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The Bush administration may have broken over two dozen federal laws and regulations -- some of them multiple times -- according to an unreleased report from the House Judiciary Committee Democrats.

"The misconduct I have found is not only serious, but widespread," reads a draft summary of the report by Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI):

The laws implicated by the Administration’s actions include federal laws against making false statements to congress [sic]; federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other government employees; Executive Orders concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence; federal regulations and ethical requirements governing conflicts of interest; the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; communications privacy laws; the National Security Act; and the Fourth Amendment.


The document, an update to the Democrats' December 2005 report, "A Constitution in Crisis," will be released later this week, according to knowledgeable sources. It is several hundred pages long, with over a thousand footnotes.

In earlier days such a report would be easily ignored. But with the looming possibility of Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives in November, Conyers' charges pose a potentially serious threat to the Bush administration. After all, it takes only a simple majority vote in the House to impeach a sitting president.

On their face, the laundry list of alleged wrongs form a natural basis for impeachment proceedings -- but Conyers has insisted he has no intention of rushing to impeach. No, a slow walk to possible impeachment (preferably down a path that includes months of hearings) is more what the would-be chairman envisions, he has said.

My call to the White House was not immediately returned.

CQ's Jeff Stein makes a neat catch: the State Department's top Asia official told Congress recently that Iranian officials were in North Korea to observe its missile test firings this July 4. Headlines ensue. Days later, Hill quietly retracts the claim:

“Hill . . . told reporters he could not confirm reports that Iranian officials had witnessed the July 4 launches,” the AP said. “He said he misspoke when he earlier told lawmakers that he could confirm such reports."


Experts Stein spoke with agreed: it wouldn't be unheard of for Iran to watch a North Korean test -- in fact, they did so in 1993. Perhaps Hill was confused about the dates. Perhaps he spoke out of class. Or perhaps the intelligence doesn't actually exist.

However you read it, CQ's national security editor concludes, the lesson is grim: either U.S. intelligence doesn't know what's going on, a top State official can't keep life-or-death facts straight, or the administration is again attempting to mislead on national security matters.

TX 22: DeLay Ballot Issue Heads Into Appeals Court "The 5th Circuit federal appeals court in New Orleans on Monday will become the latest venue for the partisan legal battle over whether Tom DeLay — the former House majority leader who resigned from Congress under a cloud of ethics controversies June 9 — must remain on the ballot this November as the Republican nominee in Texas’ 22nd District." (CQ, AP)

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It's official: the Virginia defense facility run -- on taxpayer dollars -- by one of the central felons in the Duke Cunningham scandal is closing Monday.

The news comes just days after the Pentagon announced it would not renew the contract for the Martinsville-based Foreign Supplier Assessment Center, which was created and sustained largely through earmarks from Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA). Goode received over $90,000 in contributions from Mitchell Wade, who's spilling his guts to federal investigators in an attempt to dodge jail time.

Who's it bad news for? Just about everyone involved. Goode's getting slammed for bringing MZM to town, winning the company unusually generous financial perks and sending the bill to the city. "Rep. Goode forgot whom he should represent when he brokered a deal favorable to campaign contributors at the risk of his district," the Roanoke (Va.) Times opined Saturday.

It's bad news for MZM -- now Athena Innovative Solutions. Sources tell me this is not the only one of their contracts getting cut. The Pentagon trimmed more than 30 positions from an Athena contract to provide employees to the Counterintelligence Field Activity office (CIFA), according to two former MZM employees who are in touch with current Athena staffers.

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From today's New York Times:

The State Department agency in charge of $1.4 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide ballooning cost overruns on its projects there and knowingly withheld information on schedule delays from Congress, a federal audit released late Friday has found....


An example:

The hospital’s construction budget was $50 million. By April of this year, Bechtel had told the aid agency [the United States Agency for International Development] that because of escalating costs for security and other problems, the project would actually cost $98 million to complete. But in an official report to Congress that month, the agency “was reporting the hospital project cost as $50 million,” the inspector general wrote in his report.

The rest was reclassified as overhead, or “indirect costs.” According to a contracting officer at the agency who was cited in the report, the agency “did not report these costs so it could stay within the $50 million authorization.”


$48 million here, millions more there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.

The latest twist in Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) case...

Following up on their earlier move to block Justice Department prosecutors from reviewing the documents seized in an FBI raid from Jefferson's office, an appeals court has ruled that Jefferson gets to take a look at them before prosecutors can review them. At issue is whether the materials might be protected under the Speech or Debate clause of the Constitution.

Over at TPM, Josh referred to an answer by Bush during today's press conference that showed “in really frightening detail how President Bush seems to be basically brain dead” on the Middle East situation. Here it is in all its glory:

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Just got off the phone with Former Sgt. Bleu Copas, the Arab linguist who got booted from the Army over allegations of homosexuality -- from an anonymous informant.

He told an Associated Press reporter that an Army investigator asked him if he had ever participated in community theater. An Army public affairs chief today told me he doubted any such thing had happened.

Copas told me he sticks by his story. "It was part of their investigation. That was one of their questions," he said. But the question didn't come completely out of the blue.

"The informant, whoever he was, had a conversation with me on an internet chat room, and I mentioned involvement in community theater -- I had rehearsal, or something," Copas explained.

So did the investigator ask the question in order to identify you as the person with whom this anonymous informant had chatted? Or because community theater involvement was evidence of homosexual tendencies?

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I posted yesterday about a decorated Army Arabic linguist who was kicked out for being gay. Among other questions posed to him by an Army investigator attempting to confirm his gayness, Sgt. Bleu Copas of the 82nd Airborne Division says he was asked if he was involved in community theater.

I called the Army yesterday and asked: Did someone really ask about Sgt. Copas' involvement community theater? Is that question standard for homosexuality investigations?

"Asking about involvement in community theater is not a standard question," Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty emailed this morning in response. Hilferty, a senior public affairs official for the Army, added:

"I expect that that question was not actually asked, but there are more than one million Soldiers in the Army and at my level we work Army policy, not specific cases, so I know nothing about this particular case."


So Hilferty doesn't know and shows no desire to find out. If that attitude had been applied to Copas' situation, perhaps I would find it refreshing. As it is, I'm a bit surprised: did the Army just call their former decorated Arabic linguist a liar?

Maybe it's time to talk with Mr. Copas himself.

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