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From the AP:

A former Interior Department employee was sentenced to two years probation and fined $1,000 Tuesday for failing to report gifts he received from influence-peddler Jack Abramoff.

Roger Stillwell accepted hundreds of dollars worth of football and concert tickets from Abramoff, who at the time was lobbying for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Stillwell was with the Interior Department's insular affairs office, which handles issues involving the island government.

"It was never my intention to deliberately violate the law, but clearly I did so, and I extend my sincerest apologies to this court," Stillwell said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay handed down a relatively stiff penalty for the misdemeanor offense. Defense attorneys asked for six months probation and prosecutors did not oppose it because Stillwell cooperated in the Abramoff investigation....

Stillwell received four tickets to a Washington Redskins game and two tickets to a Simon and Garfunkel concert in 2003. The tickets had a face value of about $485 but prosecutors said they were worth about $2,300.


So what did Stillwell tell prosecutors? We'll have to wait to find out. Long live the Abramoff scandal!

Tell them everything they want to know. Even if I don't.

CIA director Michael V. Hayden is said to be pushing his subordinates facing congressional inquiries to come clean on all activities, according to an agency-wide email obtained by Congressional Quarterly's Tim Starks (sub. req.):

In a Jan. 5 e-mail, Gen. Michael V. Hayden said the intelligence agency “must be as responsive as possible to all members of Congress and as proactive as possible in our dealings with congressional leaders and oversight committees.”

. . . The day before, Hayden told a “town meeting” of CIA employees to expect an aggressive oversight effort in the 110th Congress from Democrats on both the House and Senate Intelligence committees.

“Frankly, I welcome it,” Hayden said, according to one attendee. “I actually think the more they know about us, the better it is for our agency.”


It's a refreshing new policy, if Hayden is at all serious. One could be forgiven for doubting his sincerity, however. Hayden himself may have broken the law by misleading Congress about the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, as former NSC staffer Mort Halperin pointed out a year ago.

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President Bush won't announce his plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq until tomorrow night, but Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has already introduced legislation that would require Bush to get Congress' approval for his plan.

Via Georgetown Law's Marty Lederman, the relevant section of the bill reads:

Prohibition.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be obligated or expended by the United States government to increase the number of United States forces in Iraq above the number for such forces which existed as of January 9, 2007, without a specific authorization from Congress by law for such an increase.


Lederman also has the full text of the bill, which mostly just provides justification for the sought prohibition.

Sen. Kennedy's remarks upon introducing the bill are below.

Update: Kennedy will actually be making the following remarks at 1:00 PM today at the National Press Club. And the bill has not yet been introduced, but will be later today.

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The CIA is refusing to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating the Duke Cunningham scandal, the Wall Street Journal's Scott Paltrow reports today.

Before getting caught in 2005, Cunningham was involved in a sprawling corruption ring between Congress and the national security community. The scandal allegedly enjoyed the participation of current and former CIA officials, including Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the executive director of the agency. Foggo would be the highest-ranking CIA official to be prosecuted in the agency's history, according to Paltrow.

Prosecutors had expected to indict Foggo several months ago, but the Agency's refusal to declassify important documents has hampered their efforts, Paltrow reports.

Of course, prosecutors haven't received much help from Congress with their investigation, either. Last month they were forced to serve subpoenas to several powerful committees in an effort to force them to turn over documents.

Foggo's indictment -- and possible plea bargain -- would be a notable triumph for the Feds. For many months the case has stagnated, and observers have wondered if the investigation was hopelessly compromised. Nailing Foggo would also be important for prosecutors, as it would give them leverage to go after alleged Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes. Wilkes, who ran a government contracting business, was close with Foggo and is said to have worked closely with him. Despite being identified by Cunningham as a major briber, Wilkes has refused to plead guilty or cooperate with prosecutors.

So Long, K St. Project "Business advocates — who are taking their cues from [Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)] and from Members in both chambers who are negotiating new laws that will govern the relationship between Congress and their industry — say they expect fewer large-scale meetings with Senate GOP leaders. And when they do meet, lobbyists say such confabs likely will be held off the Capitol campus, be more policy-centric and less publicized, with attendees more tight-lipped.

