The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, March 20, 2009 - 3
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Friday, March 20, 2009 - 3
13 companies getting
bailout money owe
At least 13 companies receiving
billions of dollars in bailout money
owe a total of more than $220 mil-
lion in unpaid federal taxes, a key
lawmaker said yesterday.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., chair-
man of a House subcommittee
overseeing the federal bailout, said
two companies owe more than $100
"This is shameful. It is a dis-
grace," said Lewis. "We are going
to get to the bottom of what is going
The House Ways and Means sub-
committee on oversight discovered
the unpaid taxes in a review of tax
records from 23 companies receiv-
ing the most money, Lewis said as
he opened a hearing on the issue.
The committee said it could not
legally release the names. of the
companies owing taxes. It said
one recipient of bailout money had
almost $113 million in unpaid fed-
eral income taxes from 2005 and
2006. A second recipient owed
almost $102 million dating to
before 2004. Another was behind
$1.1 million in federal income taxes
and $223,000 in federal employ-
CAMP BUCCA, lraq
Many Iraqis held
by U.S. to go free
Thousands of Iraqis held with-
out charge by the United States on
suspicion of links to insurgents or
militants are being freed by this
summer because there is little or no
evidence against them.
Their release comes as the U.S.
prepares to turn over its deten-
tion system to the fledgling Iraqi
government by early 2010. In the
six years since the war began, the
military ultimately detained some
100,000 suspects, many of whom
were picked up in U.S.-led raids
during a raging, bloody insurgency
that has since died down.
The effort to do justice for those
wrongly held to begin with, some
for years, also runs the risk of
releasing extremists who could be a
threat to fragile Iraqi security.
As part of an agreement between
the two countries that took effect
Jan. 1, Iraqi authorities have begun
reviewingthecases ofthe detainees
to decide whether to free them or
press charges. About 13,300 remain
behind barbed wire in U.S. custody
Dallas school accused
of staging fights
The Dallas school system was
rocked by allegations yesterday
that staff members at an inner-city
high school made students settle
their differences by fighting bare-
knuckle brawls inside a steel cage.
The principal and other employ-
ees at South Oak Cliff High knew
about the cage fights and allowed
the practice to continue, according
to a 2008 report by school system
"More than anything, I'm in
shock and disbelief - shocked that
this could ever occur and shocked
that it would be condoned by a
professional administrator," said
Jerome Garza, a member of the
Dallas school board.
The report, first obtained by The
Dallas Morning News, describes
two instances of fighting in an
equipment cage in a boys' locker
room between 2003 and 2005.
It was not clear from the report
whether there were other fights.
math around buying
a used vehicle
For cash-strapped consum-
ers shopping for a car, used would
seem like the place to start. Not
necessarily. A new one might actu-
ally be cheaper.
Consider this: The average cost
of a used 2008 Honda Accord EX
sedan, certified by the dealership,
was $21,544 earlier this month,
according to Edmunds.com, a car-
buying Web site. A new 2009 model
cost $80 less.
It's simple supply and demand.
With new car sales at a 27-year
low and desperate dealers piling
on rebates and incentives, prices
are plummeting. At the same time,
demand is up for used cars and
their values are rising.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports
An AIG office building is shown yesterday in New York.
passes bill1 taxing AIG
Bill imposes 90
percent tax on
WASHINGTON (AP) -
Denouncing a "squandering of the
people's money," lawmakers voted
decisively yesterday to impose a
90 percent tax on millions of dol-
lars in employee bonuses paid by
troubled insurance giant AIG and
other bailed-out companies.
The House vote was 328-93.
Similar legislation has been intro-
duced in the Senate and President
Barack Obama quickly signaled
general support for the concept.
"I look forward to receiving a
final product that will serve as a
strongsignalto the executives who
run these firms that such compen-
sation will not be tolerated," the
president said in a statement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
D-Calif, told colleagues, "We want
our money back now for the tax-
payers. It isn't that complicated."
The outcome may not have been
complicated. But the lopsided vote
failed -to reflect the contentious
political battle that preceded it.
Republicans took Democrats to
task for rushing to tax AIG bonus-
es worth an estimated $165 million
after the majority party stripped
from last month's economic stimu-
lus bill a provision that could have
banned such payouts.
"This political circus that's
going on here today with this bill
is not getting to the bottom of
the questions of who knew what
and when did they know it," said
House Republican Leader John
Boehner of Ohio.
He voted "no," but 85 fellow
Republicans joined 243 Democrats
in voting "yes." It was opposed by
six Democrats and 87 Republi-
The bill would impose a 90
percent tax on bonuses given to
employees with family incomes
above $250,000 at American Inter-
national Group and other com-
panies that have received at least
$5 billion in government bailout
money. It would apply to any such
bonuses issued since Dec. 31.
The House vote, after just 40
minutes of debate, showed how
quickly Congress can act when the
political will is there.
It was only this past weekend
that the bailed-out insurance giant
paid bonuses totaling $165 million
to employees, including traders in
the Financial Products unit that
nearly brought about AIG's col-
AIG has received $182.5 billion
in federal bailoutmoney and is now
80 percent government-owned.
Disclosure of the bonuses
touched off a national firestorm
that both the Obama administra-
tion and Congress have scurried to
In a statement issued by the
White House late Thursday,
Obama said the House vote "right-
ly reflects the outrage that so many
feel over the lavish bonuses that
AIG provided its employees at the
expense of the taxpayers who have
kept this failed company afloat."
