Wow, that's really sad, they don't seem to realize they are encouraging more war & death on both sides. Thanks for the vid
Put down the plate
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: I wonder what you taste like
Why do I get the feeling that the banks are up to their dirty tricks again with this issue? I know I have no concrete evidence or proof to support it, but I do want to remind everyone here that a US bank had already been caught red-handed for laundering money to a Mexican drug cartel. A fine was slapped on them, and no jail time was ever served.
Observer is difficult to imagine, and shameful too. Wachovia Bank - flagrant Mexican drug cartel money-launderer?
It's true, and the story fleshes out management problems that seem to have dogged the bank for years. Those management issues have been highlighted over the past months in a spate of news stories.
Now comes the money laundering.
The Observer reported in March that the Justice Department had levied a $160 million fine against Wachovia in the case. The federal prosecutor who handled the matter said then that "Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations."
Wells Fargo, aware of the Justice Department probe when it bought the bank, agreed: "The violations at Wachovia were serious and systemic," Wells said in its March statement, "and allowed certain Wachovia customers to launder millions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of illegal narcotics through Wachovia accounts over an extended period of time."
Still, the Sunday article by Bloomberg News greatly illuminated the unsavory role Wachovia played in Mexico's violent drug trade. It put a human face - the faces of millions of humans actually - on the drug trade that the billions of dollars apparently laundered through Wachovia helped finance. Since 2006, more than 22,000 people have been killed in drug-related battles along the Mexico/U.S. border. Additionally, 20 million people in the U.S. regularly use illegal drugs, costing $215 billion a year in overburdened courts, prisons and hospitals and lost productivity, said the Justice Department.
But Wachovia's involvement is even more shameful because the director of its anti-money-laundering unit claims he documented drug dealers were funneling money through the bank's branches, and told bank executives. They ignored the information and tried to fire him, he said.
The case is more reason for better bank regulation. Wachovia and other banks have knowingly flouted banking rules because they rake in billions of dollars for the illicit activities, and the fines are a paltry deterrent. The $160 million in fines and penalties Wells is paying is less than 2 percent of its $12.3 billion profit in 2009. No bank has ever been indicted for violating the Bank Secrecy Act - which requires reporting to regulators cash transactions above $10,000 - or any other federal law. The Justice Department prefers fines and promises of never violating the law again.
But the government's strategy hasn't stopped this activity. U.S. and European banks have become an essential part of the illicit drug trade. Bigger deterrents are clearly needed. Jail time for bank executives who turn a blind eye to illegalities in their eager pursuit of profits might be a good place to start.
WASHINGTON – A show down on Capitol Hill seems to be getting closer.
The head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform announced Friday morning that he was issuing a subpoena to ATF to force it to turn over documents relating to a controversial gun program “Project Gunrunner” and its offshoot “Project Fast and Furious.”
The subpoena, announced by committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), comes in response to ATF’s failure to comply with a request by the committee to turn over the materials. The deadline was Wednesday. The deadline to comply with the subpoena is April 13.
“The unwillingness of this Administration – most specifically the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms – to answer questions about this deadly serious matter is deeply troubling,” Issa said in a statement.
“Allegations surrounding this program are serious and the ability of the Justice Department to conduct an impartial investigation is in question. Congressional oversight is necessary to get the truth about what is really happening.”
Drew Wade, an ATF spokesman, said Friday morning shortly before the subpoena was announced: “We aren’t going to discuss matters of ongoing investigations. He could not immediately be reached for a follow up comment.
The controversy centers on a an ATF program that allowed straw purchasers to buy guns — all with the hopes of tracing them to the Mexican cartels. Some guns have been used in crimes.
A press release issued Friday morning by the committee stated:
“On March 16, 2011, Chairman Issa wrote a letter to Acting Director Kenneth Melson of the ATF requesting specific documents related to Project Gunrunner, its “Fast and Furious” component, and records related to the death of Border Agent Brian Terry. ATF failed to meet the March 30th deadline for producing these documents and furthermore refused to voluntarily commit to any date for producing them. ”
“Media reports have raised questions about the handling of operations involving gun trafficking into Mexico – specifically the allegation that ATF has had a policy of permitting – and even encouraging – the movement of guns into Mexico by straw purchasers.
