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This should be good for future defense contracts. Leading security-industry contractor DynCorp has hired the Army's former chief of staff, retired General Peter Schoomaker, to sit on the company's board of directors. From a DynCorp statement on Thursday:

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Gen. Schoomaker’s experience and caliber joining our board at this time,” said DynCorp International chairman Robert B. McKeon. “Pete’s leadership skills and in-depth knowledge of our nation’s security challenges will be a tremendous contributor to the continued growth of DynCorp International.”


Schoomaker retired from the Army in 2000, but Donald Rumsfeld brought him back to active duty to replace Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who famously clashed with Rumsfeld over the Crusader artillery system and the Iraq war. Never before has a retired general or admiral ever chaired a service. He stepped down in April, handing the reins of the Army to former Iraq commander General George Casey.

One Schoomaker angle that would be too obvious to exploit: his brother is commander of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Old habits die hard, I guess.

Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) is under investigation for his ties to Jack Abramoff, who's still causing plenty of trouble for Republicans, Feeney and Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) most of all. A Scottish golf junket with Abramoff in 2003 is the source of Feeney's problems. But even as Feeney tries to put Abramoff far behind him ("There's no relationship") with the help of a legal defense fund, he can't help himself.

Abramoff's old associate Todd Boulanger, The Orlando Sentinel reports, will be co-hosting a $500-a-person fundraiser for Feeney tonight. Boulanger, Abramoff enthusiasts might remember, was among Abramoff's coterie of go-getting young lobbyists at the firm Greenberg Traurig. And Boulanger's go-getting spirit was on full display in an email TPMmuckraker obtained last year, where he urged others in the office to pony up for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), who was a fast friend to the firm's clients (he'd "never said 'no'"). In it, Boulanger allowed that Abramoff's team had already delivered thousands in contributions for Cochran, but that wasn't "good enough for the member who keeps the lights turned on here at Greenberg."

The Sentinel notes that Boulanger, who now works at the lobby shop Cassidy & Associates, represents among other clients Freddie Mac; Feeney sits on the House Financial Services Committee. Boulanger gave Feeney $1,250 in contributions in 2005. Though a number of Boulanger's former colleagues are either in prison or under investigation, Boulanger himself appears never to have been a focus of the investigation.

Saud Memon, a “long-sought” suspect in the brutal murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, died earlier this year. Memon was secretly interrogated by US and Pakistani officials. Making Pearl's case even uglier, there's reason to believe that the detention and interrogation played a role in his death. (Wall Street Journal)

The government holds a distinct advantage in the war crimes trial in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in so far as it s lawyers may legally hide critical information and witness testimony. Neither U.S. criminal law nor the Uniform Code of Military Justice apply to the trials. But even with this “stacked deck,” the only conviction secured by the commissions was the result of a plea bargain deal with an Australian prisoner. (LA Times)

Though Norman Hsu once evaded a heavily muscled, dragon tattooed debt collector named “Shrimp Boy,” by telling police he was being kidnapped, he eventually ran out of excuses with law enforcement and wealthy investors. The Wall Street Journal has a colorful round-up of his schemes and scams, including how Hsu became a fugitive in a latex glove case. (Wall Street Journal)

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Get beyond the surge. Go further than the talk about population protection being the new basis for U.S. efforts in Iraq. The Joint Campaign Plan is the comprehensive strategy for Iraq employed by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. It's a fairly important document. And Congress can't see it, reports Rachel Van Dongen for Roll Call. (sub. req.)

In television interviews and press conferences, Gen. David Petraeus has described the Joint Campaign Plan as the key military and diplomatic strategy to stabilize Iraq.

Developed by the “big brains” on the ground, Petraeus points to a “unified” effort with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker to achieve political and military security in Iraq by 2009.

Yet despite repeat efforts at the highest levels and Pentagon promises, Congress has been unable to get a current copy of the plan.

