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Santa Fe New Mexican: Saturday, February 5, 2005 - Page 1

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   New Mexican (Newspaper) - February 5, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico                                Saturday February THE MEW MEXICAN A3 Ruling Justice Department cant seek billion The Associated Press WASHINGTON The decision comes in the midst of a monthslong trial in District Court governments lawsuit contending the industry knew about the health dangers of smoking but hid that information from the public The trial will continue while the govern ment considers an appeal Even if the decision stands District Judge Gladys Kessler could impose restrictions on the tobacco companies such as limiting market ing or requiring the industry to fund public health campaigns or smoking cessation programs Still the appeals court decision was a major win for tobacco compa nies Wall Street greeted it by send ing stock prices of cigarette makers sharply higher Charles A Blixt executive vice president and general counsel for R J Reynolds Tobacco said the ruling dramatically transforms the governments lawsuit Government lawyers were review ing the ruling and had no immedi ate comment Justice Department spokeswoman Kunberly Smith said Government lawyers could request a rehearing in front of the three judges ask for the full appeals court to consider the case or appeal to the Supreme Court Robert Mintz a former federal prosecutor now in private practice in New Jersey said the decision lowers the stakes for the tobacco companies potentially clearing the way for a settlement The decision significantly changes the leverage that the gov ernment had going into the he said The billion is the most ever sought in a civil racketeering trial The government has described the sum as an estimate of money the Todays ruling should not be an excuse for this administration to seek a weak settlement that lets the tobacco industry off the WILLIAM executive director of Campaign for TobaccoFree Kids companies earned illegally through fraudulent activities such as mar keting to children and denying doing so The trial which comes six years after the states reached settlements worth billion with the industry to recoup the cost of treating sick smokers is in its fifth month and probably will continue for several more The Justice Department is pursu ing the case using a 1970 civil rack eteering statute originally designed to prosecute mobsters To win the government must show the indus try still is acting fraudulently or is likely to do so in the future Last year Kessler ruled the gov ernment could seek the penalty called a under the racketeering statute The tobacco companies appealed and the appel late court sided with them ruling the government cant recover any money using the racketeering law because the statute requires for wardlooking Disgorgement is a remedy aimed at past Judge David Sentelle wrote in the latest ruling He was joined by Judge Stephen Williams Bothwere appointed by President Reagan In dissent Judge David Tatel said his colleagues ignored Supreme Court precedent misread the law and contradicted the decision of another appeals court the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York Tatel was appointed by Presi dent Clinton Jamin Raskin a law professor at American University said the deci sion is a big win for tobacco but the game isnt over Tatels strong dissent gives the government strong grounds for an appeal he said William V Corr executive direc tor of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids urged the government to continue pressing its case Todays ruling should not be an excuse for this administration to seek a weak settlement that lets the tobacco industry off the he said Bush will ask for billion for defense to beef up military The Associated Press WASHINGTON Presi dent Bush will ask Congress for billion for the Pentagon for next year percent more than this years spending as the admin istration seeks to beef up and reshape the Army and Marine Corps for fighting terrorism The request will not include money for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Congress already has appropriated billion for those this year and the White House is planning to request another billion soon The president plans to roll out his military spending proposal Monday as part of a roughly trillion overall federal budget But docu ments obtained by The Asso ciated Press on Friday show he will request billion more for the Defense Depart ment than its billion budget this year The proposal will include restructuring and expanding the Army and adding more combat and support units for the Marine Corps It reflects Defense Secretary Donald H Rumsfelds efforts to transform the Gold Warstyle military into one thats more rapidly deployable to fight terrorist groups Under Bushs plan defense spending would gradually grow to billion by 2011 The proposal according to one of the documents sup ports the war on terrorism by strengthening defense capabilities and keeping forces combat ready It con tinues to implement lessons learned from ongoing opera tions in the Those include The need for flexible and adaptable joint military strong special operations forces highly responsive logistics and the best possible intelligence and communications The plan calls for special operations forces which the documents described as crit ical to the fight against ter to add troops and the forces would get million to keep them from leaving the services The president also wants Congress to let him spend million as he chooses to sn help Iraq Afghanistan and allies opposing terror ism bolster their military and security forces In the past lawmakers have proven reluctant to give Bush unfet tered control of such funds but have generally complied Overall the proposal calls for the Navy Marines and Air Force to receive extra funds next year but the Armys budget would take a mil lion reduction to billion even though its bearing the brunt of the costs and fight ing in Iraq and Afghanistan However the billion Bush plans to request in the coming days for Iraq and Afghanistan is expected be tilted heav ily toward the Army Bush plans to propose billion to fight chemical and biological threats next year and billion over the next five years And he would allocate billion for homeland security activities next year and billion for training maintenance and other readiness programs Despite the overall mili tary increase the Pentagons account for purchasing new weapons wouldactually incur a million cut next year to billion The proposal underscores how huge federal deficits are affecting even the Defense Department long one of Bushs top More than half the total defense increase bil lion would be for training maintenance and other costs associated with keeping the military ready for action Most of the rest would go for military salaries and con struction of bases and hous ing The proposal calls for increasing military base salaries by percent and civilian salaries by per cent It also calls for giving troops more money for hous ing and giving reservists bet ter health care coverage and 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