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After Pervez Musharraf declared martial law this weekend, Condoleezza Rice vowed to review U.S. assistance to Pakistan, one of the largest foreign recipients of American aid. Musharraf, of course, has been a crucial American ally since the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, and the U.S. has rewarded him ever since with over $10 billion in civilian and (mostly) military largesse. But, perhaps unsure whether Musharraf's days might in fact be numbered, Rice contended that the explosion of money to Islamabad over the past seven years was "not to Musharraf, but to a Pakistan you could argue was making significant strides on a number of fronts."

In fact, however, a considerable amount of the money the U.S. gives to Pakistan is administered not through U.S. agencies or joint U.S.-Pakistani programs. Instead, the U.S. gives Musharraf's government about $200 million annually and his military $100 million monthly in the form of direct cash transfers. Once that money leaves the U.S. Treasury, Musharraf can do with it whatever he wants. He needs only promise in a secret annual meeting that he'll use it to invest in the Pakistani people. And whatever happens as the result of Rice's review, few Pakistan watchers expect the cash transfers to end.

About $10.58 billion has gone to Pakistan since 9/11. That puts Pakistan in an elite category of U.S. foreign-aid recipients: only Israel, Egypt and Jordan get more or comparable U.S. funding. (That's only in the unclassified budget: the covert-operations budget surely includes millions more, according to knowledgeable observers.) While Israel and Egypt get more money, Pakistan and Jordan are the only countries that get U.S. cash from four major funding streams: development assistance, security assistance, "budget support" and Coalition Support Funds. Pakistan, however, gets most of its U.S. assistance from Coalition Support Funds and from budget support. And it's those two funding streams that have minimal accountability at best.

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Considering the fallout from Monday's Brent Wilkes verdict, Josh wondered whether Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) might feel a bit unsettled. After all, no other lawmaker besides Duke Cunningham had a closer relationship to Wilkes than Lewis.

During the trial, Wilkes actually tried this tack as a self-defense, pointing to his relationship with Lewis, who for most of the relevant time period held the powerful position of chairman of the appropriations defense subcommittee, as far more important than his relationship with Cunningham. Sure, Cunningham was helpful, he said, but Lewis held the power. Lewis, of course, remains on the committee as its highest ranking Republican.

It was for that reason that Wilkes hired former GOP congressman Bill Lowery as a lobbyist. Lowery was old friends with Lewis and had set himself up as his "gatekeeper" after Lowery himself had left Congress. If you wanted Lewis to back your project, Lowery was the guy who made it happen (The San Diego Union-Tribune first laid out the extent of the entanglement in this excellent piece). So Wilkes paid Lowery up to $25,000 per month. And it was Lowery, unsurprisingly, who taught Wilkes the ropes in Washington back in the early 90's. Lowery's lobbying firm, Copeland Lowery (now called Innovative Federal Strategies), became a big player.

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Malcolm Nance, good-spirited though he is, is a pugnacious guy. Nearly 20 years' service in the Navy, including time instructing would-be Navy SEALs how to resist and survive torture if captured. Intelligence and counterterrorism expert. Several years in Iraq as a security contractor. So don't expect him to suffer in silence if his credibility is attacked during testimony to a House panel tomorrow about his personal experiences with waterboarding.

"God forbid if there's even the slightest hint about my credentials," Nance says over tea in a Washington coffee shop. "You will see a spectacle on C-Span. I'll impugn [my attacker's] credibility in public. Let's see him give 20 years in the military, give up his family life, and then he can come talk. If not, shut the hell up."

Nance has become newly controversial for writing on the counterinsurgency/counterterrorism blog Small Wars Journal about his experiences teaching waterboarding for the Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) program. He's been subjected to the procedure personally, and unequivocally called it torture in a much-discussed post. Subsequently, a House Judiciary subcommittee contacted him during a business trip in the Middle East and asked him to testify at a hearing on so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques that kicks off tomorrow morning.

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Remember Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R)? Friend of defense contractors and foe to cocktail waitresses?

Prosecutors convened a grand jury this spring in Washington, DC to investigate whether Gibbons had accepted bribes from defense contractor Warren Trepp. Things have been pretty quiet since then, but last week, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that prosecutors had subpoenaed their first witness to testify to the grand jury.

The witness is Michael Flynn, the lawyer who used to represent Dennis Montgomery, Trepp's former business partner who has been the source of the accusations against Gibbons. In a lawsuit against Trepp and in an interview with NBC news, Montgomery laid it all out: he'd seen Trepp pass more than $100,000 in cash and poker chips to Gibbons. There was even an old fashioned briefcase full of cash in the mix. Trepp gave Gibbons the chips, Montgomery said, during a cruise (see picture below). He also produced an email from Trepp to his wife allegedly sent before the cruise, where he responded to his wife's request of "Please don't forget to bring the money you promised Jim and Dawn [Gibbons' wife]," with "Don't you ever send this kind of message to me! Erase this message from your computer right now!"



But it gets muckier. Flynn, who represented Montgomery on the copyright lawsuit against Trepp, says that Montgomery quit paying his bills this spring. So he withdrew from the case. And now he's suing Montgomery for the money -- and saying in a recent filing that his former client is a "pathological liar."

