Tag Archives: Zachary Roth

Just Sign Right Here On The Dotted Line

George Talbot at Press Register:

Alabama Attorney General Troy King said tonight that he has told representatives of BP Plc. that they should stop circulating settlement agreements among coastal Alabamians.

The agreements, King said, essentially require that people give up the right to sue in exchange for payment of up to $5,000.

King said BP’s efforts were particularly strong in Bayou La Batre.

The attorney general said he is prohibited from giving legal advice to private citizens, but added that “people need to proceed with caution and understand the ramifications before signing something like that.

“They should seek appropriate counsel to make sure their rights are protected,” King said.
By the end of Sunday, BP aimed to sign up 500 fishing boats in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to deploy boom.

BP had distributed a contract to fishermen it was hiring that waived their right to sue BP and required confidentiality and other items, sparking protests in Louisiana and elsewhere.

Darren Beaudo, a spokesman for BP, said the waiver requirement had been stripped out, and that ones already signed would not be enforced.

“BP will not enforce any waivers that have been signed in connection with this activity,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Rachel Maddow:

Big oil is really, really big here. Tonight at 9 PM, we’ll have a special show live from Venice, Louisiana, all about the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

BP, which leased the Deepwater Horizon oil rig from Transocean, has been trying to contain the legal disaster as well as the natural one.

Today, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan struck down part of a charter contract between Louisiana fisherman and BP. The oil company was asking local fisherman, who’ve been put out of work by the oil disaster, to sign off an agreement saying they wouldn’t talk about what they saw without approval from BP, among other provisions.

In Alabama, BP representatives asked people in Bayou La Batre to sign away their right to sue in exchange for $5,000. Alabama Attorney General Troy King told them the BP reps they should stop doing that and encouraged local people to talk to a lawyer first.

Robert Burns and Steven Hurst at Huffington Post:

The Obama administration is pressing oil giant BP to clarify how the company will cover costs relating to the Gulf oil spill, even as BP indicated it would pay “legitimate and objectively verifiable” claims.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says reimbursement for individuals and state and federal government will be on the agenda when she and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar meet with BP’s top executives in Washington later Monday.

She told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the Obama administration wants to make sure there is a clear claims process set up for proper reimbursement. She also wants BP to stop requiring those volunteering with the cleanup to sign waivers limiting the company’s liability.

Meanwhile, in a fact sheet posted to the company’s website on Monday, BP said it took responsibility for the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and said “we will clean it up.”

The document says “BP will pay all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs” as well as “legitimate and objectively verifiable” claims for property damage, personal injury, and commercial losses. It pledged that claims will be “promptly investigated” and that resolved claims would be paid promptly.

Zachary Roth at Talking Points Memo:

Sid Jackson, a Mobile-based lawyer representing a shrimper who last week filed suit against BP, claiming that the spill had already taken a financial toll on his business, told TPMmuckraker that he believed BP would be wise to back down. “I think they kind of drop-kicked that [waiver] clause into the fine print,” Jackson said. But, “I think it would backfire” if BP tried to enforce it.

“This is the same company that told the coast guard there was no leak,” Jackson added.

BP has been hiring local fishermen to help with the effort to mitigate the impact of the spill — and has included what seems to have been a similar clause in the contracts it asked them to sign.

Spokespeople for BP and for King’s office did not immediately respond to TPMmuckraker’s requests for comment.

Steve Benen:

Nothing establishes goodwill like an oil company paying off individuals before they even know the extent of the still-unfolding disaster.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

If BP really wanted to manage their expenses at this time, maybe they could reduce the millions in lobbying costs that, strangely, did not succeed in capping the wellhead or stopping the advance of black murk. It did manage to intellectually capture Rep. Gene Taylor, however, so I guess that was money well spent.

In the end, I’m banking on at least some taxpayer money funding the aftermath of this catastrophe, or a lot of uncompensated people with their lives in tatters.

Doug J.:

Big government liberal regulations get in the way of Galtian superhero business.

When something goes wrong, no one could have predicted it.

Once it starts going wrong, nothing can be done unless you can do underwater surgery with robotic submarines, you naive fucking hippie.

Tort reform!

Countdown to the Mickey Kaus/Gregg Easterbrook about the good news about the oil spill.

And how come we never hear about all the oil rigs that aren’t spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico?

