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Frank Wisner Jr. Vide President of AIG today, worked for Enron closely and with friend Kenny Lay in the Peantagon before that. The Power Elite: Enron and Frank Wisner by Vijay Prashad is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Source: People's Democracy, 16 November 1997 Frank Wisner Junior was well-known in the CIA and he worked as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs; his current boss, Kenneth Lay, Chief Executive Officer of Enron Corporation, also worked for the Pentagon during the US war in Vietnam. With "economic espionage" as a task for the CIA (see PD, 12 October 1997), On 28 October 1997, Enron Corporation announced the entry of Frank G. Wisner Jr. onto its board of directors. Most of the business press did not find this untoward and it certainly did not emerge as part of the US discussions on corruption at the highest level. Frank Wisner, as we know in India, was the US Ambassador from 1994 until this year and his entry into Enron must be seen in light of the scandal of Dabhol. Enron, like most US corporations, uses its close association with the state (both its elected and bureaucratic arms) for its own ends. US campaigns are financed by corporations whose money not only enables politicians to win elections, but it also buys businesses the state's power both for domestic subsidies and for the use of US power in the international arena. Frank Wisner, Jr. was a big catch for Enron Corporation. His lineage is impeccable, since his father, Frank Wisner Sr., was a senior CIA official (from 1947 until his suicide in 1965) who was involved in the overthrow of Arbenz of Guatemala (1954) and Mossadeq of Iran (1953). Wisner Junior was well-known in the CIA and he worked as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs; his current boss, Kenneth Lay, Chief Executive Officer of Enron Corporation, also worked for the Pentagon during the US war in Vietnam. With "economic espionage" as a task for the CIA (see PD, 12 October 1997), there is little doubt that Wisner used this instrument during his long-tenure as Ambassador in Asian nations. A Wisner staffer told InterPress Services this year that "if anybody asked the CIA to help promote US business in India, it was probably Frank". When Wisner was US Ambassador to the Philippines (1991-92), Enron was in the midst of negotiations to manage the two Subic Bay power plants. When Wisner left Manila in July 1992, Enron won the deal and began to manage the plant in January 1993. During Wisner tenure in India, he fought long and hard to secure various deals for Enron. He went so far as to boycott the "India Power '96 -- Beyond Dabhol" summit, despite being scheduled to give an address (this was part of a US advisory to companies to avoid India for six-months, a pressure tactic on India during the winter of 1995-96). Wisner left India earlier this year only after it seemed like Enron's place was secure. Enron, like most monopoly corporations in the US, uses money as a means to buy influence and power. To gain access to a lucrative contract to rebuild the Shuaiba power plant in Kuwait, Enron hired former US Secretary of State James Baker as a consultant who travelled to the oil kingdom to negotiate with his Gulf War allies for his new employer. The sons of George Bush also helped Enron win this contract despite a lower bid from Deutsche Babcock, a German firm. The Bush brothers also helped Enron in their deal to win a contract to build a pipeline from Chile to Argentina in 1988. Finally, Wendy Gramm (wife of Senator Phil Gramm) joined Enron's Board of Directors in 1993 after she resigned from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This Commission, just days after Gramm's resignation, deregulated energy futures, thereby allowing Enron to earn 10% of its profits by adventures on the financial markets. Beside all this evidence, it appears hypocritical for Rebecca Mark, Chairperson of Enron Development Corporation, to declare that "Enron's reputation is being attacked, and we do not do business under the table". The story does not end there. In 1991-92, Enron donated $28,525 to the Democratic Party and in 1993-94, it gave $42,000. These monies enabled Enron to send its executives on international tours with the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown in January 1995 (when Kenneth Lay came to India) and in March-April 1994 (when Chief Executive Officer of Enron International, Rodney Gray came to Russia). In the former, Enron was in negotiation for the Dabhol plant among other things (such as the $1.1 billion offshore holdings) and in the latter, Enron was interested in the marketing of Russian gas in Europe. President Clinton noted that Brown's trips resulted in "expanded opportunities for American business in [the USA] and abroad". The "pay to play" project of US "democracy" is once again in evidence. The example of Enron and Wisner proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the US state is not a neutral actor in world affairs and that US transnational corporations are part and parcel of the corruption within the US Empire. The hearings in Washington on "campaign finance reform" do not bother with this level of corruption, for most of those who are running the investigation are beholden to business interests. Enron, for instance, will not be a part of the investigation, since it is deemed to be a patriotic US entity out to create jobs for US workers and to accumulate wealth to defer the costs of the US's mercenary army. Vijay Prashad is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Source: People's Democracy, 16 November 1997

