justice motion, Stevens told Allen, "I'm gonna try to see if I can get some bigwigs from back here and say, 'Look … you gotta get this done'." Two days later, Cheney wrote a letter to the Alaska Legislature urging members to "promptly enact" a bill to build the pipeline. The letter was considered unusual because the White House rarely contacts state lawmakers about pending legislative matters. It also angered state Democrats, who accused Cheney of pushing oil-company interests. The former executive director of Cheney's energy task force had gone to work as a lobbyist for British Petroleum, one of three firms slated to build the pipeline.

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Bush has vowed to sprint through his final five months, and is pushing through a vast plan to alter countless federal programs.

Bush has vowed to sprint through the final five months of his Administration, and you better believe him.

Because he is pulling all the bureaucratic levers in the Executive Branch to advance his right-wing agenda.

Unable to accomplish his goals legislatively, Bush is trying to get them done by fiat.

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225 Days of WH Emails Missing

The White House is missing as many as 225 days of e-mail dating back to 2003 and there is little if any likelihood a recovery effort will be completed by the time the Bush administration leaves office, according to an internal White House draft document obtained by The Associated Press.

"With an eye on the clock, the White House continues to drag its feet and do everything possible to postpone public access to the records of this presidency," said Anne Weismann, chief counsel to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a private watchdog group.

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Dual Citizenship -- Loyal to Whom?

Recently, in their much lauded paper, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Harvard professor, Stephen Walt, and University of Chicago professor, John Mearsheimer, focused attention on the strong Israeli lobby which has a powerful influence over American foreign policies. They detail the influence that this lobby has exerted, forming a series of international policies which can be viewed as in direct opposition to the interests and security of the American people. These acts and policies are more often than not carried out by US government appointees who hold powerful positions and who are dual American-Israeli citizens. Since the policies they support are often exclusively beneficial to Israel, often to the detriment of America, it has been argued that their loyalties are misdirected.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Gonzales & DOJ Officials

Six attorneys rejected from civil service positions at the Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and three other top officials for allegedly violating their rights by taking politics into consideration in the hiring process.

The suit is an attempt to hold top officials accountable for the hiring scandal that ultimately led to Gonzales' resignation last year, said Daniel Metcalfe, the attorney for the plaintiffs who is also executive director of its Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University's Washington College of Law. 

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Justice Dept. Issues a Callback

Job applicants who were rejected by the Justice Department because of improper political considerations will be urged to apply for open positions, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey told an audience yesterday.

"Two wrongs do not make a right," Mukasey told the American Bar Association yesterday in New York. "The people hired in an improper way did not, themselves, do anything wrong. It therefore would be unfair -- and quite possibly illegal given their civil service protections -- to fire or reassign them without individual cause."

Mukasey explicitly ruled out criminal prosecution of former Justice Department employees who investigators say ran afoul of civil service laws, echoing congressional testimony last month by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. 

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US disregarded experts over biolab

The Homeland Security Department swept aside evaluations of government experts and named Mississippi — home to powerful U.S. lawmakers with sway over the agency — as a top location for a new $451 million, national laboratory to study some of the world's most virulent biological threats, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The disclosure is the latest example of what critics assert is the Bush administration's politicizing of government decisions, such as efforts to steer science over global warming at the Environmental Protection Agency and hiring and firing practices at the Justice Department.

Some lawmakers already skeptical over the department's plans said (Homeland Security official, Undersecretary Jay) Cohen's intervention on behalf of Mississippi appears improper.

"It appears that the undersecretary responsible for this program may have corrupted the site selection process by putting his thumb on the scale in favor of a particular site and its contractor, in violation of his own rules and over the objections of his own advisers," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. "This raises the question of whether DHS is interested in bioresearch or just shameless empire building."

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