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Filed under Economics, Energy, Environment

The C.I.A. Presents Goss And Rodriguez’s Laugh-In

Heather Horn at The Atlantic with the round-up. Horn:

A CIA document released Thursday [April 15]  shows that Porter Goss, former director of the CIA, approved a decision to destroy tapes of two detainees’ “brutal interrogation,” as The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti reports.

Jeff Stein at WaPo:

“You’re a pistol, you’re really funny…” the wannabe mobster Henry Hill says to Tommy DeVito in the famous “Goodfellas” scene.

“What do you mean I’m funny?…Funny how?” retorts DeVito, played by Joe Pesci in the 1990 gangster flick.

“What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?”

Hill (Ray Liotta) swallows. Pesci isn’t joking.

Likewise, CIA Director Porter Goss’s “laugh” at a remark by his chief of operations, Jose Rodriguez, about destroying videotapes of CIA interrogations is gaining an instant notoriety.

According to e-mails made pubic Thursday, Goss “laughed” in 2005 when Rodriguez offered to “take the heat” over the destruction of the recordings.

“PG” — Goss — “laughed and said that actually, it would be he, PG, who would take the heat,” according to an internal spy agency e-mail message, one in a series obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In some reports, Goss’s laugh is interpreted as going along with Rodriquez.

Not so, says a former intelligence official who knows Goss well.

“He laughed, but not in a jocular way,” the former official said. In fact, Goss was “very angry” at Rodriguez, “because he didn’t give advance approval for the tapes’ destruction, and didn’t think it was a very good idea.”

But “Porter is a Connecticut gentleman,” the former official said of Goss, CIA director during 2004 -2006. “He doesn’t show his anger by blowing his top.”

Zachary Roth at TPM:

Other nuggets revealed in the documents:

A deputy to Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, then the CIA’s number three official, wrote to Foggo that Foggo’s deputy wrote that Rodriguez had destroyed the tapes because “the heat from destroying is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain — he said that out of context they would make us look terrible; it would be ‘devastating’ to us.”

Foggo is currently serving a prison sentence after being convicted of bribery in a case connected to that of former congressman Randy Cunningham.

And, then-White House counsel Harriet Miers was “livid” after being told that the tapes had been destroyed, according to one email.

The Washington Post notes, intriguingly, that the cable ordering the destruction of the tapes was first drafted by someone who remains undercover, “and has been one of the subjects of Durham’s investigation.”

The Post also grants anonymity to an unnamed government official who downplays the whole saga — and uses the quote in the third paragraph of its story.

“There may have been some people who thought precise procedure wasn’t followed, but I haven’t heard of anyone who believed at the time that any law had been broken. That’s quite a different thing,” says the official.

Marc Ambinder:

Lots of reading to do, and lots of hints about horrible things. Here’s a particularly interesting end passage from an e-mail by a not-known person to Dusty Foggo, the CIA’s number three about the destruction of interrogation videotapes (Jose is Jose Rodriquez, the deputy director for operations, and Rizzo is the CIA’s general counsel):
Either [REDACTED] lied to Jose about clearing it with [REDACTED] and IG (my bet), or or Jose misstated the facts. (It is not without relevance that [REDACTED]  figured prominently in the tapes, as [REDACTED] was in charge of the [REDACTED] at the time and clearly would want the tapes destroyed.

“Rizzo Is clearly upset, because he was on the hook to notify Harriet Miers of the status of the tapes because It was she who had asked to be advised before any action was taken Apparently, Rizzo notified Harriet this afternoon and she was livid which he said was actually unusual for her. Rizzo does not think this Is likely to Just go away.”

emptywheel at Firedoglake:

I’ve long wondered whether one of the reasons the CIA destroyed the torture tapes is because a review of the tapes would have revealed that the torturers altered the tapes to avoid capturing certain activities on video. The latest dump appears to confirm this happened before December 2002.

On January 9, 2003, McPherson did a report on his review of the tapes (PDF 24-28). Though it is heavily redacted, it appears that he reviewed the log book and the video, claimed to have watched every minute of the video, and declared that the video accurately reflected what had been recorded in the logbook.

Note, it is not clear from the unredacted materials whether he reviewed the guidance to the interrogators as to what they were supposed to be doing–even though that was purportedly one of the reasons he conducted the review.

