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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Watchdog bites the hand that fed it
George Bush and Dick Cheney
Klayman has "no faith" in the Bush administration

Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch, might have been one of the top candidates for poster child of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy that some thought was aligned against former President Bill Clinton.

Judicial Watch was the source of countless lawsuits against not only against Bill Clinton but also his wife Hillary.

The group represented Paula Jones in her legal battle with the former president and broke such scandals as Filegate and Chinagate. Mr Klayman estimated they still had some 80 outstanding lawsuits against President Clinton when his term ended.

But Mr Clinton is once again a private citizen, depriving Mr Klayman of the target of his ideological ire and, some would say, of his political raison d'etre.

Judicial Watch is now making an effort to prove its claim of non-partisanship by refocusing its legal guns on Republicans, including President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Vote of no confidence

The watchdog group launched one of its first salvos against the Bush administration by seeking access to records of the energy task force headed by Mr Cheney.

Former president Bill Clinton
The group has some 80 lawsuits pending against Bill Clinton
And now it is suing the vice president, alleging that he and the oil services company he ran from 1995 to 2000, Halliburton Company, as well as accounting firm Andersen, defrauded shareholders through accounting fraud.

"Whether it is the Enron, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing, or now the Halliburton and Harken scandals, there is a dangerous intersection between politicians of all stripes, Democrat and Republican, attempting to feed at the trough of business greed," Mr Klayman said.

The action is seeking millions of dollars in damages.

"We're looking to hold Vice President Cheney and others accountable," Mr Klayman said, adding, "We have no faith in the Bush administration and we have no faith in the Securities and Exchange Commission's investigation."

Politically motivated

Cynics in Washington, of which there are many, say that Mr Klayman is now targeting the Bush administration to retain political relevancy.

But Republicans still love to hate the Clintons, and he could have milked that never-concealed contempt for contributions long after Republican enemy number one left office.

More generous politicos in Washington see in Mr Klayman what might be political conviction independent of political affiliation.

Osama bin Laden
The group has even sued Osama bin Laden in its own war on terror
Some other public interest champions, who may not agree with Mr Klayman's conservative leanings, have even admitted a grudging admiration for his efforts to break through the Bush administration's cone of silence and force the White House to be more open and transparent.

No, Mr Klayman, having tasted success and some notoriety, has steadily expanded his Judicial Watch empire as contributions increased dramatically during the 1990s.

The group has even opened its own front in the war on terror. Describing itself as the People's Justice Department, the group has organised its own Terrorism Task Force Project.

The group promised to do its utmost to root out terrorism by following the money trail of terror and aggressively pursuing the terrorists in the courts because, as the group says on its website, "no one is above the law".

Last December, the litigious litigators sued the government of Iraq, Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the Government of Afghanistan, and the Taleban on behalf of a man whose wife was killed on the attack on the World Trade Center.

In its ever expanding empire, there have even been reports that Judicial Watch might open an office in Europe. To members of parliament across Europe - be afraid, be very afraid.

See also:

10 Jul 02 | Americas
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