"In the end, this is a symptom of
a larger problem - a bubble-and-
bust economy that valued reckless
speculation over responsibility and
hard work," he said. "That is what
we must ultimately repair to build
a lasting and widespread prosper-
In his statement, Obama did
not explicitly endorse the House
bill. Instead, he was careful to
take a wait-and-see attitude on the
details of the final legislation while
making clear that he supports the
effort to get the bonus money back
Topic No. 1 raised by Repub-
licans during the House debate
was the last-minute altering of a
provision in Obama's $787 billion
stimulus law to cap executive com-
pensation for firms receiving gov-
The measure might have
forestalled payment of the AIG
But Senate Banking Commit-
tee Chairman Chris Dodd, a Con-
necticut Democrat and the author
of the provision, says the admin-
istration insisted that he modify
his proposal so that it would only
apply to payments agreed to in the
That, critics claim, cleared the
way for the AIG payouts.
"The idea came from the admin-
istration," Dodd said Thursday
Dodd said he was not aware of
any AIG bonuses at the time the
change was made.
Treasury Secretary Timothy
Geithner confirmed such conver-
sations with Dodd. He said the
administration was worried about
possible legal challenges to the pro-
say colleges play
central role in return
to civilian life
By DEVON THORSBY
The transition from high school
senior to college freshman can
be pretty tough - harder classes,
moving into the dorms and sepa-
ration from parents and family.
But for US veterans, who are more
used to the rigors of the battlefield
than the classroom, the jump is
Two student veterans spoke
yesterday about the ways in which
universities can help those who
have served in combat and now
must make the quick change to life
as college students. The speech
was part of the seventh annual
Depression on College Campuses
Conference, hosted by the Univer-
sity's Depression Center.
The talk focused on the need for
campus organizations to provide
student veterans with the emo-
tional support and connections to
other veterans who have been in
and are facingsimilar situations.
Bryan Adams, who served as
an army sniper in Iraq from 2004-
2005 and is now a junior at Rutgers
University, spoke about the dif-
ficulty of the transition between
military life and college life, which
can easily lead to depression.
"I would go out and try to have
a good time, and one negative
thought would pop into my brain,"
he said. "My whole attitude would
Adams, who is president of Rut-
gers Veterans for Education, added
that many student veterans have
similar feelings when they transi-
tion back to civilian life.
"It's a natural reaction to an
Adams emphasized the need
for cooperation between veterans
entering universities and the com-
munity as a whole to aid student
"There needs to be an under-
standing of the nature of the con-
flict and the nature of the problem
that student veterans are facing,"
Adams pointed out that many
universities lack comprehensive
programs that offer guidance for
veterans in their shift to college
Derek Blumke, who served in
Iraq as an aircraft electrician
and maintenance supervisor in
the Air Force and is now an LSA
junior, also discussed the diffi-
cult switch between active duty
and student life and the need for
campus-wide understanding of
the difference between the mili-
tary and college.
Citinginsensitive questions from
fellow students and professors as a
source of difficulty adjusting well
to college life, Blumke, co-founder
and president of Student Veterans
of America, stated that there needs
to be a level of sensitivity toward
topics concerning military life.
"We're not faulting people for
being curious, just be aware of the
situation," he said.
Both Adams and Blumke work
in their respective universities as
well as on a national level to advo-
cate for student veteran groups
on college campuses. Their work
focuses on bringing student vet-
erans together to ensure they do
not feel alone in their experiences,
something both say they have felt
personally in the past.
"I need to take my experience
and transfer it into a positive thing
for myself and my fellow veterans,"
Blumke and Adams added that
they hope their experiences in the
military will help them to make a
"We want to make changes, not
just for ourselves, but for society as
a whole," Blumke said.
In this image reviewed by the U.S. Military, a Guantanamo detainee, seen through a glass window, sleeps ona mattress on
the floor of his cell, at Camp 5 detention facility, at the U.S. Naval Base, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nov. 19, 2008.
Ex-Bush administration official:
Many at Gitmo are innocent
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Wilkerson says some
have been there six
or seven years
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)
- Many detainees locked up at
Guantanamo were innocent men
swept up by U.S. forces unable to
distinguish enemies from noncom-
batants, a former Bush administra-
tion official said yesterday.
"There are still innocent people
there," Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a
Republican who was chief of staff
to then-Secretary of State Colin
Powell, told The Associated Press.
"Some have been there six or seven
Wilkerson, who first made the
assertions in an Internet posting
on Tuesday, told the AP he learned
from briefings and by communi-
cating with military commanders
that the U.S. soon realized many
Guantanamo detainees were inno-
cent but nevertheless held them in
hopes they could provide informa-
tion for a "mosaic" of intelligence.
"It did not matter if a detainee
were innocent. Indeed, because he
lived in Afghanistan and was cap-
tured on or near the battle area, he
must know something of impor-
tance," Wilkerson wrote in the
blog. He said intelligence analysts
hoped to gather "sufficient infor-
mation about a village, a region,
or a group of individuals, that dots
could be connected and terrorists
or their plots could be identified."
Wilkerson, a retired Army colo-
nel, said vetting on the battlefield
during the early stages of U.S.
military operations in Afghanistan
was incompetent with no mean-
ingful attempt to determine "who
we were transporting to Cuba for
detention and interrogation."
Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon,
a Pentagon spokesman, declined
to comment on Wilkerson's spe-
cific allegations but noted that
the military has consistently said
that dealing with foreign fighters
from a wide variety of countries in
a wartime setting was a complex
process. The military has insisted
that those held at Guantanamo
were enemy combatants and posed
a threat to the United States.
In his posting for The Washing-
ton Note blog, Wilkerson wrote
that "U.S. leadership became
aware of this lack of proper vet-
ting very early on and, thus, of the
reality that many of the detainees
were innocent of any substantial
wrongdoing, had little intelligence
value, and should be immediately
Former Defense Secretary Don-
ald Rumsfeld and Vice President
Dick Cheney fought efforts to
address the situation, Wilkerson
said, because "to have admitted
this reality would have been a
black mark on their leadership."