It appears that PDF 33-37 is the interview report the Inspector General did with McPherson on June 17, 2003, after they had reviewed the torture tapes themselves in May 2003. This report appears to show McPherson admitting that he saw some of the tapes were partially blank, or had snow on them.

[Redacted] for many of the tapes one 1/2 or 3/4 of the tape “there was nothing.” [Redacted] on some tapes it was apparent that the VCR had been turned off and then turned back on right away. [Redacted] on other tapes the video quality was poor and on others the tape had been reused (taped over) or not recorded at all. [Redacted] The label on some tapes read “interrogation session,” but when viewed there was just snow. [Redaction] did not make note of this in [redaction] report. [Redaction] estimated that “half a dozen” videotapes had been taped over or were “snowy.”

Though he claims not to have noticed that two of the tapes were broken (though perhaps they were broken later). When asked why he had not reported the blank tapes in his report, McPherson said he didn’t find that “noteworthy.”

Furthermore, it appears to indicate that McPherson had not reviewed the guidelines given to the interrogators when he did his review.

When asked if it was consistent with guidance [redacted] would have to check guidance before answering.

In other words, his review did not do what it was purported to do. It did not review whether the interrogators were following guidelines.

After the initial December 2002 review, CIA gave clear instructions to the interrogators not to destroy or edit the tapes. However, it appears that the review–inasmuch as it didn’t reveal glaring concerns with the tapes and didn’t actually review whether the interrogators were following instructions–was largely a whitewash of the original tapes in an effort to green light their destruction.

Spencer Ackerman:

I won’t have anything as insightful to say about the new batch of ACLU-forced disclosures on the CIA torture-tape-destruction as Marcy will, so I will do the smart thing and defer. I just note that the CIA was not using digital video in 2002. You would think the billions spent on the agency would at least lead someone to use better technology to record evidence of felonious behavior.

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Filed under GWOT, Torture

Oh My God! They Indicted Kenny! … You Bastards!

Ravi Somaiya at Gawker:

First Goldman Sachs gets a lawsuit from the SEC, now prosecutors have indicted a former Blackwater president and four other former employees on weapons charges. Details are not yet clear. But who knows where this Federal justice train will stop.

Christopher Weber at Politics Daily:

The 15-count indictment accuses the five of skirting federal firearms laws and misrepresenting weapons sales, Reuters reported.

Gary Jackson, the company’s former president, was charged along with former general counsel Andrew Howell; former executive vice president William Mathews; former vice president of logistics and procurement, Ana Bundy; and former armorer Ronald Slezak.

Prosecutors said they gave weapons as gifts to Jordanian officials in hopes of winning their business. To account for the missing guns, Jackson allegedly ordered employees to fill out paperwork falsely showing that Blackwater workers had bought the guns for their own use.

The Justice Department said there was no wrongdoing by the Jordanian government and said the country helped in the probe, according to Reuters.

Zachery Roth at TPM:

The AP reported last month that the Feds were considering charges stemming from a 2008 raid, in which federal agents found and seized 22 weapons, including 17 AK-47s. The Feds were probing whether Blackwater obtained the letterhead of a local sheriff in order to create a false justification for buying the guns.

Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services last year, after a 2007 shooting by Blackwater guards in Baghdad killed 17 Iraqis.

Wonkette:

The Justice Department just indicted five evil southern scum-lords who used to run Blackwater, the private murder company hired by Dick Cheney to kill everyone in Iraq. The charges? Weapons violations, something about illegal machine guns, lies to the Feds, general criminality. No murder charges, because it’s always the little shit that brings down these big shits.

Nick Baumann at Mother Jones:

The South Park guys have hinted that an episode about the Blackwater/Cartman incident could be forthcoming this season. Anyway, the full AP report on the gun charges is here.

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Filed under Crime, GWOT

We Apologize For This Blog Post On An Apology

New York Times:

Apology

Published: March 24, 2010

In 1994, Philip Bowring, a contributor to the International Herald Tribune’s op-ed page, agreed as part of an undertaking with the leaders of the government of Singapore that he would not say or imply that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had attained his position through nepotism practiced by his father Lee Kuan Yew. In a February 15, 2010, article, Mr. Bowring nonetheless included these two men in a list of Asian political dynasties, which may have been understood by readers to infer that the younger Mr. Lee did not achieve his position through merit. We wish to state clearly that this inference was not intended. We apologize to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong for any distress or embarrassment caused by any breach of the undertaking and the article.