Sorry, the source links don't seem to work but you can see it here also: http://the-worlds-biggest-robbery.blogsp...f-aig.html
If you have not yet, do see the film SMartest Boys In The Room If you hunt you can find it in pieces or for download on the internet.
About Enron - very well done and has much on the Lay-Bush Connections and how Enron was the real reason for The current Governor in California - and much else. Politics now is business - big business.
Yes, I have it Peter and it is a great documentary. I also recommend others to watch it. It shows well the complicity of a whole range of other groups, regulators, accounting firms, credit rating agencies, not just Enron as a rogue corporation.

Interestingly, the woman journalist , whose name escapes me for now, who broke the story is also the same reporter who is very compromised with regards to the current events. This is well covered in the Deep Capture story. Her own emails give her away clearly. It makes me wonder if she was really on the side of the angels with Enron or just doing a slash and burn job for other persons, motives or reasons.
Excellent thread.

Enron Inc was one of the front companies of the Bush Crime Family.

If I remember correctly, Jeb Bush phoned up the Argentine Presidente and told him to sell Argentina's national grid to Enron on the cheap. Of course, I'm sure it was couched in the lying language of global free market liberalization - to introduce better and more modern private sector management.... :eviltongue:

Inevitably, MSM will continue claim Enron was "rogue" and an "aberration".

In reality, Enron's practices in countries like Argentina were a textbook case of Kleinian Shock Therapy.

Just like Zapata Oil, Bush Crime Family companies always serve a malign agenda.
It was W's wish and hope to make Kennyboy Lay his Energy Secretary - really putting the wolves in charge of the sheep! Schwartnegger was moved into office in order for Enron [with Bush Admin. OK] not to be sued for overcharging California for Electricity in a huge multi-Billion scam - and they never were, thought the evidence is clear as day. Crimes are only presecuted on, say, a hungry man who steals a loaf of bread at 7-11. Steal a billion or a trillion and you go to the 'head of the board' without even loosing your golf-club membership.

