In the USA...
November 13, 2012
Top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Is Linked to Petraeus Scandal
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
PERTH, Australia — Gen. John R. Allen, the top American and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is under investigation for what a senior defense official said early Tuesday was “inappropriate communication” with Jill Kelley, the woman in Tampa, Fla., who was seen as a rival for David H. Petraeus’s attentions by Paula Broadwell, who had an extramarital affair with Mr. Petraeus.
In a statement released to reporters on his plane en route to Australia early Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that the F.B.I. on Sunday had referred “a matter involving” General Allen to the Pentagon.
Mr. Panetta turned the matter over to the Pentagon’s inspector general to conduct an investigation into what a defense official said were 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, many of them e-mails between General Allen and Ms. Kelley, who is married and has children.
A senior law enforcement official in Washington said on Tuesday that F.B.I. investigators looking into Ms. Kelley’s complaint about anonymous e-mails she had received examined all of her e-mails as a routine step.
“When you get involved in a cybercase like this, you have to look at everything,” the official said, suggesting that Ms. Kelley may not have considered that possibility when she filed the complaint. “The real question is why someone decided to open this can of worms.”
The official would not describe the content of the e-mails between General Allen and Ms. Kelley or say specifically why F.B.I. officials decided to pass them on to the Defense Department. “Generally, the nature of the e-mails warranted providing them to D.O.D.,” he said.
Under military law, adultery can be a crime.
The defense official on Mr. Panetta’s plane said that General Allen, who is also married, told Pentagon officials he had done nothing wrong. Neither he nor Ms. Kelley could be reached for comment early Tuesday. Mr. Panetta’s statement praised General Allen for his leadership in Afghanistan and said that “he is entitled to due process in this matter.”
But the Pentagon inspector general’s investigation opens up what could be a widening scandal into two of the most prominent generals of their generation: Mr. Petraeus, who was the top commander in Iraq and Afghanistan before he retired from the military and became director of the C.I.A., only to resign on Friday because of the affair, and General Allen, who also served in Iraq and now commands 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan.
Although General Allen will remain the commander in Afghanistan, Mr. Panetta said that he had asked President Obama to delay the general’s nomination to be the commander of American forces in Europe and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, two positions he was to move into after what was expected to be easy confirmation by the Senate. Mr. Panetta said in his statement that Mr. Obama agreed with his request.
Gen. Joseph A. Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps who was nominated last month by Mr. Obama to succeed General Allen in Afghanistan, will proceed as planned with his confirmation hearing. In his statement, Mr. Panetta urged the Senate to act promptly on his nomination.
The National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr. Obama also believes that the Senate should swiftly confirm General Dunford.
The defense official said that the e-mails between Ms. Kelley and General Allen spanned the years 2010 to 2012. The official could not explain why there were so many pages of e-mails and did not specify their content. The official said he could not explain how the e-mails between Ms. Kelley and General Allen were related to the e-mails between Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell and e-mails between Ms. Broadwell and Ms. Kelley.
In what is known so far, Ms. Kelley went to the F.B.I. last summer after she was disturbed by harassing e-mails. The F.B.I. began an investigation and learned that the e-mails were from Ms. Broadwell. In the course of looking into Ms. Broadwell’s e-mails, the F.B.I. discovered e-mails between Ms. Broadwell and Mr. Petraeus that indicated they were having an extramarital affair. Ms. Broadwell, officials say, saw Ms. Kelley as a rival for her affections with Mr. Petraeus.
The defense official said he did not know how General Allen and Ms. Kelley knew each other. General Allen has been in Afghanistan as the top American commander since July 2011, although before that he lived in Tampa as the deputy commander for Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East.
The defense official said that the Pentagon had received the 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents from the F.B.I. and was currently reviewing them.
The defense official said that at 5 p.m. Washington time on Sunday Mr. Panetta was informed by the Pentagon’s general counsel that the F.B.I. had the thousands of pages of e-mails between General Allen and Ms. Kelley. Mr. Panetta was at the time on his plane en route from San Francisco to Honolulu, his first stop on a weeklong trip to the Pacific and Asia. Mr. Panetta notified the White House and then the leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees.
General Allen is now in Washington for what was to be his confirmation hearing as commander in Europe. That hearing, the official said, will now be delayed.