After persistent requests from House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the issue has moved up the Congressional chain of command to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). According to an aide, Pelosi asked President Bush for the document several months ago in a White House meeting. Since then, Pelosi’s staff has “repeatedly” requested a copy, her aide said, but has not yet received one.


A spokeswoman for the House Armed Services Committee generously declined to attribute the stonewalling to partisan politics. Yet the committee's request for the plan has been outstanding since the Pentagon missed a March 30 deadline for it. What's more, even though Congress hasn't seen the document, the head of a Government Accountability Office unit mentioned in October 30 testimony that his team saw the plan on a recent trip to Iraq.

Nor is Congress the only one left in the dark about why it can't see the plan. Van Dongen called the White House for an explanation, and it sent her to the Iraq command, known as Multinational Force-Iraq. An MNFI spokesperson told her, "I do not know why the White House would refer you to us regarding these questions." The Pentagon didn't reply, either. Three cheers for openness in government!

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Looks like it's not just EPIC's Marc Rotenberg who finds Don Kerr's definition of privacy problematic. Rotenberg called for Kerr to be fired from his position as principal deputy director of national intelligence. Here's a reaction from Caroline Fredrickson, legislative director of the ACLU's Washington office, who doesn't go quite that far:

"What's frightening is Mr. Kerr's comments show how under siege our privacy really is -- the more intrusive technology becomes, the more protective our legal framework should become. The Bush Administration seems to believe that just because they can get information, they should be able to get it, keep it, and use it without oversight."

A significant portion of the federal criminal case against former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik involves alleged lies Kerik told White House officials in both written and oral statements when he was seeking positions in the Bush Administration.

So far, there have been no reports of the White House receiving, let alone complying with, grand jury subpoenas in the Kerik case. However, a review of the indictment suggests that the White House may have turned over a number of records to federal investigators in addition to perhaps making current and/or former officials available for interviews with federal investigators and possibly for testimony to a grand jury.

How extensive was the White House's cooperation with the federal criminal investigation of Kerik? Will we see White House officials testifying at trial about their conversations with Kerik?

The indictment lays out a number of alleged lies told by Kerik to White House officials. False statements comprise seven counts of the sixteen-count indictment, including statements Kerik made to three unnamed White House officials, identified in the indictment as White House Official A, B and C, respectively.

---On October 29, 2002, the indictment says, Kerik fibbed to a "White House Official A" when he was applying for a position on an advisory committee to the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. The feds say that Kerik lied about having no household help (the famous nanny) and about various shady deals (he left out that a mob-tied company paid to renovate his apartment and that a Brooklyn businessman had loaned him $250,000).

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Via Joseph Neff, the Raleigh News & Observer's Blackwater blogger, CBS reported on Friday that the Iraqi government has drafted a piece of legislation removing legal immunity for U.S. security contractors. (One of the final decrees of U.S. proconsul Jerry Bremer in 2004 was to exempt contractors from prosecution in Iraqi courts, something with which the Iraqis have to date complied.)

You can read the draft here. (pdf) It's short, and the operative language is simple: "All immunities granted to [security contractors] in accordance with any valid legislation shall be canceled."

The significance, if passed? CBS:

That law still must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament, and if and when it is, private security firms would almost certainly pull out of Iraq.

“There’s no question it’s a disaster if this got passed,” said Carter Andress, one of an estimated 8,500 private security contractors guarding diplomats, convoys and reconstruction sites for the U.S. He is not willing to let his employees be subject to arrest by an Iraqi police force he believes is riddled with corruption and infiltrated by enemy fighters.

“How do we determine in that situation whether or not it's legitimate use of the rule of law or whether or not this is someone trying to kidnap one of us and take advantage of the situation,” he said.

Is there anyone to match Rep. Don Young's (R-AK) earmarking abilities? Sure, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) knows his way around an appropriations bill. But contractors know that the way to Murtha's heart is to open an office in his district. Convincing Young to dole out federal dollars, however, seems even easier.

