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Abramoff Figure Rep. Ney to Plead Guilty... And Resign from Congress? "Pressed by Republican House colleagues to resign, Rep. Bob Ney is the first congressman to fall in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling case, a controversy that has reached the Bush White House and Capitol Hill....

"Ney signed papers a month ago admitting to charges of conspiracy and making false statements, acknowledging that he had deprived the public of his honest services.

"The Ohio congressman says he took tens of thousands of dollars worth of trips, sports tickets, campaign contributions, meals and casino chips in exchange for legislation and public statements supporting Abramoff's clients and a foreign businessman.

"With the Justice Department recommending 27 months behind bars for Ney, the congressman may announce his decision to step down when he appears before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, an appointee of President Clinton.

"Longtime Washington lawyer Stephen Ryan said 'the most likely event' is that Ney will quit in front of the judge because that would represent acceptance of responsibility for his crimes, a critical issue with regard to the length of his prison term." (AP)

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Unveiling his "buck stops here" rhetoric last week, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) announced he was going to order up an independent panel to "advise us on the page program," in response to the Foley scandal. Remember?

The morning of the press conference, Ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh had been the rumored head of the panel, and the effort was thought to be an investigation -- but by the time Hastert appeared before reporters, he said only that he was "looking for a person of high caliber" to "advise" on the program.

So whatever happened to that?

In a word, nothing.

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A long-awaited report by the Senate Finance Committee accuses Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and other Abramoff-linked non-profits with committing acts that are likely in violation of their tax-exempt status.

You can read the full report here. The document is 608 pages in total, but most of that is devoted to appendices and exhibits; the report itself is 55 pages long.

The report hits ATR for a number of activities unrelated to its nonprofit purpose. Like the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Report on Abramoff, the Senate Finance Committee criticized ATR for acting as a lobbying operation, advocating certain positions in exchange for donations from Abramoff clients.

The panel began investigating the use of charities by disgraced superlobbyist Jack Abramoff in spring 2005. A bipartisan effort, the report was released today by the Democrats alone. Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) did not release a statement on the report, nor did he announce hearings. A Grassley staffer told the Washington Post that the senator endorsed the report but said he "did not co-author the report because he had hoped it would have included Democratic groups that he believes also breached their tax status."

The panel found that ATR set up meetings for Abramoff clients with administration officials, such as President Bush and Karl Rove, in exchange for hefty contributions.

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At least three people will tell the House ethics committee that Speaker Hastert knew about Mark Foley's problem with House pages before it became public ten days ago. That testimony contradicts Hastert's public stance so far: that he learned about it from ABC News.

First, Kirk Fordham, Foley's former chief of staff, is expected to tell the House ethics committee today that Hastert's chief of staff Scott Palmer told him he'd spoken to Hastert personally about Foley's problem as early as 2002.

Neither Fordham nor his lawyer have confirmed this crucial detail on the record. But an anonymous source -- who seems to be intimately acquainted with Fordham's side of the story -- told both The Washington Post and Newsweek that this what Fordham remembers -- and that's what he'll tell the ethics committee. (Palmer has vaguely rebuffed Fordham's account of Palmer's 2002 or 2003 intervention with Foley, and one imagines that he will dispute this part of it too.)

Second, Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) says that he talked to Hastert about Foley earlier this spring. "I took it to my supervisor," Reynolds says.

Third is House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) who also remembers talking to Hastert about the matter in the spring.

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I finally had a chance to speak with Orlando do Campo, a public defender representing Jose Padilla, about his allegation that government interrogators forced Padilla to take drugs similar to LSD and PCP.

Do Campo declined to be more specific about the effects Padilla has described that make the lawyer believe his client was given those illegal hallucinogens, or how many times the alleged terrorist says he was drugged. But do Campo said that more information may come out soon -- if the Defense Department complies with an order from the judge hearing the case.

Early this year, do Campo said, Padilla's legal team asked the Defense Department to turn over Padilla's medical records from his detention at the brig of the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, S.C. The government resisted, but the judge ordered them to comply. Several months later, do Campo still has not seen a single page of those records.

If Padilla was given drugs of any kind, one could expect them to be recorded in those files. Is that why the Defense Department is having a hard time turning those documents over?

Prosecutors have asked that David Safavian get three years in prison for lying to ethics and Senate investigators about his ties to Jack Abramoff.

Safavian, a former Bush administration appointee, was convicted back in June -- the first conviction in the Abramoff investigation. Safavian's lawyer has asked that he serve no prison time, arguing instead for home detention and/or community service. He's due to be sentenced October 27.

ThinkProgress has a great clip of K.A. Paul, the evangelist who says he convinced House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to resign, doing his thing on MSNBC.



"Look at -- Chicago Sun Times says, 'Hastert Security Breach.' That is ridiculous. If Hastert and President Bush cannot protect their own homes, how could they protect American people?" Paul summed up for the puzzled MSNBC host. "You know a lot of lies are going on, and - Dennis Hastert never said, all he said is, it's a privileged discussion."

Why are Republicans now calling for the investigation of a three year-old incident involving a Clinton-era official that's already been settled? As a senior Democrat points out, their call came just one day after that official, Sandy Berger, criticized the Bush administration's North Korea policy on Fox News.

