Category Archives: Political crimes

I Hope I’m Wrong: Afghanistan and biden

From an interview this morning with Leon Panetta, it seems likely that members of the corporate Democratic Party elite are advising Joe Biden to come out and take responsibility for the decision to precipitously withdraw from Afghanistan, and to admit that it was a mistake.

It has been reported that when Joe Biden was Vice President and Obama was thinking about withdrawing from Afghanistan, Biden went to Obama and counseled him not to listen to the generals, to withdraw. Obama didn’t follow Biden’s advice, but it looks as if Biden followed his own advice. He didn’t listen to the generals. That doesn’t appear to be working out very well for Biden and it has created a humanitarian disaster.

It is unlikely that Biden will accept responsibility. He may make some gratuitous statement that “the buck stops here.” But, I am willing to bet he also spends time outlining how the fault lies everywhere but with him and his administration.

Support for this comes from the reaction of the White House for the past week. Not only have they refused to take responsibility, they have issued a statement essentially blaming Donald Trump. They have as well blamed the Afghan government, corruption, the intelligence community, the Afghan “will to fight,” essentially everybody involved but themselves.

The amount of nonsense that has come out of the mouths of administration officials like Jake Sherman, Ned Price, Blinken and John Kirby is just breath taking. There is very little chance that Biden will do anything but dig himself deeper into this hole than he was a week ago.

I may be wrong. I hope I am wrong. But, I’m probably not.

haiti: some of what we know

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 25: President of the Republic of Haiti H.E. Jovenel Moise speaks onstage during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

The corporate media no longer finds it necessary to cover international stories.  We are treated to video after video of Biden boarding a plane to go somewhere, but the assassination of the President of Haiti is barely mentioned.

The assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moise, was barely covered last week. 

From what I have read, this is some of what we know.

During an attack early in the morning of July 7, President Jovenel Moise, was killed and his wife wounded in their private residence on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.  The wife was flown to Miami.

The attack has been described by the NYT as “well-planned.”  And there were reports that many of the attackers were foreigners who spoke Spanish. 

A great many questions are left unanswered about how Moise, President of the country, who usually traveled with more than a dozen armored cars and police guards could be so easily targeted.

The NYT reports that Moise had over 100 officers from the presidential guard around his home.  Nevertheless, Moise was found lying on the floor at the foot of his bed “bathed in blood.”

There were 12 bullet holes visible in the body according to a Haitian Justice of the Peace, Carl Henry Destin, who was on the scene.

The house had been ransacked.  The servants had been tied up.

There are two Americans among the 20 people who have been detained so far.  They were described as Florida residents of Haitian descent.  Other members of the hit squad were described as Colombians.  Mr. Edmond described the men as “well-trained professionals, killers, commandos.”

The Americans told authorities that they were merely translators and had not been in the room where Moise was killed. 

Clement Noel, a judge involved in the investigation said that the two Americans had met with other members of the hit squad at a suburban hotel to plan the attack.  They said that the attack had been planned over the course of a month.  The two American men maintained that the goal was not to kill Moise (the body had 12 gunshot wounds), but to bring him to the national palace.

It has not been reported when the American men entered Haiti, or what connection they had with the other hit men before the assassination. 

Judge Noel said that it was one of the Americas Solages who can be heard on audio of the attack, yelling out that the attackers were DEA agents.  Solages had previously worked as a security guard at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti and there had been no evidence reported that indicates there was any DEA connection.  Why this particular claim was made aloud at the beginning of the attack is not known.

Haiti’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, put the country under martial law after the assassination.  It is not clear whether he has the legal authority to do so.  In fact, most of what is going on in Haiti at the moment is of dubious legal basis. 

Days before his death, Moise, had appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henry.  Henry says he should be in charge of the government.

There is no clear designation of authority in the executive branch and there is no functioning Parliament in Haiti.  There are only 10 sitting senators out of 30.  The terms of the other 20 have expired.  The entire lower house is no longer sitting because their terms expired last year.  The head of the Supreme Court died of Covid.

Haitian government officials told the NYT that they had asked the U.S. to provide troops to protect infrastructure. 