James Joyner:

Granting that a promise is a promise and that journalists sometimes have to make hard choices in gaining access to autocrats, this is a truly bizarre thing for which to apologize.   Is there any question whatsoever that Singapore, despite having had elections for decades, is authoritarian by Western standards?  Or that nepotism and other forms of personal loyalty plays a stronger role in Singapore than in true representative democracies?  Or that Lee Kuan Yew played and continues to play an outsized role in Singapore and People’s Action Party politics?

I get apologizing for breaking a pledge, even if it’s 16 years old and shouldn’t have been given in the first place.  But issuing a correction for telling the truth?

Nick Gillespie at Reason:

The apology is part of a $114,000 defamation settlement in favor of the Singaporean meritocracy in which the International Herald Tribune went so far as to suggest that, just like Notre Dame football or the Bushes, not every win came out of thin air.

And while it’s slightly off-topic, I do want to apologize to Dizzy Gillespie, for trading off his name and, occasionally, causing distress by arguing in favor of drug legalization, open borders, and abolishing the minimum wage.

Alex Kennedy at The Huffington Post:

The Times, the editor of its global editions, and the article’s writer Philip Bowring agreed to pay SG$60,000 to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, SG$50,000 to his father Lee Kuan Yew and $50,000 to Goh Chok Tong, a lawyer for the Singaporean politicians said Thursday.

Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister from 1959 to 1990 and was replaced by Goh Chok Tong until 2004, when Lee Hsien Loong became prime minister. The leaders of the authoritarian city-state have sued journalists and political opponents several times over the years for alleged defamation. They have won lawsuits and damages against Bloomberg, the Economist and Dow Jones & Co.

Zachary Roth at Talking Points Memo:

The upshot has advocates of press freedom deeply concerned. In an open letter to the Singapore prime minister sent last week, Jean-Francois Julliard, the head of Reporters Without Borders, noted several other cases in which foreign news outlets have agreed to pay damages to the Singapore government after publishing articles deemed libelous. “You have perpetuated your father’s legacy by continuing to harass and intimidate news media,” wrote Julliard. “As a result, aside from a few websites specialising in Singapore, no news outlet can publish independent news and information about issues affecting the political situation in your country.”

Vincent Brossel, an Asia specialist for Reporters Without Borders, told TPMmuckraker that the government in Singapore has an outsized influence in the country’s court system. As a result, said Brossel, “when they make a defamation case, they are sure to win.”

That means that if the Times Company hadn’t agreed to the settlement and had gone to trial, it could have ultimately have been forced to pay a much larger sum. And if it refused, it could be putting any employees in the country in jeopardy of jail-time, and would risk no longer being able to do business of any kind in Singapore, including distributing the IHT. It’s not clear how much that might cost the Times Company, but Singapore is a business hub for Asia, and Brossel described it as a “significant country.”

A spokeswoman for the New York Times Company did not respond to two requests for comment. Bowring declined to comment.

Late Update: The Times declines to comment.

Matthew Yglesias:

The price of doing business in Singapore is that you need to compromise your coverage in some respects.

Atrios on the twitter machine:

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Filed under Foreign Affairs, Mainstream

Yes, We’re Having This Argument Again

James Joyner rounds this up.

Patterico:

There was a shooting just outside the Pentagon today, at a security checkpoint. Two cops were injured; breaking reports say the suspect, J. Patrick Bedell, has died.

The suspect, believed to be a U.S. citizen, walked up to a security checkpoint at the Pentagon in an apparent attempt to get inside the massively fortified Defense Department headquarters, at about 6:40 p.m. local time. “He just reached in his pocket, pulled out a gun and started shooting” at point-blank range, Keevill said. “He walked up very cool. He had no real emotion on his face.” The Pentagon officers returned fire with semiautomatic weapons.

And Internet research shows that the guy was a 9/11 Truther and an anti-Bush nut case.

