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Does Nigeria Have a Case Against Dick Cheney?

Africa Legal Brief

Monday, 13 December 2010 20:42

Nigerian officials have indicted former Vice President Dick Cheney for bribing the Nigerian government in the ’90s. The accusation stems from Cheney’s reign as CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. Last year, a subsidiary of Halliburton, plead guilty in U.S. courts to paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 in order to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Niger Delta. While a number of liberals are salivating at the notion of Cheney locked up in a Nigerian prison, few predict that the U.S. will ever agree to extradite him. Additionally, it doesn’t help that Nigeria happens to be one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Here’s what reporters and bloggers are making of the indictment:

* This Is an Important Move, writes Juan Cole at Informed Comment:

That Nigeria is moving forward with this prosecution is symbolically important … So far Bush and Cheney, who are guilty of a long list of crimes against international and US domestic law, have had impunity from even so much as firm condemnation by any international body. It is not impossible that a corruption charge against Cheney could chip a chink in that so far impenetrable armor. At least their reputations should be tarnished!

* Here’s What Nigeria Is Basing This Off  “Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission pointed specifically,” writes Tom Diemer at Politics Daily, “at a former Halliburton subsidiary, Houston-based KBR, which pleaded guilty last year in U.S. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes in Nigeria for plant contracts between 1995 and 2004.” In that case, KBR paid $402 million in fines and Halliburton paid $177 million, adds CNN.

* This Could Be Political, writes Jon Gambrell at The Associated Press:

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan faces a coming primary election in the nation’s ruling party against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Critics have tried to connect Abubakar to this bribery case in the past and the charges come as the election looms. Abubakar has denied any involvement.

* Locals Are Skeptical, observes Christian Purefoy at CNN:

Many observers in Nigeria regard the move as a publicity stunt by the commission ahead of national elections this April and a symbolic effort to display resolve against government corruption. The agency has had limited success in getting successful prosecutions and hasn’t charged any high-profile people since its top commissioner was removed from the body in 2007.

* Cheney’s Lawyer Is Full of It, writes Marcy Wheeler at Fire Dog Lake. She responds to Cheney attorney Terence O’Donnell who said the former vice president was innocent because US investigators “found no suggestions of any impropriety” when they looked into the matter during the Bush years. Wheeler writes:

O’Donnell suggests that because the US conducted its own investigation–mostly during a period when Cheney remained the most powerful man in government and when DOJ was clearly politicized–then Nigeria should be unable to do so, too.

* Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, Nigeria  “Whether or not the U.S. authorities will honor the Interpol warrant issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria remains to be seen,” writes Pratap Chatterjee at The Daily Beast. “But, somehow, I don’t see Cheney agreeing to leave Ballintober, his nine-acre spread in St. Michael’s that includes extensive gardens, ornamental pools, and spectacular views from a large, glass-walled waterside room, for the prison cells of Nigeria.”

* Odd, Coming from Nigeria, writes Scott Baldauf at The Christian Science Monitor:

The indictment of a major US political and corporate figure marks a tough new step for Nigeria’s relatively untested anticorruption commission. Nigeria ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranked 134th out of 178 countries by anticorruption group Transparency International.

SOURCE

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Crooks & Liars- By Heather Monday Jun 21, 2010 7:00am

Chickenhawk Cheney Mini-Me Liz and her buddy Bloody I’m-never-right-about-anything-Bill Kristol are asked about the jobs and stimulus package that was blocked in the Senate when Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson voted with the Republicans to kill it. Of course Cheney and Kristol use the opportunity to fear monger over the deficit and to repeat the lie that Americans’ primary concern is the size of the debt rather than the economy and jobs.

As Juan Williams correctly tried to point out, that is not what most Americans are concerned about. Digby has more on how these deficit fetishists in our print media and not just Fox are pushing the same meme.

Replaying the game of 2003:

Ben Somberg catches the Washington Post publishing lazy, nonfactual reporting. Again:

If Congress doesn’t provide additional stimulus spending, economists inside and outside the administration warn that the nation risks a prolonged period of high unemployment or, more frightening, a descent back into recession. But a competing threat — the exploding federal budget deficit — seems to be resonating more powerfully in Congress and among voters.

Somberg writes:

[I]s this notion supported by what the polling actually says? No. Not even close.

A Pew Research / National Journal poll from early June asked “Which of the following national economic issues worries you most?” Number one was “job situation” with 41%. “Federal budget deficit” got 23%.

An NBC / Wall Street Journal poll from early May asked “Please tell me which one of these items you think should be the top priority for the federal government.” Sure enough, “job creation and economic growth” won with 35%. “The deficit and government spending” got 20%.

A Fox News poll also in early May got even more dramatic results. “Economy and jobs” topped the priority list with 47%, while “deficit, spending” garnered only 15%.

A CBS / NYT poll in early April found 27% prioritizing “jobs”, 27% the “economy” and 5% prioritizing “budget deficit/national debt.”

The only recent poll that gives the slightest hint of support for the Post’s thesis is the USA Today / Gallup poll from late May (not even their newest). Participants were asked “How serious a threat to the future well-being of the United States do you consider each of the following.” For “federal government debt”, 40% said extremely serious, 39% very serious, and 15% somewhat serious. For “unemployment”, 33% said extremely serious, 50% said very serious, and 15% said somewhat serious. If you use only the “extremely serious” numbers, you get 7% more for the debt. Greg Marx at CJR makes the case that this poll, nevermind its headline, should not be read as some sort of overwhelming evidence of a shifted public view.

And in fact a newer Gallup poll, from a week ago, asking “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” finds the economy and jobs on top. “Economy in general” gets 28%, “Unemployment/Jobs” gets 21%, and “Federal budget deficit” gets 7%.

I don’t know where this reporter got this information, but it is wrong and it requires a correction. The public is NOT more upset by the deficit than unemployment and to the extent they are upset about the deficit at all, it comes from the Big Lie that the deficit is responsible for the economic problems we face.

I have a fairly clear idea about why the powers that be are pushing this line, but why the press is doing it is another question. Just as they slanted their news and analysis in the run-up to the Iraq war, they are doing the same thing with respect to this deficit fetish. Read on…

There’s little doubt why anyone at Fox would be pushing this. They’re in the same camp with the Alan Simpson’s of the world that would rather destroy Social Security than see taxes raised on the rich. And of course good little war mongers like Cheney and Kristol would rather see our social safety nets destroyed rather than one penny being taken away from the military industrial complex.

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