Lawyers and media pundits in Nigeria are accusing the government of acting illegally by agreeing to settle criminal bribery charges against Dick Cheney out of court.
Nigeria charged Cheney and applied for an Interpol arrest warrant earlier this month in connection with a $180-million bribery case. Cheney’s former employer, Halliburton, reportedly agreed to pay $35 million to see the charges dropped.
But Nigeria could see as much as $250 million from the deal, in “the form of a deal to free up Nigerian money that had been locked away in Swiss bank accounts,” The Nation‘s John Nichols reports.
Critics of the deal say it has no basis in Nigerian law, which reportedly does not allow plea deals in criminals cases.
In a letter to Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog, Osuagwu Ugochukwu, a prominent lawyer in Abuja, said the withdrawal of charges against Cheney was a breach of the law.
“We know as a point of law that once a criminal charge has been filed in a competent court, issue of penalty of fine is for the courts to impose and not parties,” he wrote. “Hence, we are shocked to hear that EFCC imposed a fine on an accused person. We also know as a point of law that criminal matters cannot be settled out of court as in civil matters in Nigeria.”
“The outcome of the deal with Halliburton tends to suggest a smart way of making quick money while leaving the culprits unpunished,” an editorial in Nigeria’s Daily Sun argues. “This method invariably has its own drawbacks that could encourage similar criminal acts in future.”
Indeed, many observers have likened the deal to an officially sanctioned bribe by Halliburton — or as a shake-down of the Texas-based oilfield services company by the Nigerian government.
Nigerian officials say they made the deal because they weren’t certain they could get a guilty verdict against Cheney. (KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, pleaded guilty in a US court to the charges in 2009, but Cheney was not charged in that case.)
And, without addressing the move’s legality, the head of the anti-corruption watchdog agency defended the move, saying that it is a “best world practice” used in more developed countries.
“The US and the UK governments are practicing it. Where you cannot successfully sustain a charge in court and you want to recover, then instead of losing the case, losing the money, then you opt for plea bargaining,” Farida Waziri, head of the watchdog agency, said, adding that the country’s “slow” judicial system also made the deal necessary.
KBR, until 2007 a subsidiary of Halliburton, was among companies that paid bribes to secure a $6 billion contract for a natural gas plant. The company pleaded guilty to the bribes in a US court in 2009, and agreed to pay a $382 million fine.
GOP lawmakers melt down after Maryland AP history class teacher uses illustration to compare Trump to Nazis
According to a report from the Washington Times, Maryland Republicans are up in arms after an AP history teacher at a local high school used a slide to illustrate similarities between Donald Trump's policies and those of the Nazis.
The report states, "A slide used in an Advanced Placement history class at Loch Raven High School in Towson shows a picture of Trump above pictures of a Nazi swastika and a flag of the Soviet Union. Two captions read 'wants to round up a group of people and build a giant wall' and 'oh, THAT is why it sounds so familiar!'"
Stop praising anti-Trump evangelicals: Their embrace of authoritarianism is a big part of the problem
At this critical moment for American democracy our media landscape is doing a poor job in its coverage of conservative white evangelicals. Coverage of this relatively large segment of the population is characterized by, on the one hand, effusive praise for the slightest milquetoast criticism of Donald Trump, and on the other, by a periodic parade of nearly interchangeable unfounded predictions about how evangelical youth are going to change America’s most radically right-wing demographic for the better—any day now. In the words of the great sage Bullwinkle J. Moose, “This time for sure!”
Intel official who briefed lawmakers on latest Russian meddling targeted for ouster by Trump White House: CNN
During a discussion on the war on the intelligence community being waged by the Donald Trump's White House, CNN host Victor Blackwell stated that sources speaking with the network stated that the intel official who briefed lawmakers for both parties on new efforts by Russia to meddle in U.S. elections could be on the way out.
Speaking with contributor Lynn Sweet, Blackwell asked about the so-called "purge" being conducted by the White House.
"It sends the signal once again that President Trump is not a respecter of the United States intelligence services with the bigger issue that a permanent director has not been in that office since last summer when Dan Coates was forced out," Sweet explained. "This is a key position, subject to Senate confirmation and Trump hasn't seen fit to have a permanent director for months now."