- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2008

INVESTIGATION

Gonzales mishandled classified papers

Alberto R. Gonzales mishandled highly classified notes about a secret counterterrorism program, but not on purpose, according to a memo by the former attorney general’s legal team.

The memo, obtained by the Associated Press, acknowledges that Mr. Gonzales improperly stored notes about the program and might have taken them home at one point.

Removing secret documents from specially secured rooms violates government policy.



Mr. Gonzales’ attorneys wrote in their memo that there is no evidence the security breach resulted in secret information being viewed or otherwise exposed to anyone who was not authorized.

The classified notes focus on a March 2004 meeting with congressional leaders about a national security program that was about to expire. Efforts to renew the program sparked an intense Bush administration debate that played out at the hospital bedside of John Ashcroft, who was attorney general at the time.

Mr. Gonzales’ legal team prepared the memo as a response to a report being finalized by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

OBITUARY

RFK press aide Guthman dies at 89

LOS ANGELES | Edwin O. Guthman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was on the infamous “enemies list” prepared by aides of President Nixon and served as press secretary to Robert F. Kennedy, has died at 89.

Mr. Guthman, who suffered from a rare blood disease called amyloidosis, died Sunday at his Pacific Palisades home, said Bryce Nelson, a family spokesman.

Mr. Guthman was the Los Angeles Times national editor from 1965 to 1977, then served a decade as editorial page editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mr. Guthman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1950 for his stories in the Seattle Times on the Washington state Legislature’s Un-American Activities Committee. His reporting cleared a University of Washington professor of charges that he was a Communist Party supporter.

Mr. Guthman was press secretary for attorney general and later Sen. Robert F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1965.

WHITE HOUSE

Cheney to leave for Eastern Europe

AUSTIN, Texas | Vice President Dick Cheney will travel to Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Italy as planned, the White House said Monday, as Hurricane Gustav blasted ashore near New Orleans.

After meeting with President Bush early Monday, “the vice president said his trip is going ahead as planned,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

Mr. Cheney was scheduled to depart Tuesday for the Eastern European region in a show of support for war-battered U.S. ally Georgia and amid a deepening freeze in Russian ties with the West.

Mr. Cheney will become the most senior U.S. official to visit Georgia since Russian tanks rolled into its smaller neighbor when Tbilisi tried to retake the Moscow-backed rebel region of South Ossetia by force.

FRAUD

Whistleblowers help recover $9.3 billion

Whistleblowers helped authorities recover at least $9.3 billion from health care providers accused of defrauding states and the federal government, according to an analysis of Justice Department records.

The department ramped up efforts in the 1990s to combat health care fraud by using private citizens with inside knowledge of wrongdoing. They now initiate more than 90 percent of the department’s lawsuits focusing on health care fraud.

Whistleblowers start cases by filing a sealed complaint in federal court. The department investigates the allegation and can intervene, assuming the lead role in the lawsuit. Whistleblowers then get between 15 percent and 25 percent of the amount recovered.

Of the $9.3 billion recovered between 1996 and 2005, whistleblowers got more than $1 billion, say analysts writing for the Annals of Internal Medicine.

CAMPAIGN

Labor ads seek end to secret ballot

ST. PAUL, Minn. | A labor advocacy group was scheduled to begin airing $5 million worth of ads Monday on national cable and in targeted states to press for legislation that would allow workers to organize without secret-ballot elections.

The ads, by American Rights at Work, do not name either presidential candidate, but the message of economic hardship dovetails with Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s campaign themes. The national ads will appear on CNN, MSNBC and CNN Headline News.

The ads also will appear in states with vulnerable Republican senators - New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska, Minnesota and Oregon. The ads, expected to air at least four weeks, urge viewers to call the senators to demand their support for the legislation.

American Rights at Work is a 501(c)4 organization. Its ads are issue-based and do not call for the election or defeat of a candidate.

WILDFIRE

Nevada governor hits Forest Service

RENO, Nev. | Nevada’s governor has criticized a U.S. Forest Service decision to let a wildfire burn unchecked for two weeks, allowing it to “get out of control.”

A lightning-caused fire that ignited Aug. 21 in northeastern Nevada has grown from about 13 square miles to 76 square miles, officials said. It also has moved to within four miles of the small town of Jarbidge.

The blaze was 30 percent contained Sunday. No homes were threatened, and no major injuries were reported.

“The forest fire that we have today was allowed to get out of control, knowing the dangers of the fuel loading and the weather conditions - dry, hot, windy,” Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican, told the Elko Daily Free Press.

The Forest Service initially tried to fight the fire, which is burning in a remote area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, but pulled out after deciding that the area’s rugged terrain put firefighters at risk.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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