Tag Archives: Justice Department

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

The Most Dangerous Bulls in the Herd: Greg Sargent, William Barr and the Corporate Media

sargent

Yesterday, I spent hours reading about William Barr launching a criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.  What struck me most forcefully was the repeated dismissal of the action by various corporate media commentators.

There is a squad of normalizers out there in the corporate news world, working overtime to convince us that we are not seeing what is right before our eyes, an authoritarian take-over of the state.

The attitude was, “Oh well, this is just a distraction.”  “Don’t worry, there’s nothing there.”  “They don’t even know what they’re investigating.”  “The prosecutor (Durham from Connecticut) is a fine man.”  “Who could imagine that such a fine man would be participating in anything nefarious.”

The Attorney General of the United States has launched a criminal investigation into the Justice Department’s own Russia investigation.  The effect of this investigation will be to harass, to target, and to punish members of the intelligence community and the FBI who dared, dared to follow up credible leads that the Trump Campaign was consorting with Russians in order to steal an election.

As David Lohfman, head of the counterintelligence section at Justice at the time stated Thursday night on Rachael Maddow, “We would have been derelict” had an investigation not been initiated.

But the Attorney General is now using a criminal investigation to punish and silence anyone who participated in this lawful investigation.  And, the normalizers tell us that there’s nothing to see here.

They are tying themselves in knots trying to dismiss what has happened.  It reminds me of a Time Magazine cover during Watergate where all the principles were surrounded by audio tape, desperately pointing at each other.

The normalizers shout that what Barr is doing is merely a “distraction.”

But it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if it is.  It doesn’t make any difference at all why Barr is pursuing this investigation.  Once the Justice Department becomes an enforcement tool of the White House you have authoritarianism.

The corporate media refuses, refuses to state what is obvious to anyone who has eyes and ears.  Instead, they work overtime to bring on the appeasers to tell us that what we are seeing are “stunts” “empty gestures,” nothing to worry about.

I read a tweet from somebody yesterday wondering if the corporate media would have normalized the rise of Mussolini.  I think most definitely so.

I had barely stumbled into my study this morning and turned on the computer before I was confronted with Greg Sargent in the Washington Post making his contribution to the to the normalizing.

Under the headline “Explosive William Barr news points to Trump’s weakness and panic.” (WP 10/25/19), Sargent beings his article with the sentence: “Don’t freak out.”  What?  We’re not supposed to “freak out” over explosive news?

Sargent proceeds to call Barr’s investigation “deeply worrying” a standard utterance widely used yesterday along with “concerning.”  (Concern used to be a noun.)

Then Sargent tells his readers that even though “when we’re talking about Barr, the most nefarious designs imaginable must be treated as a serious possibility,” it’s possible “POSSIBLE” that Barr’s actions are NOT SERIOUS.  Well, hell, it’s POSSIBLE that my head is going to fly off into the goddamn air and become a spotted calf, but I’m not going to waste time talking about it, especially not in the goddamn Washington Post.

Sargent, evidently realizing the utter imbecility of his case, drags in the help of the New York Times, saying that the Times comments that Barr’s actions may “raise alarms” that Trump “is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.”  May?

Both corporate news outlets refrain from saying what is obvious, that Trump and Barr ARE using the Justice Department go to after enemies.  No, The Washington Post and the New York Times must phrase it differently.  According to them, Barr’s actions MAY “raise alarms” that this is happening.  They don’t say this IS happening, or that we SHOULD BE alarmed, what they say (in all the courage of their convictions) is that these things might be happening, and might raise the alarms of a certain unidentified group of people that it might be happening.

Sargent goes on to state that it is “at least possible” that Barr turning the Justice Department into an enforcement branch to silence Trump’s detractors isn’t “quite as serious as it seems.”  I suppose in some goddamn fictional world, that it’s possible that it’s not as serious as it seems, but I don’t know where that is.  In the world I inhabit, it is serious, goddamn serious.  It is using the investigative branch of the government in a blatant action to silence the President’s enemies.

Sargant says it’s POSSIBLE that it’s not as serious as it seems because the investigation might just be an attempt to calm the president.

Following this logic, it’s O.K. if the Justice Department is pursuing bogus criminal investigations if it’s just to calm the president.  WHAT MAKES THAT O.K.?  IN WHAT WORLD IS THAT ALRIGHT?

Sargent sees it as reassuring that neither the Times nor the Post are “clear what potential crime Durham and Barr are investigating.”  No, that’s not reassuring.  That makes it even more terrifying.  The very fact that Barr managed to initiate a criminal investigation based on NOTHING, should be terrifying, not reassuring.

Sargent drags the Cato Institute in and uses them to say that the criminal matter “could be something relatively less serious” say a leak from the Russia probe.  Again, this is supposed to make us feel better?  The Justice Department intends to drag government officials who were doing their jobs through years of investigation and possible prosecution, but if it’s for something relatively minor, we’re supposed to feel better?

Sargent then adopts the Barbara McQuade idiotic statement of the day from yesterday, that this is merely a diversion from the impeachment probe.  Whether or not it is a diversion from the impeachment probe it is a criminal prosecution trumped up for no reason, to uncover no known crime which will chill investigations in the future.

Again, this is said as if since the criminal investigation is a diversion, we should all relax and move on.  I just don’t understand that.

After repeating McQuade’s ludicrous utterance, Sargent then manages to try to tie himself up in knots by stating: “I’m not saying Barr’s machinations aren’t deeply dangerous. They absolutely are.”

Then why has he has just spent an entire article telling us why they AREN’T deeply dangerous?

“Given Barr’s apparent willingness to place law enforcement at Trump’s political disposal, it’s very possible Barr’s designs are maximally nefarious. But one can also imagine the criminal probe is of some intermediate matter.”

What “intermediate matter?”  What difference does that make?

The very fact that Barr has managed to open this criminal investigation is the point.  What he intends to do, what crime he is targeting (if any), whether the investigation will “go anywhere” is not the goddamn point.

Barr’s Justice Department tried to keep Trump’s Ukraine plot buried by advising against the transmission of the whistleblower complaint about it to Congress, and by successfully declining to investigate the referral within the Justice Department.  He has now successfully launched a criminal investigation targeting Trump’s foes.  This is serious.  Any attempt to portray it as otherwise is deeply subversive, that includes opinion pieces from the Washington Post.

I’m beginning to believe that the corporate media is more dangerous than Trump and to borrow a phrase from ancient Rome about Crassus, William Barr is the most dangerous bull in the heard.