After arriving in Perth Mr. Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia for a United States-Australian security and diplomatic conference. Asked by a reporter while pausing for photos with Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Gillard if General Allen could remain an effective commander while under investigation, Mr. Panetta said nothing.
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also in Perth for the defense meetings and had no comment on the investigation of General Allen. “I do know him well and I can’t say,” General Dempsey said of General Allen late on Tuesday after returning from an official dinner with the Australian officials, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Panetta.
Scott Shane contributed reporting from Washington.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: November 13, 2012
An earlier version of this article misstated the surname of the general now in Washington for what was to be his confirmation hearing as commander in Europe in one reference. He is General Allen, not General Kelley.
November 12, 2012
Motives Questioned in F.B.I. Inquiry of Petraeus E-Mails
By SCOTT SHANE and CHARLIE SAVAGE
WASHINGTON — Is a string of angry e-mails really enough, in an age of boisterous online exchanges, to persuade the F.B.I. to open a cyberstalking investigation?
Sometimes the answer is yes, law enforcement officials and legal experts said Monday — especially if the e-mails in question reflect an inside knowledge of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
That was true of the e-mails sent anonymously to Jill Kelley, a friend of the C.I.A. director, David H. Petraeus, which prompted the F.B.I. office in Tampa, Fla., to begin an investigation last June. The inquiry traced the e-mails to Mr. Petraeus’s biographer, Paula Broadwell, exposed their extramarital affair and led Friday to his resignation after 14 months as head of the intelligence agency.
On Monday night, F.B.I. agents went to Ms. Broadwell’s home in Charlotte, N.C., and were seen carrying away what several reporters at the scene said were boxes of documents. A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the case remains open, said Ms. Broadwell had consented to the search.
Some commentators have questioned whether the bureau would ordinarily investigate a citizen complaint about unwanted e-mails, suggesting that there must have been a hidden motive, possibly political, to take action. F.B.I. officials are scheduled to brief the Senate and House intelligence committees on Tuesday about the case.
But law enforcement officials insisted on Monday that the case was handled “on the merits.” The cyber squad at the F.B.I.’s Tampa field office opened an investigation, after consulting with federal prosecutors, based on what appeared to be a legitimate complaint about e-mail harassment.
The complaint was more intriguing, the officials acknowledged, because the author of the e-mails, which criticized Ms. Kelley for supposed flirtatious behavior toward Mr. Petraeus at social events, seemed to have an insider’s knowledge of the C.I.A. director’s activities. One e-mail accused Ms. Kelley of “touching” Mr. Petraeus inappropriately under a dinner table.
“There was a legitimate case to open on the facts, with the support of the prosecutors,” said the official who described the search at Ms. Broadwell’s home. He added, “They asked, does somebody know more about Petraeus than you’d expect?”
Ms. Kelley, a volunteer with wounded veterans and military families, brought her complaint to a rank-and-file agent she knew from a previous encounter with the F.B.I. office, the official also said. That agent, who had previously pursued a friendship with Ms. Kelley and had earlier sent her shirtless photographs of himself, was “just a conduit” for the complaint, he said. He had no training in cybercrime, was not part of the cyber squad handling the case and was never assigned to the investigation.
But the agent, who was not identified, continued to “nose around” about the case, and eventually his superiors “told him to stay the hell away from it, and he was not invited to briefings,” the official said. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Monday night that the agent had been barred from the case.
Later, the agent became convinced — incorrectly, the official said — that the case had stalled. Because of his “worldview,” as the official put it, he suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama. The agent alerted Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who called the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, on Oct. 31 to tell him of the agent’s concerns.
The official said the agent’s self-described “whistle-blowing” was “a little embarrassing” but had no effect on the investigation.
David H. Laufman, who served as a federal prosecutor in national security cases from 2003 to 2007, said, “there’s a lot of chatter and noise about cybercrimes,” and most of it does not lead to an investigation. But he added, “It’s plausible to me that if Ms. Kelley indicated that the stalking was related to her friendship with the C.I.A. director, that would have elevated it as a priority for the bureau.”
Orin S. Kerr, a George Washington University law professor who specializes in computer crime issues, said it was “surprising that they would devote the resources” to investigating who was behind a half-dozen harassing e-mails.
