Government Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Government Corruption News Articles in Media
In August 2009, CBS News made a simple request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for public documents, e-mails and other materials CDC used to communicate to states the decision to stop testing individual cases of Novel H1N1, or "swine flu." When the public affairs folks at CDC refused to produce the documents and quit responding to my queries altogether, I filed a formal Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the materials. Two months after my FOI request, the CDC has yet to produce any of these easily retrievable materials. This has become standard operating procedure in Washington. Today, I received a letter from the CDC Freedom of Information office ... to inform me that my request for "expedited" treatment of my FOI request has been denied because CDC has determined the request is "not a matter of widespread and exceptional media and public interest." The CDC may be the only agency on the planet to argue that testing and counting of swine flu cases is "not of widespread and exceptional media and public interest." CBS News reporting on the topic has been quoted and reproduced internationally by news organizations such as California NPR, radio talk shows and others. The Freedom of Information Act ... was supposed to stop federal agencies from using their power and control to withhold public information from the people who own it. Many federal agencies use it to obstruct the delay or release of obviously public information.
Note: See powerful media reports suggesting that both the Avian Flu and Swine Flu were manipulated to promote fear and boost pharmaceutical sales. For other verifiable information on health corruption, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
If you've been diagnosed "probable" or "presumed" 2009 H1N1 or "swine flu" in recent months, you may be surprised to know this: odds are you didn’t have H1N1 flu. In fact, you probably didn’t have flu at all. That's according to state-by-state test results obtained in a three-month-long CBS News investigation. Why the uncertainty about who has and who hasn't had H1N1 flu? In late July, the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases. CBS News learned that the decision to stop counting H1N1 flu cases was made so hastily that states weren't given the opportunity to provide input. When CDC did not provide us [CBS News] with the material, we filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). More than two months later, the request has not been fulfilled. We also asked CDC for state-by-state test results prior to halting of testing and tracking, but CDC was again, initially, unresponsive. We asked all 50 states for their statistics on state lab-confirmed H1N1 prior to the halt of individual testing and counting in July. The vast majority of cases were negative for H1N1 as well as seasonal flu, despite the fact that many states were specifically testing patients deemed to be most likely to have H1N1 flu, based on symptoms and risk factors, such as travel to Mexico. With most cases diagnosed solely on symptoms and risk factors, the H1N1 flu epidemic may seem worse than it is.
Note: Some states found that less than 2% of cases claimed to be swine flu turned out to be the real thing. The numbers have been greatly exaggerated. Yet the drug companies raked in billions of dollars in profit from all the fear mongering. For more reliable information on this, click here and here.
Long-secret security tapes showing the chaos immediately after the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building are blank in the minutes before the blast and appear to have been edited, an attorney who obtained the recordings said Sunday. "The real story is what's missing," said Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney who obtained the recordings through the federal Freedom of Information Act as part of an unofficial inquiry he is conducting into the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more. The tapes turned over by the FBI came from security cameras various companies had mounted outside office buildings near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. They are blank at points before 9:02 a.m., when a truck bomb carrying a 4,000-pound fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb detonated in front of the building, Trentadue said. "Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain't no such thing as a coincidence," Trentadue said. He said government officials claim the security cameras did not record the minutes before the bombing because "they had run out of tape" or "the tape was being replaced." "The absence of footage from these crucial time intervals is evidence that there is something there that the FBI doesn't want anybody to see." Trentadue said he is seeking more tapes along with a variety of bombing-related documents from the FBI and the CIA. An FOIA request by Trentadue for 26 CIA documents was rejected in June. A letter from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which reviewed the documents, said their release "could cause grave damage to our national security."
Note: This revealing article also tells how Trentadue's brother was murdered by FBI agents who mistakenly thought his brother was the bomber. For more valuable information on this and other evidence challenging the official story of the Oklahoma City bombing, click here.