According to a BBC podcast (7/7/21), Moise had become increasingly autocratic during his tenure as president.  He was pushing through a referendum which would have changed the constitution so he would stay in power longer. 

Notes:

  • The former Prime Minister is Laurent Lamothe.
  • Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S. Bocchit Edmond.
  • Claude Joseph is Haiti’s interim prime minister.
  • The two American men were identified as Joseph Vincent and James J. Solages.
  • Former President, Michael Martelly, left office in an electoral crisis in 2016.  He was able to use his political power, however, to see his supporter, Moise, elevated to the presidency.  Protestors were in the streets demanding Martelly’s ouster in 2016.  He left office formally giving presidential power to the leader of the National Assembly.
  • Martelly (like Moise) was criticized for not holding elections during his years.  Martelly was accused of surrounding himself with “cronies, some of them criminals.” NYT (2016)
  • When Martelly was elected, the process was said by critics to be riddled with fraud.
  • Former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier was ousted in 1986.

Sources:

Global News Podcast.  BBC. (7/7/21)

New York Times (7/8/21)

Reading:

New York Times (2016)

on point: podcast with renato Mariotti: matt Gaetz

Podcast “On Topic”

Matt Gaetz (April 17, 2021)

Notes on Interview with Renato Mariotti

  • Gaetz is certainly a subject of the investigation.
  • A target means that the prosecutor intends to indict.
  • Being a subject is not something you should feel good about.  It means they’re trying to develop enough information to charge you.
  • The defense attorney can ask if his/her client is a subject or a target.
  • Sex trafficking statute.  Drugs potentially can go to the coercion part of the law.
  • Drugs are at the very least a thing of value you can be exchanging for sex.
  • Mariotti is talking about the decisions that go into charging, whether there is enough evidence to win in court on a specific count. 
  • Mariotti maintains that he would want to have the 17-year-old count.  Juries will look at the defendant as such a sleaze they won’t be able to think of anything else. 
  • The Mann Act is a “strange act.”  Enacted over a century ago. Weird language in it. 
  • It had been used to prosecute people for sex among adults.  People questioned the use.  Mariotti maintains that it is not a normal act for the federal government to charge under.
  • When there are federal Mann act cases, they usually involve child sex trafficking.
  • My note: Why was Bill Barr so determined to stay away from this case and Matt Gaetz?  Why didn’t he quash the case?
  • There is the speculation that this case is larger than the underage girl question?
  • Mariotti argues that he would want a slam dunk charge like identity fraud or bank fraud.  Then, he would introduce the other sex acts as context.  The idea is to convict Gaetz on the fraud charges (the “slam-dunk”) and then tell the judge that the fraud was committed in the context of the sexual behavior which the judge would consider in sentencing.
  • My note: I don’t really understand this but it sounds sleazy as hell.
  • My note: Why is Mariotti even talking about Gaetz being charged for political reasons?  Is he arguing that they should charge the “slam-dunk” instead of the sex charges because it can be argued that the sex charges are politically motivated?  Why?  What difference does that even make?  Why are people so afraid of what some Republican might say about criminal behavior?  If Gaetz has violated the law, he has violated the law.
  • My note: Mariotti is maintaining that one of the considerations in charging is: “How will this cause people to view the Justice Department differently?”  So, what’s Mariotti’s actually saying is that the Justice Department itself is making political decisions (the politics of their own image) in charging.
  • My note: This is the type of attitude that led Comey to make some of the decisions he made that were so disastrous for the Democrats.  He made decisions partly on the basis of what he thought was good for the Justice Department and its image, not on what DOJ policy was and had been when he announced they were not charging Clinton, but probably should have.
  • My Note: Gaetz was showing photographs of naked women to other men on the floor of the House and bragging that they were his conquests.  I would like to know who he showed these photographs to and why they didn’t report him and have him censured?  Who were they? 
  • My Note: Matt Gaetz, a Republican, and his behavior with underage girls speaks to the repeated projection by the Republican party.  They have spent years accusing Democrats of running a pedophile ring.  Now that they have a pedophile in their midst and they are fine with it.  It’s all projection.  So, I keep thinking about the “baby eating” charge.
  • The interviewer asks, as a prosecutor would you bring in the fact that Gaetz showed these photos on the House floor?  Mariotti says that if he were the judge he would not allow this evidence in because it would be too prejudicial.  My note: Jesus Christ.
  • Mariotti argues that it would be too prejudicial because “Jurors would judge him (Gaetz).”  My note: Well, hell yeah.  Quite rightly.
  • Mariotti is talking about “streamlining” cases, what prosecutors do to “streamline” cases.  My note:  this is part of what’s wrong with the system.
  • My note: In what universe is Gaetz’s showing nude photos of women on the floor of the House not evidence of a pattern of exploitive behavior towards women?
  • Gaetz has chosen Mark Mukasey as his attorney.  Mukasey’s father was at the Justice Department after Alberto Gonzalez. Mukasey’s a very good trial lawyer, according to Mariotti.  He is very closely tied to Giuliani.  Perhaps also representing the Trump Organization.
  • My note: So now we know that Mukasey is part of the club.
  • Gaetz still thinks he’s living in a world where Trump is president and can shield him.
  • My note: these men wouldn’t be behaving like this, like they were above the law, if they hadn’t been for their entire lives.  The world Mariotti lives in has shielded these elite criminals for decades. 