Magda, do tell more about that woman being involved now. I forget her name too. The heavy-set blond accountant.
The woman I am refering to is Bethany MacLean
From Deep Capture:
Quote:Bethany McLean is one of America’s most respected financial journalists. She is famous for being the first reporter to raise concerns about Enron, the energy company that later proved to have orchestrated a large accounting fraud. She has authored a best-selling book about the scandal called “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” which was made into a documentary movie with funding from Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.
Bethany deserves credit for her work on Enron. But it is worth noting that the primary source for her stories was Jim Chanos, who owns a hedge fund that is aptly named Kynikos (”Cynicism,” in Greek). Chanos was funded by Dirk Ziff, a billionaire heir to the Ziff-Davis publishing empire (and one time guitarist for Carly Simon), at the recommendation of Marty Peretz, Cramer’s partner in The cynical hedge fund manager regularly shorts the same companies as Rocker and other members of the Cramer constellation of hedge funds.
It is also worth noting that in Enron’s dying days, a massive amount of its stock was sold into the market and never delivered. Certainly, some of Enron’s executives were crooks, but this was a multi-billion dollar company - a key market participant with thousands of employees and some of corporate America’s most valuable assets. Would the company have gone under if hedge funds hadn’t saturated the market with phantom stock in order to drive the stock to zero? No one will ever know. And the SEC has pointedly refused to release any information on naked shorting in Enron stock.
Either way, the hedge funds’ success with Enron does not excuse their other activities. This crowd has attacked dozens of companies - polluting the media with misleading negative information, employing criminals to harass CEOs, orchestrating SEC investigations, bribing witnesses, and filing phony lawsuits. Almost always, these companies appear on the SEC’s list of phantom stock victims. Often, these companies have done no wrong, but always the hedge funds label them as frauds - “the next Enrons!”
Journalists swallow this information as if it were the elixir of everlasting life. In the seven years since Enron, Bethany McLean has yet to write a story that was not sourced from the Cramer constellation of hedge fund managers and crooks. Even in the face of the most glaring evidence that the hedge funds are wrong - even when she knows full well that her sources are using dubious tactics and employing criminals - she simply will not contradict these people. As a result, a number of her stories are gross distortions.
For example, in March 2007, she writes a story about Fairfax Financial. In this story, she mentions that Spyro Contogouris has been arrested, and notes that Fairfax has accused him of working for a cabal of hedge funds engaged in dirty tricks. But she offers little information about Contogouris’s tactics (one of which, by the way, was to create a website that falsely compared Fairfax to Enron and advertised a copy of Bethany’s book).
Instead, Bethany’s story describes Contogouris as an “independent research analyst” who “proved himself” on an earlier project involving an unnamed stamp company’s “Ponzi scheme.” (The stamp company is called the Escala Group. This was a big target of Kingsford Capital, the hedge fund that offered a large sum of money to the Columbia Journalism Review after it discovered that I was working on this story).
Bethany’s story quotes an analyst who has concluded that Contogouris’s claims are bogus - that Fairfax’s financial statements are “not unusual” and certainly not portending the “next Enron.” She notes that even Contogouris admits that he “couldn’t connect all the dots.” But, amazingly, she proceeds to give credence to this criminal’s analysis, and his completely unfounded claim that Fairfax is the “greatest known insurance fraud of the 21st century.”
In an attempt to bolster this claim, Bethany refers to the work of a firm called Institutional Credit Partners, which apparently also suspects wrongdoing at Fairfax. The reporter presents this firm as completely independent - a disinterested source who objectively confirms the claims of Contogouris. She writes that “ICP executives provided Fortune with access to unedited research because they are deeply disturbed by the possibility that legitimate research may be being [sic] suppressed.”
What she did not mention is that ICP’s director had just bailed Contogouris out of prison. This hardly constitutes objectivity, and Bethany knew it, because as she wrote her story, she had, quite literally sitting on her desk, a copy of Contogouris’s bail documents.
Finally, Bethany also makes a vague reference in her story to a real FBI agent whom she suggests has his eye on Fairfax, when the truth is that he has been looking into other issues, such as the criminal behavior of Spyro Contogouris, whom he subsequently arrests.
There is “the distinct possibility that Watsa and his company are not, in fact, victims,” Bethany writes. “After the last round of corporate scandals [read: Enron], regulators and the public cried out for more hardheaded analysis. Where were the skeptics, they asked? Now, just a few years later, there are skeptics aplenty about Fairfax, and they have taken their suspicions to regulators, rating agencies and others.”
The “others” being a clique of compliant but powerful journalists like Bethany McLean. The “skeptics” being a small group of hedge funds and criminals who have captured America’s most important institutions.
* * * * * * * *
It is tempting to catalogue each of the many falsehoods that these journalists have entered into the public discourse, but that is perhaps a job for the lawyers. Permit me, though, to provide a couple more examples of the deceit that has been foisted upon us by Fortune magazine’s most prominent reporter and her dubious sources.
