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In The Hoop
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2002

Welcome to In The Hoop, Indianz.Com's occasional column about assorted Indian issues.

Pac-Man Fever
We know it's still early, but has anyone noticed that the "new" Bureau of Indian Affairs looks like the "old" Bureau of Indian Affairs circa 1980s?

Yes, Virginia, Neal McCaleb has gone retro! Beneficiaries can expect to hear Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" every time they ring the Trust Beneficiary Call Center to get accurate information about their trust fund accounts. (And the answer is yes.)

But it's no surprise, really, given that the proposal has Ross Swimmers's hoof prints all over it. In fact, word around the Beltway is that he can't remember the opposition he encountered when he ran the BIA in the late 1980s so apparently he's trying to jar his memory by taking the lead on this.

Oh, Stop Whining Already
Some people never learn. And that means Neal McCaleb.

In remarks published in The Farmington Daily-Times, he complains that being held in contempt of court has "undermined my credibility." The paper went on to state: "He called the decision 'very hurtful' and expressed hope that his successor would be more successful because he would not be under a court sanction."

Well, apparently, Neal must not recall that one year ago today, the Department of Interior -- under the order of Associate Deputy Secretary Jim Cason -- pulled the plug on its Indian trust fund systems, preventing money from being distributed to thousands of beneficiaries, who went without their funds for months until Deputy Secretary Steve Griles decided it was time to issue checks. This travesty, of course, pales in comparison to Neal's own feelings.

The Interior went on to blame the Cobell plaintiffs for the mess. But it was Interior officials who voluntarily began the shutdown and it was Interior's own lawyer who told a federal judge the move would not greatly impact Indian Country.

"Indications are that it might not create a substantial disruption," Department of Justice attorney Matt Fader said on December 5.

"You’re just ruining your credibility talking to me that way," responded U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth.

Neal, take note.

Promotions for Some
What happens when you attack Indian rights, accuse a judicial official of bias and try to limit the Indian trust relationship? If you happen to work for the federal government, you get a raise and a better position.

That's what took place yesterday when President Bush promoted Scott McCallum to associate attorney general at the Department of Justice.

McCallum is currently the assistant attorney general for the civil division at DOJ. He's responsible for overseeing Gale Norton's defense on the Indian trust fund lawsuit. And as everyone knows, he's doing a bang-up job of it.

Just like Matt Fader.

In Your Hoop
Are you being promoted or demoted within the new BIA? Email In the Hoop and let us know.

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