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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
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Archive: July 2008

Executive Privilege and the Fired Attorneys

It has been a year and a half since seven U.S. attorneys around the country were fired on the same day. That action by the Justice Department sparked the Bush administration's most enduring political and legal battle with Democrats in Congress. Evidence continues to accumulate that senior White House and...

By Derek Kravitz | July 31, 2008; 4:40 PM ET | Comments (5)

The Fallout from the Stevens Indictment

The fallout from the federal corruption indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens, the once-powerful Alaska Republican who helped the state snag millions in pork-barrel projects, is being felt from Anchorage to Washington. A third of Alaska's jobs can be traced to federal spending, according to the latest study by the University...

By Derek Kravitz | July 31, 2008; 9:23 AM ET | Comments (68)

Israeli PM To Resign Amid Corruption Probe

Facing burgeoning corruption allegations and plummeting popularity, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said today he will resign in September, The Associated Press reports. Olmert said he would not run in his party's primary election Sept. 17 and would step down afterward to allow his successor to form a government. But...

By Derek Kravitz | July 30, 2008; 6:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Roots of the Stevens Investigation

One of the most powerful members of the Senate for nearly three decades, Ted Stevens built a loyal following in Alaska by protecting and promoting the key industries of oil and fishing, and by bringing home legendary buckets of federal spending for his constituents' pet projects. (An episode of the...

By The Editors | July 29, 2008; 5:51 PM ET | Comments (6)

Fixer-Uppers Often Trip Up Politicians

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is only the latest political figure to land in a public corruption scandal because of alleged gifts and favors for home improvement projects. A few of the more notable examples: -- Former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, once one of the Republican Party's brightest and fastest-rising...

By Derek Kravitz | July 29, 2008; 3:40 PM ET | Comments (4)

Alaska Senator Indicted After Yearlong Probe

Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator and a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, was indicted on seven counts of falsely reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home, The Associated Press reports. (Related Posts: Fixer-Uppers Often Trip...

By Derek Kravitz | July 29, 2008; 2:21 PM ET | Comments (5)

Harmful Chemicals In Toys Subject Of Ban

A ban on a family of toxins found in children's products is the latest Congressional reform in a growing movement to to remove harmful chemicals from toys. The ban would take effect in six months. The rare action by Congress reflects a growing body of scientific research showing that children...

By Derek Kravitz | July 29, 2008; 11:24 AM ET | Comments (0)

Air Force Shakeup Continues with New Resignation

A top Air Force official -- who was brought in to help improve the transparency of the service's acquisition process -- has resigned amid questions of information leaks, The Associated Press is reporting. Ken Miller, who served as special assistant for Air Force acquisition, has stepped down, the AP reports,...

By Derek Kravitz | July 28, 2008; 5:19 PM ET | Comments (22)

Report: More Favoritism at Justice

An inspector general's report accusing two Justice Department officials of using political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors is the second of four planned dissections of hiring decisions at Justice during the Bush administration. A separate report, released in June, found that a pair...

By Derek Kravitz | July 28, 2008; 1:01 PM ET | Comments (3)

D.C. Jail Guards Have Arrest Records

The Prince George's County jail has had its share of scandals: six officers have been suspended in recent months for various charges, including smuggling cellphones to inmates, having sex with prisoners, an assault and a robbery. The county's corrections chief was fired in June when the jail couldn't account for...

By The Editors | July 25, 2008; 1:38 PM ET | Comments (0)

Picks of the Week: Faulty DNA Tests, Sick Nuke Workers

In a regular feature of Post Investigations, our editors have combed through the in-depth and investigative reports from news outlets across the nation and selected the notable projects of the week. Get the complete list (in no particular order) after the jump....

By Derek Kravitz | July 25, 2008; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

Napping Air Force Crew Broke Security Rules

A crew of three Air Force personnel fell asleep while assigned to watch classified missile launch code components at a facility at the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, but did not compromise any top-secret material, Air Force Space Command said today. An investigation by the 91st Missile Wing...

By Derek Kravitz | July 24, 2008; 8:02 PM ET | Comments (6)

Report: Abandoned Mines Threaten Health, Safety

"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators. Thousands of dangerous and deteriorating mine shafts scattered across California, Arizona and Nevada contain unhealthy levels of arsenic, lead and mercury, according to a report from the Department of...