“This practice may have contributed to the deaths of hundreds on both sides of the border, including federal law enforcement agents. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who has also been pursuing the matter, recently stated, ‘I’m still asking questions and we’re still getting the runaround from the Justice Department, [t]hey’re stonewalling.’”
“President Obama recently stated that neither he nor Attorney General Holder authorized this operation. His statement did not specify whether Attorney General Holder was aware of this policy or who did authorize it. The Committee’s investigation seeks answers to these questions and the true nature of Project Gunrunner.”
The subpoena requests the following documents, according to the press release:
1. Documents and communications relating to the genesis of Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious, and any memoranda or reports involving any changes to either program at or near the time of the release of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General report about Project Gunrunner in November 2010.
2. Documents and communications relating to individuals responsible for authorizing the decision to “walk” guns to Mexico in order to follow them and capture a “bigger fish.”
3. Documents and communications relating to any investigations conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) or any other DOJ component following the fatal shooting of Agent Brian Terry, including information pertaining to two guns found at the crime scene that may have been connected to Project Gunrunner.
4. Documents and communications relating to any weapons recovered at the crime scene or during the investigation into the death of Agent Brian Terry.
5. Documents and communications between ATF and the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) who sold weapons to Jaime Avila, including any Report of Investigation (ROI) or other records relating to a December 17, 2009 meeting “to discuss his role as an FFL during this investigation.”
6. A copy of the presentation, approximately 200 pages long, that the Group 7 Supervisor made to officials at ATF headquarters in the spring of 2010.
7. Documents and communications relating to Operation Fast and Furious between and among ATF headquarters and Special Agent in Charge William D. Newell, Assistant Special Agents in Charge Jim Needles and George Gillette, Group Supervisor David Voth, or any Case Agent from November 1, 2009 to the present. The response to this component of the subpoena shall include a memorandum, approximately 30 pages long, from SAC Newell to ATF headquarters following the arrest of Jaime Avila and the death of Agent Brian Terry.
8. Documents and communications relating to complaints or objections by ATF agents about : (1) encouraging, sanctioning, or otherwise allowing FFLs to sell firearms to known or suspected straw buyers, (2) failure to maintain surveillance on known or suspected straw buyers, (3) failure to maintain operational control over weapons purchased by known or suspected straw buyers, or (4) letting known or suspected straw buyers with American guns enter Mexico.
Kenneth Melson is out as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
Melson has been under fire from Republicans over the scandal surrounding the gun trafficking program Operation Fast and Furious. The Justice Department announced that Melson will be moving to the Office of Legal Policy.
Melson has been under pressure to step aside since earlier this summer, after a House Oversight Committee hearing revealed controversial aspects of the program. ATF agents charged with monitoring the illegal sale and transfer of guns from the U.S. To Mexican drug cartels told lawmakers that, instead of arresting small-time buyers, they were ordered to stand by and let the guns go through, in the hopes of tracing them to larger arms dealers.
After border patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered in a shootout along the Arizona-Mexico border in December 2010, two weapons found on the scene were linked that the Fast and Furious program.
This month, the Justice Department announced that guns from the program had turned up at the scenes of at least 11 crimes in the U.S. In El Paso, Texas, 42 weapons were seized from two crime scenes alone.
Melson “was part of the bad judgment. … This was a program so stupid from the start,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the head of the Oversight Committee, told Fox News in June.
In July, after a review of the program, Melson admitted that, in at least one instance, agents could and should have intercepted the weapons. "I read through those and found ROIs (reports of investigation) that indeed suggested that interdiction could have occurred, and probably should have occurred, but did not occur," Melson told congressional lawmakers.
Considering how long it took the ATF and the Justice Dept to respond to this issue, I still have to wonder if they're hiding something bigger.
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: I wonder what you taste like
So I know this place is dead, but I wanted to post one more update to this story. Probably be the last, unless something shocking is later revealed. Figured I'd go with a Reuters article here since it sums up all the hooplah this scandal has caused.
A failed attempt to stem gun smuggling along the U.S.-Mexican border was back in the news on Wednesday with the release of a report from the Justice Department's internal watchdog that cleared Attorney General Eric Holder of any wrongdoing. However, two senior department officials have left their jobs.
Following are some facts about the case:
Congressional Republicans have pressed the controversy over the so-called Operation Fast and Furious ahead of Democratic President Barack Obama's bid for re-election on November 6.