In May 2005, Bethany published a story in which she compared MBIA, the bond insurer, to Enron. Today, this company has run into some difficulty owing to the subprime mortgage crisis, but the company is certainly no Enron. It retains its AAA rating from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, and none of the issues raised in Bethany’s story have proven to be germane.
Which shouldn’t surprise. The story served primarily to air the opinions of a single short-seller, William Ackman, who is a friend-of-Cramer - a fellow Harvard graduate who was attacking MBIA along with David Einhorn (Mr. Pink’s war ally) and Whitney Tilson (financer, along with the crook Sam Antar, of convicted felon Barry Minkow). Ackman has also worked closely on various deals with Gene Philips, an old Boesky crony who was arrested in 2000, along with 100 stock brokers from the five New York Mafia families.
Bethany knows that Ackman is not an objective observer, so she supports her assumptions about MBIA with information from several analysts whom she describes as “independent”. For example, she quotes Sean Egan, the manager of a small credit rating agency that holds itself out as an alternative to the gold standards, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, and apparently believes that MBIA deserves less than a AAA rating. Bethany portrays this guy as credible, while failing to mention that Egan is paid by short-selling hedge funds, and refuses to meet anybody in a real office. Instead, he meets reporters and arranges secret document drop-offs in the Philadelphia train station.
The other “independent” analysis in the story comes from Glass, Lewis, a firm that specializes in producing negative research for hedge funds (and that now employs Jonathan Weil, the Journal reporter who wrote the falsehood-laden story about NovaStar; Weil has also been credited with “breaking” the Enron story along with Bethany).
Meanwhile, another source for the MBIA story-a source who was positive on the company–says that Ackman heavily pressured him to change his views. Then Bethany intentionally twisted the source’s words to suit her purposes.
In an email, the source says: “Bethany McLean cited me inaccurately (in several respects).”
* * * * * * * *
Shortly before Bethany’s MBIA story came out, New York’s then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was obligated (because of the sheer volume of evidence) to investigate Bethany’s source, William Ackman, for stock manipulation and publishing false information. But characteristically, Spitzer quickly dropped that investigation. Then he did a complete 180, and began investigating MBIA. That investigation went nowhere. But then Spitzer became governor of New York. Before the FBI caught Spitzer with a hooker while investigating allegations of money laundering and bribery, the governor continued to push for legislation that would have done damage to MBIA’s stock price.
As Kimberly Strassel bravely wrote on The Wall Street Journal editorial page (which operates independently of the captured “Money & Investing” section), “Mr. Spitzer’s main offense as a prosecutor is that he violated the basic rules of fairness and due process: Innocent until proven guilty; the right to your day in court. The Spitzer method was to target public companies and officials, leak allegations and out-of-context emails to a compliant press, watch the stock price fall…Most of Mr. Spitzer’s high-profile charges have gone up in smoke…The press was foursquare behind Mr. Spitzer in all these cases, and in a better world they’d share some of his humiliation.”
The italics are mine. If it all sounds familiar, it will not surprise to learn that Eliot Spitzer is Cramer’s best friend. They were college roommates. Cramer’s constellation of hedge funds were Spitzer’s biggest campaign donors, and the Cramer clique of journalists were the very journalists who were “four square behind Mr. Spitzer.”
And Spitzer didn’t just attack public companies so that his short-selling friends could make more money. He also manufactured the “independent research” racket. As attorney general, he sued the big Wall Street banks for publishing financial research that supposedly overstated companies’ prospects. This opened the doors for the “independents” - like Sam Antar, Spyro Contogouris, Barry Minkow, the folks at Gradient Analytics, and others who make their living harassing public companies and understating their prospects for short-selling clients.
Spitzer was the most aggressive attorney general Wall Street has ever known. But perhaps in deference to Cramer and his friends, he almost never went after hedge funds. Indeed, one of the only hedge funds he ever prosecuted was Millennium Partners, founded by Israel Englander and John Mulheren, who died of a heart attack in 2003.
Englander and Mulheren were not friends of Cramer. To the contrary, Mulheren was once arrested while driving to the home of Cramer’s friend, Ivan Boesky, with a trunk full of high-powered weaponry. As is recounted in Den of Thieves (the classic account of Mike Milken, Ivan Boesky, and Carl Icahn), when faced with prosecution, Boesky ratted out everyone who had done business with him (and even wore a wire on Milken), in return for a lighter sentence. Mulheren’s involvement was minimal, but he was among those ratted out. So one day Mulheren snapped, and drove to Boesky’s house, planning to assassinate him.
In an ugly world, Boesky or his friends would seek revenge by trying to kill Mulheren and Englander.
Kill them, or call in the Attorney General and the Media Mob.
* * * * * * * *
It is said that Bethany McLean has a system with gentlemen of a certain age. She has Midwestern looks, but a voice like red velvet –.and she stops at nothing for a peak behind the kimono. Downright cozy with Wall Street, a real life Media Mata Hari, she has beguiled many a CEO into giving her information that ended up in her stories - and also in the hands of her short-selling friends.
In October, 2005, she attended, uninvited, a Saturday lecture Patrick Byrne gave at the Columbia Business School, and asked him to a nearby restaurant. Later that day and several times the next, she left messages on the voicemail of a friend of Patrick’s in the mistaken belief that it was Patrick’s phone. That friend says, “She left Patrick her home and cell numbers and asked him to come over to her place for a drink, ‘even around midnight would be fine.’”