In 2003, Sandy Berger, the former National Security Advisor to President Clinton, took classified documents from the National Archives*. That's illegal. The Justice Department investigated the matter, and prosecuted Berger on a misdemeanor charge. In April 2005, Berger pleaded guilty to one charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.

Yesterday -- eighteen months after that case ended -- 10 House Republicans suddenly called for a House investigation of the same incident.

In an attempt to explain the timing, the spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), one of the Republicans calling for the (re-)investigation, said that the House had held off until the Justice Department's probe concluded. Neither Hunter or the other GOPers have criticized the Justice Department's investigation, nor a parallel probe conducted by the National Archives' inspector general.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, joined the movement yesterday, sending a letter to the inspector general of the National Archives asking for a copy of his report on the matter. His spokesman described the move as a preliminary step to investigation.

Davis' ranking member on the panel, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), protested the move. "The Berger incident is not new," Waxman wrote to Davis, "and there is no conceivable standard under which it would be considered a vitally important national security matter." He added with a note of skepticism that Berger had "appeared on Fox television and criticized the Bush Administration for its negligent approach to North Korea" just the day before the calls for investigation came.

The full letter below the jump....

Update: Berger took documents from the National Archives, not the National Security Archives, as this post originally stated.

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Old-fashioned journalists have a term for bizarre, interesting and/or disturbing little articles -- "Hey Mabel" stories, they call them. And the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein had a doozy of a "Hey Mabel" in yesterday's paper.

In a new court filing on behalf of alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla, his lawyers allege that government interrogators forced him to take LSD, Gerstein reported.

"Additionally, Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations," he quotes the filing.

Now, There are some important details that aren't explained: Padilla's lawyers don't say what effects the prisoner reported to make them conclude it was LSD or PCP, nor do they report how many times such a drug or drugs were administered. And as any self-respecting child of the D.A.R.E era knows, LSD and PCP typically produce wildly different behavior (neither of which is particularly helpful if you're trying to get information out of someone).

Still -- if their charge is accurate, it's disturbing and bizarre. Of course, the U.S. government pioneered research into LSD in particular in the 1950s and 60s. CIA officers even tested the drug by surruptitiously dosing each other, leading at least one acid-tripping spook to run in a paranoid frenzy through Washington D.C. and over a bridge into Virginia, where his co-workers later found him cowering under a fountain.

But through experiences like this, the government concluded the drug was worthless as an interrogation tool, a means to "flip" Communist agents, or anything else their Cold War minds had feverishly dreamed possible. Is it possible that they're experimenting with mind drugs again? That sounds completely outlandish. But when you look at history, and then look at the Padilla filing, it's hard to rule out.

I've called three members of Padilla's legal team multiple times in an attempt to get more details, but have gotten nowhere. Can this be real?

My phone rang yesterday evening, and it was everybody's favorite spiritual adviser to the scum of the earth, Mr. K.A. Paul!

"My people told me that I shouldn't talk to you. I was told after they did research on you you're a small reporter and you did negative things," said Paul, who claims to have spent hours talking with some of the greatest despots of the last two decades. "I said, 'I don't care, I'm going to call him.'"

"I made a commitment to you," said Paul, recalling our earlier conversation. "You want to write bad about me, go ahead. But there is a Judgment Day," he observed, with a note of warning in his voice. "I have to keep my word."

In our conversation, Paul explained that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) isn't the first Republican to give him a nice chunk of face-time. He said that when they were in power, he had "extensive," "3-hour" sit-downs with GOP heavyweights Tom DeLay, Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich. He also had a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Bob and Elizabeth Dole, he said. Others:

George W. Bush: "I met him on several occasions," Paul told me, including in Des Moines, Iowa, and at Bush's church in Austin, Tex. "I prayed with him," he said. "I appreciated it when in 2000 president Bush got on his knees and prayed with me," recalled Paul. "What I don't appreciate is his 2004 speech, 'I have political capital, and I'm going to spend it.'. . . . If you are humble, sincere and honest, God will bless you," Paul cautioned. "If not, it doesn't matter who you are, you will be defeated."

Condolleezza Rice: Rice "called me on July 24, 2003. . . I asked, 'President Bush, why is he not calling me?' They said, 'No, he's in the room.'" (More details about the conversation, he said, were available in his new book.)

Bill O'Reilly: "I've been on his show a dozen times since 1999," said Paul, who called O'Reilly "my good friend." "[He] says he's fair and balanced, but he's not!"

As for Dennis Hastert, he said he met him first "in a casual way" when he was speaking at "a prayer breakfast dinner" in Washington, D.C. in 1997. He also met him at a Promise Keepers rally in 1997 in Washington, D.C.

Paul said that in the past day he'd received calls from Larry King Live, the CBS Morning News and dozens of other outlets. "I need to spend more time with the media!" he exclaimed, as if chastising himself for forgetting to do so. He didn't mention that shortly after his Tuesday meeting with Hastert, his assistant had sent a barrage of emails to media outlets featuring the original AP story of Paul's visit to Hastert, along with Paul's cell phone number.

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