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According to a story just out from the AP, tomorrow morning may be the beginning of the end for the Guantanamo Bay detention facility:

The Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and move the terror suspects there to military prisons elsewhere, The Associated Press has learned.

President Bush's national security and legal advisers are expected to discuss the move at the White House on Friday and, for the first time, it appears a consensus is developing, senior administration officials said Thursday.

The advisers will consider a new proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum security military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where they could face trial, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal deliberations.

Consider the trigger pulled. Today the Senate Judiciary Committee broke an internal deadlock over President Bush's warrantless surveillance program, voting to subpoena Justice Department documents related to the program's origin. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has consistently denied requests for the documents over the past two years.

The warrantless surveillance program returned to the center of political controversy last month, when former Deputy Attorney General James Comey dramatically testified that in 2004, as acting attorney general, he had refused to sign off on the then-secret program's legality. As a result, Comey testified, then-White House Counsel Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card pressed an infirm John Ashcroft to override Comey. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and ranking member Arlen Specter (R-PA) again requested documentation from Gonzales clarifying the legal arguments justifying the program, which allows the National Security Agency to intercept international communications believed to be related to terrorism without the approval of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge.

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Last year, Halliburton lost billions of dollars of revenue with the U.S. Army discontinued a worldwide supply contract with the oil-and-defense-services company. Yet Halliburton continues to report massive profits. What gives? A new reported column by Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil proposes an answer: Halliburton may be cooking its books.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Weil got ahold of court papers filed by Halliburton's former director of technical accounting research and training, Anthony Menendez, who alleges that Halliburton reported "billions" of revenue from sales before the sales ever happened. For good measure, according to Menendez's court filings with an administrative-law judge for the Department of Labor in Louisiana, Halliburton retaliated against him after he went to the Security and Exchange Commission with his concerns last year.

Menendez described Halliburton's "bill and sale" practices like this:

"For example, the company recognizes revenue when the goods are parked in company warehouses, rather than delivered to the customer. Typically, these goods are not even assembled and ready for the customer. Furthermore, it is unknown as to when the goods will be ultimately assembled, tested, delivered to the customer and, finally, used by the company to perform the required oilfield services for the customer.''

If true, that would violate generally accepted accounting principles. For companies to recognize revenue before delivery, ``the risks of ownership must have passed to the buyer,'' the SEC's staff wrote in a 2003 accounting bulletin. There also ``must be a fixed schedule for delivery of the goods,'' and the product ``must be complete and ready for shipment,'' among other things.


Charles Mulford, a Georgia Institute of Technology accounting professor, reviewed Menendez's complaint for Weil. "I'm not using the 'fraud' word yet," he tells TPMmuckraker, but Menendez's allegations about Halliburton's bill-and-sale practices are "not in accordance with generally accepted accounting procedures."

You can read Menendez's complaint in three parts (I, II, III).

The D.C. Court has once again blocked the right of habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees. (Think Progress)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has ordered that posts in Baghdad be the top priority for hiring and appointment within the Department. How many of those new appointments will speak Arabic, we’re not sure. (Associated Press)

A court is preparing to hear arguments on a case that will decide whether the federal government can block states from investigating aspects of its terror fighting agenda. The Justice Department is hoping to prevent states from asking private companies if they illegally provided customer information to the NSA. (LA Times)

The CIA likely took tips from two psychologists –James Mitchell and Bruce Jensen– in designing its secretive, “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The Senate Armed Services Committee is interested in what role the two CIA contractors played. (Salon)

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For weeks, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have dialed down expectations that their progress report on Iraq, scheduled to be delivered to Congress in September, will represent a decisive moment for the war. Today, in an interview with the Times of London, Petraeus went much further:

“That is a deadline for a report not a deadline for a change in policy, at least not that I am aware of. Ambassador Crocker and I intend to go back and provide a snapshot at that time, however focused the photograph is at that time and begin to describe what has been achieved and what has not been achieved and also to provide some sense of implications of courses of action. Neither of us is under any illusion.”

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If Monica Goodling "crossed the line," as she famously admitted during congressional testimony last month, Bradley Schlozman appears to have flown over it.

The Washington Post focuses on Schlozman's handling of the appellate section when he was a senior political appointee at the Civil Rights Division, and finds that even being a Republican wasn't enough to assure Schlozman of a lawyer's abilities -- you had to be his kind of Republican:

Schlozman raised the question of partisan politics bluntly in the fall of 2004, they said, when asking appellate supervisors about the "loyalty" of division lawyer Angela Miller, who had once clerked for David. B. Sentelle, a conservative federal appeals judge. He told Miller's bosses that he learned that she voted for McCain in the 2004 Republican primary and asked, "Can we still trust her?"

He also warned section chief Diana Flynn that he would be keeping an eye on the legal work of another career lawyer who "didn't even vote for Bush," according to colleagues who said they heard Flynn describe the exchange. Miller told several of the colleagues that she considered Schlozman's remarks a form of intimidation, and started looking for another job, the lawyers said.

Schlozman and several deputies also took an unusual interest in the assignment of office responsibility for appellate cases and, according to the lawyers and one of the supervisors, repeatedly ordered Flynn to take cases away from career lawyers with expertise and hand them to recent hires whose résumés listed membership in conservative groups, including the Federalist Society.


The Post also confirms something first reported by TPMmuckraker last week, that Schlozman had told a new hire in the appellate section that he was clearing out career lawyers in order to replace them with "good Americans."