Patrick accepted an offer to meet her in a darkened bar under her apartment, where she mentioned, “I was briefly married, getting divorced.”
Patrick, who had been warned of Bethany’s system, declined her invitation to come by again, or call her at home. It was hard to believe that she would be so bold considering that she had previously published a story about Overstock, noting that “skeptics abound.”
Those “skeptics” again.
The skeptics, of course, were Rocker and the scoundrels at Gradient Analytics, then called Camelback Research Alliance. They suggested that Overstock’s growth paled in comparison to Amazon’s - neglecting again to note that Amazon had burned through $3.5 billion at the same stage of development. There is no evidence that Bethany did anything in this story other than regurgitate the misleading analysis of Rocker and Gradient - while portraying them as two separate entities in order to show that skeptics “abound.”
As if to more forcefully demonstrate her allegiance to these “miscreants,” Bethany had published another hatchet job for them - right after Patrick’s “Miscreants’ Ball” presentation. Patrick told the world that Gradient and Rocker were at the center of a massive financial crime, and a few days later, he opened Fortune magazine and saw the story - an attack on video game maker Take-two Interactive, quoting (as if they were offering analysis independent of each other) David Rocker and Gradient Analytics.
Then, in November 2005, shortly after Patrick did not call her at home (not even before midnight) Bethany published “Phantom Menace.” Rather than describe in detail the allegations that Patrick had leveled in his “Miscreants Ball” conference call, Bethany quoted Mark Cuban, the guy who financed her Enron documentary. She wrote: “As Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor, later wrote on his blog, ‘Never before in the history of Wall Street has a single conference call mentioned the following topics: miscreants, an unnamed Sith Lord he hopes the feds will bury under prison, gay bathhouses, whether he is gay, does cocaine, both or neither, and an obligatory ‘not that there is anything wrong with that,’ phone taps, phone lines misdirected to Mexico, arrested reporters, payoffs, conspiracies, crooks, egomaniacs, fools, paranoia, which newspapers are shills and for who, payoffs, money laundering, his Irish temper, false identities, threats, intimidation, and private investigators. All in 61 minutes.”
In addition to making it seem as if Patrick’s words had been blurted out by a sufferer of Tourette’s syndrome, Bethany went to lengths to ensure readers that Rocker had taken a “routine position” in Overstock. She noted that Gradient had published negative information about Overstock and argued (again without mentioning Gradient’s connection to Rocker, or alluding to any alternative point of view) that this information had merit. Moreover, she described the Easter Bunny as a wacky conspiracy theorist, suggested that phantom stock was not a real problem, and said that Patrick’s behavior was so “over the top” that he should be fired from Overstock.
Before she wrote this story, Bethany had three affidavits from former Gradient employees alleging that Gradient was in the business of producing false information for Rocker. One of those affidavits stated plainly that Gradient had colluded with at least one famous journalist–Herb Greenberg, a friend of Bethany–to illegally front-run media stories.
When Patrick asked if she had bothered to read these affidavits, Bethany said she didn’t see any reason why she should do so. “It would just open up a whole can of worms,” she told him, “and I’d have to get into whether they were telling the truth, or were just disgruntled ex-employees. I don’t want to get into that.”
Patrick then sent an email to Bethany, asking again whether she was going to write her story without reading those affidavits. Bethany now claimed to have read them, but said she wasn’t going to mention them - again, because she didn’t know if the former employees were disgruntled. She made no attempt to interview the employees or do any other reporting that would establish their credibility or lack thereof, so Patrick again inquired as to her unique understanding of what it meant to be a journalist.
Bethany’s emailed reply revealed the depths of her cynicism - the extent to which she views herself not as a detached and unbiased journalist, but rather as a battle-scarred warrior for the pillaging hedge funds that made her career.
She said she’d stick with her sources.
She said she’d do this because, “History is written by the victors.”
* * * * * * * *
There was one accurate paragraph in Bethany’s “Phantom Menace” story. It described some comments that Patrick made to Bethany and Gradient.
“In the fall of 2004, I wrote a FORTUNE story title “Is Overstock the Next Amazon?” After the piece came out, Byrne sent me an e-mail saying “Fair. And balanced.” Two days later he wrote another e-mail: ‘I actually thought it was crap…So why exactly did you become a reporter? Giving Goldman traders blowjobs didn’t work out?’ Around the same time, after Gradient released another report questioning board members’ independence, Byrne wrote to [Gradient's Donn Vickery]: “Donn, you make a living toadying to bully hedge funds…you deserve to be whipped, f-d, and driven from the land.”
Patrick responds, “I agree that the comments were a little salty. But Bethany knew that the email to Gradient had nothing to do with their ‘questioning a board members’ independence.’ I sent it because Gradient was derisive and personally disrespectful, over the telephone and then in print, to Gordon Macklin, a board member and a 78 year-old lifelong friend. This was crystal clear in my email, but Bethany’s strategically placed ellipsis obscured it.”
Here’s Patrick’s email to Vickery, in full: “Donn - You make a living toadying to bully hedge funds. In this role you insulted Mr. Macklin, a friend, a lifelong mentor, and a decent and wonderful man. You deserve to be whipped, fucked, and driven from the land. Little punctilious submissive rejoinders such as your letter cannot change this or recalibrate our relationship on other terms.”

