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A report prepared for the State Department's inspector general in January 2005, and obtained by TPMmuckraker, shows Blackwater's accounting system for its no-bid, multimillion dollar Iraq contract was "not considered adequate for accumulating costs on government contracts."

The report is an audit of Blackwater's contract prepared by the accounting firm of Leonard H. Birnbaum. It has been referred to by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (pdf) and in a 2006 story in The Nation, but has not been made publicly available until now. It was obtained by TPMmuckraker after we filed a Freedom of Information Act request in October with the State Department for Blackwater-related documents. You can read the 2005 State Department report in our Documents Collection here.

Much of the document is redacted -- including any description of how Blackwater's accounting system in Iraq operated, as well as any numerical figure for the size of the contract. (In 2004, the year that the report covers, Blackwater held contracts from the federal government totaling $48 million, of which the State Department contract was a portion.) But the unredacted portion of the report finds problems with how Blackwater tallied its labor costs, its overhead-expense costs, and its indirect costs. It also found that Blackwater cited its profit from the contract as a cost it incurred, and billed the government for it -- resulting in what the report called "a pyramiding of profit."

The State Department was under a massive time-crunch in mid-2004 to stand up its new Baghdad embassy as the Coalition Provisional Authority went out of business that June. As a result, State Department logistics official William Moser explained to Congress, State opted to sign a no-bid contract for diplomatic security services with the company already on the ground: Blackwater. "We did not like doing a sole source award for Blackwater," Moser told the House oversight committee in October. No wonder: Blackwater, apparently, took advantage of the opportunity.

Yet despite its own internal watchdog's finding of fraudulence in Blackwater's Iraq contract, months later, the State Department re-signed a deal with the company to provide security for U.S. diplomats.

We'll bring you more from this report throughout the day. And in the coming days, we'll be bringing you more documents on Blackwater that we've acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. I know that's what I wanted for Christmas!

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger intends to sue the federal government for its decision to block California from reducing its greenhouse gas emissions faster than under the president’s emissions-reduction plan. The governor, who no longer drives Hummers, stated that "it's another example of the administration's failure to treat global warming with the seriousness that it actually demands.” Meanwhile, Henry Waxman (D-CA) has called on the Environmental Protection Agency to “preserve and produce all documents relating to” the decision to block California’s efforts to go green. (Reuters)

Blackwater now faces a new suit from the estate of an Iraqi man gunned down by Blackwater guard who opened fire on “innocent bystanders in and around Al Watahba Square in Baghdad on Sept. 9.” The suit on behalf of the victim, who was the father of a newborn daughter, “alleges that heavily armed Blackwater mercenaries, known in company parlance as “shooters,” fired without justification and killed five civilians, including Mr. Albazzaz, who was standing outside his rug store.” (Center For Constitutional Rights)

Rudy Giuliani took the written, photographic and electronic record of his eight years in office — more than 2,000 boxes -- with him when he stepped down as Mayor under an unprecedented agreement that didn't become public until after he left office. The AP reviewed Rudy's years as mayor and discovered a pattern of secrecy, where City Hall withheld requested information from public groups and journalists and the mayor's own whereabouts were deliberately hidden, especially during his extramarital affair. (AP)

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A lot of people want to talk to John Kiriakou. After the leader of the team that interrogated senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in 2002 -- one of the detainees whose interrogation was secretly recorded -- went public, a lot of confusion remained. Did Abu Zubaydah really break after 35 seconds of waterboarding, as Kiriakou said? Or, as the FBI's Dan Coleman and others have said, did Abu Zubaydah's interrogation yield the best information through non-coercive techniques? Very few people are sure of the answer. Many want to ask Kiriakou more questions.

Not least of whom: the Justice Department.

Jonathan Landay of McClatchy reports that the CIA has referred Kiriakou's case to the Justice Department. No, the department isn't investigating whether Kiriakou's role in Abu Zubaydah's interrogation was potentially illegal. That would be an admission that the torture apparatus established after 9/11 is illegal, and you know that Michael Mukasey and Mark Filip can't make up their minds about that. Rather, the FBI wants to know if Kiriakou criminally disclosed classified information by speaking to ABC News about the interrogation.

