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Jamal Khashoggi: Where The Road to Damascus & The Path to 9/11 Converge

By Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows – known as the “Jersey Girls” – instrumental in forcing the government to form the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 2001 attacks. Follow Kristen Breitweiser on Twitter: .

Road to Damascus Conversion: Derived from the Biblical story of Paul, the term “Damascus road conversion” is commonly used to refer to an abrupt about-face on a serious issue of religion, politics or philosophy. In this type of change, a single, dramatic event causes a person to become aligned with something he or she previously was against or support a position that he or she previously opposed. https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-damascus-road-conversion.htm#didyouknowout

As a 9/11 widow who has spent the last 17 years fighting for accountability with regard to the 9/11 attacks that killed my husband and 3,000 others, I find the recent uproar over Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder interesting and out of character for many of those decrying his disappearance and demanding an investigation and accountability.

Frankly, 9/11 Family members keep a running list of all those in Washington who have proved by their past actions to be against U.S. victims of terrorism and in support of nations like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a nation with a long history of supporting global Wahhabist terrorism. As victims of terrorism, we are ever vigilant and watchful about all those named on our lists. We follow these folks actions, their speeches, their legislation, because we know that they are never looking out for our best interests as U.S. victims of terrorism. As a group, our institutional memory is broad and long. And we never forget.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Julian Assange and the Fate of Journalism

Julian Assange and the Fate of Journalism

Photograph Source Jeanne Menjoulet | CC BY 2.0

Julian Assange is the Australian founder of Wikileaks—a website dedicated to the public’s right to know what governments and other powerful organizations are doing. Wikileaks pursues this goal by posting revelatory documents, often acquired unofficially, that bring to light the criminal behavior that results in wars and other man-made disasters. Because Wikileaks’ very existence encourages “leaks,” government officials fear the website, and particularly dislike Julian Assange.

Essentially, Wikileaks functions as a wholesale supplier of evidence. Having identified alleged official misconduct, Wikileaks seeks to acquire and make public overwhelming amounts of evidence—sometimes hundreds of thousands of documents at a time—which journalists and other interested parties can draw upon. And since the individuals and organizations being investigated are ones ultimately responsible to the public, such a role as wholesale supplier of evidence can be seen as a public service.

Unfortunately, that is not how most government officials see the situation. They assert that government cannot be successful unless aspects of its behavior are conducted in secret. The fact that those aspects in question thereby lose any accountable connection to the public is discounted. The assumption here is that most citizens simply trust their governments to act in their interests, including when they act clandestinely. Historically, such trust is dangerously naive. Often government officials, even the democratic ones, feel no obligation to their citizens in general, but rather only to special interests.

One reason for this is that large and bureaucratic institutions that last for any length of time have the tendency to become stand-alone institutions—ones with their own self-referencing cultures, loyalty to which comes to override any responsibility to outside groups other than those with particular shared interests. In other words, long-lasting institutions/bureaucracies take on a life of their own.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How $21 Trillion in U.S. Tax Money Disappeared. “Full Scope Audit” of the Pentagon

This is part of our series on the unaccounted for $21 Trillion in taxpayer money. As unbelievable and absurd as that sounds, the actual total of unaccounted for money at the Pentagon is most likely significantly more than $21 trillion. The First ever “full-scope audit” of the Pentagon is presently underway. Read the first report from this series here.

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According to the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, $21 Trillion in Taxpayer Funding Is Unaccounted For.

To help people comprehend the scale of this, $1 Trillion is $1000 Billion. This means that $21,000 Billion in taxpayer money has gone missing.

Image: a stack of one trillion dollars. Multiply that by 21

How can this be possible?

We outlined the “Unaccountable System of Global War Profiteers” in detail here.

For further understanding, we are featuring another mind-blowing Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) report.

