William Black Goes BallisticPosted: February 1, 2012
I’ve been reading William Black’s essays and posts, watching his video interviews and You Tube presentations, ever since I saw him on Bill Moyers Journal speaking frankly, no holds barred, about how the financial industry had brought the country to its knees and gotten away with it. He spoke frankly again during his Congressional testimony last year when he came right out and called the mortgage debacle that nearly finished the US economy . . . fraud. Yes he used the ‘f’ word! This was unlike other ‘experts’ who insisted there was no inkling of trouble on the horizon, that the financial meltdown was ‘an act of the economic gods,’ a huge surprise, the product of overly optimistic financial predictions.
No, Black said. It was fraud. It was criminal. In case you missed that testimony, you can watch below. It’s worth a second go-around.
Too bad Black’s comments were basically ignored, caught up in the razzle-dazzle of excuses, half-truths and political posturing that’s become all too familiar to anyone paying attention. Business as usual is still the acceptable mantra. In case, you’ve forgotten [time flies when we’re having so much fun], William Black headed Poppy Bush’s forensic audit team during the S&L scandal, which ultimately led to 1000 elite felony convictions.
Black’s investigative team wasn’t kidding around.
William Black came out yesterday morning with his own take on President Obama’s SOTU announcement of a Task Force [The Let’s Try It Again Task Force], quoting POTUS:
And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.
Black suggests we look at the wording, the avoidance of using the ‘f’ or ‘c’ word. That would be fraud and criminal. His response to this and Eric Holder’s follow up memorandum:
The working group will not “investigate … abusive lending” and it will not “hold accountable those who broke the law … [by defrauding] homeowners.” It will not “speed assistance to homeowners.” It will not “turn the page on an era of recklessness” – and fraud, not “recklessness” is what prosecutors should prosecute. The name of the working group makes its crippling limitations clear: the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group. Attorney General Holder’s memorandum about the working group makes clear that the name is not misleading. The working group will deal only with mortgage-backed securities (MBS) – not the fraudulent mortgage origination that drove the crisis (the only exception is federally insured mortgages).
Clearly, he’s not impressed. No, instead he’s disgusted and enraged. In fact, the essay nearly jumps off the page with genuine anger. He goes on to say:
The working group is a symbolic political gesture designed to neutralize criticism of the administration’s continuing failure to hold accountable the elite frauds that drove the crisis. Neither the Bush nor the Obama administration has convicted a single elite fraud that drove the crisis. This is a national disgrace and represents the triumph of crony capitalism. Remember that the FBI warned in September 2004 that there was an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud and predicted that it would cause a financial “crisis.” There are no valid excuses for the Bush and Obama administrations’ failures. The media have begun to pummel the Obama administration for its failure to prosecute. The administration could not answer this criticism with substance because it has nothing substantive to offer in prosecuting elite mortgage origination frauds. The ugly truth is that we are three full years into his presidency and Holder could not find a single indictment to bring that Obama could brag about in his SOTU address. Who doubts that Holder and Obama would have done so if they had anything in the prosecutorial pipeline? Why do Holder and Obama have nothing in the pipeline?
One of the other things that deeply disturbs Black is President Obama’s willingness to play politics in this matter, float the gambit of the Task Force /Working Group and the reputation of Eric Schneiderman to create the appearance of a genuine hands-on effort. But this move is not genuine as far as Black is concerned and contradicts the very essence of President Obama’s SOTU address, conjuring up the Seal Team that took out Osama Bin Laden—a team effort, concentrating on the mission.
This is no more than vulgar propaganda, Black claims.
He also refers to a disclosure made by Scot Paltrow for Rueters 10 days ago, revealing that US Attorney General Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, heading the DOJs criminal division [also a co-chair of the ‘Let’s Try It Again Task Force], had been partners at Covington and Burling, a well-established and well-heeled law firm that represented many of the largest banks, providing cover for their clients through key arguments on the MERS debacle.
Conflict of interest anyone?
The state Attorney Generals? They were lobbyied, leaned on, even offered [as was the case of AG Kamala Harris, CA] $8 billion to assist damaged California homeowners in a bid to agree to the original deal, which would have offered the big banks immunity from liability. All so the President could announce ‘a deal’ in his State of the Union address, even though homeowners would be left out to dry and bank executives, who led deliberate “accounting control frauds,” could continue their conduct with absolute impunity.
This is ugly, made all the uglier in that it was sanctioned through and by the White House. Black suggests that Eric Schneiderman recognized the leverage he had, agreed to join the Task Force as a co-chair with the stipulation that the original deal be modified, specifically concerning civil liability in mortgage origination fraud.
Of course, you would think that this mess would be a window of opportunity for Republicans in an election year. What an incredible club to use on President Obama to win the WH, maybe the House and the Senate by gargantuan majorities.
No fear there because for every compromised Democrat there is an equally compromised Republican. Both the Democrats and Republicans rely heavily on campaign contributions from the financial sector. Neither side is willing to cut their bankers [crooked or not] off at the knees.
What to do? What better reason to support any and all actions to get money out of the political arena. Until we do? The world belongs to the highest bidder.