Amid questions about the safety of the HPV vaccine Gardasil, one of the lead researchers for the Merck drug is speaking out about its risks, benefits and aggressive marketing. Dr. Diane Harper says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. Harper helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published, scholarly papers about it. She has been a paid speaker and consultant to Merck. It's highly unusual for a researcher to publicly criticize a medicine or vaccine she helped get approved. Dr. Harper joins a number of consumer watchdogs, vaccine safety advocates, and parents who question the vaccine's risk-versus-benefit profile. She says data available for Gardasil shows that ... there is no data showing that it remains effective beyond five years. This raises questions about the CDC's recommendation that the series of shots be given to girls as young as 11-years old. "If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn't last... we've put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit," says Dr. Harper. "The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated." She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.
Note: For more on the dangers of vaccines, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A special comment on health care reform in this country. The insurance industry owns the Republican Party. Not exclusively. Pharma owns part of it, too. Hospitals and HMO's, another part. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota ... has thus far received from the Health Sector, campaign contributions ... amounting to $1,206,176. How about Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite? Are you truly worth every dollar of the $369,000,255 ... you have received over the years from the Health Sector? [And Democrat] Bart Gordon of Tennessee ... $1,173,000 in donations from the Health Sector. [Democratic Senator] Max Baucus of Montana, ... you're supposed to be negotiating all this out with the Republicans and hesitant Democrats? Your price has been ... $414,000 in donations from hospitals, about $667,000 from the insurance companies and just over $1,000,000 from Big Pharma. Mr. Baucus, you are not the Senator from Schering-Plough Global Health Care, even if they have already given you $76,000 towards your re-election. We could bring up Senator Hagan ... who, at $628,000, appears to represent the insurance industry and not North Dakota. I could bring up Sen. Carper, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln. I could bring up all the other Democrats doing their masters' bidding in the House or the Senate. Every poll, every analysis, every vote, every region of this country supports health care reform, and the essential great leveling agent of a government-funded alternative to ... profiteering private insurance corporations.
Note: For an excellent analysis of the huge influence of the pharmaceutical industry over our government by the former editor-in-chief of the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine, click here. It's time to get the money influence out of politics and shift from our current one dollar equals one vote to one person equals one vote.
"The total potential federal government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion," says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, in a report released today on the government's efforts to fix the financial system. "The potential financial commitment the American taxpayers could be responsible for is of a size and scope that isn't even imaginable," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "If you spent a million dollars a day going back to the birth of Christ, that wouldn't even come close to just $1 trillion -- $23.7 trillion is a staggering figure." The government has about 50 different programs to fight the current recession, including programs to bail out ailing banks and automakers, boost lending and beat back the housing crisis. So far they've cost taxpayers around $4 trillion. But Barofsky says if each federal agency spent the maximum potential amount involved in these initiatives, taxpayers could be on the hook for trillions more. The watchdog also warned today that hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars could be lost if the government does not increase the transparency of the TARP program, which he says has grown to an unprecedented scope and scale. Requiring TARP recipients to report on how government funds are used is among the recommendations urged by Barofsky. He also wants the department to report on the values of its TARP portfolio so taxpayers know about the value of their investments.
Note: For a treasure trove of revelations from reliable sources on the hidden realities behind the Wall Street bailout, click here.
The secretive religious group, the Family, ... appears to be the connective tissue of the Senator Ensign sex scandal and the Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina sex scandal. It‘s a mystery that concerns this house at 133 C Street Southeast in Washington, D.C. This building‘s financial paper trail [shows] that it‘s actually considered to be a church. That designation makes C Street a convenient tax-free haven for the secretive organization that runs it, an organization known as the Family. Members of Congress who live there are sworn to secrecy. This powerful, poorly understood religious group ... and the house at C Street have ended up reluctantly in the headlines now because of the two major politicians‘ sex scandals. Embattled Nevada Senator John Ensign lives at the C Street house. Prominent members of the Family ... as well as other members of Congress who live at C Street—were both aware of Ensign‘s secret affair and were involved in his efforts to pay off the mistress and her family. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford mentioned C Street by name in his long public statement of regret about his affair with a woman in Argentina. Jeff Sharlet ... secretly infiltrated the family to write a book [The Family] about them. SHARLET: They like to call themselves the Christian mafia. They mean this in the sense of money moving quietly behind the scenes. Where the money goes they believe God goes. Douglas Coe, "The Family" leader, ... again and again [uses] the model of Hitler as an ideal of strength. It‘s not that he‘s a neo-Nazi. It‘s that they fetishize strength. They look for the leader who they believe is chosen by God. Evidence [of this] is his power, his wealth, and his willingness to align himself with their version of American power.