“The F.B.I. gets a lot of tips, and investigating any one case requires an agent or a few agents to spend a lot of time,” he said. “They can’t do this for every case, and the issue is, why this one case?”
Still, Mr. Kerr — a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s computer crimes and intellectual property section from 1998 to 2001 — said it was likely that several factors, in addition to the Petraeus connection, made the complaint stand out. Ms. Kelly was fairly prominent in Tampa social circles and had previously had dealings with the F.B.I. agent who took her complaint.
Moreover, he said, the F.B.I. has been putting more resources into investigating cyberstalking crimes in recent years.
A government official clarified on Monday that F.B.I. agents’ first interview with Ms. Broadwell — at which she is said to have admitted having had an affair with Mr. Petraeus, and voluntarily allowed agents to search her computer — took place in September. An earlier account had put that interview during the week of Oct. 21.
Before Ms. Broadwell spoke to the F.B.I. agents, Mr. Petraeus had learned that she had sent offensive e-mails to Ms. Kelley and asked her to stop, another official said. By the time agents interviewed the C.I.A. director during the week of Oct. 28, he was aware of the cyberstalking investigation and readily acknowledged his affair with Ms. Broadwell, the official said.
Mr. Petraeus’s former colleagues in the Obama administration have said little about the circumstances preceding his resignation. But on Monday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, the director of the C.I.A. before Mr. Petraeus, criticized the F.B.I. for not informing members of the Congressional intelligence committees of its investigation.
“As a former director of the C.I.A., and having worked very closely with the intelligence committees, I believe that there is a responsibility to make sure that the intelligence committees are informed of issues that could affect the security of those intelligence operations,” he said on a flight to Australia.
His remarks were similar to those by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, on Sunday.
Mr. Petraeus’s former spokesman, Steve Boylan, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday that the C.I.A. director was “devastated” over the affair and its consequences.
“He deeply regrets and knows how much pain this causes his family,” he said.
Mr. Boylan, a retired Army colonel, said Holly Petraeus, Mr. Petraeus’s wife of 38 years, “is not exactly pleased right now.”
“Furious would be an understatement.”
Elisabeth Bumiller contributed reporting while flying on the secretary of defense’s plane between Honolulu and Perth, Australia.
November 12, 2012
Top Candidates for State Dept. Are Both Facing Possible Hurdles
By MARK LANDLER
WASHINGTON — For months, the Beltway parlor game about who will succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state has revolved around two names: Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.
But now that President Obama’s re-election has made the exercise real rather than hypothetical, both front-runners for the most coveted job in his cabinet are dogged by issues that could complicate their path to Mrs. Clinton’s State Department office.
Of the two, Ms. Rice, an outspoken, ambitious diplomat with close ties to Mr. Obama, has emerged as the clear favorite. But she would face stiff resistance on Capitol Hill, where she has come under withering criticism from Republicans for asserting that the deadly attack on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya, might have been a spontaneous protest rather than a terrorist attack.
Mr. Kerry, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and prepped Mr. Obama for his debates with Mitt Romney, holds a Senate seat that the White House worries could fall into Republican hands if he gave it up for a cabinet post.
Both Ms. Rice and Mr. Kerry have a reservoir of good will in the Oval Office, and if she gets the nod, officials said, Mr. Kerry could be considered for defense secretary. But politics will inevitably play a part in Mr. Obama’s decision, especially in the wake of the sex scandal that brought down David H. Petraeus as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The decision, administration officials said, will likely hinge on whether Mr. Obama would rather risk a bruising confirmation battle for Ms. Rice or the loss of Mr. Kerry’s seat, which could be picked up by Scott P. Brown after the loss of his own seat last week.
“The question is, does the president want to launch a major fight with Congress over his choice of secretary of state?” said Aaron David Miller, a longtime diplomat who is vice president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The Senate and House have scheduled hearings on Benghazi this week, which will keep the heat on Ms. Rice as the White House begins its deliberations. At least one influential Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, has already come out against her. “I’m not entertaining promoting anybody that I think was involved with the Benghazi debacle,” Mr. Graham said Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “Susan Rice needs to be held accountable.”
