Saturday, February 5, 2011

(This "Road Leads To Cairo") Mets & FCIC Turn Blind Eye & Corrupt Country: Pentagon Paid Billions to Fraudsters & Torture Bradley Manning

(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)

Rummy Outed (By Self) And He Doesn't Even See It

Unrepentant Rumsfeld: Iraqi Deaths, Torture Worth It

Former Defense Secretary Remains Largely Unapologetic in Memoir

And this was the guy described by the in-crowd in hallowed times as "brilliant." Teaches one a striking lesson about gossip, doesn't it? And on another purblind front, where did all that Mets moolah come from? From home plate we learn (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

NEW YORK — The owners of the Mets turned a blind eye to Bernard Madoff’s massive fraud, reaping $300 million in false profits and using a large chunk to run the team, according to a lawsuit unsealed Friday.

The lawsuit claims the owners were so dependent on the disgraced financier’s too-good-to-be-true returns that they "faced a severe and immediate liquidity crisis" when Madoff’s crimes were revealed in 2009.

The searing allegations were made by Irving Picard, the trustee appointed to recover funds for investors burned by Madoff’s scheme. The suit filed by Picard in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan names Sterling Equities, along with its partners and family members, including Mets owner Fred Wilpon, team president Saul Katz and chief operating Jeff Wilpon, the owner’s son. Picard said Sterling withdrew over $94 million in fictitious profits from Mets accounts with Madoff.

"Given Sterling’s dependency on Madoff, it comes as no surprise that the partners willfully turned a blind eye to every red flag of fraud before them," Fernando A. Bohorquez, Jr., a lawyer representing Picard, said Friday. The suit had been filed under seal in December while the parties tried to work out a settlement. But lawyers told a judge this week that talks had collapsed and consented to having the complaint made public.

More corruption reported in the already-rife-with-stealing-everything-in-sight Pentagon. Yay for those go-getters! How did they get caught? There was one independent guy . . . .

Pentagon Paid Billions to Fraudsters (Knowingly) WASHINGTON — The US military paid $285 billion over three years to hundreds of military contractors that defrauded the Pentagon over the same stretch of time, a US senator charged Wednesday. Brandishing a 45-page January 2011 US Department of Defense report on the issue, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders called for "far more vigorous enforcement" by the US military "to protect taxpayers from massive fraud."

"The sad truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," he charged.

Sanders underlined that the report, which his office made public, showed that from 2007-2009 the Pentagon spent $270 billion on 91 contractors involved in fraud cases that yielded judgments of more than $1 million.

The Pentagon also spent $683 million over the same period on 30 contractors convicted of criminal fraud charges, and "billions more" went to firms that it had suspended or barred for misusing government funds, said Sanders. The senator, who represents the small northeastern state of Vermont, highlighted a section of the report in which the Pentagon declared existing remedies as "sufficient."

And speaking of huge corruption knowingly and willingly committed by those who represent you in a nation of laws not men (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

Bradley Manning's 'Cruel and Unusual' Treatment

By Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Reader Supported News 04 February 11 Kucinich: Does treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning constitute 'cruel and unusual' treatment?

Questions follow a report that the Army ignored evidence of mental health problems.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) yesterday wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking for information about reports that the Army ignored evidence of the mental health problems of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. Kucinich also asked for confirmation and explanation of reports that the Army is holding Pfc. Manning in conditions that would likely exacerbate his condition and could contribute a violation of the his Eighth Amendment right of protection from 'cruel and unusual' punishment.

The full text of the letter can be found here. To flesh out this corruption stew we need a nice meaty bone for full flavor. Poor Bill. He can't accept that they only want scraps (of evidence). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

FCIC Report Turns a Blind Eye to Wall Street Fraud

William Greider (February 3, 2011)

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is better than its reviews but still very disappointing. Its 545-page report represents a powerful, fact-filled indictment of the financial system and the leading players and institutions that produced the national catastrophe. But there is one glaring omission — the massive fraud that occurred on Wall Street.

Some leading economists and former regulators (not to mention citizens at large) think fraud is a central explanation for what went wrong. The commission’s conclusions skip lightly over the matter both civil fraud and go-to-jail criminal fraud.

