Norton defense continues on trust fund
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Secretary of Interior Gale Norton's contempt trial resumes today in federal court with attorneys representing 300,000 American Indian beneficiaries beginning their cross-examination of a senior government official.

Bob Lamb, a deputy under Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Lynn Scarlett, took the stand on Friday on behalf of the government. A career government official, Lamb testified at former Secretary Bruce Babbitt's contempt trial in 1999, which resulted in his boss, former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Gover and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin being sanctioned and fined.

Lamb is the government's second witness in the case against Norton. John Snyder, a employee within the department's Chief Information Office, concluded his testimony on Friday.

Future government witnesses are expected to include Edith Blackwell, an Interior attorney whom Solicitor Bill Myers recused from the Cobell litigation last fall. The plaintiffs have asked U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to consider holding her in contempt but he has not ruled on the motion.

Bert T. Edwards, a former Clinton administration official tapped by Norton to head the Office of Historical Trust Accounting, is also slated to take the stand. He is charged with carrying out an historical accounting of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) but so far his office has only said it will release a plan in the middle of this year.

Dom Nessi, the former project manager of a $40 million trust accounting system and the former Chief Information Officer at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is also expected to be called by the government. He was responsible for the infamous "imploding" menu which led to the installation of court monitor Joseph S. Kieffer III last spring.

Nessi's disclosures to the press about the lax security at the Interior also led to an investigation by special master Alan Balaran which resulted in a court-ordered Internet shutdown, now in its second month, Nessi left his BIA post in the summer, when Balaran's hired hackers were breaking into the IIM system.

Nessi is now the top computer official at the National Park Service.

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

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