By Derek Kravitz | July 24, 2008; 7:16 PM ET | Comments (2)

Rangel Reverses Course on Ethics Investigations

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) has reversed course on two ethics investigations filed against him, telling the House committee he chairs that he wants to be fully vetted. The House Ways and Means Committee chairman acknowledged yesterday that he hoped his personal entreaties to foundations and corporations would bring in...

By Derek Kravitz | July 24, 2008; 3:11 PM ET | Comments (1)

Contractors' Influence in War Zones

More than 300 audits have been performed on contracts in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003 and of the $450 billion that has been obligated to support operations in Iraq, roughly $78 billion has been awarded through 103,000 contracts, Defense Department officials told a Senate committee today....

By Derek Kravitz | July 23, 2008; 6:13 PM ET | Comments (7)

Rosenberg Spy Case Files Ordered Unsealed

A federal judge in New York has ruled that sealed grand jury testimony from the 1951 indictment of alleged Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg must be released, the latest twist in a decades-long quest to find out if the suspected spies were innocent. The National Security Archive joined with...

By Derek Kravitz | July 23, 2008; 12:29 PM ET | Comments (1)

Wachovia's Staggering Losses Reflect Bad Loans

The nation's fourth largest bank, Wachovia Corp., reported that it had lost $8.9 billion in the second quarter due to soaring bad mortgage debt, leading the bank to cut its dividend and slash 6,350 jobs in response to mortgage-related losses -- a testament to the bad loans the company made...

By Derek Kravitz | July 22, 2008; 6:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

Armed Services Head: Air Force Needs Shake-Up

The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee said today that new Air Force leaders must fix the problems at the beleaguered service, which has been under fire for mishandling some of its nuclear responsibilities, The Associated Press reports. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he acknowledges it's "a very, very...

By Derek Kravitz | July 22, 2008; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (3)

GAO: 'Jaws of Life,' Tractors, Laptops Went Missing

"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators. Millions of dollars in equipment purchased by the Indian Health Service, including all-terrain vehicles and tractors, laptop computers and digital cameras, have been lost or stolen, according to a...

By Derek Kravitz | July 21, 2008; 2:55 PM ET | Comments (2)

Trial Highlights Legal Battle Over Terror Suspects

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the former driver for Osama bin Laden, pleaded not guilty today in the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War II. The 37-year-old Yemeni, entered his plea through his lawyer at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, The Associated Press reports. If convicted on...

By Derek Kravitz | July 21, 2008; 12:48 PM ET | Comments (103)

Deputy Quits Troubled U.S. Whistleblower Office

The resignation of the second-in-command at the government's top whistle-blower office -- and his accusation that his boss, U.S. Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch, put "political agendas and personal vendettas" ahead of the agency's mission and independence -- is the latest shake-up in a office that has been under scrutiny...

By Derek Kravitz | July 18, 2008; 3:32 PM ET | Comments (9)

First Class for Brass on Air Force Jets?

An Air Force document specified that the capsule's seats are to swivel such that "the longitudinal axis of the seat is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the aircraft" regardless of where the capsules are facing. (Special to The Washington Post). The Air Force's use of more than $16...

By Derek Kravitz | July 18, 2008; 1:00 PM ET | Comments (23)

Picks of the Week: 'Suspect Soldiers,' Arizona Immigration, Timber in the West

In what will become a regular feature of Post Investigations, our editors have combed through the in-depth and investigative reports from news outlets across the nation and selected three notable projects of the week. Get the complete list (in no particular order) after the jump....

By Derek Kravitz | July 18, 2008; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (5)

Report: SBA Handed Out Millions in Bad Contracts

Companies collected millions of dollars in government small-business contracts by claiming to have main offices in poor neighborhoods that were actually empty duplexes, part-time offices and other ineligible locations, according to a government report released today. The Government Accountability Office report examined the $8 billion HUBZone program, which is designed...

By Derek Kravitz | July 17, 2008; 6:55 PM ET | Comments (1)

Ashcroft Battled White House Over Appointment

An internal fight between former Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and the White House over who would lead the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in early 2003 set off a quick turn of events, ultimately leading to a critical attack on the Bush administration's interrogation methods by its "compromise"...

By Derek Kravitz | July 17, 2008; 12:18 PM ET | Comments (9)

Report: Chesapeake Bay Facing New Challenges

"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators. State and local agencies have made strides in cleaning up decades of water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but those tasked with turning around the bay are still...

