Monday, November 17, 2003

And these are the people that want to manage the Iraqi's assets to reconstruct their country?!?!

Indian rights still ignored

More than a century ago, the U.S. government took control of [American] Indian assets, including grazing fees, oil royalties and the like. The government promised to manage the assets in the Indians' best interests but instead grossly mishandled the accounts for decades. Today, the trust funds are such a shambles that the government can't figure out how much the Indians are owed.

The money at stake isn't welfare or tax dollars. Instead, the assets are the personal property of up to 500,000 Indians nationwide. The multi-billion-dollar government swindle dwarfs the Wall Street stock and mutual fund scandals of recent years.

The Indians sued the government over the matter in 1996. They since have won key court victories. This fall, a federal judge told the government to repair the trust fund accounting by 2007.

But last week, the White House convinced a House-Senate conference committee to insert an ugly and damaging provision into an Interior Department spending bill. The "midnight rider," as one opponent called it, erased many legal victories the Indians had won.


Senators and House members felt pressured to vote for the bill, including the anti-Indian rider, because it also contained money to fight forest fires and run the national parks. Even so, the bill passed by very narrow margins.

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