The White House stoutly defends Ms. Rice, noting that in her remarks on Benghazi, she was reading from a briefing prepared by the intelligence agencies. The administration, citing new evidence, subsequently confirmed that the attack was an act of terrorism.
“Anyone who opposes Susan, based on one day’s comments, will have to reconcile that with what the intelligence said on that day,” said an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In the unforgiving climate of Washington, though, Mr. Kerry might profit from Ms. Rice’s misfortune. He would likely breeze through a confirmation hearing with his Senate colleagues. And he has been a loyal soldier for the administration on a variety of issues. In 2009, the White House dispatched Mr. Kerry to Afghanistan, where he helped talk President Hamid Karzai into accepting a runoff election. In the Senate, Mr. Kerry has pushed for Obama initiatives like the New Start treaty with Russia.
With his patrician bearing and Massachusetts roots, he was an obvious stand-in for Mr. Romney during debate preparation. While the president’s lackluster first debate almost capsized his campaign, his aides said they did not blame Mr. Kerry.
Nor does the loss of his Senate seat appear quite as problematic as it did before last Tuesday. Senator Brown, who was defeated by Elizabeth Warren, left the door open to another run. But some political analysts in Massachusetts say he might be more inclined to run for governor, given that the state once elected a fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican — Mr. Romney — to that post. Even if he did run for the Senate, Mr. Brown would face a robust bench of Democrats.
Among the potential candidates for Mr. Kerry’s seat is Gov. Deval Patrick, who is close to Mr. Obama. On Friday, Mr. Patrick and his wife, Diane, flew to Washington for a private dinner with Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, at the White House.
Mr. Patrick may have his eye on a cabinet post like attorney general. But there are other formidable Democrats, like Representative Michael E. Capuano and Martha Coakley, who lost to Mr. Brown but has since rehabilitated her image as the state attorney general.
“I think the administration could feel relatively confident that they will hold on to the seat,” said Thomas Whalen, a political historian at Boston University. “When you look back on Brown, it was a special election against an exceptionally weak Democratic opponent.”
Weighing against Mr. Kerry, officials said, is that he would be replaced as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. With his Cuban roots and hostility toward the Castro regime, Mr. Menendez would likely impede any diplomatic overture by Mr. Obama.
Representatives of Mr. Kerry and Ambassador Rice declined to comment on their prospects, while the White House said it would not comment on personnel deliberations.
Mrs. Clinton has long insisted that she would not serve during a second term, but she recently left open the possibility of staying on the job long enough for a successor to win confirmation. That could allow the White House to delay Ms. Rice’s nomination to allow the passions over Benghazi to subside.
Mr. Kerry and Ms. Rice are not the only names in circulation. Thomas E. Donilon, the national security adviser, is been mentioned, though officials said he would prefer to stay put.
There has even been speculation in foreign-policy circles that the messy departure of Mr. Petraeus might prod Mr. Obama to consider nominating a Republican, like former Senator Chuck Hagel; a hawkish independent, like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman; or even Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who was Mr. Obama’s envoy to Beijing before running for the Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Huntsman dismissed the rumors of his candidacy as “idle hallway gossip.”
For all the political static around Ms. Rice, however, she shares many of Mr. Obama’s instincts on foreign policy. She was among those who lobbied successfully for the United States to intervene during the civil war in Libya. Her ties to Mr. Obama — she advised him during the 2008 campaign — could also enable her to hold her own in an administration where foreign policy has been tightly centralized at the White House.
“You’ve got a guy in the White House who is the most withholding president in memory,” said Mr. Miller, of the Woodrow Wilson Center. “She has the best chance of breaking that withholding pattern.”
November 12, 2012
Labor Leaders Have Obama’s Back, and Are Ready to Help
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Having helped President Obama win re-election, labor leaders will meet with him on Tuesday and intend to offer their robust support for what they view as his mandate: stand tough against cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and keep pushing to raise taxes on the wealthy.
Organized labor’s emphasis on broader policy, rather than union-specific legislation, is somewhat of a change from 2008, when leaders pushed for bills that would make it easier to organize workplaces.
As the administration begins talks with Congressional Republicans to modify a range of tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to go into effect next year, the unions say they will rally their forces on a broader agenda, seeking to counter business and conservative groups that are pushing for cuts in social programs and tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals.