The operation, named after a movie about car racing, targeted gun trafficking rings feeding weapons to Mexican drug cartels.
In the process, critics of the effort say, U.S. agents in Arizona let slip into Mexico as many as 2,000 guns bought by low-level suspects. The political row had already cost the chief federal prosecutor in Arizona his job and on Wednesday he was joined by Justice Department officials Kenneth Melson and Jason Weinstein.
In June, the Republican-led House of Representatives found Holder, the chief U.S. law enforcement officer, head of the Justice Department and an Obama appointee, in contempt for not turning over documents about the affair. That prompted angry Democrats to stage a walkout.
At the heart of the controversy is U.S. gun politics, a sensitive issue, especially in the heat of a presidential election campaign.
Gun advocates say federal officials came up with Fast and Furious to pin border crime on gun dealers. Their opponents say the National Rifle Association ginned up the scandal to distract from border violence.
Below are six key dates in the dispute.
* October 2009: Operation Fast and Furious starts to take shape in the Phoenix office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the agency within the Justice Department charged with enforcing federal gun laws.
The agents begin to track "straw buyers," gun purchasers who are suspected of buying for others. Straw buying is illegal but can be difficult to prove. Eyeing the potential for an expansive case against a gun-smuggling ring, ATF agents decide not to pursue low-level buyers aggressively. As the case progresses slowly they assemble a database of suspect guns, including serial numbers.
* December 14, 2010: U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is shot dead in a remote area of Arizona after a group of Mexican men who had crossed the border hoping to rob drug traffickers come across his unit.
The attackers leave behind evidence, including two semi-automatic rifles with serial numbers that match two in the Fast and Furious database. The rifles were purchased on a holiday weekend, and it is unclear whether ATF agents could have intercepted them.
Terry's death leads to questions from reporters, gun-rights bloggers and lawmakers about the ATF's tactics. In February, Holder asks for a review by the Justice Department's inspector general.
A federal grand jury would later indict at least six men in Terry's death. At least two are in custody.
* August 30, 2011: Holder reassigns Melson, the ATF's acting director, to an unrelated job about legal policy, and Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, resigns.
The two men are the first to lose their jobs as a result of the uproar over Fast and Furious, raising the stakes for other Obama administration officials tied to the operation.
Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee responsible for rooting out wrongdoing in government agencies, says he will continue to lead an inquiry into the operation "to ensure that blame isn't offloaded on just a few individuals."
Burke had questioned the motives of congressional staff, calling them "willing stooges for the gun lobby" in emails that later became public. Burke apologized.
* December 11, 2011: The Justice Department retracts a letter it sent to Congress on February 4, in the early days of questions about Fast and Furious. The letter denied that agents ever knowingly allowed suspicious guns to be trafficked. The retraction stokes speculation among lawmakers and other critics that there may be more the department is not revealing.
Justice officials say they relied on federal prosecutors and agents in Arizona in writing the letter.
In a separate letter in October, Holder writes that he had no early knowledge of the Fast and Furious tactics and the "misguided tactics" should never be used again. Lawmakers should spend more time finding ways to stop illegal guns, Holder writes.
* June 28, 2012: The Republican-led House votes 255-67 to find Holder in contempt, saying the Obama administration was withholding documents related to how it responded to the Fast and Furious scandal.
Many Democrats refuse to cast votes and stage a walkout from the House floor, calling the vote politically motivated.
The Justice Department says it provided thousands of documents to the House and wanted to continue negotiating for access to more. After talks fail, Obama claims executive privilege over the remaining records.
The House follows up with a lawsuit asking a judge to order Holder to comply with a subpoena. That request is pending.
* September 19, 2012: The Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, releases a report faulting 14 department employees for systematic failures that led the operation to go awry.
Melson retires effective immediately. Weinstein, a deputy in the department's criminal division, resigns but launches a counter attack that calls the inspector general's report inaccurate. He says he was singled out because of politicized congressional hearings.
Holder claims vindication in the report, which makes clear he did not conceive Fast and Furious and did not attempt a cover-up of the operation. Republicans find parts to like, too, as the report said the ATF disregarded public safety.
I still don't know what to make of this. I feel that Holder should be held accountable, but we know that's not going to happen. This is probably all this "investigation" will net.