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The GAO report makes clear that the urgency of the crisis has meant that oversight procedures have taken a backseat. It concludes in part:

Because TARP is relatively new, and because the crisis makes immediate action imperative, Treasury is operating on a number of fronts concurrently. It is setting up programs and establishing oversight policies and procedures at the same time. As a result, we are seeing some lag in administrative efforts -- for example, internal controls -- as the programs proceed. ...

Treasury has not yet set up policies and procedures to help ensure that [Capital Purchase Program] funds are being used as intended.

And it recommends that those procedures be set up as soon as practicable.

The report is now available online (pdf).

Check out this nugget from page 15 of the GAO report on how Treasury is spending the bailout money:

[Treasury's Office of Financial Stability] has not yet determined if it will impose reporting requirements on the participating financial institutions that could enable OFS to monitor, to some extent, how the financial institutions are using capital infusions.
In other words, Treasury may not force banks even to tell the department how the banks using the billions of dollars they're getting. It's a no-strings-attached deal, it would seem.

More to come...

A just-released report by the Government Accountability Office on how the Treasury Department is using the $700 billion allocated to it by Congress for the financial bailout reaches some discouraging conclusions.

It finds that:

Treasury has yet to address a number of critical issues, including determining how it will ensure that CPP is achieving its intended goals and monitoring compliance with limitations on executive compensation and dividend payments. Moreover, further actions are needed to formalize transition planning efforts and establish an effective management structure and an essential system of internal control.

We're looking through the report here at TPMmuckraker and will bring you more detail as we find it...

A staffer for the Georgia senator says unequivocally that Isakson isn't blocking a vote on the nomination of Neil Barofsky to be bailout IG.

As for Voinovich of Ohio, a reader reports that a staffer in his office "said that he has not done it as far as they are aware and feel that if he had done it he would have announced that he did it. They said he is pro-oversight and just sent a letter to Pelosi and Reid requesting that a bailout overseer be assigned for the auto industry package."

That's 13 out of 49 largely ruled out. Keep making those calls!

Birmingham mayor Larry Langford was arrested Monday on charges of steering sewer contracts to a friend while on the commission of Jefferson County, which is now near bankruptcy. The FBI handed down a 101-count indictment for the Democratic "Mayor LaLa" as well as Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre, who both had posts in the local Democratic party, accusing the men of a "pay to play" scheme involving bribes of $12,000 watches and spa treatment. Langford, elected in March, has earned a reputation for an unorthodox approach to urban revitalization, which has included handing out a $10,000 contract to a 13-year-old girl interested in improving parks. (AP)

Trial opens at 10am today for the high-profile case that pits civil liberty groups against the Bush administration and telephone companies, who are being sued for illegally granting the government access to consumer records. Congress passed a bill in July that would give the businesses immunity, a move prosecutors say is unconstitutional. (Wired)

The indictments brought against Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales by a south Texas district attorney were dismissed yesterday on a legal technicality, with the judge ruling that "two alternate jurors had not been properly substituted." Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra, who had charges against him for extorting money from a bail bond company and using his office for personal business dismissed last month, had accused Cheney and others of prisoner abuse. The judge issued a warning to Guerra -- who will step down from his post in January -- to be more judicious in his criminal prosecutions. (AP)

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Jury selection began today in the retrial of David Safavian, the Jack Abramoff crony who served as the top procurement official in the Bush White House.

Safavian was convicted in 2006 of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about his work with Abramoff, as well as concealing information about a golf junket he took to St. Andrews, Scotland with Abramoff and convicted former GOP congressman Bob Ney, among others. But that conviction was thrown out on appeal. He was then re-indicted in October, on charges of obstructing justice, lying on a financial disclosure form and providing false statements to various investigators.

The Washington Post reports that, in addition to the standard questions, the judge in the trial today asked potential jurors whether they played any golf. It's unclear whether that would increase or decrease their chances of being picked.

Regular readers may remember that Safavian's alleged love of golf was a major focus of the original trial.

Earlier we noted that, in speaking this morning about Eric Holder, his pick for Attorney General, Barack Obama seemed to go out of his way to suggest that Holder would reverse the politicization of DOJ that we saw under President Bush and Alberto Gonzales.

Holder's own remarks backed up that notion. He said:

It is incumbent upon those of us who lead the Department to ensure not only that the nation is safe but also that our laws and traditions are respected. There is not a tension between those two. We can and we must ensure that the American people remain secure and that the great constitutional guarantees that define us as a nation are truly valued. For example, working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, should I be confirmed, we look forward to actually structuring policies that are both protective and consistent with who we are as a nation.

And Holder included an interesting hint suggesting that he may be more aggressive than his predecessors under Bush in going after corporate malfeasance -- specifically, one would assume, in regard to the current financial crisis:
National security concerns are not defined only by the challenges created by terrorists abroad, but also by criminals in our midst, whether they be criminals located on the street or in a boardroom.

Holder's full remarks follow after the jump...

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Staffers for both GOP senators have told our readers unequivocally that it wasn't Hatch or Corker that placed the hold on the nomination of Neil Barofsky to be inspector general for the bailout money.

So what have we learned so far?

Seven senators' offices have said unequivocally that they're not responsible: Coburn, Dole, Allard, Coleman, Warner, Hatch, and Corker.

In addition, staffers for four more -- Shelby, Sessions, Inhofe, and Bond -- have given versions of "not to my knowledge", meaning these senators probably aren't prime suspects, though they can't be definitively struck from the list.

That leaves 38 more from whom we've yet to hear anything. (Remember, until January there are still 49 GOP senators.)

Meanwhile, we've left two messages with the office of Jim Bunning, the Kentucky GOP senator who during a recent hearing expressed his opposition to Barofsky's appointment, but have heard nothing back.

Maybe our Bluegrass state readers will have more luck...

In response to our quest to figure out which GOP senator is blocking the nomination of Neil Barofsky to be inspector general for the bailout money, Paul Blumenthal of the Sunlight Foundation, a good government organization, provides some key background on how these Senate holds work:

We've had our fair share of experience with secret holds, having fought to reveal the identities of those secretly blocking the Coburn-Obama bill (FFATA) and the campaign finance e-filing bill (S. 223). The first thing of note is that secret holds were, for the most part, abolished during the 110th Congress. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act mandated the disclosure of the identity of a senator secretly blocking a "measure or matter" "not later than 6 session days" after the initiation of the hold.

The Barofsky nomination provides a good example of the loopholes in this mandate of disclosure. If a bill or, in this case, a nomination comes up prior to a long recess, the disclosure of the offending senator's identity will have to wait until the Senate reconvenes for at least 6 session days, not calendar days. So far, since the nomination was blocked, the Senate convened for two session days. While they are expected to convene tomorrow for a pro forma session, it is unknown whether the Senate will convene for four more days by the end of the year.

In other words, if the Senate does end up convening for four more days this session, we could soon find out the mystery senator's identity -- though how that would actually play out in practice remains unknown.

But if, on the other hand, the Senate doesn't meet for four more days this session, we could never know, and the hold could remain in place at least until the new Congress convenes.

Meanwhile, reports from readers continue to pour in -- more soon.

A staffer for the outgoing Virginia senator confirms to a reader that he didn't put a hold on Neil Barofsky's nomination to be bailout IG.