Via Charles Johnson comes this link to some crazy ranting from the guy. It was recorded in November 2006 — when Bush was president, to belabor the obvious. I transcribed this part, in which he is speaking of criminal organizations working within the U.S. Government:

This criminal organization would use its powers to convert military, intelligence, and law enforcement bureaucracies into instruments for political control, and the domination and subjection of society, while discrediting, destroying, and murdering honest individuals within those services, that work to root out corruption, and faithfully serve their fellow citizens. This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control. This collection of gangsters would find it in their interest to foment conflict and initiate wars throughout the world, in order to divert attention from their misconduct and criminality. The true nature of such a regime would find its clearest expression in the satanic violence currently ongoing in Iraq.

There is also plenty of creepily nerdy/calm ranting about government control of the economy. As a correspondent wrote to me: “If he thought Bush was out to get private property, just imagine what he thought after Obama’s first year.”

Zachary Roth at TPM:

In a recorded manifesto called “Directions To Freedom”, the audio of which he posted online in 2006, John Patrick Bedell, of Hollister, California, praised private property as “the most successful basis for structuring society that humanity has ever known.”

Bedell shot two police officers last night during the rampage, before being mortally wounded himself.

“Communist and socialist governments that abolished or disregarded private property,” said Bedell in the recording, “created poverty, repression and murder on a truly enormous scale.” But, he continued, “Even in the United States, however, there has been a continual erosion of protection of private property justified by the belief that government is an efficient instrument for the positive direction of society.”

Bedell added: “Governments lack the profit and loss incentives that individuals and private organizations must use…”

And he warned: “When governments are able to confiscate the resources of their citizens to fund schemes that need only be justified by lies and deception enormous disasters can result.”

Bedell also denounced the monetary system, a frequent bete noir of anti-government extremists. “When the government can control how private property is used,” he said, “and especially when the government controls the monetary system that is use to exchange private property, the government has the mechanisms and the motivation to control individuals to the smallest detail.”

Bedell even railed against the concept of public education. “Government control of the schools that shape minds is pervasive in today’s world,” he said. “The imperative to defend the freedom of conscience must lead us to eliminate the role of the government in education and leave parents and communities free to raise their children as they see fit.” He denounced public education as “no more legitimate than a government-run church for universal religious training.”

As several other outlets have already reported, Bedell also wrote online postings that expressed skepticism about the official explanation for the 9/11 attacks. He wrote that he was “determined to see that justice is served” in the death of James Sabow — a US Marine whose 1991 death was ruled a suicide but whose case has long been the source of cover-up theories, according to Fox News — and that justice in the Sabow case would be “a step toward establishing the truth of events such as the September 11 demolitions.”

Bedell also denounced the government’s enforcement of marijuana laws.

Michelle Malkin:

The Blame the Tea Party push by the MSM begins (h/t allahpundit):

CSM: John Patrick Bedell: Did right-wing extremism lead to shooting?

The Associated Press piles on.

***

Update: www.Electorates.us has 180 million registered voter records available online (thanks to Anne Horrigan). Thirty-six-year-old John Patrick Bedell’s voter registration records in Hollister, CA are available for any journalist before he/she goes off and labels him a “right-wing extremist.”

Guess which party he registered under in 2005 and was actively registered under as of 2008?

DEMOCRAT.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs:

The Internet Archive has a series of deranged audio files by “JPatrickBedell:” Internet Archive: Free Download: Directions to Freedom, part two (25 November 2006).

And a JPatrickBedell is also the author of this bizarre page at Wikipedia; he’s apparently a 9/11 Truther and a devotee of libertarian icon Ludwig Von Mises: User:JPatrickBedell – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Ann Althouse:

So, should we make this easy and just consign Stack and Bedell to the dead psycho dustbin? But they attacked government buildings, so it was political. Yes, but a lot of crazy people rave incoherently about the government. That in itself doesn’t make them part of a movement. Do they belong to the left or to the right? Is that a question that interests you? If it does, do you lean in the direction other than the one you feel like saying they lean? No one answers “no” to that last question, do they? And therefore… what?

Allah Pundit

If there’s any silver lining in the very dark clouds created by Bedell and Joe Stack (and even the Kentucky census worker fiasco), it may be that partisans on both sides have necessarily become more cautious about trying to divine coherent motives from incoherent minds. Not all partisans, natch, but some.

