Monday, December 14, 2009

"Follow the Money!" Drug Money Saved Banks in Global Crisis & ISP's Guilty As Charged (of Venality, Etc., Etc.)

One of my worst fears since the announcement of the previous unknown terrible state of financial affairs at the end of the Bush/Cheney financial fiasco, which required emptying the public treasury into the pockets of its attackers, has been that so many scandals would be thrown at the public after they had exited the scene that no one could keep up and therefore no accounting would ever be possible (in a timely manner anyway) - at least in a world of cautious cost accounting which we pretend to admire and plan for but never actually achieve. The cost accounting of our lost right to privacy will never be even tried.

So, according to the latest news we are just lucky that there is so much illegal drug trade as a UN advisor has advised us solemnly that "Drug Money Saved Banks in Global Crisis." (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Drugs and crime chief says $352bn in criminal proceeds was effectively laundered by financial institutions
From The Observer, we read:

Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' Drugs and Crime Tsar has told The Observer.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result. This will raise questions about crime's influence on the economic system at times of crisis. It will also prompt further examination of the banking sector as world leaders, including Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, call for new International Monetary Fund regulations. Speaking from his office in Vienna, Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor," he said. Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, he said. "Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities... There were signs that some banks were rescued that way." Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drugs money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. But he said the money is now a part of the official system and had been effectively laundered. "That was the moment [last year] when the system was basically paralysed because of the unwillingness of banks to lend money to one another. The progressive liquidisation to the system and the progressive improvement by some banks of their share values [has meant that] the problem [of illegal money] has become much less serious than it was," he said.

. . . Gangs are now believed to make most of their profits from the drugs trade and are estimated to be worth £352bn, the UN says. They have traditionally kept proceeds in cash or moved it offshore to hide it from the authorities. It is understood that evidence that drug money has flowed into banks came from officials in Britain, Switzerland, Italy and the US.

Tom Burghardt of Black-Listed News tells us (once again) when some "dirty business is the subversion of the American people's right to privacy, there's also nothing quite like economic self-interest for ensuring that a cone of silence descends over matters best left to the experts; a veritable army of specialists squeezing singular advantage out of any circumstance, regardless of how dire the implications for our democracy" to: FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!" (SUCKERS). (And that (also once again) "(D)emocracy is not a spectator sport!") Remember it! (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)
And why not. As the interface between state and private criminality, following the money trail is oxygen and combustible fuel for rooting out corruption in high places: indelible signs left behind like toxic tracks by our sociopathic masters.

After all, there's nothing quite like exposing an exchange of cold, hard cash from one greedy fist to another to focus one's attention on the business at hand.

And when that dirty business is the subversion of the American people's right to privacy, there's also nothing quite like economic self-interest for ensuring that a cone of silence descends over matters best left to the experts; a veritable army of specialists squeezing singular advantage out of any circumstance, regardless of how dire the implications for our democracy.

In light of this recommendation researcher Christopher Soghoian, deploying the tools of statistical analysis and a keen sense of outrage, reaffirmed that "Internet service providers and telecommunications companies play a significant, yet little known role in law enforcement and intelligence gathering."

That the American people have been kept in the dark when it comes to this and other affairs of state, remain among the most closely-guarded open secrets of what has euphemistically been called the "NSA spying scandal."

And when the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted thousands of pages of documents "detailing behind-the-scenes negotiations between government agencies and Congress about providing immunity for telecoms involved in illegal government surveillance" last month, they lifted the lid on what should be a major scandal, not that corporate media paid the least attention.

A lid that Obama's "change" regime hopes to slam back down as expeditiously as possible.

Hoping to forestall public suspicions of how things actually work in Washington, the administration has declared that "it will continue to block the release of additional documents, including communications within the Executive Branch and records reflecting the identities of telecoms involved in lobbying for immunity," according to EFF's Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl.

No small matter, considering that should a court ever find avaricious telecoms and ISPs liable for violating the rights of their customers, fines could mount into the billions. Even in today's climate of corporate bailouts and "too big to fail" cash gifts to executive suite fraudsters, damages, both in monetary terms and adverse publicity, would hardly be chump change.

Hence, last year's mad scramble for the retroactive immunity avidly sought by these grifters and granted by congressional con men on both sides of the aisle when they passed the despicable FISA Amendments Act, hastily signed into law by our former "war president."

Without belaboring the point that corporate media largely failed to expose the extent of the dirty deals struck amongst these scofflaws, Soghoian, a graduate student no less, stepped into the breech and filled some necessary gaps in the surveillance story. Believing, naïvely perhaps, that numbers don't lie and that laying out the facts might just wake us from our deadly slumber, Soghoian writes: "If you were to believe the public surveillance statistics, you might come away with the idea that government surveillance is exceedingly rare in the United States."

. . . "How often are Internet communications being monitored, and what kind of orders are required in order to do so."Unsurprisingly, the threshold for obtaining personal records is exceedingly low and "very few of these methods require an intercept order."

All the government need do to obtain a pen register or trap and trace order, which examine to/from/subject lines of email messages, URLs of viewed web pages, search terms, telephone numbers dialed and the like, is to unilaterally declare that information obtained via this backdoor route is "relevant" to an ongoing criminal or counterterrorist investigation.

In other words, give us everything we want and move along!

The nation's telecoms and ISPs have been very accommodating in this regard. And, as with other recent historical examples that come to mind such as the rush by U.S. firms to "rebuild" Iraq, Afghanistan and other benighted nations "liberated" by that "shining city upon a hill" that bombs, maims and generally does what it pleases because it can, servicing the secret state's limitless appetite for "actionable intelligence" has proven to be a very lucrative cash cow indeed.

Open a Can of Worms and Blood-Sucking Night Crawlers Slither Out

Deciding to "follow the money," Soghoian hoped "to determine how often Internet firms were disclosing their customers' private information to the government." As often as possible as it turns out. Describing the nexus between Sprint Nextel and the secret state, Soghoian discloses:

Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers' (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers.

Read on if you dare. "Nothing new here. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." Suzan _______________________

4 comments:

TomCat said...

I understand that Obama is trying to shame the banksters today. It is an exercise in futility. As your piece demonstrates all too well, they have no shame.

rjs said...

Widespread oil theft by drug traffickers deals major blow to Mexico's government - (washingtonpost)
Drug traffickers employing high-tech drills, miles of rubber hose and a fleet of stolen tanker trucks have siphoned more than $1 billion worth of oil from Mexico's pipelines over the past two years, in a vast and audacious conspiracy that is bleeding the national treasury, according to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials and the state-run oil company. Using sophisticated smuggling networks, the traffickers have transported a portion of the pilfered petroleum across the border to sell to U.S. companies, some of which knew that it was stolen, according to court documents and interviews with American officials involved in an expanding investigation of oil services firms in Texas.

Suzan said...

It's always been a mystery to me, TC, how completely honorable people expect the dishonorable to exhibit shame or some acknowledgement of the goodness of honorable behavior.

THAT'S NOT WHOM THEY ARE OR WANT TO BE.

I never shout otherwise, but it seems to me to be something that we should be shouting out on a daily basis from the rooftops.

To get the point across FINALLY.

Thanks for commenting. It's always good to hear from you, friend.

And RJS, JEEZ!, is there any type of behavior we should NOT expect from thieves, murderers and all-round scoundrels? None that I've witnessed in the last 30 years.

If people don't stop waiting for an apology and just get on with the trials, we are done for. Absolutely.

Thanks for keeping us up to date on the continuing criminals' conspiracies.

Yuk.

Oh yeah, Happy Holidays!

S

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