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Judge Rakoff Virtually Indicts Obama on Non-Prosecution of Banksters

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On November 12th, Britain's Financial Times headlined, "Top judge criticises DoJ for not holding individuals accountable," and reported that U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff accused the Obama Administration ("the Department of Justice') of "excuses" for not prosecuting banksters. In his speech (linked to in the FT article), Rakoff said that the "Department of Justice ... has offered one or another excuse for not criminally prosecuting them -- excuses that, on inspection, appear unconvincing." Rakoff noted that, "the stated opinion of those government entities asked to examine the financial crisis overall is ... fraud was committed." And Judge Rakoff also noted "the increased success that federal prosecutors have had over the past 50 years or so in bringing to justice even the highest level figures who orchestrated mammoth frauds. Thus, in the 1970's, in the aftermath of the "junk bond' bubble, ... the progenitors of the fraud were all successfully prosecuted, right up to Michael Milken. ... In the 1980's, the so-called savings-and-loan crisis ... resulted in the successful criminal prosecution of more than 800 individuals ... In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears very likely that none will be." Rakoff then explained how the Obama Administration systematically blocked the types of investigations and prosecutions that, in previous decades, had held banksters personally liable and placed them into prison.

Basically, Rakoff set forth an indictment of Barack Obama. Rakoff's reason given for doing this now was that the 5-year statute of limitations is running out; his speech is thus a call for alarm, and possibly even a call for prosecution of the President, if that ever becomes possible. Rakoff is essentially laying out a case for prosecution of Obama as an accessory after-the-fact in aiding and abetting, if not masterminding, a cover-up of the crimes that had caused the 2008 collapse.

What is especially interesting about Rakoff's speech is his description of the tactics that the Obama Administration used in order to achieve this result. Rakoff, who knows very well the laws and precedents in regards to prosecution of executive financial crimes, lays out the methods of diversion from that system that were applied throughout the Obama Administration. He doesn't do this in detail - for example, he doesn't at all mention the role that the Administration's vigorous and successful effort to stop the state attorneys general from moving forward separately to investigate and possibly criminally prosecute these crimes under state laws and to divert those efforts into the omnibus 49-state "settlement" - but the outline he provides is quite clear, and does accurately describe the way the Administration dealt with accountability for the 2008 collapse, which was by blocking accountability for it and by transferring that onto civil penalties against the banks that had carried out these frauds, which is to say: wrist-slap fines against those banks' innocent current stockholders, fines so small anyway as to be inconsequential in comparison to the profits that were gained from these frauds (and from the taxpayers' bailouts sopping up the "toxic assets").

As to the reason why congressional and other Republicans, who rail so vociferously against Obama for "death panels," "fake birth certificate," etc., have not pursued him on this, the reasons go beyond anything that's touched upon in Rakoff's speech, but the George W. Bush Administration had actually begun the system that President Obama has merely continued; and so, any prosecution of Obama would also expose the previous President, who was, of course, a Republican. Consequently, if there is to be any action taken against Obama, it would need to be initiated by Democrats. The Republican Party is complicit in any crimes that the Obama Administration might have perpetrated, because those were conservative crimes - such as protecting from prosecution the criminal elite who brought on and profited from the MBS bubble.

Thus, we have a Republican Party that cannot afford to criticize this President on the basis of the truth, but that is instead constantly coming at him because he isn't sufficiently right-wing to suit their inclinations, and this means that they always need to attack him on the basis of right-wing lies, rather than on the basis of the real truths that stick in their own political craws and that would condemn themselves as well. (This, too, is the reason why Obamacare, which the Heritage Foundation concocted in 1989, and which Romney instituted in Massachussetts, is now a curse to both Parties, neither of which can admit that expanding Medicare to cover all Americans would have been the right thing to do.)

Rakoff's speech presents in outline a strong case against this President, but this is a case that's apparently impossible politically to bring, given that the Republican Party is far right-wing, and that the man who would need to be pursued stands atop the less right-wing of the two existing conservative Parties. Consequently, both of the existing political parties cooperate with this corruption at the very top of the government, which covers up crimes at the very top of the nation's private economy.

Rakoff makes clear that prosecuting corporations for crimes that are masterminded by their top executives is just a ruse in order to protect a criminal elite. Unfortunately, our nation seems to consider this situation to be acceptable. 

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 and of   CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .


