Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Cheney, energy and Iraq invasion
Supreme Court to rule on secrecy

Larry Everest
Sunday, March 21, 2004

The case Cheney vs. U.S. District Court is scheduled to be heard before the Supreme Court next month and could end up revealing more about the Bush administration's motives for the 2003 Iraq war than any conceivable investigation of U.S. intelligence concerning Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction.

The plaintiffs, the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch, the conservative legal group based in Washington, argue that Vice President Cheney and his staff violated the open-government Federal Advisory Committee Act by meeting behind closed doors with energy industry executives, analysts and lobbyists.

The plaintiffs allege these discussions occurred during the formulation of the Bush administration's May 2001 "National Energy Policy."

For close to three years, Cheney and the administration have resisted demands that they reveal with whom they met and what they discussed.

Last year, a lower court ruled against Cheney and instructed him to turn over documents providing these details.

On Dec. 15, the Supreme Court announced it would hear Cheney's appeal. Three weeks later, Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent a weekend together duck hunting at a private resort in southern Louisiana, giving rise to calls for Scalia to recuse himself. So far, he has refused.

Why has the administration gone to such lengths to avoid disclosing how it developed its new energy policy?

Significant evidence points to the possibility that much more could be revealed than mere corporate cronyism: The national energy policy proceedings could open a window onto the Bush administration's decision-making process and motives for going to war on Iraq.

In July 2003, after two years of legal action through the Freedom of Information Act (and after the end of the war), Judicial Watch was finally able to obtain some documents from the Cheney-led National Energy Policy Development Group.

They included maps of Middle East and Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, two charts detailing various Iraqi oil and gas projects, and a March 2001 list of "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," detailing the status of their efforts. The documents are available at www.judicialwatch.org.

These documents are significant because during the 1990s, U.S. policy- makers were alarmed about oil deals potentially worth billions of dollars being signed between the Iraqi government and foreign competitors of the United States including France's Total and Russia's LukOil.

The New York Times reported the LukOil contracts alone could amount to more than 70 billion barrels of oil, more than half of Iraq's reserves. One oil executive said the volume of these deals was huge -- a "colossal amount."

As early as April 17, 1995, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. petroleum giants realized that "Iraq is the biggie" in terms of future oil production, that the U.S. oil companies were "worried about being left out" of Iraq's oil dealings due to the antagonism between Washington and Baghdad, and that they feared that "the companies that win the rights to develop Iraqi fields could be on the road to becoming the most powerful multinationals of the next century."

U.N. sanctions against Iraq, maintained at the insistence of the United States and Britain, prevented these deals from being consummated.

Saddam Hussein's removal in 2003 has left the deals in a state of limbo, but the Bush administration's insistence that only countries supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom are eligible for postwar reconstruction does not bode well for French and Russian concerns.

An April 2001 report by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations and the Baker Institute for Public Policy -- commissioned by Cheney to help shape the new energy policy -- also devoted serious attention to Iraq.

The report, "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century," complained about Hussein's oil leverage:

"Tight markets have increased U.S. and global vulnerability to disruption and provided adversaries undue potential influence over the price of oil. Iraq has become a key 'swing' producer, posing a difficult situation for the U.S. government. ... Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to ... the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East.

"Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export programme to manipulate oil markets."

Significantly, the report concluded that the United States should immediately review its Iraq policy, including its military options.

There are many other indications that, despite the Bush administration's repeated and insistent denials, petroleum politics may have played a crucial role in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

For instance, both the State Department and the Pentagon had pre-war planning groups that included a focus on Iraq's oil industry; protecting the industry was an early U.S. objective in the war.

In October 2002, Oil and Gas International reported that U.S. planning was already under way to reorganize Iraq's oil and business relationships.

In January 2003, the Wall Street Journal reported that representatives from Exxon Mobil Corp., ChevronTexaco Corp., ConocoPhillips and Halliburton, among others, were meeting with Vice President Cheney's staff to plan the post- war revival of Iraq's oil industry.

