Skip to comments.Mad dog, yes, but also watchdog
Posted on 07/16/2002 5:34:26 AM PDT by Quilla
I thought Judicial Watch was a right-wing stooge group whose sole purpose was to get President Clinton impeached, convicted and sent to prison. How wrong I was. Led by Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch is out to be a pain in the posterior to just about anybody with power.
Last week, the group sued Vice President Dick Cheney and his former company, Halliburton, alleging that they defrauded investors. While Mr. Cheney was CEO, Halliburton hatched a clever accounting scheme. Whenever the energy services company had cost overruns on a project -- meaning the job was costing more than Halliburton had bid to do it -- the company would count the overrun as income, on the theory that Halliburton would bill the client and see whether it would pay.
Under traditional accounting methods, the $100 million in overruns would have been written off as losses. But today's bolder entrepreneurial innovators have jettisoned the old-fashioned notion that earnings should be real. That accounting conclusion, which in Halliburton's case was approved by Arthur Andersen, is a logical extension of the business lives led by certain CEOs and well-connected insiders. People in those circles "earn" money all out of proportion to actual work. The money is so easy to get, it's almost as if it's not real.
For example, when George W. Bush wanted to buy more stock in Harken Energy Corp., he just borrowed $180,000 at low interest from Harken to buy it. And Harken told him not to worry too much about paying it back quickly. His dad was president at the time, but I'm sure the company would have done the same for anybody.
Mr. Bush got his original cache of Harken stock in 1986 when the company took over his failing oil business, not because it was worth anything but because, an executive has said, "It seemed like George, he knew everybody in the U.S. who was worth knowing."
No wonder that when Mr. Bush sold his Harken stock at a profit just before the price collapsed, he forgot to notify regulators. Can't be expected to keep careful track of every little gift that falls into your lap.
Similarly, Mr. Cheney could not be expected to know that Halliburton was making up money. Sure, he was CEO from 1995 to 2000, but his real job was to be the plugged-in former defense secretary who could count on his buddies in the Patrician Club -- including Saudi royalty and the like -- to give Halliburton gobs of money.
Enter Judicial Watch, whose motto is: "Because No One is Above the Law." That is wishful thinking, but Judicial Watch is doing its little bit to make that wish come true. Moreover, Judicial Watch provides a new alternative to wishing upon a Starr.
Kenneth Starr's politically motivated appointment and performance ruined the independent counsel law, which Congress allowed to die. The Justice Department still could act against an administration, in theory. But the Patrician Club regularly appoints fellow members to key law-enforcement positions; think President Clinton with Webster Hubbell and President Bush with John Ashcroft. With partisan attacks discredited and insider oversight laughable, renegade groups like Judicial Watch fill the accountability vacuum.
And Judicial Watch fills it with a vengeance. The group is or has been involved in lawsuits or complaints against President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Janet Reno, independent counsel Robert Ray, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the Baltimore Orioles and House GOP Whip Tom DeLay of Texas. In many cases, the group is demanding public records or alleging that politicians sold access or influence.
Critics accuse Judicial Watch of grandstanding for ego and fund-raising. Even if Judicial Watch has extraneous motives and a shotgun-blast approach that mars its mission, the organization still gets points for principled tenacity. The more insiders are able to insulate themselves -- by claiming to be war presidents, for example -- the more challenges will have to come from the outside.
Slightly rearranged, the old Dire Straits song describes the scandals in the Clinton and Bush administrations: Chicks for free, and money for nothing. Judicial Watch wants to be sure somebody pays a price.
VerSteeg sets the tone.
Lying liberal, misinformed media, thread promoting bump.
If he fails it's because he's dumber than Algore Sr.'s son.
This is just lazy. I'll even give the author the benefit of the doubt, that he actually believes this untrue statement. But he should really look it up: Bush sold at $4, it later went to $9.