In this regard, the FCIC report resembles a giant haystack sprinkled with sharp needles. Somewhere in the FCIC’s daunting details are explosive revelations. But can citizens find or understand them? Not very likely; the six Democratic commissioners who produced the final report don’t mention any needles or provide any clues about how to find them.

Instead, the commission blandly states that it has referred “potential violations” to “appropriate authorities.” But it won’t say how many cases were passed along to prosecutors or whether they involve big-name bankers or low-level clerks forging mortgage documents.

“Our job is to bring out the facts. It is the prosecutor’s job to prosecute the facts,” commission chair Phil Angelides insisted when I badgered him on this point. With some outside prompting from bloggers and other informed observers, I was able to locate a couple of needles amid the voluminous text.

They implicate some of the best names on Wall Street. But for whatever reasons, the commission Democrats framed their findings in broadly critical accusations about the financial industry, government regulators, the Federal Reserve and others whose failures caused the eventual collapse.

“We conclude this financial crisis was avoidable,” the commissioners declare. The FCIC’s facts confirm that judgment. Read the report or graze the 1,200 documents posted on the FCIC website ( You will doubtless come away dizzy but enlightened and angry.

For instance, I choked on this language: “As a nation, we must also accept responsibility for what we permitted to occur. Collectively, but certainly not unanimously, we acquiesced to or embraced a system that…gave rise to our present predicament.” That sounds like the same self-serving baloney the establishment can be counted on to deploy to avoid blame.

If everyone is to blame, then no one can be blamed. This reminds me of when the Iraq War went bad, and the Bush administration couldn’t find the WMDs.

People who had led cheers for war started saying, “Well, we were all fooled, weren’t we?”

No, we were not. Congress and the Obama administration took a similar tack on the financial crisis. It would be wrong and vengeful, they said, to point fingers at major miscreants. In this complacent milieu, referring cases to the Justice Department is not exactly comforting. Angry citizens want to know why more people didn’t go to jail.

For one example of the FCIC’s buried treasures, turn to page 165 and read about the true meaning of “due diligence.”

In 2006–07, an auditing firm, Clayton Holdings, was hired to examine some 900,000 mortgages. It found that 255,000 (28 percent) were flawed and should not have been packaged as mortgage-backed securities. Clayton’s president delicately described the high deficiency rate as “a quality control issue.” But the banks went ahead and included nearly 100,000 of the dubious loans in new securities anyway, without informing the buyers.

“They knew a significant percentage of the sampled loans did not meet their own underwriting standards or those of the originators,” the FCIC concluded. “Nonetheless, they sold those securities to investors. The Commission’s review of many prospectuses provided to investors found that this critical information was not disclosed.”

This smells like old-fashioned investor fraud. The biggest players were Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and three leading European banks. The FCIC observed that this sleight-of-hand occurred when the housing market began to collapse and banks were eager to dump their rotten assets.

It has provided a wealth of material evidence for the growing flood of investor lawsuits. Even the Federal Reserve is suing financiers to recover on the bad assets it was sold.

Shouldn’t someone go to jail? Determining criminal intent is always difficult. Corporate law is a thicket of exemptions and clever distinctions designed to shield the big boys at the top. If the feds got serious, they would apply the same techniques used against Mafia dons.

First “squeeze” lesser players down below — traders, salesmen, accountants — then “turn” them into government witnesses. Build a chain of evidence against those who knew the score and gave the orders. What did the titans know and when did they know it?

If President Obama wanted to address the random rage accumulating around the country, this could be his issue (Republicans are freaked out by any suggestion that capitalists did anything wrong).

Instead of ignoring the FCIC report, the president should embrace its content and demand an aggressive follow-up by federal prosecutors and regulatory agencies.

The issue at stake here is far more threatening than smug elites seem to understand. Nothing erodes the authority and legitimacy of government more severely than a spreading awareness of unequal justice. The Feds send hapless drug mules to prison for twenty years. For billion-dollar swindles, they won’t even call a grand jury. This corrosive contradiction can become a national disease. Americans are learning from these events — another investigation with shocking evidence, but not much happens afterward. This will sound farfetched, I know, but this is a road that leads eventually to Cairo.

