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This Week in Scandal Watch

1. Detainee Treatment

Salon reported that the former Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, suppressed opposition from officials at the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who stepped up to complain about harsh interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay and call for greater legal scrutiny. Four inmates at Abu Ghraib in Iraq have filed lawsuits against defense contractors that allegedly tortured them in 2003 and 2004.

Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesA federal appeals court that dismissed the case against a Gitmo detainee criticized the government's justification for his imprisonment and compared it to a nonsensical Lewis Carroll poem.

And The New York Times reported that military trainers who taught interrogation classes at Gitmo had based lessons on a chart "copied verbatim" from a 1957 study of Chinese Communist torture techniques (pdf).

2. Subprime Mortgages and Ratings Agencies

This week, Florida became the third state - after California and Illinois - to sue Countrywide for deceptive lending practices. Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers continue to call for a probe into Countrywide's "Friends of Angelo" program - yet many of those same lawmakers have no qualms about keeping funds donated to their campaigns by Countrywide's PAC. Countrywide shut down its PAC, which has donated more than $500,000 to campaigns and organizations since 2005.

Trouble continued at Moody's Investor Services - one of the ratings agencies that rated securities backed by bundled residential mortgages - where a key player left amid accusations that his department bungled the response to a modeling error that incorrectly rated $1 billion in complex credit products.

And analysts say that the homeowner-relief program proposed in Congress' housing bill would leave the majority of troubled homeowners in the lurch.

3. Military Contractor Abuse

Those lawsuits brought by four Abu Ghraib inmates targeted two defense contractors - CACI International and L-3 Communications, and they named individual employees of the contractors as defendants as well.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, ordered inspections of all the wiring work done by KBR in Iraq. At least 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq since the war began. The Army had issued a warning in October 2004 about KBR's shoddy electrical wiring, and one KBR employee had even quit in protest after warnings to his boss were ignored, but repairs were never made.

And Iraqi's foreign minister announced on Tuesday that the U.S. had agreed to lift immunity for military contractors in Iraq, leaving them open to prosecution under Iraqi law.

4. Politicization at EPA

This week the White House blocked a report on greenhouse-gas emissions that the EPA drafted after a two-year study. In December, the Office of Management and Budget refused to open an e-mail from the EPA that included a draft of this report. It then demanded that the EPA recall the e-mail. Now, OMB is blocking the report and demanding that the EPA delete several key sections - included those that say greenhouse-gas emissions are dangerous to human's health - and show that the Clean Air Act is flawed.

5. Warrantless Surveillance

A federal judge dealt a blow to Bush's presidential authority by declaring that Congress' wiretapping law is the "exclusive" means for him to eavesdrop on Americans. The Justice Department had previously argued that the president's constitutional power as commander in chief allows him to wiretap Americans without a warrant.

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