Cheney is said to have once remarked that the country that controls Middle East oil can exercise a "stranglehold" over the global economy.

One-time Bush speech writer David Frum wrote in "The Right Man," his 2003 biography of his boss, that the United States' "war on terror" was designed to "bring new freedom and new stability to the most vicious and violent quadrant of the Earth -- and new prosperity to us all, by securing the world's largest pool of oil."

Further records from Cheney's Energy Task Force could shed more light on the inner workings of the Bush administration's march to war in Iraq. The first question, though, is whether the Supreme Court will lift the Bush-Cheney veil of secrecy.

Larry Everest is a Bay Area journalist and author of "Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda" (Common Courage Press 2004). He is scheduled to address San Francisco's Commonwealth Club on that topic on May 5.

Bush-Cheney political chief testifies in funds probe
By Associated Press, 3/21/2004

AUSTIN, Texas -- The political director for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign has testified before a grand jury investigating allegations that corporate money was used illegally in 2002 legislative races in Texas.

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, Lindsay Taylor, confirmed that political director Terry Nelson testified Friday before the grand jury, which conducts closed proceedings.

She declined to comment further.

Nelson, the RNC's former deputy chief of staff, could not be reached for comment. He joined the Bush-Cheney campaign in May.

The grand jury is investigating whether state law was violated when an RNC group gave $190,000 to seven candidates for the Texas House in 2002.

The donations were made on the same day, two weeks after a political committee called Texans for a Republican Majority sent $190,000 in corporate money to the RNC group.

Under state law, the political committee, created by US Representative Tom DeLay, could not legally give corporate donations to candidates.

Democrats allege that Republicans took money that could not be given to candidates and moved it around before donating it to the candidates.

Republican officials have said that the transactions were legal and that the timing and amounts were coincidental.

No indictments have been issued.

Company With Ties To VP Cheney's Energy Task Force Faces Criminal Indictment For Gaming Calif. Electricity Market

by Jason Leopold

Three years ago, while California's energy crisis was spiraling out of control, Vice President Dick Cheney secretly met with half-dozen corporate executives of the country's largest energy companies to hammer out a national energy policy for President George W. Bush.

Cheney appeared on a number of news programs in May 2001 to promote his new energy policy, which turned out to be a boon for the energy industries, but abandoned consumers and environmental groups. Naturally, during some of those interviews, Cheney was asked whether a handful of the energy companies that sold electricity in California and stood to benefit financially from the new policy were behaving like a "cartel" and manipulating prices in the state's deregulated electricity market.

"No," Cheney said in a May 17, 2001 interview with PBS' "Frontline;" a day after the final energy policy report was released. "The problem you had in California was caused by a combination of things--an unwise regulatory scheme, because they didn't really deregulate. Now they're trapped from unwise regulatory schemes, plus not having addressed the supply side of the issue. They've obviously created major problems for themselves..."

California's electricity crisis wreaked havoc on millions of people in the state between 2000 and 2001, resulted in four days of rolling blackouts and forced the state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, into bankruptcy. California was the first state in the nation to deregulate its power market in an effort to provide consumers with cheaper electricity and the opportunity to choose their own power company. The results have since proved disastrous. The experiment has cost the state more than $30 billion.

For three years, California officials pleaded with federal energy regulators, President Bush and Vice President Cheney, to provide the state with some relief from soaring wholesale electricity prices and to investigate many of the energy companies that sold power to California for allegedly manipulating the market.

Former Governor Gray Davis met with Bush a couple of weeks before Cheney's "Frontline" interview and asked for federal assistance, such as price caps, but Bush refused saying the free-market would sort out the mess.

But Cheney 's denials that his friends in the energy sector weren't to blame for the power crisis are sure to come back and haunt him and could hamper President Bush's reelection campaign. Later this month, the United States Attorney's office in the Northern District of California is expected to issue its first criminal indictment against an energy company for manipulating wholesale energy prices in California that could boost the state's claims that it's owed billions in refunds for overcharges. The company at the center of the probe is Houston-based Reliant Resources, Inc.

