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Agencies review classified material for possible use in Libby’s trial

By TONI LOCY

Five government agencies are reviewing classified evidence that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby may want to use at his trial to fight perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges, according to a court transcript made public Monday.

During a Feb. 3 hearing, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald told a federal judge that the review of classified materials is being done by the CIA, National Security Council, National Security Agency, State Department and several components within the White House, including the offices of the president and vice president.

Feds blow millions in Katrina aid fraud

The government continued to showcase its incompetence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, squandering millions of dollars in Katrina disaster aid, including handing $2,000 debit cards to people who gave phony Social Security numbers and used the money for such items as a $450 tattoo, auditors revealed Monday.

Federal money also paid for $375-a-day beachfront condos and 10,777 trailers that were stuck in mud and unusable.

Just one screwup after another

By BONNIE ERBE

The worse it gets for the Bush administration, the harder the executive branch seems to be stretching to make it even worse still.

Last week produced some of the most stunning public-relations disasters on record for the Bush boys (as in, “good ol’ “). And this speaks volumes for an administration that mishandled the Katrina response, prevaricated about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and has done its darnedest to run us into impossible debt.

One of too many

By LEE DRUTMAN

In Washington these days there is great speculation about exactly how intimately President Bush and super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff were acquainted.

According to the Associated Press, Abramoff and his associates logged almost 200 White House contacts during Bush’s first 10 months in office. Reportedly, Abramoff’s personal assistant became a senior adviser to Bush adviser Karl Rove. And Time magazine claims to have seen five photos of Bush and Abramoff that “suggest a level of contact between them that Bush’s aides have downplayed.”

Republicans join Democrats in wanting probe of Cheney

Republican and Democratic senators want Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the CIA leak probe to determine if they authorized an aide to give secret information to reporters.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., called the leak of intelligence information “inappropriate” if it is true that unnamed “superiors” instructed Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, to divulge the material on Iraq.

Sen. George Allen, R-Va., said a full investigation is necessary.

Bush’s approval rating lands in the crapper

President Bush’s marks on overall job approval and for handling the economy are mired near their lowest levels despite a spike in consumer confidence over the past month, an AP-Ipsos poll found.

Bush’s job approval is now at 40 percent and his approval on handling the economy at 39 percent. Those numbers haven’t budged over the last month even with the public’s confidence in the economy growing and the president delivering an upbeat State of the Union address.

Scandal-scarred Republicans question Bush’s actions

President Bush came under fire from angry Republicans Friday for his failed policies on Irag, health care, immigration and other hot-button issues in a closed meeting meant to rally party shell-shocked members for this year’s congressional elections.

Some went so far as to call Bush an "embarrassment" to the party and the nation and grumbled that the party would stand a better chance in the November mid-term elections if he were not President, although none went so far as to suggest he be impeached…at least not yet.

Newest Senator nails Bush on budget

The budget proposed by President Bush adds to middle-class burdens while providing greater benefits for the wealthy and oil companies, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said Saturday.

"This is a budget that does more than ignore the problems facing the middle class _ it actually makes them worse," Menendez said in the Democrats’ weekly radio address.

Three more Republicans caught in Abramoff’s web

Three more Republican members of Congress have been linked to efforts by lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former General Services Administration official appointed by President Bush in a questionable effort to secure leases of government property for Abramoff’s clients, court filings by federal prosecutors reveal.

Lobbyist says Abramoff bills exaggerated Reid contacts

One of Jack Abramoff’s ex-colleagues confirmed Friday he contacted Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid’s office on behalf of the influential lobbyist but says Abramoff’s billing records inflate the amount and extent of his work.

“When Abramoff first arrived at Greenberg Traurig, I did a new colleague a favor by simply asking Reid staffers about when the minimum wage legislation affecting the Mariana Islands would be voted upon by the Senate. I communicated this to Abramoff,” Platt said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.