Harper’s Ken Silverstein: “Two former CIA officers told me that Foggo, Bassett [aka "Nine Fingers"], and a third man — a CIA official close to Goss, whose name I learned but am withholding because he remains undercover — have been friends for years and worked together overseas. According to these two sources, Bassett and the undercover officer (whom Goss brought up to the 7th Floor at Langley when he took over the CIA) positioned Foggo to be picked by Goss for the number-three slot. Perhaps more importantly, I’m told that Bassett, like Foggo, has connections to [corrupt defense contractor Brent] Wilkes.”
A spokesperson for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson has issued a second response to reports that Jackson publicly admitted cancelling a government contract with a business because the CEO was critical of President Bush.
Dustee Tucker, a spokeswoman for Jackson, told the Dallas Business Journal Tuesday that Jackson’s comments at his April 28 speech were purely “anecdotal.”
“He was merely trying to explain to the audience how people in D.C., will say critical things about the secretary, will unfairly characterize the president and then turn around and ask you for money,” Tucker said. “He did not actually meet with someone and turn down a contract. He’s not part of the contracting process.”
In other words, his spokesman claims that Jackson fabricated a long and detailed exchange (excerpt: “He said, ‘I have a problem with your president.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t like President Bush.’”) with a CEO that doesn’t actually exist, about a process he isn’t actually involved with.
1) That excuse isn’t just difficult to swallow — it also contradicts the spokesperson’s first response in which she indicated Jackson was referring to a real contract: “On May 3, Tucker told the Business Journal that the contract Jackson was referring to in Dallas was ‘an advertising contract with a minority publication,’ though she could not provide the contract’s value.” It looks like Jackson is changing his story as criticism builds.
2) Bidding for a government contract isn’t ‘asking for money.’ It’s not Alphonso Jackson’s money to give away to his buddies. It is the taxpayers’ money. It should go to whoever can do the best job, regardless of their political views.
President Bush’s approval rating in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, another new low and “the third lowest approval rating of any president in 50 years.” The percentage who say going to war in Iraq was the correct decision “slipped to a new low of 39 percent, down from 47 percent in January.”
House and Senate conservatives just agreed to move forward on another budget-busting tax bill favoring the wealthiest Americans. The latest plan — announced today “after months of tense negotiations and slipped deadlines” — will spend $70 billion to extend the 15 percent tax rate for capital gains and dividends until 2010. The agreement “paves the way for House approval of the measure as early as Wednesday. The Senate could clear the bill for Bush’s desk by week’s end.”
The top tenth of 1 percent, whose average income is $5.3 million, would save an average of $82,415. Those in the top group would see their tax bill cut 4.8 percent, while Americans at the center of the income distribution “” the middle fifth of taxpayers, who will earn an average of $36,000 this year “” could expect a 0.4 percent reduction in their tax bill, or about $20.
Those who make less than $75,000 “” which includes about 75 percent of all taxpayers “” would save, at most, $110 each. Those making more than $1 million would save, on average, almost $42,000.
Despite administration claims to the contrary, Federal Reserve economists have found these investment tax cuts haven’t boosted the stock market, and the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation has found that any economic benefits of the cuts are “eventually likely to be outweighed by the reduction in national savings due to increasing Federal government deficits.”
For full coverage, stay tuned to American Progress’ BudgetBlog.
“Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) called on President Bush to ask for the immediate resignation of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson if a report about government contracts being awarded based on the contractor’s opinion of President Bush are accurate.”
UPDATE: Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Barney Frank (D-MA) write Secretary Jackson: “If this account is accurate, your comments were improper and most likely illegal. Federal contracts should be awarded based on merit, not on whether a contractor likes or dislikes President Bush.”
UPDATE II: Reuters has the first story out on the wire on the Jackson scandal.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), in a speech yesterday to the National Press Club:
The consultants and the pundits and others will tell you…that it is dangerous to let there be any real light between our position and the White House’s position, or else you’ll get called soft on terrorism. You already hear people saying that the Michael Hayden nomination will be a great opportunity for the White House to show the Democrats are soft on terrorism. And you bet the pundits in this town will somehow suggest that this, too, just like my censure resolution, will cause the President’s numbers to shoot up. You remember that happening, right? It didn’t happen at all, but that’s what they’re gonna say, but it’s not right.
