- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2004

Ginsburg’s conflict

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retains close ties with a feminist advocacy group that often makes arguments before the high court, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Mrs. Ginsburg has lent her name and presence to a lecture series co-sponsored by the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, an advocacy group that often argues before the high court in support of women’s rights that the justice champions, the newspaper said.

She gave opening remarks for the fourth installment of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture Series on Women and the Law. Two weeks earlier, she had voted in a medical screening case, taking the side promoted by the legal defense fund in its friend-of-the-court brief.

Mrs. Ginsburg was a member of the board of the legal defense fund for a brief time in the 1970s.

Kerry’s pal

Presumed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry says his credibility was not affected by his previous association with a man who fabricated his military credentials while serving as executive director of a prominent antiwar group that included Mr. Kerry, CNSNews.com reports.

Al Hubbard appeared with Mr. Kerry in 1971 on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” was introduced as a former decorated Air Force captain who had spent two years in Vietnam and was wounded in the process. In reality, Mr. Hubbard had lied about his military rank and other issues, as later investigations revealed.

At the time, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Hubbard and other members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War were charging that U.S. troops were committing widespread atrocities against Vietnamese civilians. Mr. Kerry even testified about the issue before a congressional committee around the same time he and Mr. Hubbard appeared on “Meet the Press.”

“I think our credibility was tremendous,” Mr. Kerry told CNSNews.com’s Marc Morano during a news conference on Capitol Hill yesterday. Mr. Kerry was surrounded at the news conference by Democratic members of the U.S. Senate.

“I think that was one of the most moving and important weeks in an effort to end a war that needed to be ended, and I’m proud of the role that I played in helping to do that,” Mr. Kerry said, referring to his television appearance with Mr. Hubbard and congressional testimony. “I think people all over this country joined together in trying to get our servicemen home,” Mr. Kerry added.

CBS News reporter William Overend, a writer for the network’s anchorman Walter Cronkite in 1971, investigated Mr. Hubbard’s war claims and discovered that there was no record of Mr. Hubbard having ever served in Vietnam. In addition, Mr. Hubbard was not shot down as he said and did not receive a Purple Heart for injuries suffered during battle.

Halliburton costs

Halliburton Co. acknowledged to Pentagon auditors that it provided faulty cost estimates last year for $2.7 billion in services to U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait, according to documents released by the Defense Department yesterday.

The Associated Press reports that the problems included a failure to tell contract managers that Halliburton had terminated two subcontracts for feeding troops, which affected costs on $1 billion worth of that work.

Halliburton also did not tell contract managers it had already awarded subcontracts worth $141.5 million for work it told the military would cost $208.8 million, the Defense Contract Audit Agency found.

William F. Daneke, a manager for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root, wrote to the agency Dec. 4 to acknowledge the company did not give current, accurate and complete cost data in its Oct. 7 spending proposal.

“There are many excuses and reasons available — but — in the end, KBR did not include the most current data in our proposal,” Mr. Daneke wrote.

Democratic critics say Halliburton, formerly led by Vice President Dick Cheney, is an example of war profiteering by companies friendly to the Bush administration. Company and administration officials say politics had nothing to do with Halliburton’s contracts in Iraq.

New Jersey poll

A poll testing a potential 2005 rematch between New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey and Republican Bret Schundler has the two tied at 41 percent.

The poll, conducted by the firm Public Opinion Strategies for the Schundler campaign, showed Mr. Schundler and Mr. McGreevey were each the choice of 41 percent of the 500 likely New Jersey voters surveyed, UPI reports.

A majority of New Jersey voters, 56 percent, said the state was on the wrong track. They gave Mr. McGreevey a negative job approval rating of 48 percent versus 43 percent who said their opinion of the first-term Democrat was “favorable.”

Mr. McGreevey defeated Mr. Schundler by more than 300,000 votes when the two faced off against each other in the 2001 gubernatorial election. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Hudson’s move

The conservative Hudson Institute may move its headquarters from Indianapolis to the District, where it already has a research program.

Hudson Institute President Herb London said, “After 20 years of being deeply devoted to life in Indianapolis, the Hudson Institute Board of Trustees has decided to actively explore a consolidation of Hudson’s offices in Washington, D.C. … The decision to explore consolidation was, to some degree, prompted by different research agendas: One, in Indianapolis, concentrating on state-based issues and the other, in Washington, centered on broader national and international issues.”

He added: “The fine work conducted in the present Hudson Institute facility likely would continue as a separate organization under the direction of Jay Hein, currently Hudson’s director of Civil Society Programs. It is our hope that ties established over the last two decades would continue in a variety of ways through the establishment of this new entity.”

The institute said details of the possible consolidation have yet to be worked out but would likely — if confirmed by the board — be completed within a three-month time period.

Hubby indicted

The husband of Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat, was indicted yesterday on federal charges of operating check-kiting schemes that defrauded banks out of at least $2.3 million while he ran a citizens group.

Robert B. Creamer, 56, was charged with 16 counts of bank fraud for purportedly swindling nine financial institutions. He also was charged with 18 counts of tax fraud, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Creamer’s attorneys, Ann C. Tighe and Theodore Poulos, said their client would plead not guilty to the charges, and “will deal with them head-on, knowing that he at all times acted in good faith and never defrauded anyone.”

There were no charges of wrongdoing against Mrs. Schakowsky, who was first elected to the House in 1998.

The congresswoman issued a statement shortly after the indictment was released saying she was “shocked and disappointed to learn that the Justice Department has decided to bring charges against Bob, seven years after these allegations were first raised.”

Mrs. Schakowsky said she was confident her husband would be proved innocent.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected].

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