Your exit question: Is it possible to be a “left-wing extremist” anymore or do nuts who embrace some lefty ideas before launching an attack automatically fall under the broader heading of “anti-government,” a term that’s conveniently also used to describe conservatives’ opposition to statism? That’s why CSM ended up labeling him a right-winger, I suspect. Righties want a smaller federal government and Bedell hated the military and the military’s part of the federal government. Voila!

James Joyner:

Can we please stop with the political name-calling whenever one of these nuts goes off?

Look, we’re a big country.  There are over 300 million of us.  Almost everyone holds a position or two that’s way off the charts and a whole lot of people believe in 9/11 Trutherism, black helicopters, and all the rest.  Less than a handful of those people are out trying to kill people.    However stupid or loathesome a political view may be, the fact that some nut also holds it adds nothing to the counter-argument.

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Filed under Crime, Go Meta

Cuomo V. Lewis

Dan Fitzpatrick and Kara Scannell at WSJ:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed civil securities fraud charges against former Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis and former Chief Financial Officer Joseph Price, alleging they decided not to disclose mounting losses at Merrill Lynch & Co. before getting shareholder approval to acquire the Wall Street firm.

Separately, the bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission reached a $150 million settlement on allegations of misleading investors during the Merrill deal. The settlement requires a judge’s approval.

Ashby Jones at WSJ:

To recap: Shareholders approved BofA’s purchase of Merrill on Dec. 5, 2008, not knowing that Merrill had accumulated more than $16 billion in “actual losses” for the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the attorney general. The bank didn’t say anything about the mounting losses until the U.S. in January 2009 provided the bank with an additional $20 billion to absorb Merrill.

“We believe bank management understated the Merrill Lynch losses to shareholders to get shareholders to approve the deal then overstated their ability to terminate the agreement to get $20 billion from federal government,” Cuomo said on a conference call earlier Thursday.

After the shareholder vote, Bank of America executives went to U.S. officials and said they might back away from the purchase because the losses were greater than they expected. But Mr. Cuomo said Wednesday that “actual losses” were only $1.4 billion greater than at the time of the vote.

“That is just a fraud,” he said.

The bank, in a statement on Wednesday, called the charges “regrettable” and disappointing and said it would vigorously defend against them. Debevoise’s Mary Jo White, Lewis’s attorney, said in a statement that Cuomo’s decision to sue was “a badly misguided decision without support in the facts or the law.” Lawyers for Price said the attorney general’s allegations were “flatly contrary to the evidence.”

Stephen Spruiell at NRO:

It seems that AG Cuomo is following in the populist footsteps of his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer. This case would seem to raise similar issues to those raised by the immunity-for-telecoms debate, in which the government protected the phone companies from lawsuits over their cooperation with various terrorist surveillance activities. Again, we have a lawsuit filed against a company who claimed to be acting on government orders and in the best interest of the country. Only this time, instead of the ACLU, it’s another government official bringing the charges. Spitzer’s anti–Wall Street cred paid dividends, until he was brought down by his own hubris. Cuomo is rumored to be just as ambitious; we’ll see if the same bet pays off twice.

Tom Robbins at Village Voice:

It’s the first charges brought against any of the major players involved in the massive 2008 federal banking bailout — a move that is sure to play well before political audiences everywhere other than Wall Street.

With federal TARP watchdog Neil Barofsky at his side during a morning telephone presser, Cuomo charged that Lewis and former CFO Joseph Price concealed massive losses at Merrill Lynch in December, 2008 in order to accommodate the B of A merger with the ailing investment firm.

According to Cuomo’s tick-tock of the alleged scheme, Lewis and Price first hid “disastrous actual losses” by Merrill Lynch of $16 billion in order to gull shareholders into approving the deal. They then doubled back and “threatened” federal officials that they could go belly up ala Lehman Brothers if they didn’t receive emergency federal aid. “As a result of their efforts, Bank of America received $20 billion in taxpayer aid,” charged Cuomo.

Lewis called the lawsuit “badly misguided.”

Asked why it’s a civil, not a criminal case, deputy AG David Markowitz left that door open. “We have an ongoing investigation, we are only announcing civil charges today.”

While tackling the bankers, Cuomo had to duck a couple of questions about mundane political matters, such as his pending candidacy for governor. A few hours before the presser, David Paterson — the current governor who would like to remain as such — told John Gambling on WOR that would-be candidate Cuomo was hiding, using the old “rose garden strategy” to avoid weighing in on tough questions. What did the AG think about that? asked the Daily News’ Glenn Blain.