“We expect to have the president’s back on the agenda that the voters just declared support for,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which spent $75 million in backing Mr. Obama and various Democrats this year. “The president has always said he needs a movement behind his mandate.”
Mr. Obama has talked of going beyond the Beltway to stir up support for his plans, including increasing taxes on households with incomes of more than $250,000. Union leaders have made clear that they are happy to turn out the troops to — in a tactic from the Franklin D. Roosevelt era — “make him do it.” Union members held rallies in 100 communities last Thursday as a first step in promoting the president’s budget plan.
Bill Samuel, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s legislative director, said, “We agree with the president that tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent need to go up to provide revenues to invest in jobs, education, infrastructure and training.”
When Mr. Obama was first elected, labor pushed for the stimulus bill and health care legislation, but also sought a host of more specific bills, such as the so-called card check bill, which are no longer on the top of their agenda. Card check would make it easier to unionize workers by allowing a union to win recognition by persuading a majority of a workplace’s employees to sign cards saying they favor unionization instead of having to go through an often-lengthy campaign and secret ballot election.
Card check was blocked by Republicans in Congress, and with that party controlling the House of Representatives, it seems unlikely to return as an issue this year.
“When you look at how close the election returns were, the president did benefit substantially from organized labor,” said Charles B. Craver, a labor law expert at George Washington University. “The question now is, will he do anything, can he do anything for labor? If he tries, the Republicans will block it.”
After Mr. Obama’s first victory, the International Association of Firefighters pushed Congress to enact a bill that would grant firefighters and police officers the right to bargain collectively in all 50 states. But that effort fizzled.
“We have to shift our strategy until we see the realistic opportunities of a 60-vote majority in the Senate or a change in the rules,” said Harold Schaitberger, the firefighters’ president.
Union leaders say Mr. Obama needs to pursue strategies to reduce income inequality, and some support a bill to raise the minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, to $9.80 after two years.
The A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the service employees also back immigration reform, sharing that goal with business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“We think getting 11 million workers out of the shadows and allowing them the same rights as other workers will be real important to improve their lives and incomes,” Ms. Henry said.
Union officials would still love to somehow enact card check, but they are also brainstorming other less ambitious bills that promote unionization, which they say is crucial to expanding the middle class.
Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor issues of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said he does not see much chance of Congress passing bills aimed at easing unionization. And he said that union-backed measures to raise the minimum wage or make it easier to unionize would hurt Mr. Obama’s hopes of creating jobs.
Mr. Johnson voiced fears that Mr. Obama would name more pro-union officials to the National Labor Relations Board and might push forward with some languishing proposals, including one that would give preference to companies in winning federal contracts if they pay higher wages and have not violated labor laws.
Chamber officials also fear that organized labor will seek to block a trans-Pacific trade agreement the administration is working on.
Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, which worked hard for Mr. Obama, said he was confident the administration would focus less on shaking up public high schools and elementary schools — a move that angered the teachers’ unions — and more on increasing access to early education and making college more affordable.
November 12, 2012
Democrats Like a Romney Idea on Income Tax
By JONATHAN WEISMAN
WASHINGTON — With both parties positioning for difficult negotiations to avert a fiscal crisis as Congress returns for its lame-duck session, Democrats are latching on to an idea floated by Mitt Romney to raise taxes on the rich through a hard cap on income tax deductions.
The proposal by Mr. Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, was envisioned to help pay for an across-the-board income tax cut, a move ridiculed by President Obama as window dressing to a “sketchy deal.” But many Democrats now see it as an important element of a potential deficit reduction agreement — and one they can claim to be bipartisan.
The cap — never fully detailed by Mr. Romney — is similar to a longstanding proposal by Mr. Obama to limit income tax deductions to 28 percent, even for affluent households that pay a 35 percent rate. But a firm cap of around $35,000 would hit the affluent even harder than Mr. Obama’s proposal, which has previously gotten nowhere in Congress.
“Let’s just say there’s a renewed interest,” said Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “Part of it is people reflecting on Obama’s proposal, but when Romney said what he said, it just added fuel.”
“I was a little surprised Romney proposed a dollar cap when he did it,” Mr. Conrad added.