Note: To watch a stunning MSNBC video clip on "the Family," click here. For how political sex scandals may be much more commonplace than you might think, click here. And for powerful inside information from one who claims to have escaped from "the family," and another who says he is from a very high level there, click here and here. To develop an understanding of the bigger picture behind all of this, click here.
Quality, affordable health care is on the critical list in America. And so is the newspaper business. So maybe it's not surprising that one of the most powerful papers in the country attempted an unholy alliance, trying to turn a profit from its newsroom's coverage of the fight for health care reform. You may have missed the story because it broke on the eve of the July 4th weekend. The publisher of The Washington Post, Katharine Weymouth — one of the most powerful people in the nation's capital — invited top officials from the White House, the Cabinet and Congress to her home for an intimate, off-the-record dinner to discuss health care reform with some of her reporters and editors covering the story. But she then invited CEOs and lobbyists from the health care industry to come, too — providing they fork over $25,000 a head, or a quarter of a million if they want to sponsor a whole series of these cozy little get-togethers. And what is the inducement she offers them? Nothing less than — and I'm quoting the invitation verbatim — "An exclusive opportunity to participate in the health care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done." The invitation promises this private, intimate, and off-the-record dinner is an extension "of The Washington Post brand of journalistic inquiry into the issues, a unique opportunity for stakeholders to hear and be heard." Let that sink in. The "stakeholders" in health care reform in this case do not include the rabble — the folks across the country who actually need quality health care but can't afford it. If any of them showed up at the kitchen door on the night of this little soiree, a bouncer would drop kick them beyond the beltway.
Note: To read the complete text, click on the link above and scroll below the video box at the top of the page. For an excellent article on the Washington Post's ties to the CIA and manipulative politics, click here.
JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, HOST: Despite growing pressure from the House and ordinary people, the Senate decided not to increase scrutiny on the Federal Reserve. They actually blocked a bid on procedural grounds to have the Government Accountability Office audit the Federal Reserve and issue a report. Here is Republican Senator Jim DeMint. Senator DeMint, ... Why should the Federal Reserve be audited? DEMINT: Well, the value of our dollar, our whole economic system, rides on [this] unelected, secret agency called the Federal Reserve. We're not sure what they're doing right now. And Ron Paul in the House with over half of the House signing up as cosponsors, and me and Bernie Sanders in the Senate are pushing the idea of a complete audit of the Federal Reserve, because frankly, a lot of us here in this country and around the world, are concerned that we're going to destroy the American dollar and the worldwide reserve currency. NAPOLITANO: How is it that legislation that has more than half the members of the House behind it and is proposed by a staunch conservative Republican like you and then independent socialists like Bernie Sanders is stopped on the floor of the Senate cold before you can even formally introduce it, before you can make a speech in favor of it? DEMINT: Well, if we could get the Federal Reserve under control, it would make it more difficult for the Obama administration, I think, to carry out the continued spending and growing of debt. Because one thing we're concerned about is the Federal Reserve ... will do what we call monetize the debt, basically print money, buy our own debt as a country, and devalue the dollar that way.
Note: For two powerful, short videos revealing efforts to expose the intriguing secrets of the Federal Reserve, click here and here. If you care about the financial health of the U.S. and its implications in our world, these are both must watch videos.
