Monday, August 08, 2005

Bush torpedoed one investigation of Abramoff by removing prosecuter

Prior to the well known and current inquiries into Tom DeLay's best buddy Jack Abramoff, the President canned a 2002 inquiry into Abramoff's odd arrangements in the US territory of Guam by changing the prosecutorial roster.
In Guam, an American territory in the Pacific, investigators were looking into Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the U.S. Congress. The legislation, since approved, gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court.

In 2002, Abramoff was retained by the Superior Court in what was an unusual arrangement for a public agency. The Times reported in May that Abramoff was paid with a series of $9,000 checks funneled through a Laguna Beach lawyer to disguise the lobbyist's role working for the Guam court. No separate contract was authorized for Abramoff's work.

Guam court officials have not explained the contractual arrangement. At the time, Abramoff was a well-known lobbyist in the Pacific islands because of his work for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas garment manufacturers, accused of employing workers in sweatshop conditions.
Abramoff, for his part, says he has no recollection of the investigation (possibly afflicted with the same memory deficiency disorder that seems to be affecting many high profile figures in the Republican party), but then the investigation was dropped when, a day after issuing a subpoena, the chief prosecutor was suddenly demoted.
The timing caught some by surprise. Despite his officially temporary status, Black had held the acting U.S. attorney assignment for more than a decade.

The acting U.S. attorney was a controversial official in Guam. At the time he was removed, Black was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez. The inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the governor's political associates and top aides.

Black also arranged for a security review in the aftermath of Sept. 11 that was seen as a potential threat to loose immigration rules favored by local business leaders. In fact, the study ordered by Black eventually cited substantial security risks in Guam and the Northern Marianas.
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