The attention on the plan is evidence that ideas on deficit reduction are beginning to take firmer form as the January deadline for dealing with expiring tax cuts and automatic spending reductions draws close. The lame-duck session that begins Tuesday could be one of the most pivotal in years, and the political atmosphere is considerably different than when lawmakers left in October for the fall campaigns.
President Obama has been re-elected convincingly. Democrats, once in danger of losing control of the Senate, instead gained at least one seat. House Republicans held control, but as many as 16 incumbents lost, including some of the party’s most uncompromising voices, like Representatives Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen B. West of Florida, who refuses to concede his seat despite his continuing deficit in the vote count. The somber mood among Republicans could ease negotiations to avert more than $500 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases.
“The worst time to work together on a bipartisan basis is right before an election,” said Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the House Republican Conference. “The best time to work on a bipartisan basis is right after an election.”
Returning lawmakers will find a long to-do list greeting them Tuesday and seven short weeks to do it. In the House, members may once again try to grapple with the farm bill, which expired during the recess. Dairy farmers in particular are clamoring for a resolution, and a year of record drought gave urgency to a bill.
Across the Rotunda, the Senate may once again take up a cybersecurity bill. An earlier measure that would have established optional standards for the computer systems that oversee the country’s critical infrastructure was stopped by a filibuster as some leading Republicans yielded to the concerns of major business interests; members from both parties would like to see a renewed effort on a bill as soon as possible. A military policy bill, which generally passes easily on the floor, was caught up in the fight over looming Pentagon cuts and did not make it to the floor.
But the most pressing task is averting the sudden expiration of all the Bush-era tax cuts, a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits at the same time that across-the-board military and domestic spending cuts kick in. Most economists believe that “fiscal cliff,” if not mitigated, would send the economy back into recession. Democrats say any plan to avert the crisis must include a combination of tax increases on the rich and spending cuts. Republicans say they are willing to overhaul the tax code to increase federal revenue, but they refuse to raise income tax rates.
That has kicked off a scramble to find ways to raise revenue without higher rates by closing loopholes and tightening deductions and tax credits. Senior Democrats made clear Monday that the search for such tax changes should not be seen as a replacement for higher tax rates on the rich.
Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the Romney proposal to cap deductions would work only in concert with allowing the top two income tax rates to revert to the level of Bill Clinton’s presidency, 36 percent and 39.6 percent, up from the current 33 percent and 35 percent.
To come close to the level of deficit reduction needed to get the nation’s fiscal house in order, the presidential deficit reduction commission known by the names of its chairmen, Erskine B. Bowles and Alan K. Simpson, assumed those top rates would jump, Mr. Van Hollen said. But beyond those rate increases, more revenue will have to be raised.
“This is a promising idea for tax reform,” Mr. Van Hollen said, “if you start at the higher Clinton era rates for high-income earners.”
The idea gained currency when Martin Feldstein, a prominent Republican economist and former chairman of Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, embraced it during the campaign to show that Mr. Romney’s tax plan was not as far-fetched as Democrats portrayed it. Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and something of a ringleader in the search for a bipartisan deficit deal, has also embraced the idea.
But with the presidential campaign over, it is taking on new salience. The Democratic centrist group Third Way has made it the centerpiece of a package of tax changes that it says could raise nearly $1.3 trillion over 10 years without raising rates.
The Third Way proposal would limit tax deductions to $35,000 but would exclude charitable giving. Universities, foundations and other philanthropies have been the biggest impediment to passing Mr. Obama’s more modest 28 percent limit, which did not exclude the charitable tax deduction.
Jennifer Steinhauer contributed reporting.
November 12, 2012
Washington Steps Back From Policing Indian Lands, Even as Crime Rises
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
The federal government has cut the size of its police force in Indian country, reduced financing for law enforcement and begun fewer investigations of violent felony crime, even as rates of murder and rape there have increased to more than 20 times the national average, according to data.
The data, much of it contained in recently released Justice Department reports, underscores a reputation for chronic lawlessness on Indian reservations, where unchecked crime has for years perplexed federal agencies, which are largely responsible for public safety on Indian lands.
