Assad Reveals He’s a Bank CEO: Obama Ends Threats, Bails Out Syria & Grants Immunity

By William K. Black

I do not think the twin epidemics of mortgage loan origination fraud (appraisal and “liar’s” loans) and the various epidemics of post-origination fraud by financial institutions are comparable crimes to the use of chemical weapons.  The President’s job, however, is to deter a wide range of criminal conduct.  The elite fraud epidemics cost over $11 trillion in losses to households alone and 10 million American jobs.  The cost of these fraud epidemics is so vast that deterring future epidemics should be a high priority of every administration.  The refusal of the Obama and Bush administrations to prosecute any elite banker whose actions contributed to the crisis has done the opposite of deterring future fraud epidemics – it has encouraged them.

The Obama administration has refused to prosecute elite bank fraudsters even when their crimes threaten our national security.  The administration announced the infamous “too big to prosecute” doctrine in refusing to indict HSBC, its officers, or even its former officers for massive felonies that continued for over a decade.  If one believes the administration’s findings, HSBC posed a far graver threat to U.S. national security than did the claimed chemical weapon attack in Syria.  HSBC helped terrorists evade U.S. financial sanctions, helped Iran evade financial sanctions, and aided one of the most violent drug gangs in the world.  The drug gang has killed more people than the presumed chemical attack in Syria. 

If Obama believes Obama, then the purpose of HSBC and Standard Chartered aiding Iran to avoid sanctions was to aid one of the most dangerous governments in the world develop nuclear weapons.  If Obama believes Obama, the nuclear weapons are to be used against the “Great Satan” (the U.S.) and Israel.  HSBC’s officers did all of this for the basest of purposes – to make themselves wealthy.

HSBC is also a systemically dangerous institution (SDI) that threatens to cause a global financial crisis (if Obama believes Obama).  It is a serial felon.  In addition to evading financial sanctions on funding terrorists and foreign nations (Iran and North Korea) that pose a direct threat to U.S. national security (if Obama believes Obama), HSBC was a member of the largest cartel in the world (fixing Libor), routinely engaged in selling elderly customers completely inappropriate financial products to rip off their retirement savings, and helped some of the world’s richest people evade taxes.

The same economists that prate endlessly about capitalism’s greatest virtue being “creative destruction” and ridicule anyone who complains about American businesses moving overseas suddenly claim that it is a national emergency if a large U.S. bank relocates to the City of London and claim that it is vital that we not prosecute the SDIs lest they be destroyed.  HSBC’s frauds had a common characteristic – they increased bank profits by violating the law.  The “markets” will not put such a cesspool out of business – they will reward the officers that lead the frauds with enormous wealth.  Even if one feared “destroying” HSBC (which would really mean breaking it up into smaller banks), there is never any valid excuse to refuse to prosecute the officers that lead the frauds and profit from the frauds.  There are few acts of destruction more creative than busting up a control fraud.  When cheaters prosper they create a “Gresham’s” dynamic that turns market forces perverse and causes bad ethics to drive good ethics from the marketplace.  That is precisely what has happened at the SDIs.  The SDIs pose a grave threat to our economies, our democracies, and (if Obama believes Obama) our national security.  Syria does not, though it might were we to attack it.

I write to explain that the logic that President Obama urged on us in his August 31 address to the Nation to explain why he believes we must launch a military attack on Syria is far more compelling in the context of requiring that Obama abandon his continuation of Bush’s policy of refusing to prosecute the elite white-collar criminals who led the accounting control frauds that drove the financial crises.  There are no good answers available to the United States even if we are able to establish that the Syrian government deliberately launched a chemical weapon attack on its own civilians.  Any military action we take has an excellent chance of making the world a worse place and harming our national interests.  Many of the opposition forces to the Syrian government, should they come to power, are capable of being more vicious than the Assad government in attacking Syrian civilians and potentially the United States.  Instead of deterring terror, a U.S. attack on Syria could greatly increase terror.

The situation is the opposite when it comes to prosecuting the elite frauds that drove our financial crisis.  Such prosecutions would be unambiguously desirable.  They would be economically helpful, increase deterrence, and restore lost integrity.

President Obama instructs us that if we fail to hold criminals accountable “then we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing.”  He refuses to acknowledge that cost when it comes to the elite bank fraudsters who drove the crisis.

The President asks us to consider:  “What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?”  What message has it sent – for your entire term – for the elite bank frauds that destroyed $11 trillion in household wealth and 10 million American jobs to “pay no price?”  Indeed, they did not simply “pay no price” – they grew obscenely wealthy by defrauding our Nation.

“Make no mistake — this has implications beyond chemical warfare. If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules?

We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us.”

The President is charged with enforcing federal laws.  He has refused to do so against the SDIs and their senior officers whose frauds drove the Great Recession.  He has refused to do so even against SDIs and their officers who (if Obama believes Obama) directly endangered the national security of the U.S. and our allies.  If Obama is too cowardly to “stand up” to a bank, why would he think that Assad would quake in his boots about Obama?  The “values that define us” include the rule of law and the rule of law has died for SDIs and their senior officers under Bush and Obama.  Obama has failed to “follow through” on the things he said to get elected about how he would respond to the elite frauds that drove the crisis.

“I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage.”  Good, start by firing Attorney General Holder and appointing Sol Wisenberg as the acting Attorney General.  To prosecute the banks effectively you need vigorous regulators who make assisting elite prosecutions a top priority.   Ask for the resignation of the Director of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and make Mike Patriarca your Acting Director.  Order the banking regulatory agencies to restore the criminal referral process and detail examiners to aid the prosecutions of elite banksters.  Charge the SDIs with violating the settlement agreement on their massive foreclosure frauds and bring criminal charges for those frauds and subsequent violations.