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Rudy Giuliani, businessman of mystery. The presidential candidate is still closely connected to his firm Giuliani Partners, while the identities of the firm's clients remain a secret. The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) takes a peek at one known client --the nation of Qatar-- which has a questionable record in counter-terrorism efforts. (WSJ)

Note to the Homeland Security Department (actually, this one kind of goes for everyone): blackface costumes should be avoided. Please don't wear them to office parties. If you are an administrator and you see an employee doing so, please speak to them. Please do not award them with the "Most Original Costume" award. (NY Times, Think Progress)

Just days after Senator Schumer (D-NY) equivocated on proposed legislation to raise taxes on hedge fund titans and firms, the DSCC received a $28,500 gift from a hedge fund manager who earned $1.7 billion last year. Schumer is now “off the fence” and championing keeping taxes low for his wealthy supporters. (Washington Post)

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Cliche as it may be to say: Mr. Klein goes to Washington.

Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee will get its hands on the surveillance bill passed by the intelligence committee last month. The bill blesses warrantless surveillance of foreign-domestic communications related to gathering foreign intelligence, but its most infamous provision is the legal immunity it seeks to grant telecommunications companies that complied with the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program from 2001 until this January. Civil libertarians are enraged at the provision, which will invalidate a number of class-action lawsuits against the telecoms currently pending. Now they have a new lobbying ally: Mark Klein.

Klein is the retired AT&T technician who disclosed in late 2005 how his former employer had allowed the NSA to use Room 641A of 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco as a vacuum cleaner to capture untold millions of phone and e-mail communications. (You can read his first-hand account here, in a pdf.) His revelations formed the basis for a lawsuit, Hepting v. AT&T, currently before a federal court. Now he's trying to convince Senators not to preempt the case, reports The Washington Post.

The plain-spoken, bespectacled Klein, 62, said he may be the only person in the country in a position to discuss firsthand knowledge of an important aspect of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. He is retired, so he isn't worried about losing his job. He did not have security clearance, and the documents in his possession were not classified, he said. He has no qualms about "turning in," as he put it, the company where he worked for 22 years until he retired in 2004.

"If they've done something massively illegal and unconstitutional -- well, they should suffer the consequences," Klein said. "It's not my place to feel bad for them. They made their bed, they have to lie in it. The ones who did [anything wrong], you can be sure, are high up in the company. Not the average Joes, who I enjoyed working with."

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We reported recently that the Center for Constitutional Rights is representing the families of the Iraqi victims of Blackwater's Nisour Square shootings in a lawsuit filed in U.S. court. That's one of only two lawsuits -- both filed by CCR, incidentally -- brought against U.S. contractors for potential crimes committed in Iraq. The other, brought against Titan Corporation and CACI in 2004 for their roles in prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, has been held up for years over legal questions over whether the victims have the right to sue. CACI provided an interrogator to the facility at Abu Ghraib, Steven Stefanowicz -- who "clearly knew that his instructions equated to physical abuse," according to the Taguba report -- while Titan provided two translators, John Israel and Adel Nakhla.

Well, today, the dam broke. The CACI suit will advance. The judge dismissed the suit against Titan, however, "because the translators performed their duties under the direct command and under the exclusive operational control of military personnel."

Just in time for Michael Mukasey's impending Senate vote to become attorney general, the ACLU has discovered that one of his would-be underlings, Steven Bradbury of the Office of Legal Counsel, penned three memoranda in 2005 on the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the CIA. The discovery raises the possibility that the Justice Department has penned other as-yet-unknown torture memos since 2005.

Two of those memoranda were first revealed by The New York Times in early October. That story struck the ACLU as outrageous -- not just on the substantive merits, but because on January 31, 2005, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the OLC and other federal agencies demanding documentation on the treatment of detainees. Yet even though the ACLU had received documents from the government dated after the OLC memos described in the Times, it still had to read about material clearly relevant to its FOIA request in the paper.

ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer says Justice Department officials told him that the date the organization filed its FOIA request represented a cut-off date for material -- a bizarre argument, given that it's already received documentation dating after the January 31, 2005 filing -- and as a result, Jaffer asked Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District Court of New York to adjudicate late last month. And in response to the ACLU, the government revealed this piece of tantalizing information:

OLC has reviewed its opinions from that time frame and has determined that there were in fact three opinions issued to CIA relating to the interrogation of detainees in CIA custody … Two of the opinions were issued on May 10, 2005 … The third was issued on May 30, 2005 ... OLC has not located any legal opinions issued to CIA from January 31, 2005 through May 9, 2005 that relate to the interrogation of detainees in CIA custody.

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It's been awhile since we checked in on the plight of John Helgerson, the inspector-general of the CIA who's under "management review" by CIA Director Michael Hayden following Helgerson's investigation of CIA war-on-terror programs. Not much has happened in the case since Hayden defended his decision to investigate the straight-shooter IG to Charlie Rose late last month.

But today the House intelligence committee announced that the full panel is going to meet in closed session with Helgerson tomorrow at 2 p.m. Statutorily, the IG has a direct line to the congressional intelligence committees -- the better to investigate waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement -- but it's not clear how far that can go in protecting Helgerson's job. Stay tuned.

You're familiar with what the Bush Administration did to the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. After all, who could forget such muck luminaries as Bradley "Good Americans" Schlozman, voter suppression guru Hans von Spakovsky, and John "Minorities Die First" Tanner?

In today's Boston Globe, Charlie Savage reports on how the administration has stacked the Civil Rights Commission, a fifty year-old agency that is supposed to serve as a watchdog for civil rights infractions:

Democrats say the move to create a conservative majority on the eight-member panel violated the spirit of a law requiring that no more than half the commission be of one party. Critics say Bush in effect installed a fifth and sixth Republican on the panel in December 2004, after two commissioners, both Republicans when appointed, reregistered as independents.


Clever. The effect of the move has been predictable. Just as the Civil Rights Division has been effectively sidelined, the commission significantly diminished its activity on behalf of minorities:

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