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‘Doris, Will You Bring Me In a Cup of FISA Warrants and a Plate of Drone Apps?’

1:26 pm in Uncategorized by wendydavis

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(by Anthony Freda via wendydavis @flickr.com)

By now you’ve heard that the rules say that once a year the DOJ discloses to Congress the number of FISA eavesdropping applications it files and the numbers both approved and rejected by the Court, and that Senator Harry Reid was given the report for 2012 last week. 

Glenn Greenwald explained the history of the original 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act recently, and said it was purported to have been the ‘remedy’ to past rampant federal government abuses of its eavesdropping powers that were discovered by the Church Committee Senate hearings.  He called the law’s provisions ‘a radical perversion of the judicial process’, in that the FISA court convened in secret, its rulings were classified, the standards of ‘probable cause’ were seriously diluted, and grotesquely, no adversaries to the government ‘evidence’ against a target were permitted in the room.  Adding to the irony, the Court itself was housed in the Justice building. 

When the New York Times broke the story in 2005 about Bush’s minions breaking the law and listening to phone calls, reading emails, etc. of Americans without obtaining warrants (just too much of a burden, you see), Congress, rather than punishing said officials, passed a new law to legalize it all.  We can’t be too secure, you know; nor can Congress-critters asses ever be too secure.

Thus was the FISA Amendments Act of 2008’ created.  Ars Technica’s opinion of it can be read here; it’s subtitled ‘Telco immunity is the icing, not the cake’ (that’s a hint).

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Cost of Doing Business with Banks Funding Terrorists: Er…Not Much

10:38 am in Uncategorized by wendydavis

In September I stuck up a post about Lanny Breuer (asst. AG) in a speech telling the NYC Bar Association that deferred prosecutions are the way to go because they increase corporate accountability.  Seriously.  The video of his speech is either truly creepy or hilarious, depending on your mood (my bolds throughout).

 To be clear, the decision of whether to indict a corporation, defer prosecution, or decline altogether is not one that I, or anyone in the Criminal Division, take lightly.  We are frequently on the receiving end of presentations from defense counsel, CEOs, and economists who argue that the collateral consequences of an indictment would be devastating for their client.  In my conference room, over the years, I have heard sober predictions that a company or bank might fail if we indict, that innocent employees could lose their jobs, that entire industries may be affected, and even that global markets will feel the effects.  Sometimes – though, let me stress, not always – these presentations are compelling.

So … let’s see; sober people (by which we can assume he means ‘serious’ people)  have convinced the Justice Department that putting some asshole criminal bankers in prison would topple the financial system and cause global markets to shudder and shiver, O MY!

We’ve just learned that the DoJ decided that secretly laundering hundreds of millions of drug cartel money through their banks globally will cost HSBC…$1.92 billion in a settlement that includes…no criminal prosecutions. But, oh, my stars, the folks at HSBC promise never to do such careless stuff again!  Neil Barofsky says that  there were also hundreds of millions of more dollars of illegally disguised transactions with ‘rogue’ nations such as Iran and Sudan.

Listen to Jeffrey Robinson, author of The Laundrymen, then wait for the other shoe that…didn’t drop. (video: h/t: Howie Klein)

Neil Barofsky calls the story ‘Too Big to Jail’, and our banking systems’s latest disgrace, but of course, the real disgrace is the DOJ’s giving the sixth largest multinational company a Stay Out of Jail Free card.

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Call Bullsh*t on These Crap Trade Deals

2:55 pm in Uncategorized by wendydavis

'Wealth Managers' by permission of Anthony Freda, www.anthonyfreda.com

During a July 8 press conference in the Rose Garden just after the disastrous June jobs numbers were made public, our President went on the Jobs Offensive.  Among other things he said…worst recession…8 million jobs lost…ups and downs…control the deficits for stability..yada…yada…mumble…then:

“Today, Congress can advance trade agreements that will help businesses sell more American-made goods and services to Asia and South America, supporting thousands of jobs here at home.  That could be done right now.”

Remember that Candidate Obama declared he would re-write NAFTA to more fair standards, then got busted winking to Canada that he didn’t really mean it; ouch.  He did survive the mini-scandal, but you probably noticed that, didn’t you?   ;o)   And he said these three agreements would happen ‘over his dead body’.  But that was then, and this is now…tra la la…we should put that phrase to music, eh?

Beltway theatrics reporting is calling the Red/Blue ‘Showdown’ a matter of a few million bucks’ worth of Trade Adjustment Assistance included in KORUS, refunding an old program for training workers who have been downsized because of the sterling trade deals for jobs in…for jobs in…hamburger-flipping at McDogfood. Read the rest of this entry →