By Derek Kravitz | July 16, 2008; 5:03 PM ET | Comments (1)

No Lull in Earmarks

Despite pledges from congressional leaders to halt the rising number of pork-barrel spending projects tucked into massive spending bills, the earmark process is alive and kicking, according to the House's spending bills for 2009 and databases created by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan federal budget watchdog. The earmarks in...

By Derek Kravitz | July 16, 2008; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

GAO: Security Lapses Continue at Los Alamos

"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators. (Updated to include a statement from Los Alamos National Laboratory) Security lapses at one of the nation's three nuclear weapons testing labs, the storied Los Alamos National Laboratory in...

By Derek Kravitz | July 15, 2008; 6:30 PM ET | Comments (1)

City Housing Inspectors Fired

The firing of more than half of the city's housing code inspectors is shaking up a department that, in many cases, failed to protect tenants in dangerous apartment buildings, The Post's Debbie Cenziper reports. The firings follow a Post series, "Forced Out," published in March, which found that the city's...

By Derek Kravitz | July 15, 2008; 5:28 PM ET | Comments (2)

A Congressman Solicits Money For His Pet Project

(Updated to reflect Rangel announcing plans to move his Harlem campaign office) A week ago, The New York Times' David Kocieniewski wrote how House Ways & Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has been renting four pricey apartments in a Harlem highrise for below market price, an arrangement that might have...

By Derek Kravitz | July 15, 2008; 8:43 AM ET | Comments (5)

'Enough to Show That They're Serious'

A well-connected lobbyist and donor for President Bush was unknowingly taped by an undercover reporter for The Sunday Times of London, suggesting that a hefty donation to Bush's planned presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas could net some White House access. The meeting, which was caught on tape,...

By Derek Kravitz | July 14, 2008; 6:12 PM ET | Comments (4)

Cancer-Causing Chemical Reappears

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that a cancer-causing flame retardant, which was taken out of children's pajamas more than 30 years ago, is now being used in furniture, paint and baby products. The Journal Sentinel's Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger found that the chemical, known as chlorinated Tris, one...

By Derek Kravitz | July 14, 2008; 3:15 PM ET | Comments (2)

Who Killed Chandra Levy: Reporters' Notebook

As our serial investigation of the Chandra Levy case unfolds from July 13 through July 27, reporters Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham and Sylvia Moreno are posting daily updates and a preview of the coming chapters here on the Post Investigations Blog. Read the latest installment in the story or catch...

By The Editors | July 12, 2008; 10:40 PM ET | Comments (672)

National Geographic Looks For Gorilla Killers

National Geographic reporter Mark Jenkins and photographer Brent Stirton ventured to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to try and find out who killed seven Virunga mountain gorillas in June and July of last year. What they found was a high demand for charcoal, a political conspiracy and the former...

By Derek Kravitz | July 11, 2008; 4:00 PM ET | Comments (1)

Coming Attractions: Who Killed Chandra Levy?

Here's a preview of The Washington Post's next investigative project, which we will publish in the coming days: The murder of Chandra Levy is one of Washington's most famous unsolved crimes. Many people, including police and prosecutors, initially suspected that a congressman might be involved in her disappearance. For years,...

By The Editors | July 11, 2008; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (24)

Interior IG Alleges Steering of Contract

"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators. A high-ranking official with a U.S. Department of Interior program tasked with improving the management of Indian funds held in trust steered a contract to an accounting firm where...

By Derek Kravitz | July 10, 2008; 7:56 PM ET | Comments (9)

LA Times: Gifts to Nonprofits Often Don't Get There

An investigation by the Los Angeles Times has found that hundreds of charities pocket just a fraction of what commercial fundraisers collect in their names. One example cited is Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based nonprofit that prides itself on its opposition to congressional pork-barrel spending. Records filed with the...

By Derek Kravitz | July 10, 2008; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (1)

Ethics Complaints Filed Over Obama Mortgage Rate

The conservative public-interest group Judicial Watch today filed ethics complaints alleging that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, broke the rules when he accepted a discounted deal on a 2005 mortgage loan, as first reported last week by The Post. "Americans ought to be suspicious when a...

By Derek Kravitz | July 9, 2008; 5:57 PM ET | Comments (26)

Nigerian Press: Pfizer Drug Settlement Fails

The Infectious Diseases Hospital in Kano, Nigeria, was treating meningitis patients in 1996 when Pfizer administered the experimental drug Trovan to children. 2000 photos by Michael Williamson, The Washington Post. Settlement talks between Pfizer and Nigerian officials broke down last weekend after members of the families of children left...