Call personally on Americans with knowledge of the frauds to come forward with information and direct the FBI Director to create a system to coordinate the intelligence gathered from honest loan brokers, loan officers, and due diligence personnel.  Have the FBI Director barnstorm the Nation urging whistleblowers to come forward.  End your war on whistleblowers.

Support Representative Kaptur’s bill and direct the FBI to hire new agents to replace those transferred to anti-terrorism.  Increase the number of FBI agents working fraud cases related to the crisis to 1,000 (the number we used against the S&L debacle fraud epidemic – which was 1/70 the size of this crisis).   Break up the SDIs.  Rescind HSBC’s and Standard Chartered’s license to operate in the U.S.  Reintroduce the Glass-Steagall Act.  Repeal the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000.

Recall the days when you were a Senator and sponsored legislation to increase law enforcement staffing?  What happened to that guy?  What happened to your “outrage” at elite crimes by the banksters?

Note to Oslo: You proved that Norwegians have a brilliant sense of irony when you gave Obama your Peace Prize in 2009.  It’s now time to “take back the prize.”  Join: @TakeBackThePrize

11 responses to “Assad Reveals He’s a Bank CEO: Obama Ends Threats, Bails Out Syria & Grants Immunity

  1. Pingback: Assad Reveals He’s a Bank CEO: Obama Ends...

  2. –a U.S. attack on Syria could greatly increase terror–

    If Syria is attacked then naturally there could be a tough response. But not worrying for innocent civilians and caring only for $ 11 trillion is not morally justified. Let all the UNSC members think seriously and try to stop this bloodshed — Syrian issue needs international support whereas HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank required internal resolution — far far easier than the Syrian issue.

    • Bogus parallelism. Neither you, we, nor the UN knows whose chemical weapons they were. An Israeli Unit 8200 translation of a field phone call sent to the White House after the attack doesn’t cut it. Neither does kerry’s claim that they found sarin in hair and finger nails. The chemicals aren’t in dispute. The genesis of them is.

      The New York Times on Tuesday quoted an Israeli official who suggested that the planner of the chemical rocket attack did not intend to inflict such high casualties.

      “It’s quite likely that there was kind of an operational mistake here,” the official was quoted as saying. “I don’t think they wanted to kill so many people, especially so many children. Maybe they were trying to hit one place or to get one effect and they got a much greater effect than they thought.”
      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/27/world/middleeast/blasts-in-the-night-a-smell-and-a-flood-of-syrian-victims.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp&pagewanted=all

      And…

      Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack
      by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, August 31, 2013

      Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, whom the report was written in collaboration with, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents.

      Gavlak is a MintPress News [Minnesota] Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This exclusive report is not an Associated Press article, rather it is exclusive to MintPress News.
      […]
      However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

      “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

      Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”
      […]
      That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

      “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”
      http://original.antiwar.com/dale-gavlak/2013/08/30/syrians-in-ghouta-claim-saudi-supplied-rebels-behind-chemical-attack/

      As for this irresponsible statement:

      If Syria is attacked then naturally there could be a tough response.

      Ya’ think? Like dragging us into WWIII?

      • Thank you MRW for the link and comment. One needs to ask, who benefits if the US intervenes in Syria. Assad certainly doesn’t, he is gaining the upper hand. Hezbollah doesn’t gain either. The rebels gain immensely, likewise Israel and Saudi Arabia stand to gain with US intervention. With these facts, there seems to be little motive for Assad’s side to use chemical weapons, but plenty of motive for the rebels to use them on a limited scale.

  3. I agree with your comments. We cannot start a war with every tin horn dictator who violates human rights with activities like water boarding, torturing, indefinite detention, killing citizens with drone strikes, invading a country under false pretenses and…. hum, did we just do those things ourselves? Well we’re the good cops so it’s OK.

  4. Besides, as Max Blumenthal just wrote here, “Dubious Intelligence and Iran Blackmail: How Israel is driving the US to war in Syria.”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/dubious-intelligence-and-iran-blackmail-how-israel-is-driving-the-us-to-war-in-syria.html

  5. If we have evidence, then we need to share this evidence with the world. Who are we to be the judge, jury and executioner? If these are war crimes then let the proper authorities decide what to do. We have forgotten the rule of law.

    I do not believe our leaders, we have a serious credibility gap.

  6. “I do not believe our leaders, we have a serious credibility gap.”

  7. “I do not believe our leaders, we have a serious credibility gap.”

    Who would want the US to attack Syria.

    The US military. Bigger budget, especially if the Russian or Chinese weaponry is shown to be more effective.

    Israel. Provoke the Iranians to military action. With the US fleet on hand, the Israelis may get the go-ahead to refuel their war planes on the US aircraft carriers. Any action by the Iranians will be seen as beneficial for the Israeli politic.

    The Russians and Chinese: The political turmoil in the US would be (is already) beneficial to their propaganda machine.

    Al Qaeda: Allegedly the primary component of the opposition group.

    Right wing America: The Obama misstep will be used to defeat the Democrats in 2014.

    etc.

    Why would the Democrats want to attack Syria:

    ?

  8. Why would the Democrats want to attack Syria: ?

    For the American people.

    For God.

    For the American Flag.

    For gay and lesbian marriage.

    For American jobs.

    For security against terrorists.

    For the American soldier.

    So we don’t wake up to the “smoking gun” principle of zero tolerance for WMD (weapons of mass destruction)

    Not for greater American militarism for protecting the non-tax paying GE and Walmart slave trade and low shipping costs.