Professor William Black Flunks Bethany McLean for Giving Hall Passes to Goldman Sachs and Wall Street

Posted on 18 August 2012 by Patrick Byrne

I first heard of William K. Black over 20 years ago as the regulator who had stood up to the "Keating 5″ and come out the hero of the S&L crisis (in which I gained some early experience: hence my awareness of him). Later, as a professor of law and economics at University of Missouri in 2005, Black wrote a book about control fraud, "The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One," available here. You should read it.
Yet I had never heard Black speak until one night in April, 2009, when he appeared on Bill Moyers. How refreshing it was to see the tabloid analyses be at last replaced with discourse about the system itself (and remember that while the following claims now seem barely controversial, in 2009 most were still heretical): Banksters. Fraud versus trust. Moral hazard and pathological incentives in the financial system (e.g., lending firms' Ninja Loans + investment bankers pooling mortgages + captured ratings agencies = toxic waste = systemic risk). FBI warned on mortgage fraud in 2004, but the Machine failed to react. Bank lobbyists. Glass Steagall. Brooksley Born and Credit Default Swaps. Bailout of the elites. Bank CEOs. Cover-up. Strategy to keep the public from understanding how bad the problem is. Prompt Corrective Action Law: Nationalize zombie banks. WHERE IS OUR PECORA COMMISSION? Scared of insolvent banks being revealed. Mimicking the strategies of Japan's Lost Decade. AIG-to-Goldman bailout. Increasingly horrific give-aways of taxpayer money. Stop hiding the losses. The current bleak numbers still vastly underestimate the fraud problem.
Black had me at "control fraud." I leave it to the community of readers to judge the familiarity of the other claims he made:

