Friday, February 13, 2009

Terrorist Bankers

February 13, 2009, 8:50 a.m.

Understandable -- and Productive -- "Public Anger"
(brought to you by*)

After eight years of hunting, America's top intelligence and law enforcement agencies have finally found the most deadly terrorists threatening our nation's national security.

Who are they?


I'm not kidding. Read on.

There's been an almost "boys will be boys" reaction in Washington to the destruction of the American economy by those very generous campaign contributors who call themselves "masters of the universe." Few have been removed from power or had their pay cut, none (to my knowledge) has been required to pay back any of their past obscenely large and ill-gotten gains, and a statistically insignificant number have even apologized for the harm they've caused -- let alone been prosecuted and sent to prison.

There are undoubtedly "a few good apples" somewhere in that rotten barrel, but they are few and far between.

For the most part, those whose incompetence, irresponsibility, immorality, criminality and greed have created widespread hardship on the American people (and much of the rest of the world) have been very slow to "get it." "Why do they hate us?" they seem to be asking from the comforts of their $1 million redecorated offices, $50 million private jets, and posh resort retreats.

Well, now that "public anger" has become a political force of some consequence at least some of our elected officials (to whom these guys must come for more trillions of our taxpayer dollars) are trying to explain it to some of their most generous contributors.

"'Alleviating that public anger, not with mumbo jumbo but with reality, is essential if we’re going to have the support of the country,' House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said today at a hearing in Washington," speaking to eight CEOs of some of the nation's largest banks. Alison Vekshin, "Congress Tells Bank Chiefs to Lend, Ease Public Anger," Bloomberg, February 11, 2009.

At long last we may now have even more basis for our "public anger" and a sense of accomplishment for expressing it.

No more "boys will be boys."

Dennis C. Blair, our new intelligence czar (Director of National Intelligence), speaking for the federal government's "intelligence community" has just told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the wreckage caused by our nation's irresponsible, selfish CEOs has now "outpaced terrorism as the most urgent threat facing the United States" (excerpts from the Times' February 13 story below).

Apparently the FBI agrees. "With thousands of [corporate and "an even bigger mountain of" mortgage] fraud investigations under way [including "some of the biggest names in corporate finance"], the FBI is considering shifting agents away from counterterrorism work to help sort through the wreckage of the financial meltdown. . . ." (more excerpts from the Bloomberg report below).

Perhaps our elected officials -- who quickly spring to action with trillions for the nation's bankers, but tell us it will be "a few weeks" before they will be able to focus on the human carnage those bankers have caused among the officials' constituents -- will be willing to give a little more attention to prosecuting these terrorists and criminals among us, normally very handy and popular targets for politicians, now that they have been identified as such by the intelligence and crime fighting agencies of our government.

Watch this space. Let's see.

Here are excerpts from the referenced stories:

Mark Mazzetti, "Global Economy Top Threat to U.S., Spy Chief Says,"
New York Times, February 13, 2009
The new director of national intelligence told Congress on Thursday that global economic turmoil and the instability it could ignite had outpaced terrorism as the most urgent threat facing the United States.

The assessment underscored concern inside America’s intelligence agencies not only about the fallout from the economic crisis around the globe, but also about long-term harm to America’s reputation. The crisis that began in American markets has already “increased questioning of U.S. stewardship of the global economy,” the intelligence chief, Dennis C. Blair, said in prepared testimony.

Mr. Blair’s comments were particularly striking because they were delivered as part of a threat assessment to Congress that has customarily focused on issues like terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Mr. Blair singled out the economic downturn as “the primary near-term security concern” for the country, and he warned that if it continued to spread and deepen, it would contribute to unrest and imperil some governments.

“The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests,” he said. . . .

Mr. Blair delivered his assessment to the Senate Intelligence Committee, in what was the new administration’s first public recitation of the national security challenges facing the United States. . . .

Mr. Blair’s focus on the world economy was a surprise to some senators. . . ."

Devlin Barrett, "FBI may shift counterterror agents to anti-fraud," Associated Press/Yahoo! News, February 11, 2009:
With thousands of fraud investigations under way, the FBI is considering shifting agents away from counterterrorism work to help sort through the wreckage of the financial meltdown. . . .

[FBI Deputy Director John] Pistole told Congress his investigators have 530 active corporate fraud investigations, and 38 of them involve some of the biggest names in corporate finance — cases directly related to the current crisis.

In addition, FBI investigators are tackling an even bigger mountain of mortgage fraud cases in which hundreds of millions of dollars may have been swindled . . . more than double the number of such cases just two years ago . . . industry professionals generating fraud schemes that could total as much as hundreds of millions of dollars . . . 'lawyers, brokers or real estate professionals . . . systematically trying to defraud the system,' Pistole said . . . [including] some instances of organized crime getting involved in mortgage fraud . . ..
"If You Can't Trust Your Banker . . ."

[Credit: "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres," Maverick, 2nd Season, 1958. The popular early television series, Maverick, "starring James Garner and Jack Kelly, remains the most famous and widely discussed episode of the Western comedy television series Maverick. Written by Roy Huggins and Douglas Heyes and directed by Leslie H. Martinson, this 1958 second season episode depicts gambler Bret Maverick (James Garner) being swindled by a crooked banker (John Dehner) after depositing the proceeds from a late-night poker game, then recruiting his brother Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) to mount an elaborate sting operation to recover the money." It's also the source of two oft-quoted lines: "If you can't trust your banker, whom can you trust?" and "I'm working on it." See, "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres,"]


Related Blog Entries on Global Economy and Bailouts

Nicholas Johnson, "Who's The Reason?" September 5, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "How Much Do You Owe the Chinese?" September 6, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Taxpayer Rescue," September 15, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Global Finance: The Great Fountain Pen Robbery," September 21, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Alternatives to 'The Plan,'" September 28, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Better Alternatives to Congress' Bailout Plan," October 2, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Can We Trust Our Bankers?" October 29, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "It's the Economy," November 7, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Jobs, Not Unemployment, Key to Recovery," November 8, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Trust Your Instincts, Auto Bailout's Terrible Idea," November 14, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Auto Bailout: An Open Letter to Congress," November 19, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "A Trillion Here, a Trillion There," November 20, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "FromDC2Iowa's Weekend Edition," November 21, 2008 ("The Answer to Global Economic Collapse" and "Auto Bailout: 'Show Me the . . . Plan'")

Nicholas Johnson, "Citigroup Deal Stinks," November 25, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Only Select Few Are Thankful for Trillions," November 27, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Auto Loan Makes Too Few Dollars Even Less Sense," December 4, 2008

Nicholas Johnson,"Quick Fix for the Economy," December 12, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "You Know It's Serious When We Start Laughing," December 15, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "A Car in Every Garage," December 16, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Forget Madoff, Focus on Bernanke," December 17, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Of Theaters and Automobiles," December 20, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "There's Bad News and . . . and . . .," December 21, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Et Tu, Toyota?" December 22, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "Revolting Developments," December 23, 2008

Nicholas Johnson, "First Things First," January 8, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "Why We Should 'Point Fingers' and 'Look Backwards,'" January 13, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "Fool Me Twice," January 14, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "Economic Sorrows and Solutions," January 27, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "No More for Wall Street!" February 1, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "Hang Onto Your Wallet," February 5, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "Quick Fix: Support Jobless, Not Bankers," February 7, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "Geithner's Same Old, Same Old," February 10, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "Terrorist Bankers," February 13, 2009

* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself. -- Nicholas Johnson

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