Cheney and the Klamath salmon kill
T he Washington Post concluded an amazingly detailed series on Vice President Dick Cheney this week with a disturbing revelation involving Oregon and California.The Oregonian notes that Cheney's plan worked but the fail to mention that it worked for Gordon Smith and is what got him elected.
Cheney, the paper said, played a key role in events leading to the 2002 die-off of more than 70,000 salmon in the Klamath River near the border of the two states. He reportedly did it by getting Interior Department bureaucrats to override government biologists and divert water from the river to irrigate farms, dooming the protected fish.
If true, the political interference may have broken laws under the Endangered Species Act. The allegations call for a serious inquiry, and they're going to get just that in the form of a congressional hearing.
Credit Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., for responding quickly to The Washington Post disclosure. She and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., circulated a letter Wednesday and got 34 colleagues, including Oregon Democrats Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and David Wu, to join in asking the House Resources Committee to investigate.
The panel's chairman, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., agreed, and that's welcome news. Also welcome is the fact that Oregon's DeFazio is a senior member of the committee and a close longtime ally of Rahall, so we can hope for a sincere and vigorous inquiry.
One of his favorite tools, the Post series showed, is secrecy -- pulling strings in ways unseen by the public, Congress or even other administration insiders. "Stealth," the series concluded, "is among Cheney's most effective tools."Yes, ask those questions Mr DeFazio but unlike the Oregonian make sure Gordon Smith's name comes up. Even if the Oregonian doesn't recognize it Mr Smith is a key player in all of this.
His use of that tool was a central theme of the series' fourth and final installment, on the Klamath fish kill. A midlevel Interior Department official told the Post about getting a phone call from Cheney in 2001, setting in motion a secret move to undermine the science of federal biologists who had said diverting water from the Klamath would violate the Endangered Species Act and devastate two imperiled species of fish.
Cheney's Machiavellian tactics worked. He reportedly strong-armed the National Academy of Sciences into providing the Interior Department a murky justification for overruling the Bureau of Land Management, and the Klamath water was diverted.
That led to the largest adult salmon die-off in the modern history of the West, and the biggest commercial fishing closure in the history of the country.
Outraged critics complained of possibly unlawful political meddling at the time but couldn't prove it. The Washington Post's series offers strong evidence they may have been right.
Oregon's DeFazio, and colleagues Rahall & Co., have many good questions to ask.
Thanks to Loaded Orygun for the link.