Witness the $280 billion 2005 transportation bill, Young's masterpiece, the culmination of 30 plus years of experience. In it, Young not only tagged hundreds of millions for his home state -- including his own bridge to nowhere -- but he delivered for projects all over the country. Back in August, we gave a rundown of four states where contributors had ponied up for Young's attention, and this weekend, McClatchy took a step back to admire the full scope of Young's popularity outside of Alaska:

With money pouring in from transportation interests, Young amassed $6.5 million in political contributions from 2001 to 2005. Facing weak political opposition at home, he didn’t need much for his campaign. Instead, Young tapped his campaign fund to travel the country, often lavishly and in corporate jets, to meet with more developers and view their proposed highway projects....

Of the $6.5 million in contributions that Young collected — $5.5 million for his campaign and $1 million for his leadership political action committee (PAC) — about 85 percent came from people who didn’t live in Alaska and couldn’t vote for him.


And many of those contributors weren't disappointed. We've written often about Florida's Coconut Road project. But what about $5 million to help a developer build the largest shopping mall in America in Syracuse, New York? They're just two among many. Take a look.

It's official: embattled State Department Inspector General Howard "Cookie" Krongard will finally testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday.

Krongard, for the uninitiated, is the IG voted most likely to... not investigate waste, fraud and abuse. In September, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the oversight committee chairman, accused him of scuttling investigations into corruption in State activities and contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Matters got worse when Krongard's subordinates told Waxman that his aides threatened retaliation against them for going public. Condoleezza Rice promised that Krongard would answer the charges. The FBI got involved. It's a whole to-do.

Come Wednesday at 10 a.m., Krongard will get a chance to explain himself. As of last week, the hearing focused primarily on the whistleblower-protection question. Aides to the committee said last week that there were no preconditions to Krongard's testimony, and lo and behold, the title of the current hearing is now the broad-brush "Assessing the State Department Inspector General."

Can't wait for Wednesday? Check out the Mighty Justin Rood's newest piece on the State Department's allergy to accountability in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Good catch from Pam Hess of the AP. At an intelligence conference last month, the nation's number-two intelligence official, Don Kerr, contended that you shouldn't expect the government to protect your anonymity. At least one prominent civil libertarian tells TPMmuckraker that Kerr should resign if his remarks reflect what he believes.

Kerr, the chief deputy to intelligence chief Michael McConnell -- he of questionable credibility concerning the Bush administration's surveillance programs -- contended last month that anonymity is an outmoded component of citizens' reasonable privacy expectations. Technology has influenced social interaction to such a point where people don't blanch at giving Amazon their credit card numbers or posting personal information on social-networking websites. While the government should protect privacy, shielding anonymity "isn't a fight that can be won." Kerr, it should be noted, was previously the director of the National Reconnaissance Office, which is in charge of the nation's spy satellites.

Some civil libertarians read Kerr's remarks as at odds with long-standing legal privacy protections. At least one tells TPMmuckraker that it's time for Kerr -- who was just confirmed as McConnell's deputy on October 4 -- to find a new line of work. "The Constitution protects the right of anonymity," says Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "If Mr. Kerr does not believe he can uphold the Constitution, he should resign."

Kerr shied away from teasing out the implications of his statement when asked. ("It's a personal question that everyone, in a way, has to answer for themselves," said Kerr -- who, remember, is a government official presumably not willing to allow 300 million people the leverage to decide, say, how much surveillance the government can perform.) But here's the heart of the argument (pdf):

Anonymity results from a lack of identifying features. Nowadays, when so much correlated data is collected and available -- and I'm just talking about profiles on MySpace, Facebook, YouTube here -- the set of identifiable features has grown beyond where most of us can comprehend. We need to move beyond the construct that equates anonymity with privacy and focus more on how we can protect essential privacy in this interconnected environment.

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