The Daily Muck

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November 11, 2008 9:09 a.m.
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Insurance giant AIG spent $343,000 on an executive retreat to an Arizona resort last week, despite a financial situation so dire that the Treasury Department agreed to give the firm another $150 billion in taxpayer money Monday. The company has already apologized for its October spree at the lavish St. Regis resort in California, which occurred shortly after the company received its first multi-billion dollar infusion from the government. It does at least appear that AIG has stuck to its promise to take the current economic conditions into account. This time, the company tried to keep the event secret. (New York Times/ABC)

One of Barack Obama’s
first moves as president may be to close Guantanamo Bay and institute a special national security court to prosecute detainees. The Cuban base has come under fire at home and abroad from those who say the Pentagon is using the offshore location to circumvent US laws against harsh interrogation tactics and holding prisoners for lengthy periods without charge. (CNN)

Absentee ballots poured into Alaska over the weekend, likely pushing voter turnout past the 2004 rate and going some way toward quelling rumors that the state’s elections had been manipulated. More than 90,000 ballots remain uncounted, more than enough to leave still contested Senate and House races, featuring controversial GOPers Ted Stevens and Don Young, up in the air. Absentee voters will likely amount to nearly 30 percent of the total. (Daily News Miner)The $700 billion bailout authorized by Congress last month appears to be proceeding with little oversight, despite a provision that requires the White House to appoint an in-house inspector. The White House has yet to appoint a supervisor for the program, nor has Congress named its oversight commission, even though October’s bill gave the Treasury Department unprecedented power. (AP)

The Justice Department may have shielded oil company BP from criminal charges when it backed off of an investigation into a 2006 Alaska oil spill, according to former EPA agent Scott West, who worked on the case and is asking for an inquiry into the matter. At the time, investigators concluded that the oil spill occurred because BP skimped on maintenance, and the company was fined $20 million for a misdemeanor. But in a formal complaint filed yesterday with the Department of Justice by an environmental watchdog group, West says that amount was far lower than EPA recommendations. (McClatchy)

A judge agreed yesterday to hear a case brought by two watchdog groups, that aims to recover “missing” White House e-mails from 2003 and require the White House to preserve backup of electronic files. The ruling was a blow to the Bush administration, which had asked that the suits be dismissed. (AP)

In October, lawyers for Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), who is on trial for embezzling campaign funds and using his legislative position to secure a real estate deal for a former business partner, asked that the case be dismissed, saying that the evidence marshalled against him is related to his legislative activities and is thus protected from courtroom scrutiny. Prosecutors filed a counter-motion Friday taking issue with that claim, and arguing that he was interpreting the law too broadly. (Roll Call)

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