boeing and the “chickenshit” justice department

TUESDAY 2 MARCH 2021

Justice under Capitalism

Those relying on the U.S. justice system to hold the Trump administration accountable for the crime spree that was the past four years, need to consider the record of the Justice Department in prosecuting corporate and white collar criminals.  Let’s just start with one case.

In January of 2021, the Justice Department allowed Boeing to resolve a criminal charge “related to a conspiracy to defraud” the government in connection with the FAA’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.

Boeing needed FAA approval for the planes and FAA was charged with developing safety protocols for them.  Employees of Boeing, however, placing “profit over candor” deceived the government by withholding important information from the regulatory agency, information which might have delayed approval or necessitated increased training for the use of the planes.

These employees continued to withhold the information and participate in a conspiracy to cover up the withholding, even after the first disastrous crash of the Boeing 737 MAX in 2018.

In 2018, Loin Air Flight 610 crashed near Indonesia.  189 passengers and crew were killed.  In March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, crashed near Ejere Ethiopia.  All 157 passengers and crew died.  In March 2019 the plane involved, the 737 MAX, was officially grounded.   

No individuals were charged in the federal criminal information filed against a company, Boeing, and no individuals were punished.  Boeing was allowed to buy itself out of prosecution.

The agreement accepted by the Justice Department was a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), one of many the Department of Justice enters into with corporations every year.  According to “The Chikenshit Club” by Jesse Eisinger (one of the most underestimated books in the past decade) from 2002 until the Fall of 2016, the Justice Department entered into 416 such agreements.  In the previous 10 years, they had participated in 18.

These DPAs take the place of prosecutions.  They are easier for the Justice Department (require less resources and risk of losing), allow the Department to claim victories and tout what appear to be large fines.  And, the NPAs are much less painful for the corporation.  The fines are usually tiny compared with resources of the corporation, and they rarely involve individuals.   

So even though individuals at Boeing made decision after decision to deceive the regulatory agency the public depends on to ensure flying safety, they were not named and not prosecuted.  They were allowed to hide behind a NPA that resulted in a fine paid by Boeing.

DPAs are similar to plea bargains.  But, unlike plea bargains, they are not lowered charges in exchange for a guilty plea.  It is a prosecution that has been deferred, not brought.  Boeing has not been prosecuted for a crime, and can claim so.  It has been allowed to buy itself out of prosecution. 

Every criminal in every court in the country (except the innocent ones) would love to be allowed to pay a small sum in order not to be prosecuted for the crime s/he committed.  They are almost never afforded this opportunity.

Ordinary criminal defendants (the poor) are almost always required to plead guilty to a crime in order to secure a more lenient sentence.  The poor defendant is subject to the stigma of criminal prosecution, the economic costs.  These companies, however, are allowed to negotiate a settlement that doesn’t even include prosecution, or necessarily an admission of guilt.

In this case, Boeing agreed to a settlement, a bribe, in order not to be prosecuted for deceiving the government by withholding crucial information about one of its planes from those charged with developing safety protocols, information that might well have prevented two crashes and the loss of over 400 lives.