Alas, Bethany McLean and I are not so sympatico, and in fact have had a challenging relationship. Her side of the story is told here:
Is Overstock the new Amazon?
DeepCaptures' side, here:
Bethany McLean: your benefit of the doubt is hereby revoked
Rocker Partners and Bethany McLean: the smarmiest guys in the room
David Einhorn, Cheryl Strauss, and the "Unavailable" Bethany McLean
One interesting aside: in the last year I have had numerous journalists bring up to me Bethany's emails wherein she schemes with a hedge fund (emails obtained by DeepCapture from a New Jersey courthouse and published in Bethany McLean: your benefit of the doubt is hereby revoked). These journalists have told me that they know about it and see it as a tremendous breach of journalistic ethics. So there it sits, an open secret, although not, apparently, a secret anymore, but just something about which one whispers. In a similar fashion, Jim Cramer's video sat on DeepCapture for a couple of years drawing no comment, until Comedy Central confronted Cramer with it.
In any case, this week on CNBC Maria Bartiromo invited William Black and Bethany McLean on as guests to discuss the Justice Department's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Goldman Sachs for its role in the financial crisis in general, and for selling financial products from whose specific failure Goldman profited. Truly remarkable performances were delivered by all, albeit in different ways.
Black responds to Maria's opening by stating the obvious: Generating liar loans and packaging them for resale is fraud. There is no evidence that there was a significant federal investigation, or that a grand jury was convened. There is an absence of accountability. Goldman has been given a pass by Obama and Bush.
Bethany responds with bromides delivered with a dulcet confidence intended to suggest that she knows what she is talking about. Her analysis: I don't think anybody is giving Goldman Sachs a pass to be honest. I think this is a tough case to make. I do think integrity needs to be restored to the financial system, but you don't do that by bringing a case that shouldn't be made. Goldman Sachs didn't make liars' loans - they actually among the Wall Street firms were not on the ground making mortgages. So if you can't bring a case against Countrywide how can you possibly bring a case against Goldman Sachs? … From an overall perspective Goldman Sachs as a firm lost money in the mortgage business. Awfully tough to bring that case to a jury and win, I think… I'm not giving Goldman a pass or any of Wall Street a pass. I think I'm with Bill on that. But I don't think this was a criminal case. I think Goldman's customers should make the call: Do we want to do business with this firm? …
These vapid apologetics draw Maria Bartiromo's stammering, nodding approval: As you said earlier, stupidity does not mean criminality.
Bethany: Greed and venality do not make a criminal case.
There are two remarkable items about Bethany's performance. First, note the air of confidence she exudes when in fact (as will become clear) she has essentially no idea of what she is talking about (hence the expression "a journalistic understanding"). Second, note that Bethany is apparently unaware that the man she is debating on-air, Professor William K. Black, knows a lot about what she is talking about. In fact, he is perhaps the nation's foremost expert on precisely the issue she and Maria are trying to spin to Goldman's behalf: the federal prosecution of white collar crime at financial institutions.
Professor Black continues like a gentle professor with two weak students: Critical area here…. First, I'm the type of person that was involved in training the FBI agents, the assistant US attorneys, serving as the expert witness in these successful prosecutions where we had a 90% successful rate. Um, clearly people are not understanding fraud mechanisms. In accounting control fraud, the firm loses money. Indeed that is one of the defining elements because the way you maximize it is by making bad loans. And Goldman did make liar's loans, it did it through subsidiaries, and Goldman purchased loans that it knew to be fraudulent, and it packaged them and sold them as if they were good loans. This belief that this is the first virgin crisis in which fraud was not driving it is amazing. Nobody believes it about the savings and loan debacle. No one believes it about the Enron era fraud. And given what you've seen in the last three weeks, how can you believe it out of the current…"
Bethany appears to panic slightly then, unable to respond substantively to a single one of Black's arguments, simply locks into a repetitive, droning regurgitation of the talking points she just delivered a moment earlier (which amplifies my suspicion that some Goldman PR flack gave them to her to memorize). Behold Bethany McLean's verbatim analysis of legal culpability in the greatest financial collapse of our lifetime (so far):
Maria, I think there was a hue and a cry and a lot of political pressure to bring charges in this case. And I think that if they could have, they would have. And I don't think that any of our interests are served… I think it's just as dangerous to bring a case that shouldn't be made as to not bring a case that should be made. Neither one helps with the integrity of the financial system. I agree peoples' behavior during this crisis was unethical, it was abhorrent, it was every word you can come up with for wrong.' But if you are going to bring a case against Goldman Sachs you have to bring a case against every single other Wall Street firm as well as every mortgage originator as well as every home owner who lied on his or her mortgage application. You cannot single out one firm and say we are going to charge Goldman and we're not bringing charges against everybody else. That's wrong.
Maria Bartiromo: That's a great point.
William Black (like a professor exasperated with dull students he can no longer humor): No, it's not a great point. It's a terrible point. You've got to start with somebody. Your first prosecution is always your first prosecution. And you can always say where there's been an epidemic of fraud…"

