FROM THE ARCHIVE
Federal judge holding secret trust fund hearing
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MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2001

The federal judge overseeing the class action trust fund against the government is holding a secret hearing today to address computer security issues.

Secretary of Interior Gale Norton does not want any documents regarding her department's computer network to be released. She has filed motions to prevent U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth from making public investigations by special master Alan Balaran and five pages of a report she paid EDS Corporation nearly $3 million to assess trust reform.

But Lamberth has hinted repeatedly he may unseal the reports. At a status hearing on Friday, he said EDS has raised questions about the government's ability to adequately maintain 300,000 American Indian and 1,400 tribal trust accounts.

Tribal leaders have asked for the documents as well, citing a right to know about their trust assets. The producers of The Wall Street Journal also want the documents made public.

Dennis Gingold, a lawyer representing the Indian beneficiaries said he expects the reports to be made public by tomorrow. He also said today's secret hearing will probably be followed by an on-the-record session due to widespread "public interest."

Lamberth's hearing is the second he has held on information technology security. On Thanksgiving eve, he held a private, one-sided hearing with Department of Justice attorneys regarding computer issues.

At the time, government attorneys said they would oppose any public disclosures and wanted to talk to a third-party contractor about several issues.

It is those positions Lamberth is to rule on imminently.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton set for 'worst nightmare' (12/3)
Okla. leaders question Norton's plan (12/3)

Relevant Links:
Office of the Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
Trust Management Improvement Project - http://www.doi.gov/bia/trust/tmip.htm
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

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