Tomorrow at noon, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty will testify before a House Judiciary subcommittee about the U.S. attorney firings.

The last time McNulty testified before Congress in February, he made a number of statements that have been revealed to be false, including that the White House had very little to do with the firings. And former DoJ counsel Monica Goodling went after him with guns blazing when she testified before the House Judiciary Committee last month, saying that McNulty had not been "fully candid" in that testimony, implying that he knew a lot more about White House involvement then he had stated. Why was Goodling so aggressive towards McNulty? In a private conversation with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), McNulty had reportedly fingered Goodling and Kyle Sampson as being responsible for his incomplete testimony.

But in his written statement prepared for tomorrow's testimony, McNulty argues that "at all times, I have sought to provide Congress with the truth." He goes on:

And I also want to be clear that I do not believe, and have never believed, that anyone in the Department of Justice set out to mislead me so that I might provide Congress with inaccurate information about this matter. To the contrary, I believe that the thousands of documents that have been produced demonstrate only that in the weeks before my testimony, many in the Department struggled with the question of how best to provide Congress with accurate information about the removals of the U.S. Attorneys, consistent with our efforts to protect the reputations of the U.S. Attorneys involved.


So it would appear that McNulty will not be returning fire at Goodling tomorrow.

The full statement is posted below.

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Did your supervisor at the Justice Department tell you that he was looking to hire a Republican? Or maybe he altered your performance evaluation in order to punish you for not toeing the line? Or maybe he inexplicably eliminated a large number of job applicants because they're Democrats?

Well, the House Judiciary Committee wants you to know that your complaint is safe with them. The committee has launched an effort to get into contact with Department employees who want to blow the whistle but are afraid they'll pay for it..

"This Web site is designed to receive on a completely confidential basis any information concerning the possible politicization of the United States Department of Justice since 2001," the page, called "Write Congress to Right Justice" and part of the committee's website, reads.

A senior aide to the committee told me that it was launched after the committee got calls from people "who indicated to us fairly strongly that they knew of people currently employed in the Justice Department who had info they wanted to provide us, but they were just scared to do it." If the committee made it clear that such tips would be handled confidentially, the aide was told, "we'd get a lot more information." The most smoke thus far, the aide said, was coming from the Civil Rights Division -- where Bradley Schlozman and Hans von Spakovsky once held sway -- but the committee is looking for tips from throughout the Department.

The site advises potential whistleblowers not to use their Department e-mail addresses to send in their tips -- to avoid "unfortunate retaliatory actions" at which a number of officials have proven adept. Anonymous tips will not be considered, but "similar confidentiality will apply to anyone identifying him or herself and requesting such confidentiality." The information, once verified, "will be included in matters that are investigated by the Committee [such as the U.S. attorney firings] and will be incorporated in the Committee’s reports and in legislative and oversight activities of the Committee."

Note: The TPMmuckraker tip line is, as always, open.

Prosecutors want to send the former #2 at the Department of Interior J. Steven Griles to jail for five months, arguing that Griles' lies to Senate investigators threw investigators off the scent of his ties to Jack Abramoff and he ought to be punished for it.

But Griles' lawyer Barry Hartman responded yesterday, saying that while Griles admittedly lied (he pled guilty after all) about the extent of his ties to Abramoff, those lies didn't constitute a cover-up. If investigators had "actually asked a question about a particular subject," Hartman writes, Griles would have fessed up. Too bad investigators didn't know the right questions to ask.

Hartman also disputed prosecutors' comparison of Griles to Scooter Libby and David Safavian -- two former administration officials convicted for lying to investigators who got harsh sentences (2 1/2 years for Libby, 1 1/2 for Safavian):

"Mr. Libby was convicted after trial of multiple counts of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and perjury in a grand jury investigation related to a very serious issue of national security and covert operations in foreign countries. Mr. Griles' concealment of a personal relationship and how it led to his meeting and knowing Mr. Abramoff is hardly comparable.

Mr. Safavian's conduct was also far more egregious than Mr. Griles'...."


In other words, Griles' committed at most the third most egregious felony by an administration official.

Griles' lawyer has asked that Griles be sentenced to community service, well, that he be sentenced to do what he does best, and that is lobby -- though on behalf of supposedly noble causes.

His sentencing is set for Tuesday.

On June 5, less than thirty minutes before the North Carolina State Senate was scheduled to vote on a bill that would allow voters to register up until three days before an election (down from 25), the Republican state auditor sent out an email to legislators saying that he had "sensitive information" about voting irregularities. Lawmakers agreed to delay the vote.

So what was all the fuss about? His office's preliminary report had discovered tens of thousands of potentially invalid voters and nearly 400 votes by dead people, he announced. Clearly the scourge of voter fraud had hit North Carolina -- more registered voters could only logically mean more chances for fraud.

The Department of Justice also got into the act, writing (pdf) the board of elections about the state's voter list maintenance on April 18th. The letter seemed a precursor to other actions taken by the Civil Rights Division to force state's to purge voter rolls of illegitimate voters -- most notably in Missouri, where the Division lost its lawsuit.

But the director of the state election's board, Gary Bartlett, a Democrat, hit back, detailing in a 10-page letter how little the auditor, Less Merritt, appeared to understand election laws or process (e.g. those dead voters had voted by absentee ballot and then died before election day). Bartlett was similarly blunt in his response (pdf) to the Justice Department.

The auditor so far doesn't have an answer to Bartlett's response.

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