I was surprised to learn today that WikiLeaks had published glowing praise for Dead Tree Edition's coverage of black-liquor tax credits. Especially considering the source.
"I love Dead Tree Edition's coverage of the issue. Complex situation, but the blogger boils it down pretty nicely," wrote Joseph de Feo in a 2010 email to colleagues at Stratfor, Inc. in reference to U.S. Taxpayers' Black Liquor Tab Surpasses $30 Billion.
WikiLeaks refers to Stratfor as "a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations," which is why it published more than 5 million of the company's internal emails. The emails reveal that Stratfor did work for the American Forest and Paper Association, which supported the black-liquor tax credits. (Note this correspondence referencing a meeting between an AF&PA official and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, a key player in the black liquor story who may become the next U.S. ambassador to China.)
"The Small Business Jobs Act that Obama just signed included a CBP [Cellulosic Biofuel Producer] modification that supposedly nets the government nearly $2 billion by removing crude tall oil's eligibility for the tax credit -- and Dead Tree Edition says that it never would have qualified anyway," de Feo continued. "So the $2 billion in savings is made up. Which would be perfectly consistent with all we've already seen on black liquor. Accuse something (falsely) of being costly, shut it down and claim the (false) savings, skewing budget numbers."
"When corporations do this, doesn't someone usually go to jail?" concluded de Feo, who was a Stratfor analyst and briefer and is now the chief operating officer at Keyframe Policy Consulting, a Stratfor spinoff.
De Feo was referring to just one of about 50 articles Dead Tree Edition has published showing how billions of dollars from federal biofuels programs was diverted to black-liquor subsidies for U.S. pulp companies. As he noted, a recurring theme of the twisted tale is how the subsidies were used to skew federal budget numbers so that Congress could shell out more taxpayer money.
The most recent article in the series is IRS Inaction Leads to Another Black-Liquor Windfall for U.S. Paper Companies.