- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2008

COURTS

Cheney, Gonzales indictments dismissed

RAYMONDVILLE, Texas | A judge has dismissed the indictments brought by a South Texas prosecutor against Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

Administrative Judge Manuel Banales ruled Monday that eight indictments, including those involving Mr. Cheney and Mr. Gonzales, were improperly returned by a Willacy County grand jury last month. The indictments against Mr. Cheney and Mr. Gonzales centered on the purported abuse of inmates at private prisons in the county.

Judge Banales ruled that five of the indictments against two district judges, two special prosecutors and the district clerk connected to an investigation of Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra were unlawful because Mr. Guerra was the purported victim and the person presenting the cases.

Judge Banales earlier survived a recusal motion brought by Mr. Guerra. Judge Banales then dismissed an indictment against state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. that accused the Brownsville Democrat of corruption.

STATE BUDGETS

Governors lobby for federal help

Facing severe cutbacks in state services as the recession deepens, the nation’s governors pressed their case on Capitol Hill on Monday, asking for at least $40 billion to help pay for health care for the poor and disabled.

The governors also are pressing for as much as $136 billion worth of infrastructure projects such as road and bridge repairs as the Democrat-led Congress and President-elect Barack Obama prepare economic-recovery legislation that Mr. Obama hopes to sign immediately upon taking office.

Mr. Obama will meet with the governors Tuesday at a National Governors Association meeting in Philadelphia.

In advance, Govs. Edward G. Rendell, Pennsylvania Democrat, and Jim Douglas, Vermont Republican, who head the governors’ group, met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday to discuss the parameters of the evolving measure, which could total $500 billion, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.

“Without federal help … what we will have to do is just make continuing cuts and/or raise taxes, both of which would have a further deleterious effect on our states’ economy,” Mr. Rendell told reporters. “We simply need help.”

HOUSE

Cantor names chief deputy whip

Incoming House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia on Monday selected Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California to serve as his chief deputy whip for the 111th Congress, which begins in January.

The House Republican chief deputy whip is the primary assistant to the whip, the party’s main vote counter in the chamber. The position also is the highest appointed post within the House Republican Conference.

“I look forward to working with Kevin and the entire Republican conference to serve as the check and balance to the power of Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and President-elect [Barack] Obama and to work with the majority to move America forward,” said Mr. Cantor.

Mr. McCarthy, who was re-elected in November to a second term after running unopposed, called his appointment an “enormous honor.”

“We advance our ‘young guns’ partnership to this new mission in order to help create a foundation of new and fresh ideas to solve America’s pressing challenges,” said the 43-year-old Californian.

Mr. Cantor, Mr. McCarthy and Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin last year were profiled in the conservative Weekly Standard as three House Republican “young guns.”

TRANSITION

Obama team raises $1.2 million

President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team said Monday that it raised nearly $1.2 million in the 11 days since the Nov. 4 election, and released the names and occupations of its 1,776 donors.

Just as during the campaign, lobbyists, foreign agents, corporations and political action committees are banned from donating to the fund, which will augment the nearly $6 million in taxpayer money to cover the transition team’s work.

But the list of donors includes influential names, such as the chief executive of Google, the chairman of Choice Hotels International, the chief executive of Sony electronics and an executive at UnitedHealth Group.

Transition co-chairmen William M. Daley, of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and John W. Rogers Jr., of Ariel Investments, also contributed, as did traditional Democratic fundraisers such as “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas.

More than half of the donors contributed the legal maximum of $5,000, but the average donation was $659.

Previous transition teams have not disclosed such information until after the election, when they are required to do so. Donor information will be released on a monthly basis in an attempt to run “the most open and transparent transition in history,” according to the team’s statement.

TERRORISM

Commission warns of biological attack

The United States can expect a terrorist attack using nuclear or, more likely, biological weapons before 2013, reports a bipartisan commission in a study being briefed Tuesday to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

It suggests the Obama administration bolster efforts to counter and prepare for germ warfare by terrorists.

“Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing,” states the report, obtained by the Associated Press. It is scheduled to be released publicly on Wednesday.

The commission is also encouraging the new White House to appoint one official on the National Security Council to exclusively coordinate U.S. intelligence and foreign policy on combating the spread of nuclear and biological weapons.

The report of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, led by former Sens. Bob Graham of Florida and Jim Talent of Missouri, acknowledges that terrorist groups still lack the needed scientific and technical ability to make weapons out of pathogens or nuclear bombs. But it warns that gap can be easily overcome, if terrorists find scientists willing to share or sell their know-how.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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