Category Archives: Political crimes

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)

Republicans don’t want people to vote

Trump most likely lost because of mail in ballots. So…

The Georgia state senators pledged on Tuesday to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, require a photo ID to obtain a ballot, outlaw drop boxes and scrap a court agreement to quickly tell voters about signature problems on ballots so that they could be fixed…new york times.

erik prince: the devil himself, a classified contract with your money

The reporting is that Trump’s new buffoon appointments in the Pentagon have awarded EriK Prince (read, the Devil) a classified contract to run mercenary operations in Africa.

This is the best book out there about the true depth of corruption and violence represented by Erik Prince.

the “elite industrial complex” at work

What Elie Mystal calls the “elite industrial complex” has already started, before the election(which the Democrats are convinced they are going to win) to make the case for allowing Trump and the Republican crime family escape accountability for all the crimes they have committed not least of which is an attempt to subvert democracy and turn this into an authoritarian kleptocratic state.

We wouldn’t even have a crime network running the government, had we a functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and political criminals.  Just take your pick from the various scandals and crimes the Trump family has been accused of (  sexual assault against women, including marital rape; defrauding the U.S. government through racial discrimination in housing; tax fraud; consumer fraud through Trump University; tenant intimidation; bankruptcy fraud; use of undocumented workers, including models; casino fraud; antitrust violations; money laundering; refusing to pay workers and contractors; charitable foundation fraud through the Trump Foundation; various frauds and scams related to ties with organized crime).  As Jeff Wise has written in the New Yorker:  “His entire life, after all, is one long testament to the power of getting away with things, a master class in criminality without consequences..”

But the elite industrial complex has already started working over time to pave the way for minimizing, normalizing and burying Trump’s crimes.  

On October 16, the Washington Post published an astounding article by Jill Lepore who claimed to be responding to a suggestion by Chris Hayes that “if we survive this” (meaning the Trump administration,) we should establish a truth and reconciliation commission.  She noted that NPR did a piece about a truth and reconciliation commission the same week.

“This is a terrible idea.” She wrote. 

Lepore then reminded the reader that this country has a tradition of a “peaceful transfer of power” and of conceding an election “without violence.”  What she didn’t point out was that there is nothing, nothing about a truth and reconciliation commission that implies a non-peaceful transfer of power or a resort to violence.  Lepore is, therefore, objecting to something that has never been proposed, setting up a straw man to knock it down.  This is how she starts.

Lepore then goes on to quote Thomas Jefferson.  “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.” 

Lepore is arguing that the crime spree that has taken place in the past four years, calls for violence, threats not to allow an election, reminders by the likes of Mike Lee of Utah that the goal is not democracy, are just errors of opinion.  No.  These are not errors of opinion.  Shaping foreign policy to fulfill your own personal agenda and financial interests instead of that of the country is not an “error of opinion.”  Soliciting a bribe from the leader of another country, proposing to release public money in exchange for dirt on a political opponent is not an “error of opinion.”  I could go on for pages if not books in this vein, but you get the point.  Only an imbecile or a propagandist would call these errors of opinion.

The quote itself ends with a phrase that contradicts Lepore’s premise.  Jefferson says to let these folks stand undisturbed “where reason is left free to combat” their wishes to dissolve the union or change its republican form.  But, reason is not free to combat this effort at replacing a democratic system with an autocracy.  We have Fox News churning out propaganda 24 hours a day.  We have social media promoting the worst, most base fear mongering propaganda 24 hours a day.  No.  Reason is not “left free to combat” the threat.  So the quote Lepore’s using contradicts the argument she is advancing.

Lepore then quotes Justice Robert Jackson, chief counsel for the U.S. at the Nuremberg trials.  “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”

Once again, Leopre’s own quote belies her entire argument.  The crimes and attacks on democracy and justice by the Republicans have indeed been “calculated,” “malignant” and “so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored.”  And, democracy “cannot survive their being repeated.” 

I am not at all convinced that Joe Biden will even win the election.  The Republicans have been working for decades to install a system of voter suppression, stuffing the courts with right-wing religious zealots, voting system manipulation, data mining through social media (Cambridge Analytica) and legislation that erodes voting rights.  They have too much to lose to allow a Biden win and I do not think they will do so.  And withe Supreme Court packed with right-wing ideologues who have no respect for the law, I doubt we will get another chance to hold a fair election.

Lepore goes on to assert that Trump was elected in a “fair election.”  But, there is evidence that this is not the case.  A former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, an expert in election security, has said as much.   We have indictments of Russian nationals who hacked computer systems.  We have a Mueller report that details the handing over of computer voting information to the Russians by Paul Manafort.  And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Lepore self-righteously asserts that truth and reconciliation commissions don’t take place after democratic elections.  Well, that may well not have been a democratic election.

And, then, idiotically enough, Lepore just asserts, without question, that we can trust “investigative journalism, a functioning judiciary, legislative deliberation and action and dissent” to solve any problems caused by the crime spree of the last four years.

Well, investigative journalism is the first thing to go in newsrooms taken over by conglomerates and has been gutted.  We certainly don’t have investigative journalism from television networks that are owned by corporations.  The Republicans have worked for decades to stock the courts with ideologues who have no respect for law, but for dogma and some of whom have even been deemed incompetent by their own Bar Association.  Mitch McConnell bragged recently on Fox News that he totally blocked any legislative agenda the Obama administration had in the last six years Obama was in office.  And, we just had an impeachment process where Republicans in the Senate voted not to even hear evidence against the President, let alone convict him.  Dissent has been met with violence and illegal surveillance of the protestors, and Lepore is suggesting we rely on people protesting during a pandemic.

In short, this essay is idiocy and the fact that the Washington Post published it is a travesty.  But, as Elie Mystal notes, it’s the “elite industrial complex at work.”  Rick Stengel was on MSNBC waxing poetic about the “lovely” way in which the Biden campaign refused to engage in recriminations.  And, Joe Biden is part of this complex.  As Lepore points out, Biden has already said that pursuing charges against Trump officials is “probably not very…good for democracy.” 

“We are facing too many crises, we have too much work to do, we have too bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.”  This was Biden at Gettysburg, delivering a speech that had been carefully crafted to make the case for unilateral surrender. 

So, Biden and the “elite industrial complex” like Lepore will work to convince us we just have to engage in “self-reflection.”  Sen. Cory Booker thinks what we need is a “return to civic grace.”

Leopore ends with the statement: “Lock him up” cannot be the answer to “lock her up.”  What she fails to see, however, is that one of them is guilty and the other is not.