Boeing, a company, a legal fiction, is held responsible for its’ employees behavior.  Those employees who participated in this conspiracy, knowing that it would endanger lives for profit, are left free to be promoted, or leave the company and get jobs working elsewhere, committing more crimes.

The FAA is one of the agencies administering regulations about how corporations function.  Republicans have spent the past forty years fighting against every regulation of industry, starving regulatory agencies of funds, and demonizing them in the eyes of the public they were designed to protect. 

When a white collar or corporate criminal is caught, they are allowed to hide behind their “company” and evade responsibility.

If you want to know what Republicans stand for, this is it – free, unfettered, unaccountable fraud against the American people for profit.     

Resources:

Free Speech TV: Economic Update with Richard Wolff, History Lessons on Capitalism’s Failures, 3/2/21.

Department of Justice News: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/boeing-charged-737-max-fraud-conspiracy-and-agrees-pay-over-25-billion

Counterpunch.  https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/19/why-boeing-and-its-executives-should-be-prosecuted-for-manslaughter/

Mother Jones several background articles

Intelligencer.  https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/boeing-settled-737-max-case-for-almost-nothing.html

The Chickenshit Club by Jesse Eisinger

putting together the pieces: reality winner, chris hayes podcast

If you are new to the Reality Winner story, this is an excellent place to begin. There are a number of things I disagree with in this podcast, especially the assumptions and analysis of Chris Hayes at certain points, but it is well worth listen to.

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/explaining-why-reality-winner-still-prison-kerry-howley-podcast-transcript-ncna1119756

Putting the pieces together: reality winner

PUTTING TOGETHER THE PIECES: Reality Winner

In June 2018, Reality Winner pleaded guilty in a plea agreement that resulted in the longest-ever sentence imposed for a leak of national security information to the media.   

As her mother wrote:

Although Reality’s legal team did their best to build a defense for her, the court ruled against them at every turn, and the threat of 10 years in prison and hefty fines if she didn’t prevail at trial became too much to battle against.

Despite having a spotless record, distinguished military service, documented volunteerism, and service to her community, the government’s sentencing memo…portrayed Reality as an enemy of the country.

On August 23, 2018, the court sentenced Reality to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

In a press release, U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine stated that resolving the case with this plea agreement was the best resolution, as a trial…[might] risk the further disclosure of classified information.

He said that the sentence imposed on Reality “promotes respect for the law and affords deterrence to similar criminal conduct in the future” — using Reality as the example. He referred to her as a “quintessential example of an insider threat.”

After releasing a press statement bragging about the length of the sentence, Christine continued to preside over her persecution.  He fought her move for Compassionate Release. 

Sources:

•        https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/atlanta-us-attorney-brings-in-assistants-who-worked-on-voter-fraud-issues-raising-fears-of-political-interference/2021/01/08/c4057f9a-51c9-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html

Twitter: cjjohns1951

Where we are and how we got there. Corrupt AGs, Anti-democratic DNC

Under the category of “Where we are”

The Attorney General of Texas was awaiting trial on securities fraud charges when he actively lobbied Donald Trump for a pardon.  How can a man who has been charged with securities fraud and who used the powers of the office of the Attorney General to harass the enemies of his cronies, stay in power?  And, now, after lobbying Trump for a pardon why is he still in office?

Under the category of “How we got here”

The DNC pushed new untried technology into the Iowa caucus process in 2020.  The story was that the DNC wanted to know in real time exactly what the vote count was.  But, the new technology was a disaster and the Iowa vote count was also a disaster.  Because the new technology caused such a chaos, the win was not immediately announced and this left Pete Buttigieg a window to declare himself the winner.

The upshot of all this was to deny Bernie Sanders, who polls showed was going to win Iowa in a landslide, crucial momentum, and an untold amount of free publicity which would have come with a clear win.

The DNC has plead incompetence, which is, I suppose, better than admitting that they interfered in the process deliberately to deny Sanders a clear win. 

And, it is important to remember that Pete Buttigieg quit the run for president and endorsed Biden right on cue, along with all the other corporate democrats.  As a reward, Buttigieg has just been named Secretary of Transportation.