The following are highlights from the DOD IG “Summary of DOD Office of the Inspector General Audits of Financial Management”:

  • The financial management systems DOD has put in place to control and monitor the money flow don’t facilitate but actually “prevent DOD from collecting and reporting financial information… that is accurate, reliable, and timely.” (p. 4)
  • DOD frequently enters “unsupported” (i.e. imaginary) amounts in its books (p. 13) and uses those figures to make the books balance. (p. 14)
  • Inventory records are not reviewed and adjusted; unreliable and inaccurate data are used to report inventories, and purchases are made based on those distorted inventory reports. (p. 7)
  • DOD managers do not know how much money is in their accounts at the Treasury, or when they spend more than Congress appropriates to them. (p. 5)18
  • Nor does DOD “record, report, collect, and reconcile” funds received from other agencies or the public (p. 6),

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House

Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House

Recent revelations of “inadvertent” deletions of electronic data at the FBI and NSA relating to alleged felonies are being described as a “foul-up,” but the intelligence agencies’ track record suggests a possibly more nefarious explanation, explains Ray McGovern in this op-ed.


We learned in recent days that the FBI and the National Security Agency “inadvertently” deleted electronic messages relating to reported felonies, but one noxious reality persists: No one in the FBI or NSA is likely to be held to account for these “mistakes.”

NSA Headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland

It is a 70 year-old tradition. Today’s lack of accountability is enabled by (1) corruption at the top of intelligence agencies; (2) the convenient secrecy behind which their leaders hide; (3) bureaucratic indignities and structural flaws in the system; (4) the indulgence/complicity of most of the “mainstream media;” and (5) the eunuchs leading the Congressional “oversight” committees, who — history shows — can be bullied by threats, including blackmail, a la former longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

It is a safe bet, though, that neither the FBI nor NSA have deleted their holdings on key Congressional leaders — including House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who used to boast about her very long tenure as head of the House Intelligence Committee, only to complain later that “they [intelligence officials] mislead us all the time.”

In fact, Pelosi was briefed by the NSA and CIA on all manner of crimes, including warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and torture.

The lack of intelligence accountability has created a kind of perfect storm, enabling felonies and lesser mischief ordered by those sitting atop the intelligence community. While press reports indicate that the Congressional oversight committees now have “explosive” documentary proof — not yet deleted — of such crimes, it remains to be seen whether the committees will have the courage to do their duty under the law.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It Takes a Village to Maintain a Dangerous Financial System

It Takes a Village to Maintain a Dangerous Financial System

Abstract: I discuss the motivations and actions (or inaction) of individuals in the financial system, governments, central banks, academia and the media that collectively contribute to the persistence of a dangerous and distorted financial system and inadequate, poorly designed regulations. Reassurances that regulators are doing their best to protect the public are false. The underlying problem is a powerful mix of distorted incentives, ignorance, confusion, and lack of accountability. Willful blindness seems to play a role in flawed claims by the system’s enablers that obscure reality and muddle the policy debate.

1. Introduction

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse a child.”1

The financial system is meant to facilitate efficient allocation of resources and help people and businesses fund, invest, save and mange risks. This system is rife with conflicts of interests. Reckless practices, if uncontrolled by market forces and effective rules, can cause great harm. Most of the time, however, the harm from excessive risk in banking is invisible and the culprits remain unaccountable. They rarely violate the law.

In this chapter I focus on the excessive use of debt in banking that creates unnecessary fragility and distortions. The Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2009 exposed the ineffectiveness of the relevant regulations in place at the time. Yet even now and despite the crisis, the rules remain inadequate and flawed. Policymakers who repeatedly fail to protect the public are not accountable partly because false claims obscure reality, create confusion and muddle the debate.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bankers Will Be Jailed in the Next Financial Crisis

Jesus College, Cambridge hosted, once more, the world’s leading Symposium on Economic Crime, and over 500 distinguished speakers and panelists drawn from the widest possible international fora, gathered to make presentations to the many hundreds of delegates and attendees.

What became very quickly clear this year was the general sense of deep disgust and repugnance that was demonstrated towards the global banking industry.