Reliant said in a news release March 8 that it was notified by the US Attorney's office about the pending indictment, which stems from allegations that the company deliberately shut down its power plants in California for a few days in June 2000, creating an artificial shortage and causing wholesale prices to skyrocket.

A spokesman for the US Attorney's office said he could not comment on pending cases, but he confirmed that his office is also seeking criminal indictments against several current and former Reliant employees whom he would not name. A Reliant spokesman said "the actions that are the subject of the United States Attorney's investigation were not in violation of laws, tariffs or regulations in effect at the time and intends vigorously to contest any charges."

The evidence the US Attorney's office will use against Reliant is a recorded transcript of a conversation between a Reliant electricity trader and a power plant operator that first emerged publicly a year ago. The conversation between the two employees seemed to settle the three-year long debate about the nature of California's energy crisis.

"[We] started out Monday losing $3 million... So, then we decided as a group that we were going to make it back up, so we turned like about almost every power plant off. It worked. Prices went back up. Made back about $4 million, actually more than that, $5 million," the Reliant trader says in a tape-recorded conversation on June 23, 2000.

The scheme worked. It caused power prices to reach "unjust" and "unreasonable" levels in California, which, under the Federal Power Act, is illegal.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency responsible for keeping the country's wholesale electricity and natural gas markets in check, released the transcript in February 2003 after announcing that Reliant agreed to refund California $13.8 million, without admitting guilt.

What's interesting about the allegations against Reliant is that the company has been connected to Cheney's energy task force, which met between January and March 2001 to work on Bush's National Energy Policy.

Reliant, along with Entergy and TXU, two other major electricity corporations based in Texas, hired Diane Allbaugh as a lobbyist. Allbaugh is the wife of Joe Allbaugh, "the only member of Bush's so-called iron triangle of trusted Texas cohorts to have served on the energy task force" and a director of the Federal Energy Management Agency, according to an Aug. 26, 2001 report in the Los Angeles Times.

Reliant, TXU and Entergy each paid Diane Allbaugh $20,000 for consulting work during the last three months of 2000, according to her January 2001 financial disclosure report. It's unclear whether she lobbied the energy task force on behalf of Reliant, TXU and Entergy, which would have certainly been a conflict-on-interest, but her husband, Joe Allbaugh, "has participated in task force talks with a direct bearing on the energy companies' interests generally, such as environmental rules for power plants and electricity deregulation--a specialty of his wife's," the Times reported.

"At least twice, Joe Allbaugh was privy to updates from (Bush) economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey (a former member of Enron's advisory board) on California's malfunctioning market, where Reliant stands accused by the state of overcharging," the Times reported.

According to evidence obtained by Congressman Henry Waxman, D-California, last year, the energy task force "considered and abandoned plans to address California's energy problems in its report."

Whether Joe Allbaugh or his wife Diane urged Cheney to abandon the issues related to California's energy crisis is unknown. Neither of them would return calls for comment and so far Cheney has refused to give up the names of the energy executives and lobbyists he met with. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take up that issue later this year.

However, it's not the first time, Diane Allbaugh has been questioned about corporate cronyism.

In 1996, the Dallas Morning News reported that Diane Allbaugh represented clients with interests in pending Texas state deregulation of telecommunications and utilities markets, while her husband served as then-Gov. Bush's chief of staff. At the time, Bush said he was troubled "if it creates a public perception that something unfair is taking place."

She eventually withdrew from the contracts she represented at the time.

While U.S. lawmakers continue to ask what the Bush administration knew about the 9-11 attacks and when they knew it, the same can be said about the administration's knowledge about the California energy crisis.

Did Cheney publicly deny that energy companies were manipulating the market because it would have derailed the National Energy Policy? Only a Magic Eight Ball can answer that question correctly, but there appeared to have been a coordinated effort by federal energy regulators to conceal smoking-gun evidence of market manipulation in California in May 2001 around the same time that Cheney released the final version of the National Energy Policy.