President Obama must stop the bailouts and start the prosecutions. It's time to focus on anti-poverty programs to protect the growing unemployed from hunger and homelessness. Stealth payments to billionaire bondholders must cease immediately. Since the mid-1970s, average Americans' wages have stayed flat when adjusted for inflation. Productivity rose, profits rose, but not wages. To compensate for stagnant wages and the desire to consume more each year, Americans worked more, retired later, spouses went to work, and many burned savings. Then they started borrowing. Debt became America's growth industry. The scheme collapsed because Americans' wages weren't sufficient to pay the interest on existing debts. The administration and the banks keep talking about a credit crisis, but there isn't one. Banks are lending. If you want a mortgage and can afford to pay it back, you can borrow at low rates today. But most Americans don't want more debt because it is a debilitating path to poverty. The average American family already pays 14 percent of annual income in interest to banks. To fix this fake crisis, there are fake discussions about what the government must do. The endlessly recycled plan to buy "troubled" assets isn't to get banks lending again, because they haven't stopped lending. The plan seeks for taxpayers to buy worthless assets at high prices to absorb rich investors' losses. That's it. It keeps coming back as a different plan, but with that same goal. There is no goal beyond that one goal: keep rich people from taking losses.
Note: For an extensive archive of key reports on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Five Clay County [Kentucky] officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested Thursday after they were indicted on federal charges accusing them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain. The 10-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters' rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud. According to the indictment, these alleged criminal actions affected the outcome of federal, local, and state primary and general elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006. Clay County Circuit Court Judge Russell Cletus Maricle, 65, and school superintendent Douglas C. Adams, 57, allegedly used their status in the county to influence the appointment of corrupt members to the Clay County Board of Election Officials. [They also] caused election officers to commit acts of extortion, mail fraud, and bribery. Clay County Clerk, Freddy Thompson, 45, allegedly provided money to election officers to be distributed by the officers to buy votes. He also instructed officers how to change votes at the voting machine. Paul E. Bishop, 60, ... hosted alleged meetings at his home where money was pooled together by candidates and distributed to election officers, including himself. He was also accused of instructing the officers how to change votes at the voting machine. The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI, Kentucky State Police, and Appalachia
Note: For some strange reason, the article is no longer available at the link above. To read it on an MSNBC affiliate website, click here. The media have almost always proclaimed that voting maching tampering has never been proven to affect election outcome. This article demonstrates that not only does it happen, but it may be much more prevalent than most would think. For more on this indictment, click here. For more reliable information on widespread election fraud, click here.
The Pentagon is steadily and dramatically increasing the money it spends to win what it calls "the human terrain" of world public opinion. In the process, it is raising concerns of spreading propaganda at home in violation of federal law. An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year, according to Department of Defense budgets and other documents. That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006. This year, the Pentagon will employ 27,000 people just for recruitment, advertising and public relations — almost as many as the total 30,000-person work force in the State Department. The biggest chunk of funds — about $1.6 billion — goes into recruitment and advertising. Another $547 million goes into public affairs, which reaches American audiences. And about $489 million more goes into what is known as psychological operations. Staffing across all these areas costs about $2.1 billion, as calculated by the number of full-time employees and the military's average cost per service member. That's double the staffing costs for 2003. Recruitment and advertising are the only two areas where Congress has authorized the military to influence the American public. Far more controversial is public affairs, because of the prohibition on propaganda to the American public.
Note: For more revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, click here.
OLBERMANN: It has taken less than 24 hours after the Bush presidency ended for a former analyst at the National Security Agency to come forward to reveal new allegations about how this nation was spied on by its own government. Russell Tice [reveals] that under the collar of fighting terrorism, the Bush administration was also targeting specific groups of Americans for surveillance. TICE: The National Security Agency had access to all Americans‘ communications, faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications. They monitored all communications. What was done was a sort of an ability to look at the meta data, the signaling data for communications, and ferret that information to determine what communications would ultimately be collected. Basically, filtering out sort of like sweeping everything with that meta data, and then cutting down ultimately what you are going to look at and what is going to be collected, and in the long run have an analyst look at, you know, needles in a haystack for what might be of interest. OLBERMANN: I mention that you say specific groups were targeted. What group or groups can you tell us about? TICE: [Some of the groups they] collected on were U.S. news organizations and reporters and journalists. The collection ... was 24/7, and you know, 365 days a year, and it made no sense.