What's more, Kiriakou's former employer, the CIA -- which surely wasn't happy about seeing Kiriakou confirm on TV that his team waterboarded Abu Zubaydah and then call waterboarding torture -- won't confirm that it dimed him out.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment when asked if the agency had sought a criminal probe of Kiriakou. But the spokesman, George Little, added, "Separate and apart from any specific instance, when the agency has reason to believe there has been a possible violation of the law, such as the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, it has an obligation to refer the matter to the Department of Justice."


Quoth Kiriakou's attorney, Mark Zaid -- your go-to lawyer if you're a CIA official in legal jeopardy: "it wouldn't surprise me and I wouldn't find it unusual" if the CIA turned around and got Justice to open a criminal investigation into Kiriakou for the disclosure. None dare call it retaliation.

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In the aftermath of the New Hampshire phone jamming, the Republican National Committee could have gone two ways, Allen Raymond writes in his new book. They chose the scapegoating/stonewalling route.

The question of whether they had any help from the political appointees at the Department of Justice is one House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) wants an answer to. His letter today to Attorney General Michael Mukasey (a follow-up to the one he sent in October) is below.

Since the crime at issue happened more than five years ago, let me refresh you on the details. Our timeline of the scandal is here.

Charles McGee, then the executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, was the one who had the genius idea of jamming Democratic phone lines. He called Jim Tobin, the New England Regional Director of the Republican National Committee, to ask for help implementing it. Tobin then called Raymond, whom he knew from working on the 2000 Steve Forbes campaign and who ran a telemarketing consulting firm, to see if he could do the job. Raymond said he could, and things went on from there.

The jamming scheme came to light in early 2003, but it took until the summer of 2004 before Raymond and McGee pleaded guilty. Tobin himself, who fought the charges tooth and nail with the backing of the RNC (who dropped $3 million on his lawyers), wasn't indicted until the December after the 2004 election.

Democrats have long alleged that the Justice Department slow-rolled the probe. The FBI only assigned one, part-time agent to the case, they say, and prosecutors refused to follow the case to its logical conclusion, such as charging the New Hampshire GOP.

A McClatchy piece yesterday substantiated a number of those complaints, quoting an anonymous official as saying that the probe was delayed in order to avoid the scandal clashing with the 2004 election. Conyers' letter takes that ball and runs with it, demanding answers.

Raymond himself provides some grist for Conyers' mill.

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From Roll Call (sub. req.):

Following hours of intense talks that ended in a standoff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) decided late Wednesday to move several dozen nominees but still keep the Senate in business over the monthlong holiday break to block President Bush from making any controversial recess appointments while Senators are out of town....

But the two sides didn’t see completely eye to eye, as Bush pushed to include in the deal Steven Bradbury’s nomination to be assistant counsel to the attorney general. Bradbury is unpopular with Democrats for his controversial role in formulating the administration’s position on torture.

“I tried very hard to work with the president but he indicated he would still use the recess ... to appoint objectionable nominees,” Reid said on the Senate floor Wednesday night. “My only solution is to end this and call a pro forma session again.”


For a refresher on who Steve Bradbury is, and why the administration would want him in office so badly, see our earlier rundown here.

Is it the end for Hans von Spakovsky?

From what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on the Senate floor last night, it appears so. Given the ongoing opposition to Spakovsky by Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), Reid called for a vote on the individual nominees to the Federal Election Commission. But the Republican leadership, as they have from the beginning, insisted on voting on the four nominees, both Democratic and Republican, together, thus protecting Spakovsky from being voted down, but also preventing the confirmation of any of the other nominees.

At the end of the year, von Spakovsky's recess appointment to the commission will expire. Of course, that could lead to other problems, but our favorite vote-suppression guru wouldn't be one of them.

Reid's remarks are below.

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As Josh wrote earlier this week, I've been gobbling up the new tell-all by Allen Raymond, the former GOP consultant of New Hampshire phone jamming fame.

You might wonder why Raymond, a life-time Republican operator, decided to write the book (which is due out in early January). The short answer, as he writes: "when the shit hit the fan, my political party and my former colleagues not only threw me under the bus but then blamed me for getting run over."