I can say with some degree of certainty now that a very large number of academics, law enforcement agencies, and financial compliance consultants are now joined, as one, in their total condemnation of significant elements of the global banking sector for their organised criminal activities.

Many banks are widely identified now as nothing more than enterprise criminal organisations, who engage in widespread criminal practice and dishonest conduct as a matter of course and deliberate commercial policy. 

– From the excellent article: The Banking Criminals Exposed

My prediction is that bankers will be jailed in the next economic/financial crisis. Lots and lots of bankers.

It may seem to many that those working within this profession will remain above the law indefinitely in light of the lack of any accountability whatsoever since the collapse of 2008. It may seem that way, but extrapolating this trend into the future is to ignore a monumentally changed political environment around the world. From the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders here in the U.S., to Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader in the UK, big changes are certainly afoot.

I have become convinced of this change for a little while now, but we won’t really see evidence of it until the next collapse. However, something I read earlier today really brought the point home for me. Rowan Bosworth-Davies recently attended the 33rd Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime and provided us with some notes in an excellent piece titled, The Banking Criminals Exposed. Here are a few excerpts:

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gretchen Morgenson: Wall Street Really Does Enjoy a Different Set of Rules Than the Rest of Us

Gretchen Morgenson: Wall Street Really Does Enjoy a Different Set of Rules Than the Rest of Us

What type of system might work better for our interests?

Gretchen Morgenson has earned a Pulitzer-winning career from exposing abuse and conflicts of interest on Wall Street. In this interview, she confirms that there is indeed a second set of rules enjoyed by our elite financial institutions, largely unfettered by the constraints that apply to the rest of us.

Consequences for failure and fraud are very different under this second set of rules — in fact, they’re practically rewarded. Accountability, by all prudent measures, has become non-existent. The extraordinary measures the U.S. deployed to deal with the great contraction in 2008 only served to exacerbate these imbalances.

What’s sorely needed now is a national dialogue on whether we’re willing to allow this to continue. What benefits are we receiving by enabling these elite to enjoy such different standards? What type of system and rules might work better for our interests?

Sadly, beyond the disorganized Occupy Wall Street outrage that has waned in visibility, there is no real cogent, organized public debate focused on this right now. A big reason is that Washington is actively avoiding such a dialogue. It was fundamentally complicit in creating the underlying factors resulting in the ’08 collapse and it doesn’t want brighter light helping the public understand that more clearly.

As a populace we have a decision to make: Are we going to get more engaged and start articulating the reform we want to see? For if not, we’re making a passive decision to allow the wealth gap to widen further.

In the meantime, Gretchen sees a lot of instability in financial markets that have been allowed to balloon further even though the underlying causes of the ’08 crash haven’t been resolved. She cautions investors to avoid risk (despite the Fed’s encouragements), pay down debt, and have a defensive plan in place should the markets suffer another serious correction in the near future.

 

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Agency to Enslave Greeks Is Established

Agency to Enslave Greeks Is Established

Late on Thursday, July 16th, German Economic News headlined “Greece: Debt Restructuring Through the Back Door,” and reported that, “The majority of Greece’s national debt is to be moved in the next three years gradually to the euro bailout fund ESM [European Stability Mechanism], so that the IMF will continue to remain as a lender. The euro zone countries will thereby provide Athens a longer grace period [a temporary postponement of payments, while the 18% annual interest-rate soars Greece’s debt even higher], and longer repayment periods.”

The super-secretive European Stability Mechanism was set up in 2012, in order to handle Greece’s anticipated virtual receivership, which it now will do.