Speaking of roads leading to perdition . . . how about those recurring doctored-video scams from thugs like Breitbart, O'Keefe and Rose involving slandering citizens' rights protection agencies like ACORN and Planned Parenthood? Get ready. We're all in their sights (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

Piling on Against Planned Parenthood

February 2, 2011

The next videogate episode is out! This one features Planned Parenthood worker Amy Woodruff advising a man posing as a sex trafficker on how to get health care for girls as young as 14 who, he implies, work for him as prostitutes.

If the gotcha! is reminiscent of the deceptively edited tapes that cost Shirley Sherrod her job at the US Department of Agriculture or the separate fake pimp scandal that brought down the community organization Acorn, that’s probably because it was produced by antichoice activist Lila Rose—the president of an organization, Live Action, who, since 2006 has collaborated with the mastermind of those previous episodes, James O’Keefe.

The widely viewed tape has brought about the expected fallout: the New Jersey Planned Parenthood affiliate where the video was taken has received threats, including one mentioning a bomb.

. . . if you think getting rid of family planning will cut down on abortions, you might also see why a video of one misguided woman who, for all we know, was trying to help some fictitious teenaged sex slaves, should bring an end to federal funding for our nation’s biggest reproductive healthcare provider.

And, of course, bringing up the rear . . . I continue to notice why the services of people with integrity are no longer wanted in this industry (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

Department of Defense Report Outlines Contractor Fraud

The Boston Globe

04 February 11 More than 100 military contractors providing everything from aircraft to wrist cuffs for gloves committed civil or criminal fraud between 2007 and 2009, according to a report from the Department of Defense, yet many continued to receive funds from the department - including some barred from contracting.

The Pentagon report found that 30 contractors had been convicted of fraud between 2007 and 2009, and 91 had been the subject of civil judgments over fraud claims; some companies appeared on both lists. In addition, 120 companies had reached settlements over claims. Forty-three companies were suspended, and 164 were debarred from contracting.

The information is not typically compiled in one place, but Senator Bernard Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, requested the information through a defense spending bill last year. Covering three of the 10 years worth of data requested, the report lists many cases that are already public, including some that have received widespread news coverage, and includes no details of the cases. Still, the report provides a window into contractor fraud, which Sanders said should be paramount as Congress wrestles cutting the federal deficit.

"The people of this country want to make sure that when they spend a dollar on defense, it's going for defense, it's not going to companies committing fraud," said Sanders.

Billions of dollars continued to flow to contractors even after they were found to have committed fraud, and about a dozen had been barred from contracting altogether. Still, the report concluded that "existing remedies with respect to contractor wrongdoing are sufficient. Sanders bridles at that finding, saying "the DOD has got to be a lot more vigorous in terms of its investigations, and a lot more vigorous in prosecuting those people who have committed fraud."

One of the companies named in the report is Raytheon Co.'s Integrated Defense Systems, which is based in Tewksbury. But the company said it was included in error; it had agreed to pay about $213,000 to settle a dispute over a Patriot missile component, but had not been the subject of a 2009 civil fraud judgment, as the report said.

"The Raytheon settlement referenced in the report did not relate to fraud and did not involve a civil judgment. It was a fair and amicable resolution of a dispute over contractual requirements for component testing," the company said in a statement. Starting in mid-April, information about contractor fraud in all federal agencies will be publicly available through a database known as the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System. The system was not intended to be public, but Sanders included a provision in another war spending bill making the information public.

So, we've got that going for us.

And speaking of our "disappearing" from the news Vice Presidential Rethug candidate - Dana Milbank of the Washington Post (no friend to liberals or progressives) keeps up the sham talk about his Sarah Palin "moratorium."

“Milbank couldn't even get through the first day of his bogus boycott,” wrote a blogger for Texas for Palin, one of a network of Palin-defending sites that dinged the columnist. “This afternoon on the Post Partisan blog, Milbank wrote: ‘I survived Day One of my February Sarah Palin moratorium...’ Sorry, Skippy, but you weren't even going to mention her name, remember?”

No one's bugged by these crickets here. The Rethug scam was evident from the get-go. And in honor of the true scam: _________________

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