As one illustration of the profound increase in violence in recent years — despite generally declining crime in much of the rest of the nation — F.B.I. crime data reports that the number of reported rapes on the Navajo reservation in the Southwest in the last several years has eclipsed those in nine of America’s 20 largest cities, even though there are only 180,000 people on the reservation.
The reservation’s 374 reported rapes in 2009, for example, outpaced even the total for Detroit, for decades among the nation’s most violent cities, which had 335 rapes that year.
President Obama has called violence on Indian lands “an affront to our shared humanity.” But according to federal figures, his administration has cut both the budget of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and spending on reservation law enforcement. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has opened fewer investigations of violent felonies committed in Indian country than under previous presidents, while pursuing violent crime in the rest of the nation far more aggressively than its predecessors.
From 2000 to 2010, for instance, as crime on some reservations surged by as much as 50 percent, the number of suspects on Indian lands being investigated for violent crime by United States attorneys declined by 3 percent, according to Justice Department figures.
In contrast, while crime fell 13 percent nationally during the same decade, federal prosecutions of violent crime outside Indian country increased by 29 percent.
Further, Indian country had 3,462 full-time police personnel in 2000, a number that now stands at about 3,000, according to Justice Department statistics.
During that time, homicides on Indian lands rose 41 percent to 133 in 2010 from 94 in 2000; rapes increased by nearly 55 percent, to 852 from 550; and arson and robbery rates doubled, according to the F.B.I.
The Justice Department has deployed some 37 extra F.B.I. agents and United States attorneys to Indian country in recent years.
“The attorney general has said this is a priority, and I know he is absolutely committed to the issue,” said Brendan Johnson, the United States attorney for South Dakota, who is also chairman of the agency’s Native American Issues Subcommittee.
Nonetheless, the federal government allocates far less money for public safety on Indian lands than what cities of similar size devote to fighting crime.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs, for instance, which along with the Justice Department is responsible for law enforcement for 1.6 million residents spread over 56 million acres of Indian country, distributed $322 million to tribal law enforcement programs in 2012, according to budget outlays.
But both Philadelphia, which has a population of 1.5 million and a police budget of $552 million, and Phoenix, with 1.4 million people and a $540 million police budget, spend far more on public safety despite having smaller populations and less area to patrol. (Phoenix employs 3,100 officers, while Philadelphia has about 6,400 officers.)
Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, where the number of officers has declined as violence has intensified, had 36 officers in 2000, but now has just 30 to patrol an area larger than Delaware, according to Justice Department data.
On South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (population 40,000), 58 tribal officers in 2000 patrolled 3,470 square miles — one officer per 50 square miles. By 2012, despite growth in both population and crime, the number had fallen to 49.
“We pick up a guy for some alcohol-related offense and are out of town for an hour taking them to jail, and in the meantime people are here clubbing and stabbing each other,” said Milton Bianis, a tribal officer.
F.B.I. agents have told officers on Pine Ridge that the reservation needs at least 140 officers to handle an epidemic of violence that includes 3,000 child abuse cases and more than 20,000 arrests each year — nearly one arrest for every other resident.
Lawlessness on reservations, and the inability of the federal government to reduce crime, has worn away trust there.
“I’m not going to have a bit of faith in the system unless you make it safe and the guy who did this to me is going to be behind bars for a very long time,” said Gyasi Ross, a Blackfoot Nation tribal member and lawyer, summarizing widely held views about the dangers of reporting crimes. “I need some assurances because I’m taking my life in my hands.”
Tribal officials acknowledge that crime on reservations may actually be 10 times or more higher than official rates because people seldom report violence. Ivan Posey, a member of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council on the violence-plagued Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, said too few resources — and a lack of federal interest — meant “there’s no deterrent for crime.”
“There is,” Mr. Posey said, “a lack of justice in Indian country.”
Though the federal government has given reservations more authority to prosecute crime in recent years, it has at the same time cut funding for tribal courts.
In Arizona, for instance, the Gila River Indian Community’s courts received no Bureau of Indian Affairs funds from 2008 to 2010, according to records, even though the tribe was inundated with 24,000 new criminal cases (among just 16,700 tribal members).
Tribal courts often lack money to pay per diems for jury duty, and tribes say federal funding barely covers the salaries of court clerks, much less judges. In some places, including Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico, police officers double as prosecutors.
