19 September, 2009

At Last, Consequences

Let's hope this is just the beginning:
This criminal investigation probably isn't getting quite as much attention as it deserves.

The Justice Department is investigating whether former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton illegally used her position to benefit Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the company that later hired her, according to officials in federal law enforcement and the Interior Department.

The criminal investigation centers on the Interior Department's 2006 decision to award three lucrative oil shale leases on federal land in Colorado to a Shell subsidiary. Over the years it would take to extract the oil, according to calculations from Shell and a Rand Corp. expert, the deal could net the company hundreds of billions of dollars.


That emphasis on the first criminal investigation of a Bush official at the "Cabinet secretary level" is important, because there have been criminal probes of all kinds of Bush administration officials, just not usually this high-ranking.

But Norton's alleged crimes are of particular interest given what we know about her cabinet agency in the Bush era. As Tim Dickinson recently explained, "Under Bush, the Interior Department became a lawless bureaucracy that actively worked to enrich the nation's most powerful energy interests. Top-level officials secretly allowed oil companies to keep billions in royalties owed to taxpayers, opened up 26 million acres of federal land to oil and gas drilling, denied wilderness protection to another 220 million acres, rewrote scientific reports to eliminate safeguards for endangered species, and even snorted coke and had sex with the very oil interests they were supposed to be regulating."

That's not hyperbole; it's literally true. Indeed, Dickinson's description is soft-pedaling what was a spectacular national embarrassment.

One of many, I'm afraid. Hopefully, the Justice Department can use this investigation to acclimate itself to the idea of holding criminal members of the Bush regime accountable, and eventually work their way up to the fucktards who turned America into a nation of torturers.

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