Raymond's telemarketing consulting firm engineered the 2002 New Hampshire phone jamming, where Republicans jammed Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks. But it wasn't his idea (it was the New Hampshire GOP's executive director's), and he was referred to the job by a big-wig from the Republican National Committee (more on this shortly). Yet when the story broke, his former co-conspirators did all they could to pin the thing entirely on him.

So, with nothing left to lose, Raymond walks readers through his rise in the ranks at the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (where he encounters Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whom he frequently compares to "a sheet of drywall"), and finally on to create his own telemarketing firm, which he started with the help of Haley Barbour, now the governor of Mississippi. He also gives great insight into the murky world of phone tricks.

You might say he holds a grudge. But you can't say he minces words. "Back in 2002," he writes, "just about every Republican operative was so dizzy with power that if you could find two of us who could still tell the difference between politics and crime, you could probably have rubbed us together for fire as well."

Or in case he wasn't clear, he writes about heading to prison for his role in the jamming: "After ten full years inside the GOP, ninety days among honest criminals wasn't really any great ordeal."

So about those phone tricks. The jamming, Raymond says, was a unique stunt. Much more common were false information campaigns via robocalls, push polling, and then sneakier stunts like the one described in the passage below.

To set the scene: Raymond got a call in 2000* from two former colleagues in New Jersey who ran a consulting shop called Jamestown Associates. They were working for Dick Zimmer, who was running against Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), the incumbent, and they were pulling out all the stops. (Ed. Note: This post originally stated that this happened in 2002 -- that was my mistake, not Raymond's.)

They'd already succeeded in getting a Green Party candidate on the ballot to drain liberal votes from Holt (a favorite GOP trick). And they had already put Raymond's firm to work calling Green-oriented households and urging them to support the Green candidate.

But what came next was "even better":

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From The Washington Post:

It's true that in Washington, adversaries often wind up drinking together after hours. But when insiders at the FBI saw that Sen. Ted Stevens had RSVP'd "yes" to last Friday's annual director's holiday bash, the hunters couldn't quite conceive of partying with the prey. FBI agents raided the Alaska Republican's home less than five months ago as part of a sprawling corruption probe.

Every member of Congress is invited to the party, but Stevens was among those who had replied to say he'd be attending. But the embattled senator must have gotten cold feet: He was a no-show at the packed party, where handcuffs and holsters abound.

Take heart, California's Fourth Congressional District. Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) may be under federal investigation for taking bribes from Jack Abramoff, but he's got due process on his side. And he says he's going to litigate his way to at least one more term:

Rep. John Doolittle disclosed Wednesday that his attorney is fighting subpoenas issued to him for office records and that he believes the investigation of him will be on hiatus for one to two years while the constitutionality of the subpoena is fought out in the courts....

In a telephone news conference Wednesday, Doolittle said the legal battle is delaying the federal investigation.

"My attorney tells me that this issue alone – the constitutional issue presented by those subpoenas, which as you know is also being litigated against the Justice Department by the U.S. House of Representatives – is going to take one to two years to resolve," Doolittle said.

He was asked: "Do you see your case stretching one to two years down the road then?"

"Since the subpoenas involve me and my office, that's what I am saying – one to two years on this issue alone," he said.

We've had some fun keeping track of the various muddled descriptions of the advice that White House lawyers gave the CIA about the torture tapes.

But The Washington Post has the clearest description yet of the unclear counsel:

When told that some high-ranking CIA officials were demanding that the tapes be destroyed, the White House lawyers "consistently counseled caution," said one U.S. official familiar with Hayden's testimony. Another source said that Harriet E. Miers followed up with a similar recommendation in 2005, making her the fourth White House lawyer "urging caution" on the action.


But: "other intelligence officials recalled White House officials being more emphatic at the first meeting that the videos should not be destroyed." To be sure, all of-the-above could be true.

Meanwhile, there's this:

[CIA Director Michael] Hayden's message to lawmakers last week was that the White House officials neither advocated destroying the tapes nor counseled against their destruction.


Why so much confusion?

"People are trying to recall stuff that happened four or five years ago," said [one former senior attorney for the CIA]. "They are trying to speak with honesty and candor, but they are also having to get 'lawyered' up themselves -- they have to protect themselves."


To be sure, their lawyers are "urging caution."

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