Despite the financing gaps, grants meant to boost public safety on reservations have shrunk, including the Justice Department’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation program, which has dropped to $101 million and 200 grants this year, records show, down from $127 million for 301 grants in 2010.
And grants during the past four years from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, which has distributed $1.8 billion, have in many cases gone outside Indian lands. Hingham, Mass., for instance, which has a population of 22,157, has received about $1.5 million, and more than $1 million has gone to tiny East Central University in Ada, Okla.
The Emmonak Women’s Shelter, however, which serves Native Alaskans in rural Alaska, has received only $350,000, according to federal figures, and was forced to close this year because it could no longer afford electricity, even after its workers had stopped accepting pay. The shelter recently reopened using emergency federal financing and public donations.
November 12, 2012
F.D.A. Finds Safety Problems at Company Supplying Drugs
By DENISE GRADY and SABRINA TAVERNISE
A federal inspection has turned up a long list of unsanitary conditions and unsafe practices at Ameridose, a drug supplier with some of the same owners as the pharmacy whose tainted steroid caused a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis that has killed 32 people and sickened more than 400 others.
A 20-page report issued on Monday by the Food and Drug Administration described drug solutions contaminated with germs, rusted and unsanitary equipment, and insects and a bird flying around in areas where sterile products were packaged and stored.
Inspectors also said the company failed to “adequately investigate” complaints of serious reactions in patients that might have indicated problems with drug potency — reactions including fetal distress, a hyperstimulated uterus and maternal hemorrhaging from a drug used in labor, and oversedation and breathing trouble from fentanyl, a powerful narcotic. There were also complaints of low potency in a sedative used to relieve anxiety in children undergoing surgery.
“F.D.A. inspectors observed conditions and practices at Ameridose which demonstrated that the firm could not consistently assure that their injectable products were sterile and safe for use by patients,” Sarah Clark-Lynn, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail.
So far, Ms. Clark-Lynn said, no infections have been linked to Ameridose, but all its products have been recalled, and its operations have been suspended since early October at the request of state regulators, who say they need more time to investigate.
Ameridose said in a statement that it had had no instances of product contamination in its six-year history, during which it had shipped “70 million units of product.” However, problems with potency did result in at least one recall. The company said it was “committed to addressing all observations in order to enhance our existing systems.”
Eric S. Kastango, the president of Clinical IQ, a consulting firm that advises compounding pharmacies, said the F.D.A. findings at Ameridose were “just stupefying.”
“It’s an operation that is totally out of control,” he said. “Especially when you look at the patient complaints, that is scary as all get-out.”
Ameridose has been a major supplier of sterile injectable medications to hospitals and sells more than 2,200 blended drug products, including tranquilizers, anesthetics and antibiotics, according to its Web site.
The inspection report dealt another blow to the family behind Ameridose and its sister company, the New England Compounding Center, which made the fungal-tainted steroid medication that caused the meningitis outbreak. The report comes just two days before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is scheduled to hold a hearing on the outbreak. Barry Cadden, the chief pharmacist at the New England center, was subpoenaed by the committee after he declined its initial request to testify. Federal officials have said Ameridose was investigated because of concerns that it had some of the same business practices as New England Compounding.
Ameridose, founded in 2006, is a private company and is not required to report its financial status publicly. Weeks of no activity seem to have taken their toll on the company, which has laid off or furloughed most of its 650 employees, as well as 140 employees of its sales affiliate, Medical Sales Management.
Ameridose was founded by the same people who owned the New England Compounding Center — Mr. Cadden, who has since lost his license; Gregory Conigliaro, a businessman; and Mr. Conigliaro’s sister-in-law, Carla Conigliaro. It is based in Westborough, Mass.
Robert C. Coleman, a retired F.D.A. investigator, said in an e-mail that while the inspection report was not the worst he had seen, “I would not want to use any of the company’s products.”
Mr. Kastango said part of the problem was that Ameridose, while run by pharmacists, had become a major drug manufacturer, without the proper procedures for safe mass production.
“It’s just unfathomable that they were able to operate for as long as they did,” he said, adding that he doubted Ameridose would ever be able to open for business again.
Andrew Pollack contributed reporting.