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Thursday, Dec 08th

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Instead of Real Financial Reform, Obama’s Plan capitulates to Wall Street

It is supposed to be the Treasury’s role to represent the public interest. Unfortunately, appointing Treasury Secretaries from the ranks of Wall Street management – or giving Wall Street veto power over the nominee – undermines this mission. Elsewhere in what is supposed to be the regulatory system of public-private checks and balances, the simple tactic of underfunding the criminal justice system, the FBI, state and local prosecutors – or actively blocking them, as George Bush did – leaves the economy without adequate protection against financial fraud and predatory credit. Putting the Congressional financial committee heads up for sale to the highest campaign contributors caps the process of transforming economic democracy into oligarchy.

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Obama Closes Doors on Openness

As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding "secret energy meetings" with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama's "clean coal" policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged "presidential communications." The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig's office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure. Since Obama pledged on his first day in office to usher in a "new era" of openness, "nothing has changed," says David -Sobel, a lawyer who litigates FOIA cases. "For a president who said he was going to bring unprecedented transparency to government, you would certainly expect more than the recycling of old Bush secrecy policies."

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Obama Pot Calls Iranian Kettle Black

President Barack Obama, referring to the violent attacks on protesters against the controversial election results in Iran's just-completed presidential election, this week lectured Iran's government, saying, "Peaceful dissent should never be subject to violence."

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The Obama officials blocking accountability for Bush crimes

The battle against baseless, worthless grants of anonymity by journalists is, at this point, probably futile, since even many of the nation's best and most valuable reporters -- such as The New Yorker's Jane Mayer -- seem helplessly addicted to it.  In an otherwise solid and at times enlightening article on CIA Director Leon Panetta and his resistance to investigating past CIA abuses, Mayer includes this passage at the beginning of her article to explain how Panetta was chosen only after Obama's first choice, John Brennan, was rejected:

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Haass: Cheney Bugged My Calls Because I Wasn't a Hawk

What was it about former State Department official Richard Haass that bugged former Vice President Dick Cheney? Haass, out with a new book, War of Necessity, War of Choice, says he was shocked to read in Angler, a book about Cheney, that the former veep ordered his phone calls tapped. An aide to both former President Bushes, Haass thinks the reason might have been that he wasn't hawkish enough while working with another moderate, former Secretary of State Colin Powell."To me it was just indicative of how ideological the administration had become," Haass says. For example, he pushed for a dialogue with Iran, rejected by the Bush-Cheney team. "The idea that something like that would be seen as somehow beyond the pale—that in many ways encapsulated my fundamental difference with this administration."

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U.S. man who gave secrets to Israel spared prison

An 85-year-old former civilian employee of the U.S. Army was fined but avoided prison time on Friday after earlier pleading guilty to giving classified documents to Israel in the 1980s in a case the sentencing judge said was "shrouded in mystery."

Court documents showed that Ben-Ami Kadish, who was fined $50,000 but spared prison time, reported to the same handler as Jonathan Pollard, an American who spied for Israel in the 1980s and triggered a scandal that rocked U.S.-Israeli relations.

"Why it took the government 23 years to charge Mr. Kadish is shrouded in mystery," U.S. District Judge William Pauley said during the sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court. "It is clear the (U.S.) government could have charged Mr. Kadish with far more serious crimes."

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Cheney's 'SECURE' Location

Speaking and ruling from his platform of international criminality, but as the vice-president of the United States: Cheney colluded with the energy giants against the public and the world-by elevating the 'needs' of the Energy Corporatocracy over every other need, in all fields of endeavor, when he placed their profits beyond all the laws that were enacted to prevent this continuing series of crimes from ever taking place.

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