Another recorded conversation between two employees of Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams Cos. showed that the two men conspired to shut down a power plant in Southern California for two weeks to boost electricity prices and create an artificial shortage in the state. The scheme is identical to the one Reliant engaged in and took place during the same time, in June 2000.

But FERC, the nation's top energy watchdogs, kept the evidence under wraps and cut a deal with Williams in May 2001--the same month Cheney released the energy policy--agreeing to refund California $8 million it obtained through the scam, without admitting any guilt.

FERC released copies of the Williams transcripts in November 2002 after the Wall Street Journal sued the commission to obtain the full copy of its report.

It's possible that Bush, Cheney and members of the energy task force were kept in the dark about the Williams and Reliant scams, but given the administration's track record on other matters such as 9-11, the Iraq war, the Medicare legislation, etc., it doesn't seem likely.

Enron played key role in events presaging war
by Martin Yant

If you want power – be it political or electrical — you need connec tions. No one knew that better than the super-slick executives of Enron, who in the past year desperately tried to stave off the largest bankruptcy in history.

And when it came to connections, Enron had the best money could buy in George W. Bush, whose most generous campaign supporter to date has been longtime Enron head Kenneth Lay.

According to a recent report in The Nation, Bush’s connections with Enron go back to 1986, when the future president went from a struggling oilman to a millionaire through a series of deals and partnerships, one of which was with Enron and its new chairman, Lay.

The Nation had previously reported that, in late 1988, the then-president-elect’s son allegedly called Argentine cabinet minister Rodolfo Terragno to urge him to award a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Enron. Bush angrily denied the accusation when it was published in 1994, but Terragno recently stood by his claim in a commentary published in an Argentine daily newspaper.

“It looked bad and it surprised me,” Terragno said. “There was this political endorsement, apparently from the White House. I don’t know if George Bush the father was aware of it, or if it was only a business contact by his son, who hoped that his family name would have some influence.”

So, it should come as no surprise that Enron’s name has now surfaced as a major potential beneficiary of the proposed Afghanistan oil-and-gas pipeline the Bush administration purportedly pushed for during secret negotiations with the Taliban that started shortly after Bush took office and continued through August.

French intelligence analysts Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie claim in their book, Bin Laden, La Verite Interdite (Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth), that the administration’s main objective in the talks was to buy off the Taliban with promises of aid and international recognition in return for a pipeline to transport the oil and gas reserves in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Until now, the book says, “The oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that.”

A secondary American goal was to get the Taliban to turn over bin Laden, who had moved his terror network to Afghanistan in 1996. When the talks began last February, the Taliban regime reportedly indicated it might be willing to hand over bin Laden. But by June, Brisard and Dasquié write, the Taliban had changed its mind. “The U.S. thought they could ‘decouple’ Osama bin Laden from the Taliban,” Brisard says. “What they did not understand was that without bin Laden, the Taliban regime wouldn’t have existed.”

When the Taliban negotiators balked at the American proposals, Brisard told a wire service, U.S. representative Tom Simons bluntly told them that “either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.” Although he denied making that specific threat, Simons admitted to the British newspaper The Guardian that he told the Taliban negotiators “that military action was one of the options down the road” if they didn’t accede to America’s demands.

The Guardian speculated on September 21 that “the serious nature of what [the Taliban was] told raises the possibility that bin Laden, far from launching the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon out of the blue 10 days ago, was launching a preemptive strike in response to what he saw as U.S. threats.”

Brisard and Dasquie also report in their book that the administration had told U.S. intelligence agencies to “back off” their investigations of bin Laden during the negotiations, which could explain how numerous warnings of the September 11 suicide hijackings were missed.

Enron’s interest in the pipeline was part of an unsuccessful attempt by the Texas energy titan to get cheap liquid natural gas for its $3 billion power plant in Dabhol, India. The huge plant had become a white elephant when its electricity turned out to be several times more costly than its competitors’.