As I reported on July 16th, the treaty that in 2012 established the ESM, as being the ultimate lending-fund, for what the EU now officially considers to be a permanent economic crisis in Europe — of Greece and other member-nations that are experiencing “severe financing problems” — establishes the ESM as being so secretive, that a precondition of employment there is “Professional secrecy,” which will apply “even after their duties have ceased” (i.e., they’ve retired). In other words: the goal is that the public will never be able to know anything that goes on there, except what the top management issue in their speeches and press releases (if any). Furthermore, the ESM is above and beyond any democratic process, and is immune to any nation’s laws. Everyone in its employ “shall be immune from legal proceedings with respect to acts performed by them in their official capacity and shall enjoy inviolability in respect of their official papers and documents.” (That’s necessary in order to ensure that no information can ever be released by the employees — only the ESM’s public statements will be.) There will be no democratic accountability, whatsoever.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Our Banking System is a Giant House of Cards

Our Banking System is a Giant House of Cards

It Could Fall On You.

Anat Admati teaches finance and economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is co-author of The Bankers’ New Clothes, a classic account of the problem of Too Big to Fail banks. On May 6th, at the Finance and Society Conferencesponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, she will join Brooksley Born, former chair of Chair of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, to discuss how effective financial regulation can make the system work better for society. Seven years after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Admati warns that we are not doing nearly enough to confront a bloated, inefficient, and dangerous financial system. The system can’t fix itself. Here’s what you need to know.

Lynn Parramore: How would you describe the problem of Too Big to Fail banks. Whey does it matter to an ordinary person?

Anat Admati: Too Big to Fail is a license for recklessness. These institutions defy notions of fairness, accountability, and responsibility. They are the largest, most complex, and most indebted corporations in the entire economy.

We all have to be really alarmed by the fact that not only do we still have such institutions, but many of them are ever-larger and more complex and at least as dangerous, if not more so, than they were before the financial crisis.

They are too big to manage and control. They take enormous risks that endanger everybody. They benefit from the upside and expose the rest of us to the downside of their decisions. These banks are too powerful politically as well.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In Corporate Crimes, Individual Accountability Is Elusive

In Corporate Crimes, Individual Accountability Is Elusive

“We have never hesitated to investigate and prosecute any individual, institution or organization that attempted to exploit our markets and take advantage of the American people,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. proclaimed this month when the Justice Department announced that Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency, had agreed to pay $1.375 billion to settle civil charges that it inflated ratings on mortgage-backed securities at the heart of the financial crisis.

And this week, he pledged a renewed effort to bring cases against individuals responsible for financial fraud, calling on federal prosecutorsto “try to develop cases against individuals and to report back in 90 days.”

Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.

 

Yes, plenty of people have been prosecuted for mortgage fraud and other financial crimes since the financial crisis: The Justice Department has charged over 4,000 people with mortgage fraud alone, according to a spokesman. And the department has filed 46,000 white-collar crime cases since 2009.

Yet almost all of these are low-level employees with little or no name recognition. Hardly any top executives at the financial firms paying multimillion- and billion-dollar-plus fines for engaging in criminal behavior have been charged or convicted. (One exception is Lee B. Farkas, former chairman of the mortgage firm Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, who isserving a 30-year prison term.)

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Is a National Nervous Breakdown?

What Is a National Nervous Breakdown?

When the citizenry cease to believe the lies, the nation suffers a nervous breakdown.

Last week I used the phrase National Nervous Breakdown without clarifying its meaning. (The War on Our Intuition That Something Is Fundamentally Amiss)

By National Nervous Breakdown I do not mean the breakdown of civil order or the economy; I mean the breakdown of the officially sanctioned narratives that underpin the Status Quo. These Master Narratives legitimize the current arrangement; once they erode or break down, the legitimacy of the Status Quo is lost.

The shell remains in place, but nobody believes the system is a fair, just meritocracy.

Let’s consider the erosion or breakdown of these master narratives.

1. No accountability for abuse of power. The core narrative is no one is above the law, which means not only that everyone is supposedly treated equally before the law, but that abuses of power are punished or limited.

Now that police departments are essentially stealing from private citizens without due process via civil forfeiture, it’s clear there is no accountability for abuses of power.

This is simply one example of many in which blatant abuse of power is sanctioned by the Status Quo, and there is little recourse for citizens who have been abused unless they are wealthy enough to fund a high-powered legal team.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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