Nigerian officials have indicted former Vice President Dick Cheney for bribing the Nigerian government in the '90s. The accusation stems from Cheney's reign as CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. Last year, a subsidiary of Halliburton, plead guilty in U.S. courts to paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 in order to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Niger Delta. While a number of liberals are salivating at the notion of Cheney locked up in a Nigerian prison, few predict that the U.S. will ever agree to extradite him. Additionally, it doesn't help that Nigeria happens to be one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Here's what reporters and bloggers are making of the indictment:
- This Is an Important Move, writes Juan Cole at Informed Comment:
That Nigeria is moving forward with this prosecution is symbolically important ... So far Bush and Cheney, who are guilty of a long list of crimes against international and US domestic law, have had impunity from even so much as firm condemnation by any international body. It is not impossible that a corruption charge against Cheney could chip a chink in that so far impenetrable armor. At least their reputations should be tarnished!
- Here's What Nigeria Is Basing This Off "Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission pointed specifically," writes Tom Diemer at Politics Daily, "at a former Halliburton subsidiary, Houston-based KBR, which pleaded guilty last year in U.S. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes in Nigeria for plant contracts between 1995 and 2004." In that case, KBR paid $402 million in fines and Halliburton paid $177 million, adds CNN.
- This Could Be Political, writes Jon Gambrell at The Associated Press:
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan faces a coming primary election in the nation's ruling party against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Critics have tried to connect Abubakar to this bribery case in the past and the charges come as the election looms. Abubakar has denied any involvement.
- Locals Are Skeptical, observes Christian Purefoy at CNN:
Many observers in Nigeria regard the move as a publicity stunt by the commission ahead of national elections this April and a symbolic effort to display resolve against government corruption. The agency has had limited success in getting successful prosecutions and hasn't charged any high-profile people since its top commissioner was removed from the body in 2007.
- Cheney's Lawyer Is Full of It, writes Marcy Wheeler at Fire Dog Lake. She responds to Cheney attorney Terence O'Donnell who said the former vice president was innocent because US investigators "found no suggestions of any impropriety" when they looked into the matter during the Bush years. Wheeler writes:
O’Donnell suggests that because the US conducted its own investigation--mostly during a period when Cheney remained the most powerful man in government and when DOJ was clearly politicized--then Nigeria should be unable to do so, too.
- Don't Get Your Hopes Up, Nigeria "Whether or not the U.S. authorities will honor the Interpol warrant issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria remains to be seen," writes Pratap Chatterjee at The Daily Beast. "But, somehow, I don't see Cheney agreeing to leave Ballintober, his nine-acre spread in St. Michael's that includes extensive gardens, ornamental pools, and spectacular views from a large, glass-walled waterside room, for the prison cells of Nigeria."
- Odd, Coming from Nigeria, writes Scott Baldauf at The Christian Science Monitor:
The indictment of a major US political and corporate figure marks a tough new step for Nigeria's relatively untested anticorruption commission. Nigeria ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranked 134th out of 178 countries by anticorruption group Transparency International.
Bonus: MSNBC's Ed Schultz hosted a rather "hysterical" televised debate about the indictment culminating with an Air America host calling Republican strategist Ron Christie a "baby":