 

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... by Eric Zuesse on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 12:20:46 PM
I find this question important.In the US the legal... by BFalcon on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 1:19:19 PM
If the Pres feels the AJ is not enforcing the law ... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 3:17:23 PM
Entitled, I agree, but do we really want the presi... by BFalcon on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 4:27:05 PM
No, we don't want "the president to interfere, in ... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 11:40:04 PM
Very often I fully agree with you.But interfering ... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 6:01:10 AM
Re. your "I want the executive out of the judiciar... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:26:45 AM
You really dodge the issue." Executive branch "fai... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:33:01 AM
The President is responsible for the entire Execut... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:44:07 AM
Do you or do you not think that the President shou... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:45:24 PM
On 3 April 2009, Politico bannered i... by Eric Zuesse on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 4:32:00 PM
Strangely, you reply to me but not to my question.... by BFalcon on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 5:18:57 PM
Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight, of the U.S... by Eric Zuesse on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 6:30:15 PM
Your view seems very strange to me.It says " faith... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 6:18:36 AM
No legal authority agrees with you, because solely... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 6:34:45 AM
What do you mean by "see to it that criminals are ... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 7:26:29 AM
Re. your "Is the President the Chief Prosecutor of... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:30:48 AM
" The  United States Attorney General  ... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:27:50 AM
The Department of Justice successfully prosecuted ... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 10:21:54 AM
There are three branches of the federal government... by Stephen Unger on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 7:31:15 PM
I know that there is no "legal branch", sorry for ... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 6:36:36 AM
No one is saying that Obama should "interfere with... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 6:40:06 AM
Oh, no? Nobody? "U.S. District Judge Je... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 7:16:12 AM
The AG is the DA on the national level. I don't th... by Jim Arnold on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 7:54:11 AM
I would rather close that door to possible abuse o... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:42:22 AM
BFalcon, your comments show that you fundamentally... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:32:01 AM
Consider a case of armed robbery. Police officers ... by Stephen Unger on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 10:11:17 AM
You should note that you assumed "good people" in ... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:43:02 PM
I never said anything about "good people" (a term ... by Stephen Unger on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 8:36:16 AM
You do "assume good people".For me, a person inves... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 10:07:21 PM
Bfalcon, you're misplacing the danger.It doesn't m... by Jim Arnold on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 2:43:44 AM
PKresident Truman said "The buck stops here," mean... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:35:07 AM
Pardon my English and thanks for the correction.So... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:06:12 AM
An indictment comes from a grand jury, not from th... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:40:54 AM
Are you suggesting that the President actively pre... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:48:09 PM
The attorney general is a functionary of the execu... by Stephen Unger on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:09:51 AM
AG and DOJ have dual function.The law:".... Attorn... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:53:49 AM
Banksters, yes and what about war criminals?... by Archie on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 3:08:08 PM
The case on the violation of his oath of office is... by Eric Zuesse on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 3:13:44 PM
Just what IS the law, if any, regarding breach of ... by John Jonik on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 4:40:19 PM
Obama protected banksters. On 3 Ap... by Eric Zuesse on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 5:35:16 PM
Do you understand prosecutorial discretion and how... by BFalcon on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 5:27:18 PM
Obama told the banksters, right at the start, ... by Eric Zuesse on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 6:34:23 PM
You can't answer my different questions by repeati... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 6:57:46 AM
Not so simple. Though I agree Obama's first d... by Gustav Wynn on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 8:43:30 PM
I am shocked that virtually everyone here thinks t... by Eric Zuesse on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 9:22:47 PM
It's almost as if you read my comment and thought ... by Gustav Wynn on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 7:54:31 PM
When you say "the fact that the Bush administratio... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 6:47:40 AM
Eric, take a closer look at Rakoff's PDF and you'l... by Gustav Wynn on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 8:53:59 PM
No, you are wrong.Rakoff's statement,"Moreover, th... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:23:08 PM
Love of money is the root of all evil and in this ... by Gerald Campeau on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 10:32:36 PM
I disagree: Geithner and Bernanke knew what they w... by Eric Zuesse on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 6:49:33 AM
 Notwithstanding the twice erroneous spelling... by eric forat on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 5:32:02 PM
This article isn't about the employees of the Pres... by Eric Zuesse on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 6:37:48 PM
The top person could pick up the phone and have Tr... by Lance Ciepiela on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 10:06:55 AM
You, too, cover for Obama: his crime is obstructio... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 10:18:33 AM
Your first comes his violation of oath of office -... by Lance Ciepiela on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 3:34:07 PM
The failure of Republicans to seize upon Obama's b... by Gustav Wynn on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 8:57:09 PM
You come back with more old news about how corrupt... by Eric Zuesse on Sunday, Nov 17, 2013 at 9:40:51 PM
Eric, what specifically made you erroneously think... by Gustav Wynn on Monday, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:06:00 PM