The Committee's report also examined the circumstances surrounding the Attorney General's recommendation that charges against Anderson be diluted from culpable homicide to criminal negligence. It transpires that the Indian Embassy in Washington paid its law firm Verner Liipfert $15,000 for providing legal opinion on the possibility of extradition under the provision of the Indo-US Treaty and US federal laws. The law firm questioned the strength of evidence against Anderson, ignoring evidence of culpability supplied by the CBI and concluding that there was no published precedent for extraditing a corporate official on manslaughter charges. It then added the proviso that the U.S. Secretary of State is in any case empowered to decline extradition based on diplomatic or humanitarian concerns.
Bhopal.net can exclusively reveal the impartiality of the law firm employed to be highly questionable. Verner Liipfert are not just a law office, they are the second biggest political lobbyists in the US - one of "Washington's elite lobbyists" - representing "protected" industries, including the likes of Philip Morris. In one recent year they spent $18,775,000 of clients' money on lobbying.
# They have worked as anti-Superfund (polluter pays) lobbyists, a cause also pursued by Dow and Union Carbide.
# In 1997-98 Carbide, Dow and Verner Liipfert contributed campaign funds to several of the same, mostly Republican electoral candidates, including Bart Stupak, Kay Bailey and Mike Ferguson.
# James H. Blanchard, a partner at the company, served on the board of telecoms company Nortel Networks at the same time as Paul Orrefice, former chairman of the board of Dow Chemical, who is accredited with developing the chemical industry's Responsible Care programme along with Robert Kennedy of Carbide.
# In 2000 Clinton Vince of Verner-Liipfert served on the executive committee of the Keystone Center, which counted vice president of Dow Lawrence Washington among its Trustees.
A company so enmeshed in 'soft money' campaigning, big business and the American Right is a rather odd choice of law firm for the Indian Attorney General to consult about the extradition of Warren Anderson. We await the Indian Government's imminent report on its Action Taken over Anderson's extradition with deep interest.
Read V. Venkatesan's Frontline article on extradition and the Lok Sabha here.