A Secret Wiretapping Program We Can All Agree On The New York Times reports this morning that Congressional Democrats appear ready to roll over on the Bush Administration’s domestic spying plan and extend the blanket authority it issued to the Bush administration in August. Just last week former senior Justice Department lawyer Jack Goldsmith called the government’s activities “a mess,” and suggested they were likely illegal, but nobody likes being called soft on terrorism. Some Democrats are trying to hold the line at retroactive immunity for telecom companies believed to have assisted in the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping efforts.
No More Taxes to Cut? The Wall Street Journal examines an issue that for decades has been a staple of Republican politics – slashing taxes. Yet the debate among leading presidential contenders appears anemic, the Journal reports, possibly because the current President has stolen its thunder. A few candidates are proposing further capital gains cuts (Romney) or the replacement of the income tax by a consumption tax (Huckabee and Thompson) but “the sheer size and cost of the Bush tax cuts has made it difficult for any of the candidates to place his own stamp on the topic by proposing significant new tax reductions,” the Journal writes – or even to repeal the much-hated Alternative Minimum Tax.
Pushback for Prosecutors White collar criminal defense lawyers are deploying a new tactic against aggressive securities prosecutions, The Wall Street Journal reports. Relying on a judge’s ruling in the KPMG case that prosecutors violated defendants’ civil rights by pressuring their former employers not to pay their legal fees, attorneys for jailed Dynergy exec Jamie Olis are seeking his release from prison.
Private Equity Wins? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has quietly informed private equity firms that they’re safe from tax increases this year, The Washington Post reports. According to a participant who attended one of the meetings in which Reid announced the hold up, the problem is simply the result of a busy Senate calendar. Still, it’s a coup for the firms, which have spent millions on a team of lobbyists to fight taxes on carried interest.
Air Freshener In one of the biggest Clean Air Act settlements to come down in a while, American Electric Power has agreed to spend up to $4.6 billion to clean up its emissions, The Washington Post reports. Included in that sum is likely money to clean up pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, where some of AEP’s pollution ends up.
Spies with Loose Lips The Site Intelligence Group, a private intelligence shop that has come to be a leading private trackers of Islamic terrorism activities, says the government betrayed its confidence and blew its secret connection to al-Qaeda last month, The Washington Post reports. On Sept. 7, before Osama bin Laden’s most recent video became public, SITE privately informed two senior Bush administration officials that it had obtained it, giving them access in exchange for a promise that they not reveal that the video was in circulation. “Within 20 minutes,” however, a range of intelligence agencies were downloading it, and by midafternoon, the Bush administration had leaked it worldwide. According to SITE’s founder, the leak destroyed a years-long intelligence effort, tipping al-Qaeda to its security breach. Government officials cited by the Post concede the leak took place, but “said the incident had no effect on U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts and did not diminish the government's ability to anticipate attacks,” the Post writes. Ok.