Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Huh?: I've got to confess I'm befuddled by this maneuver.
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday asked a judge overseeing a racketeering case against major cigarette makers to impose a long list of penalties on the companies, including a nationwide stop-smoking program and restrictions on tobacco marketing.
"During the course of this trial, the United States has met its burden of proof," Justice Department attorney Sharon Eubanks said as closing arguments started. She described a "decades-long pattern of material misrepresentations, half-truths, deceptions and lies that continue to this day."
But the department backed off the 25-year, $130 billion smoking cessation program suggested by government witness Michael C. Fiore, a medical professor at the University of Wisconsin. Instead, the government suggested the companies pay for a five-year, $10 billion program.
Justice Department attorneys did not explain the reduction, but cigarette makers saw it as a positive sign.
I must confess that I don't see this as a positive sign. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales needs to tell us what the heck is going on.