The Daily Muck

The State Department’s decision to replace Blackwater Worldwide as its primary defense contractor in Iraq may be little more than a name change. Though Blackwater — recently renamed “Xe” — has been widely criticized and investigated on criminal charges for its role a 2007 firefight that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, most of its security guards will return to Iraq next month wearing the uniform of the State Department’s new contractor Triple Canopy. Susan Burke, an American lawyer representing Iraqi civilians in civil lawsuits against “Xe” told the New York Times, “They’re really all still there, and it’s back to business as usual.” (New York Times)French authorities in Cote d’Azur seized a $7 million yacht owned by Bernard Madoff, hoping to recoup some of the funds Madoff swindled out of the South of France in his $50 billion Ponzi scheme. French police said they “decided to act fast, so that the boat wouldn’t leave French waters.” The yacht shares the name “Bull” with another of Madoff’s yachts which was seized last week by U.S. authorities along with his Palm Beach mansion. (Associated Press)

Following a recent raid on the offices of PMA lobbying group, federal officials will investigate connections between the lobbying firm and Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN). PMA’s leader Paul Magliocchetti is being investigated by federal authorities in connection to an alleged scheme to funnel funds through false donors to dodge campaign finance laws. Visclosky and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), whose ties to PMA are also being investigated, relied heavily on the firm for fund raising and earmarked millions each year for PMA clients. (New York Times)

An internal report released last week showed that the Interior Department failed to update its computer network even after it was warned that the system was exposed to hackers and ordered by a federal judge to fix the problem. Though Interior Department officials claimed last summer that they improved the system, the report, written by the department’s inspector general Earl Devaney, found that the agency “persistently failed to meet minimum standards in information security,” leaving the computer network dangerously exposed. This came in response to a Native American class-action lawsuit which claimed $47 billion claiming that the department’s computer system failed to keep track of income generated from 170,000 tracts of land. (Washington Post)

William Kuebler, a Navy lawyer critical critical of the military tribunal system for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, has been taken off the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who allegedly killed an American soldier, officials said Saturday. Kuebler says he was removed after he petitioned the Defense Department to allow his client to return to Canada to avoid a military tribunal he believed was unfair to his client. Air Force Colonel Peter Masicola said in a statement that Kuebler had to be removed to secure “a client-centered representation.” In the past, Kuebler has been an outspoken critic of Masicola’s involvement with Guantanamo cases, which he says are unfair to detainees. (Associated Press)

The Defense Department can continue to hold Hedi Hammamy, a Tunisian prisoner suspected of working with al-Qaeda, at Guantanamo Bay, a federal judge ruled. Judge Richard Leon found that the government showed enough evidence to prove a connection between Hammamy and al-Qaeda in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan supporting terrorist activity to justify his detention. Hammamy had challenged his detention in U.S. Court under the habeas corpus doctrine. (Washington Post)