Read the full transcript below: Read more
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson publicly admitted that he canceled a government contract with a business because the CEO was critical of President Bush. From the Dallas Business Journal:
“He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years,” Jackson said of the prospective contractor. “He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something … he said, ‘I have a problem with your president.’
“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t like President Bush.’ I thought to myself, ‘Brother, you have a disconnect — the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn’t be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don’t tell the secretary.’
“He didn’t get the contract,” Jackson continued. “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe.”
Jackson’s conduct appears to be in violation of federal law. From the Federal Acquisition Regulations, 48 CFR 3.101-1:
Government business shall be conducted in a manner above reproach and, except as authorized by statute or regulation, with complete impartiality and with preferential treatment for none. Transactions relating to the expenditure of public funds require the highest degree of public trust and an impeccable standard of conduct.
Jackson has admitted that this particular contract was not awarded with “impartiality.” The business that would have been awarded the contract was excluded because of the contractor’s political views.
The Competition in Contracting Act (41 U.S.C. 253(b)(1)) details the six circumstances in which a particular contractor can be excluded. Needless to say, political views are not on the list.
It is also highly unusual for a cabinet secretary to be involved in the awarding or cancellation of a particular contract. More on this story soon.
during the 2004 presidential campaign: “See, we don’t create enemies and terrorists by fighting back. We defeat the terrorists by fighting back.” Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the U.S. commander in charge of day-to-day military operations in Iraq, from today’s Los Angeles Times: “We have to understand that the way we treat Iraqis has a direct effect on the number of insurgents that we are fighting. For every one that I kill, I create almost 10 more.” (HT: Salon’s War Room)
Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) — known as “Representative #1″ in four plea deals in the Abramoff case — insisted yesterday, “I haven’t done anything wrong.” He’s actually just the victim of a major conspiracy involving the federal government, the media, Jack Abramoff, and the “liberal establishment”:
While I am very saddened to see what has happened today, I also understand that Neil [Volz] has been under tremendous pressure from the government. … For a young man like Neil, it is virtually impossible to have the financial resources to adequately defend yourself against the federal government. [5/9/06]
The last several months have not been easy. … I have seen my name savaged by the national media. [1/27/06]
I have watched as the liberal establishment in Washington engaged in a coordinated smear campaign against me. [1/27/06]
I, like these Indian tribes and other members of Congress, was duped by Jack Abramoff. [10/18/05]
The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today to consider the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the current White House staff secretary. Bush has nominated him for lifetime seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2003, the American Bar Association rated Kavanaugh “well-qualified” despite acknowledging “he had never tried a case to verdict or judgment” and “he had very little experience with criminal cases.”
Yesterday, the ABA expanded upon those earlier concerns and announced it had downgraded Kavanaugh’s rating to “qualified” after conducting new interviews with judges and associates familiar with his work. (The ABA only offers ratings of well-qualified, qualified, and not qualified.)
Stephen Tober, the chairman of the 14-member committee, released a statement yesterday explaining why Kavanaugh was downgraded. The ABA contacted 91 individuals in the legal community, and here’s a sampling of what they said about Kavanaugh:
One judge who witnessed the nominee’s oral presentation in court commented that the nominee was “less than adequate” before the court, had been “sanctimonious,” and demonstrated “experience on the level of an associate.”
A lawyer who had observed him during a different court proceeding stated: “Mr. Kavanaugh did not handle the case well as an advocate and dissembled.” Other lawyers expressed similar concerns, repeating in substance that the nominee was young and inexperienced in the practice of law.
[T]he recent supplemental evaluation contained comments from several interviewees with more recent experience with the nominee, which caused them to characterize the nominee as “insulated.”
“(He is) immovable and very stubborn and frustrating to deal with on some issues.”
Another heckuva qualified Bush nominee.