Bethany's nails-on-a-chalkboard apologetics have received a fair bit of shocked attention this week:
Columbia Journalism Review: "Bill Black goes on CNBC and shreds Maria Bartiromo and Bethany McLean on whether Goldman Sachs (and others) could and should have been prosecuted for fraud related to the financial crisis…"
Bill Black vs Goldman Sachs Apologists
WATCH: Bill Black On CNBC Debates Wall Street Fraud-Deniers Maria Bartiromo, Bethany McLean
Bethany McLean Demonstrates her Profound Lack of Understanding of Control Fraud, Gresham's Dynamics, and Justice: "In this painful CNBC segment, former Goldman Sachs employee Bethany McLean provides a heartfelt apologia for her much-maligned former employer. Bethany says it is time for us all to move on for the good of confidence in the economy…In the process of prostrating herself for GS, she demonstrates her complete lack of understanding of control fraud, Gresham's Dynamics, and how white collar crime can be pursued."
I think this interview was unusual in that her panic drew Bethany into baring her biases incautiously (though frankly, the first sentence she uttered the first time she called me in 2004 conveyed to me that she is a shill and a Mean Girl). Asserting without argument that political pressure supported bringing charges against Goldman, Bethany appears literally incapable of considering the possibility that net political pressure ran in the opposite direction, and that in fact were it not for "political pressure" Goldman Sachs would have been prosecuted years ago.
But personally, I think Bethany is not really incapable of considering such a possibility, and that her adamancy thus has other motive.
Daily headlines disappoint with lack of prosecution, making clear that this will go down as history's "first virgin financial crisis" (in Professor Black's phrase) in which fraud played no role. When you read these headlines, imagine Bethany McLean, or someone very much like her, standing in an oak-paneled room in Washington, DC, droning through the same set of talking points to some senior decision-maker, and that decision-maker slowly getting snowed in under the same dulcet non sequiturs as appear in this remarkable exchange.

Every now and then the Truth is told.

And then ignored, suppressed, forgotten.

Bill Black is excellent.
Jan Klimkowski Wrote:Fantastic.

Every now and then the Truth is told.

And then ignored, suppressed, forgotten.

Bill Black is excellent.

Wow, on Bill Moyers yet?

Amazing where you sometimes find truth and courage.

Jeff Skilling to go free....while the thousands of lives he destroyed stay destroyed...the billions stolen stay stolen......
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