By Derek Kravitz | July 9, 2008; 2:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Dick Cheney's Continuing Environmental Influence

Vice President Dick Cheney delivers remarks during the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize luncheon, Monday, June 2, 2008, at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) The revelation by a former Environmental Protection Agency official that a member of Vice President Dick Cheney's staff altered the...

By Derek Kravitz | July 8, 2008; 8:07 PM ET | Comments (21)

Audit: 'Small Business' Money Given to Big Business

"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators. Investigators from the Department of the Interior found that $5.7 million in contracts that were supposed to go to "small businesses" were actually given to several Fortune 500 companies....

By Derek Kravitz | July 8, 2008; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (6)

Don Young's Pitch to the Lobbyists

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)(Al Grillo - AP). It's not exactly a revelation that lawmakers often look for ways to raise campaign money from lobbyists who might have reason to seek their support someday. But it is somewhat unusual for an explicit e-mailed pitch to the lobbyists to surface publicly....

By Derek Kravitz | July 7, 2008; 5:56 PM ET | Comments (2)

VA Official Scolded for Ties to Advocacy Group

"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators. (Updated at 3:49 p.m. to include information from Disabled American Veterans) A top Department of Veterans Affairs official has been scolded by the government agency for his involvement with...

By Derek Kravitz | July 7, 2008; 1:10 PM ET | Comments (8)

Sweetheart Deals in Prince George's

Post investigative reporters Cheryl Thompson and Mary Pat Flaherty report today on county development deals worth millions of dollars that have gone to people with ties to Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson. Several of the people who won the contracts received the land [see map] at cut-rate prices,...

By The Editors | July 6, 2008; 8:09 PM ET | Comments (1)

Hunt Oil Deal Documents Raise More Questions

Democratic lawmakers say the Bush administration knew more than it let on about a controversial oil deal between Dallas-based Hunt Oil and Kurdish regional officials in Iraq, a move that sparked condemnation for complicating the country's ability to enact a nationwide oil law. Hunt Oil, whose chief executive Ray L....

By Derek Kravitz | July 3, 2008; 11:58 AM ET | Comments (7)

Hunt Oil Deal Documents Raise More Questions

Democratic lawmakers say the Bush administration knew more than it let on about a controversial oil deal between Dallas-based Hunt Oil and Kurdish regional officials in Iraq, a move that sparked condemnation for complicating the country's ability to enact a nationwide oil law. Hunt Oil, whose chief executive Ray L....

By Derek Kravitz | July 3, 2008; 11:58 AM ET | Comments (7)

U.S. Audit Questions Aid Project in Paraguay

"Washington Watchdogs," a periodic feature of the Post's Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government's official investigators. A U.S.-sponsored program in Paraguay designed to help the landlocked South American country fight corruption has been sidetracked by allegations of influence peddling and favoritism, a government audit shows....

By Derek Kravitz | July 2, 2008; 4:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama's House is Back in the News

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's discount on a $1.32 million loan from Northern Trust in Illinois has again focused attention on the senator's purchase of his home three years ago. In 2005, Obama, then a freshman Democratic senator who had first joined the U.S. Senate, bought a $1.65 million restored...

By Derek Kravitz | July 2, 2008; 12:07 PM ET | Comments (8)

More Problems for the Credit Raters

Moody's Corp., one of the big three credit-rating companies that have come under fire for their role in the housing collapse, today ousted another of its senior executives and said employees violated ethics guidelines in assigning top ratings to complex securities that subsequently lost as much as 90 percent of...

By The Editors | July 2, 2008; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wrong Suspects Jailed in Notorious Explosion?

The U.S. Attorney in Kansas City announced plans today to re-open a 20-year-old case into a deadly trailer explosion following an investigation by the Kansas City Star questioning the testimony of witnesses. The third part of an ongoing investigation into the explosions, which killed six Kansas City firefighters in 1988,...

By Derek Kravitz | July 1, 2008; 3:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

DC Region: Inmate Killing Highlights Jail Troubles

The asphyxiation death of a 19-year-old inmate charged with killing a Prince George's County police officer is only the latest in a string of problems for the county's jail. When it first opened two decades ago, the Prince George's County Correctional Center in Upper Marlboro was hailed as a...

By Derek Kravitz | July 1, 2008; 11:11 AM ET | Comments (34)

 

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