To help persuade the Taliban to approve the pipeline, Enron reportedly showered the regime with millions of dollars, some of which may have gone to bin Laden. The Bush administration’s attempt to help Enron is believed to be why it has gone to unprecedented lengths to conceal records on Vice President Cheney’s energy-task-force meetings in 2001.

The General Accounting Office has sued Cheney to get records concerning three secret meetings he reportedly had with Lay and other Enron executives in the first months of the Bush administration. It is the first time the nonpartisan agency has taken the executive branch of government to court to obtain records.

One possible result of Cheney’s meetings with Enron executives was a proposal of aid to India so it could increase its oil and natural gas production, which would give the Dabhol plant another potential source of cheap fuel.

Cheney is no stranger to America’s interest in the abundant energy resources of Central Asia and the Mideast. For several years before he was elected vice president, Cheney was CEO of Texas-based Halliburton, the world’s largest oil-services company. In that role Cheney helped broker a deal between Chevron (now ChevronTexaco) and Kazakhstan when he sat on the country’s oil advisory board. National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice was a Chevron director at the time.

According to The Financial Times, Cheney also oversaw $23.8 million in sales to Iraq in 1998 and 1999. That means that Cheney, who was paid $36 million in salary by Halliburton, profited from the destruction of Iraq that he supervised as secretary of defense during the Gulf War. While the sales were legal because of a 1998 U.N. resolution giving Iraq the right to resuscitate its oil industry, Halliburton reportedly made its equipment sales through foreign subsidiaries to avoid upsetting U.S. officials or Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein.

Last May, Cheney’s old company signed a 12-year contract with Azerbaijan, another energy-rich state in Central Asia. Azerbaijan is bordered on the south by Georgia, to which Bush has extended his ever-expanding war on terrorism.

Cheney’s task force was not the only place Enron was getting special attention in Washington. E-mails obtained by The Washington Post show that the National Security Council set up a “Dabhol Working Group” to help Enron to make its power plant competitive or to sell it.

Records obtained by The Post through a Freedom of Information Act request also showed that the working group’s plans in August included an “Enron trip” to a location officials blacked out before it was released. Plans for September included a visit to India by U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, a former paid Enron consultant.

The records also showed that Cheney raised the issue with Sonia Gandhi, leader of India’s Congress Party, in June and with Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh in October. Undersecretary of State Alan P. Larson reportedly also discussed Dabhol with Singh that month.

The Post said Larson revived the issue during a visit to India with Secretary of State Colin Powell in January, weeks after Enron had filed for bankruptcy protection. The Post said Powell himself warned Singh last April that “failure to resolve the matter could have a serious deterrent effect on other investors.”

The Bush administration justified helping Enron because the plant was partly financed through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which gave Enron $554 million in loans and $204 million in risk insurance, and the Export-Import Bank, which lent the company $675 million.

Not surprisingly, the federal investigation of possible fraud committed by Enron’s executives also has the company’s fingerprints all over it.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, for example, was hired by Enron in 1993 to investigate a $600,000 payment by a subsidiary for a property assessed at $41,000. When Mueller concluded the deal was not improper, a private investigator working on the case quit in protest. Despite this association, Mueller announced that it was not enough to cause him to step down from the Enron investigation. Mueller said that Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson — who previously worked for a law firm that represented Enron — agreed.

Enron was not the only potential beneficiary of the proposed pipeline in Afghanistan. Another key player was the Unocal oil conglomerate. In January 1998, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and the Taliban agreed to arrange funding on a proposed 890-mile, $3 billion pipeline in conjunction with a Unocal-led consortium. The proposed pipeline would transport natural gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to an Indian Ocean port in Pakistan.

Eight months later, however, Unocal announced it was suspending the project because of the U.S. government’s attack on a bin Laden terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in retaliation for the bombing of two American embassies in Africa. Another factor in its decision, Unocal said, was the fighting between the Taliban and rebel groups. Unocal stressed that the pipeline project would not be built until a coalition Afghan government was formed and internationally recognized. U.S. negotiators also pushed the Taliban toward this goal.