Cuomo promptly hit tune G2 on the AG jukebox: “I am Attorney General of the State of New York. I was elected to do a job. I get paid to do that job. That is the job I am doing. I am confronting the issues. Today is a good example of this. This is tax dollars we are talking about..” etcetera.

Zachary Roth at TPM

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Filed under Economics, Political Figures, The Crisis

Hey Joe, Where You Going With That Gun In Your Hand?

Randy James in Time:

He likes to call himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and even used that moniker as the title of his autobiography. It’s a claim few people would challenge — but whether that makes Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff Joe Arpaio an effective law-enforcement officer or, as his critics say, a flagrant human-rights violator remains an open question. The stern law-and-order advocate has declared war on illegal immigration in his sprawling jurisdiction, which includes Phoenix, but now the Federal Government is reining him in. Arpaio, who gained national attention for housing his inmates in tents when jails reached capacity and forcing prisoners to wear pink underwear, said earlier this month that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has revoked his deputies’ authority to arrest people on immigration violations in the field (they can still check immigration status and make arrests in county jails). A final decision by the Department of Homeland Security is expected to be made public on Oct. 14. Though Arpaio’s severe tactics are popular among Arizonans, his deputies have attracted widespread criticism in their pursuit of illegal immigrants for harassment and the racial profiling of Latinos. Just a small fraction of the 33,000 arrests he has overseen have been based on documentation checks in the field, but Arpaio says the program to allow field checks is symbolically important: “This is a crime-deterrent program, too.”

There’s no shortage of opinion on whether Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio has done anything wrong. Almost ignored, however, are the Justice Department lawyers investigating him. Yet their conduct raises serious questions — namely, have their liberal bias and apparently unethical tactics caused fundamental flaws in their investigation?

The Department’s Civil Rights Division is investigating how Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff, treats illegal immigrants when he arrests them. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is auditing his participation in a federal program — commonly referred to by its statutory citation, “287(g)” — that allows local police departments to enforce federal immigration laws. Arpaio, whose office is the largest participant in the DHS program, has been accused of improperly launching “crime sweeps in areas around Phoenix with high concentrations of Hispanics” as well as “separating” illegal immigrants from other inmates that he has arrested.

It’s impossible to know at this point whether any of the criticisms of Arpaio have merit. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who wrote the legal guidelines for Arpaio’s crime-suppression operations, insists that that he isn’t “aware of any racial profiling in Arpaio’s crime and immigration sweeps” and notes that Arpaio has simply saturated neighborhoods deemed to be high-crime areas. Regardless, the Justice Department may have a lot more to answer for than Arpaio.

Arizona is on the front lines of the immigration crisis confronting the American Southwest. As thousands of illegal immigrants flood across the border — many engaging in violent and drug-related crimes, choking the local court systems and otherwise imposing heavy economic costs on Arizona communities — Arpaio has been a visible force in local enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Not surprisingly, Arpaio has incurred the wrath of those on the left who oppose immigration enforcement in general, and especially local enforcement of federal immigration laws. Many would like to see the 287(g) program terminated. Unfortunately, the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section (SPL), which initiated the investigation of Maricopa County, appears hell-bent on aiding these groups’ efforts. SPL has a bad track record enforcing poorly defined and constitutionally questionable legal standards, and it has already been accused of unethical conduct in this case.

Several Radley Balko posts at Reason, here, here and here.

Huffington Post:

Joseph Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff known for his brutal tactics to little effect, is at the center of yet another controversy.

Arpaio is under investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for alleged illegal profiling in his immigration crackdowns. The federal government recently took away some of his power to enforce immigration laws — Arpaio cited a non-existent law to claim he could keep arresting illegal immigrants on the street anyway.

Now, Telemundo 52 is reporting on the case of a woman named Alma Minerva Chacon, who says she was detained while nine months pregnant and forced to give birth while shackled to a bed. Chacon said she was not allowed to hold her baby and was told that if no one came to pick up the child within 72 hours, the baby would be turned over to state custody.

