As Burma’s Saffron Revolutionaries were being rounded up and shot in the streets of Yangon, Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice

was talking tough at the United Nations: “The United States is determined to keep an international focus on the travesty that is taking place.” But casting a spotlight on Burma’s junta has revealed some unsavory dealings by Rice’s old friends. One of the key American corporations fueling the military regime is


, which counted Rice as a director until 2001 and once named an oil tanker The Condoleezza Rice. Operating undera big fat loophole in US sanctions, the corporation continues to take a major cutof Burma’s national gas projects–the top source of revenue for the regime. The regime’s old partner, Unocal, was bought by Chevron after Unocal settled a lawsuit for using slave labor on its Burmese pipeline (lending new meaning to Chevron’s slogan, “Human Energy”). For Chevron, complicity with despots is nothing new. A US court recently found evidence that the company paid and transported security forces who massacred protesting villagers in the Niger Delta in 1998-99. Chevron was also a major investor in apartheid South Africa.

Following in the steps of the antiapartheid movement, Burma solidarity activists are calling for a boycott and divestment campaign against Chevron. They want the company to withdraw the royalties it pays the military junta and divert them to the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Chevron’s answer? The company says its investments in Burma “help improve the lives of the people they touch and thereby communicate our values.”   MICHAEL GOULD-WARTOFSKY


Third-quarter FEC reports reveal that

Hillary Clinton

‘s campaign has $35 million on hand for the primaries, slightly more than

Barack Obama

($32 million) and more than triple

John Edwards

($10 million). From June to September, Clinton raked in more than $27 million, ahead of Obama ($21 million) and Edwards ($7 million).

Rudy Giuliani

led the GOP pack, raising $11.6 million in the third quarter.

Mitt Romney

raised $9.5 million (and loaned himself another $8.5 million).

Fred Thompson

collected more than $8 million,

John McCain

$5.7 million and Republican dissident Ron Paul $5.2 million.

$748,896 of Clinton’s third-quarter donations came from Wall Street, where Obama raised $177,456, Giuliani $149,925 and Romney $133,875. But Rudy captured first place in the NASCAR primary, with donations from drivers

Jeff Gordon


Jimmie Johnson


Casey Mears

and NASCAR chairman Brian France. Clinton continued to impress the stars, taking in dough from Tobey Maguire, Jon Bon Jovi, Jodie Foster, Alec Baldwin, Renée Zellweger, Lionel Richie and Vivica A. Fox. Not to be outdone, Obama raised money this summer from Tyra Banks, Susan Sarandon, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jamie Foxx and Hugh Hefner.

Barry Manilow

wrote Ron Paul a check for $2,300.


While promoting her memoir Blue Skies,

Lynne Cheney

revealed that her husband,

Dick Cheney

, and

Barack Obama

are related. They’re eighth cousins who share a seventeenth-century ancestor. Asked for comment, the Obama campaign replied, “Every family has a black sheep.”


Could Blackwater be cooked? It’s too early to declare the largest private army in the world kaput, but CEO

Erik Prince

and company have had a rotten week. First, the Iraqi government issued its official report on the Nisour Square shooting–in which Blackwater guards opened fire on a civilian crowd, killing seventeen. Calling the guards’ actions “premeditated murder,” the report demands that the United States turn the guards over to Iraqi courts for prosecution. It also requests that Blackwater compensate each victim’s family $8 million.

Then, as

Jeremy Scahill

reports at, “the families of three Iraqis killed in the Nisour Square shootings filed a major lawsuit in a US federal court…charging that Blackwater’s actions amounted to ‘extra-judicial killing’ and ‘war crimes.'” Brought in part by the

Center for Constitutional Rights

under the Alien Tort Statute, the lawsuit “seeks punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish Erik Prince and his Blackwater companies for their repeated callous killing of innocents.” Lead attorney

Susan Burke

told Scahill that the Blackwater guards were no longer protecting their client and thus the suit alleges “that Blackwater personnel were not provoked, and that they had no legitimate reason to fire on civilians.”

Finally, a recent Los Angeles Times article revealed that senior officials in the Defense and State departments are worried that private contractors in Iraq could be classified as “unlawful combatants” under the Geneva Convention. “Lawful combatants are nonmilitary personnel who operate under their military’s chain of command,” the article said. “Others may carry weapons in a war zone but may not use offensive force. Under the international agreements, they may only defend themselves.” If Blackwater guards opened fire without provocation (i.e., if they used offensive force), as Burke’s suit maintains, the accused may find that they would prefer due process in Iraqi or American courts. If they are designated “unlawful combatants,” they will share that designation with the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, whom the United States asserts it can hold indefinitely without trial.


During your conversations with Administration officials, did they indicate that you would have the ability to make personnel decisions free from White House interference?

Nan Aron

, president, Alliance for Justice

Even before your nomination, but surely in your preparation for this hearing, you would have become aware that the Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales made some decisions in connection with the “war on terror” that have created significant controversy within the department and outside it. Do you disagree with any of these decisions? If so, tell me twoor three of them and how you would decide differently.

Stephen Gillers

, professor of law, New York University

Can you think of any circumstance under which it would be lawful to torture a prisoner in US custody?

Marjorie Cohn

, president, National Lawyers Guild