In talking about his fitness for the job, Buttigieg said that he had always liked transportation as a kid (had a train set?), and that he had proposed to his partner at an airport.  You can’t make this up.

Essential reading

Podcast of Preet Bharara

Bharara is a former U.S. Attorney.

In this episode, Bharara interviews Rachael Maddow about her book “Bagman.”

Notes:

Agnew was on the take in Maryland before he was chosen Vice President by Nixon.

Nixon liked Agnew partly because he talked aggressively about race in his speeches and public appearances.

Agnew was essentially getting a cut of every construction contract in Maryland. He wanted to try to establish that relationship with federal contracts.

George HW Bush tried to squelch the investigation into Agnew’s criminal behavior. These Bushes have a lot to answer for. They are a crime family just like the Trumps only better behaved in public and more circumscribed.

When Agnew started to be aware of the fact that he was being seriously investigated, he invented a story that he was the target of assassination plots. He talked publicly about buying a gun to protect himself against government agents.

Agnew engaged in “grievance politics.” He was always the victim being pursued by bad men. After he left office he established a career for himself as an “anti-Semite” for hire.

Podcast: Preet Bharara

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/preetbharara

Bharara is a former U.S. Attorney.

In this episode, Bharara interviews Rachael Maddow about her book “Bagman.”

Notes:

Agnew was on the take in Maryland before he was chosen Vice President by Nixon.

Nixon liked Agnew partly because he talked aggressively about race in his speeches and public appearances.

Agnew was essentially getting a cut of every construction contract in Maryland. He wanted to try to establish that relationship with federal contracts.

George HW Bush tried to squelch the investigation into Agnew’s criminal behavior. These Bushes have a lot to answer for. They are a crime family just like the Trumps only better behaved in public and more circumscribed.

When Agnew started to be aware of the fact that he was being seriously investigated, he invented a story that he was the target of assassination plots. He talked publicly about buying a gun to protect himself against government agents.

Angew engaged in “grievance politics.” He was always the victim being pursued by bad men. After he left office he established a career for himself as an “anti-Semite” for hire.

no federal pandamic plan, mcconnell packing the courts and other morning delights

MORNING RUNDOWN

•       At the beginning of the pandemic, because of the total lack of a federal plan to deal with the problem, New York spent $1.1 billion for supplies to deal with the crisis.  According to the New York Times (NYT) Both the state and city governments entered into contracts rushing to try to deal with the pandemic.  Now they are trying to avoid paying vendors who they say didn’t deliver on time, and making void contracts now that the crisis has abated.  The New York Times called the behavior a “frantic buying spree.”  But, this buying “spree” was the result of the lack of a federal plan and the decision to allow states to bid against each other for emergency supplies. (See NYT, 12/17/20)

•       Several health care workers in Alaska have had severe reactions to the new vaccine.  There is no coverage of the idea that rational people may be reluctant to have a vaccine because it was developed under the Trump administration.  There are almost weekly stories about the Trump administration’s successful influence over the CDC.  The corporate media is filled with stories about how black people and reluctance to get the vaccine.  To give you an idea of how in touch these corporate media people are, one commentator noted that black people were reluctant to get the vaccine because of the Tuskeegee “airmen.”    (NYT, 12/17/20)

•       The Judiciary is time bomb waiting to explode. (NYT, 12/17/20)   The NYT reviewed more than 10,000 published decisions and dissents during the first three years of the Trump administration.  Trump appointees were “more likely…to disagree with peers selected by Democrats…” and “more likely to agree with their Republican colleagues.”  The “published opinions from the nations’ appeals courts this year show that Trump appointees stand out from other judges…”  The “conservative imprint” is only deepening.  One of the reasons we managed to escape another Trump term is the federal judiciary.  But, that is the reason Mitch McConnell is packing the federal courts with “right-thinking” judges.  Next time, these judges may side with even the most outrageous lawsuits to maintain the power of the Republican party.  McConnell has encouraged federal judges to retire to make room for these more radical colleagues. (NYT, 12/17/20)

•       The new version of the stimulus bill doesn’t include the get out of jail fee card for corporations wanted by McConnell (NYT 12/17/20)