"'Everyone in the Senate [Republican] leadership is cautioning each other to stay away from anything that even remotely sounds like or looks like the K Street Project,' said one longtime lobbyist with ties to Senate GOP leaders. 'They don’t want anything that could potentially be branded as a new K Street Project.'

"Lobbyists say they already have been put on notice that Kyl will be the “un-Santorum,” focusing less on strategy with hired-gun (or contract) lobbyists and spending more time developing coalitions of corporations and big trade associations. Santorum was defeated for re-election in November, and many attribute his loss partly to the coverage he attracted for his dealings with lobbyists and the K Street Project.

“Everybody’s more sensitive,” said one contract lobbyist, who said he worries that he will have a harder time getting a seat at some decision-making meetings. “They are not going to sit in a room with a bunch of contract lobbyists.” (Roll Call)

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Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), appearing just now on Hardball and gifted as always with the ability to speak plainly, couldn't have been clearer on the controversial issue as to whether Democrats have the ability to restrict the Bush administration's funding of a troop increase in Iraq.

Yesterday, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) confused the issue by claiming that it was "constitutionally questionable" whether Congress could preempt funding of Bush's desired "surge."

"No, that's not true at all," Murtha said, adding "we have every ability."



On the question of why certain Democrats were shirking from this option, he offered, "I'll tell you, it's all political."

Of course, since Murtha is the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, it's in his power to push such a limitation on funding. We'll have more on this later on.

Here's a piece of incoming White House counsel Fred Fielding's background that Mike Allen didn't mention -- for the past several years, he's headed up the lobbying practice at the law firm, Wiley, Rein, and Fielding.

As the Chair of Government Relations there, Fielding has overseen the lobbying of Congress and sometimes the White House on behalf of a long list of clients as diverse as the Colorado Gaming Association, Motorola, the Newspaper Association of America, and Verizon. "From our inception," according to WRF's website, "the firm has been successfully shaping public policy in Washington on behalf of our clients."

As TPM Reader BK writes in, "The possibility for conflicts of interest abound."

Update: The WSJ blog Washington Wire adds:

News from Time that Washington uber-lawyer Fred Fielding has been tapped to replace Harriet Miers as White House counsel was also something of a coup for his firm, Wiley Rein & Fielding. It’s not the biggest firm in DC, but it is well-known for its telecom practice, which is led by FCC Chairman for Life Dick Wiley. One of his many protégés, current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, has stocked the independent agency with former Wiley Rein lawyers and the two men remain close.

Time's Mike Allen has the scoop:

President Bush plans to name the widely respected Republican lawyer Fred F. Fielding as White House counsel this week, party sources tell TIME....

Fielding was Counsel to President Reagan from 1981 to 1986, deputy White House counsel from 1972 to 1974 and associate White House counsel from 1970 to 1972. He was Clearance Counsel for the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition in 2000 and 2001, and has degrees from Gettysburg College and University of Virginia School of Law....

"The key for the Administration is going to be drawing the lines on these boundaries of executive privilege and access to documents and congressional oversight — drawing the lines around the really important issues and trying to be a little more flexible on the others," said a former colleague of Fielding. "They're not going to fold, because Fielding is a very serious, hard-nosed person, and he's a tough negotiator. But they're also going not to take a totally stonewall position. That doesn't meant they're going to cave in. What it means is they're going to negotiate and focus on the things that they're truly protecting and that are truly important."


Well, given that he was John Dean's deputy during Watergate, he's no stranger to scandal.

Who'll receive the first grilling of the new era of oversight? Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the lucky winner, who'll be the first administration official to run the Democratic gauntlet.

On Thursday, she'll start the day with a 10 A.M. hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq, and then, after a short lunch, make her way over to the House to spend some time with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at 2 P.M on the same topic.

For an encore, the Senate Armed Services Committee will follow up by questioning SecDef Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Peter Pace Friday morning.

Ready the popcorn!

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