'Scandalous' trust material won't be excised
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Calling it an exercise in "frivolity," the federal judge overseeing the Indian trust fund rejected a motion to remove information about a senior trust official from court documents and the Internet.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth yesterday made short order of the request, made by attorneys for Secretary of Interior Gale Norton. They claimed that the Cobell plaintiffs made a "scandalous attack" on one of her aides, Office of Historical Trust Accounting (OHTA) Director Bert T. Edwards.

"Mr. Edwards is a public servant, but this fact does not provide plaintiffs with a license to tar him personally and professionally in this highly public and vicious fashion," the government wrote in a February 10 filing.

Keith Harper, a Native American Rights Fund (NARF) concurred with the scandalous nature of the situation. "What's scandalous is that a senior official in the Department of Interior can lie with impunity," he said. "We agree it's scandalous. This whole things a scandal."

The plaintiffs have asked Lamberth to hold Edwards in contempt for perjurious statements he made under oath about efforts to provide an historical accounting to more than 500,000 Indian beneficiaries. More than a year ago, Edwards told the court that the undertaking would include an accounting of property owned by the account holders.

But in January, the department backed away from those plans and offered a much more limited proposal. When asked to reconcile the shift in position, Edwards simply stated: "Well, in 13 months minds are changed."

Edwards is a former Clinton administration official who worked for the Department of State. He is a former Arthur Andersen partner.

Get the Decision:
Denying Defendants' Motion to Strike Scandalous Materials (March 3, 2003)

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

Related Stories:
New Bush budget aims to improve trust fund (02/04)
Lost land base won't be included in accounting (01/08)
Norton to fight IIM accounting (1/7)
Bush plans 'half-baked' accounting of trust (01/06)
Edwards: Slonaker changed mind on accounts (12/23)

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