Matthew DeLong at The Washington Independent:

Here are some stark — if not entirely surprising — numbers from the latest Rasmussen Reports poll of the 2010 Arizona gubernatorial race. Out of four potential Republican contenders, anti-illegal immigration crusader and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the only one who leads the likely Democratic front-runner Terry Goddard, the state’s popular attorney general, in a head-to-head match-up.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Arizona voters finds Arpaio, famed for his crackdowns on illegal immigrants, leading Goddard, the state’s current attorney general, by 12 points – 51% to 39%. Seven percent (7%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

According to the survey, Goddard leads Republican Gov. Jan Brewer by a comfortable nine-point margin, and Goddard is virtually tied with State Treasurer Dean Martin. Brewer is the only one of the possible candidates who is officially in the race.

With numbers like this, could Arpaio be enticed to run for governor? And could he win?

Radley Balko:

It’s gotten so surreal out in Arizona, I’m a little lost in the details. But as I understand it, here’s what’s happened since our last update:

  • Judge Lisa Flores says the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department hast stopped bringing inmates into her court for hearings.
  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas filed a bizarre federal lawsuit alleging a wide-ranging conspiracy among the county’s judges and supervisors against Arpaio, Thomas, and Arpaio’s department.
  • Thomas indicted two Maricopa County supervisors on corruption charges.
  • Then it gets weird. Yesterday, Arpaio and Thomas criminally charged Judge Donahoe (the judge who held Arpaio’s document-swiping deputy in contempt) on bribery charges. Except there was apparently never any actual bribe. They didn’t like how Donahoe had ruled on some motions related to Arpaio’s investigation into the construction of a new tower for the county courthouse. Apparently, Donahoe’s “bribe” was merely his employment with the court system that benefits from the tower. Oh, and he’s also retiring soon.
  • Bonus: The indictment documents Thomas released to the press apparently “mistakenly” included Donahoe’s home address.
  • Conor Friedersdorf at Sully’s place:

    If any public official in America deserves the contempt of all citizens, it is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County lawman who has forced innocent men to march down the street in pink underwear, reportedly forced a Latina woman to give birth while shackled to a bed, and is now trumping up bribery charges against a local judge. That Arizonans repeatedly elect this man is a mark against their polity.

    The Los Angeles Times reports:

    He recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure. On Thursday night, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an emergency order forbidding the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office from searching the home or chambers of a Superior Court judge who was named in the racketeering case.

    Last year, when Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called for a federal investigation of Arpaio’s immigration enforcement, the Sheriff’s Office demanded to see Gordon’s e-mails, phone logs and appointment calendars.

    When the police chief in one suburb complained about the sweeps, Arpaio’s deputies raided that town’s City Hall.

    A local television station, KPHO, in a 10-minute-long segment last month, documented two dozen instances of the sheriff launching investigations of critics, none of which led to convictions.

    The most notorious case involves county Supervisor Don Stapley, a Republican who has sometimes disagreed with Arpaio’s immigration tactics. Last December, deputies arrested Stapley on charges of failing to disclose business interests properly on his statement of economic interest.

    Stapley’s alarmed supervisor colleagues had their offices swept for listening devices. Arpaio contended the search was illegal and sent investigators to the homes of dozens of county staffers to grill them about the sweep.

    And see the tireless Radley Balko here for another example of this man’s penchant for obstinate lawlessness.

    Given all that, can a reader from Arizona please explain this to me: “PHOENIX — The most popular choice for governor among Republicans is someone who isn’t running now — and may not run at all: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.” There is no instance I know of in America where the grassroots of the Republican Party could do more damage to liberty than to elect this man governor.

    E.D. Kain at The League:

    Hey now.  ”Arizonans” don’t repeatedly elect Sheriff Joe into office – the citizens of Maricopa County do.  The rest of us have nothing to do with it. Careful with that big paint brush, Conor, someone could lose an eye….

    UPDATE: Zachary Roth at TPM

    UPDATE #2: Washington Times

    Hans Von Spakovsky at The Corner

    Will at The League

    UPDATE #3: James Joyner

    UPDATE #4: Julian Sanchez

    UPDATE #5: Zachary Roth at TPM

    UPDATE #6: Alex Pareene at Gawker

    UPDATE #7: Jerry Markon and Stephanie McCrummen at WaPo

    UPDATE #8: David Ingram at the Blog of Legal Times

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    Filed under Crime, Immigration, Political Figures