An army of officials in previous Republican administration has also been busy helping Unocal. Among them are former secretaries of state James A. Baker and Henry Kissinger and Robert Oakley, the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan who armed the mujahadeen in the 1980s. Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh identified Oakley as a key player in illegal arms shipments to Iran in return for funds sent to the right-wing contras in Nicaragua during that period.

Deputy Defense Secretary Richard Armitage is another Iran-contra conspirator who worked for Unocal. Armitage was also implicated in a lawsuit filed by villagers who suffered human-rights abuses during construction of a controversial Unocal pipeline in Burma for which Cheney’s Halliburton did contract work.

Unocal has two other important operatives. One is Hamid Karzai, Unocal’s former representative in Afghanistan who was handpicked by Bush to become head of Afghanistan’s interim government. The other is Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, another former Unocal aide, whom Bush appointed special envoy to Afghanistan. As a Unocal adviser, Khalilzad participated in Unocal’s talks with the Taliban in 1997. In a 1998 column in The Washington Post, Khalilzad argued that the Taliban was not a sponsor of terrorism and that the United States should reengage the regime. This was, of course, just what Unocal wanted.

Once in office, Afghan leader Karzai wasted little time trying to help his former employer. During his first visit to Pakistan on February 8, Karzai announced that he and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had agreed to revive the pipeline.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, another American ally in the U.S. war in Afghanistan, expressed delight with Karzai’s announcement, saying the pipeline would provide a crucial new export outlet for his country’s huge gas reserves. Karzai took the cue and visited the Turkmen despot within a month to get his endorsement of the pipeline plan.

If Bush follows up on his threats to attack Iraq, U.S. forces could also end up controlling the nation with the world’s second-largest oil reserve. At that point, Saudi Arabia, with its larger oil reserve, homebred terrorists and the terror network’s biggest financial supporters, would no longer be so important.

If Bush’s friends make a little money as a result, it just goes to show that while oil may not mix with water, it mixes very well with war. Unfortunately, very few have noticed the stench the deadly concoction gives off.

Martin Yant is the author of four books, including Desert Mirage: The True Story of the Gulf War.

Justice Scalia Gets Cheney Case Recusal Request

Mar 1, 12:41 pm ET
By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it referred to Justice Antonin Scalia a request that he remove himself from a case about Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force because their recent duck-hunting trip raised questions about his impartiality.

The Sierra Club environmental group, which sued Cheney for the task force papers, filed a motion last week asking that Scalia disqualify himself from the case because the January trip had created "an appearance of impropriety."

It said Scalia's removal would "restore public confidence in the integrity of our nation's highest court."

The justices said in a brief order, "In accordance with its historic practice, the court refers the motion to recuse in this case to Justice Scalia." It was not clear when Scalia would respond to the request.

He has defended his decision to go on the trip and said his impartiality could not be reasonably questioned.

According to the motion, Scalia and his daughter were Cheney's guests on Air Force Two on a Jan. 5 flight to Louisiana. Cheney and Scalia were guests of the president of an energy services company on a duck-hunting vacation.

Cheney is being sued by the Sierra Club and another group. They want him to release documents about White House contacts with the energy industry in 2001. The vice president has appealed to the Supreme Court a ruling ordering him to produce the documents.

In mid-December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Cheney's appeal. Oral arguments are expected in April.

If Scalia removed himself from the case, it would raise the prospect of a possible 4-4 vote. When the high court deadlocks, the lower court's ruling -- in this case the U.S. appeals court decision that went against Cheney -- is upheld.

At the end of last week, Scalia faced new questions about another trip he took in November 2001 to Kansas, where he also went hunting.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Scalia also spoke to the University of Kansas law school. At the time, its dean was serving as a lawyer for the state in two cases pending before the high court.

Scalia has removed himself from one high-profile case before the high court this term.

He is not taking part in the case that will decide whether recitation in public schools of the Pledge of Allegiance represents an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion because of the phrase "under God."

Scalia removed himself after giving a speech in which he questioned both the appeals court's ruling in the case and whether courts should remove religious symbols and phrases from public life.