After much delay the United States opened its new $700 million embassy in Iraq on Monday, inaugurating the largest — and most expensive — embassy ever built. The compound is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the size of the National Mall in Washington. It has space for 1,000 employees with six apartment blocks and is 10 times larger than any other U.S. embassy. Critics have said that the embassy's fortress-like design and immense size show a fundamental disconnect between the U.S. and conditions on the ground in Iraq. “The presence of a massive U.S. embassy — by far the largest in the world — co-located in the Green Zone with the Iraqi government is seen by Iraqis as an indication of who actually exercises power in their country,” the International Crisis Group, a European-based research group, said in 2006. "The idea of an embassy this huge, this costly, and this isolated from events taking place outside its walls is not necessarily a cause for celebration," architectural historian Jane Loeffler wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2007. “Although the U.S. Government regularly proclaims confidence in Iraq’s democratic future, the U.S. has designed an embassy that conveys no confidence in Iraqis and little hope for their future. Instead, the U.S. has built a fortress capable of sustaining a massive, long-term presence in the face of continued violence.”
Note: Why would the U.S. want Iraq (estimated population 28 million) to have an embassy 10 times or more larger than that of China (over a billion people), Canada, Japan, or for that matter many other countries? And why isn't any major media besides Fox even raising this key question? Look at the AP article which has virtually nothing critical. Could this possibly have anything to do with control of oil and other precious resources there?
Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush's 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution ("VR"), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell's activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would "throw [him] under the bus." A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell's life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather. VR's attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, notified the United States Attorney General, Ohio law enforcement and the federal court about these threats and insisted that Mr. Connell be placed in protective custody. VR also told a close associate of Mr. Connell's not to fly his plane because of another tip that the plane could be sabotaged. Mr. Connell, a very experienced pilot, has had to abandon at least two flights in the past two months because of suspicious problems with his plane. On December 18, 2008, Mr. Connell flew to a small airport outside of Washington DC to meet some people. It was on his return flight the next day that he crashed.
Note: WantToKnow.info supporter Dr. Josh Mitteldorf downloaded this essay from the New York Times website the day it was published, but then was surprised to find it removed the very next day. You can find the article as it originally appeared at this link. For an excellent OpEdNews article by Dr. Mitteldorf on this most strange death and why it matters, click here. And for the deposition of Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican insider and computer consultant who came out as whistleblower on this matter, click here.
The revelation that Bernard Madoff — brilliant investor (or so almost everyone thought), philanthropist, pillar of the community — was a phony has shocked the world, and understandably so. The scale of his alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme is hard to comprehend. Yet ... how different, really, is Mr. Madoff’s tale from the story of the investment industry as a whole? The financial services industry has claimed an ever-growing share of the nation’s income over the past generation, making the people who run the industry incredibly rich. Yet, at this point, it looks as if much of the industry has been destroying value, not creating it. And it’s not just a matter of money: the vast riches achieved by those who managed other people’s money have had a corrupting effect on our society as a whole. Last year, the average salary of employees in “securities, commodity contracts, and investments” was more than four times the average salary in the rest of the economy. Earning a million dollars was nothing special, and even incomes of $20 million or more were fairly common. The incomes of the richest Americans have exploded over the past generation, even as wages of ordinary workers have stagnated. High pay on Wall Street was a major cause of that divergence. Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains corrupted and continue to corrupt politics, in a nicely bipartisan way. From Bush administration officials ... who looked the other way as evidence of financial fraud mounted, to Democrats who still haven’t closed the outrageous tax loophole that benefits executives at hedge funds and private equity firms ... politicians have walked when money talked. The pay system on Wall Street lavishly rewards the appearance of profit, even if that appearance later turns out to have been an illusion.
Note: This entire, penetrating article is well worth a read at the link above. For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents. "Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job. Bowing to aggressive lobbying - along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK - regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way. The administration's blind eye to the impending crisis is emblematic of its governing philosophy, which trusted market forces and discounted the value of government intervention in the economy. Its belief ironically has ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s. Many of the banks that fought to undermine the proposals by some regulators are now either out of business or accepting billions in federal aid to recover from a mortgage crisis they insisted would never come. In 2005, faced with ominous signs the housing market was in jeopardy, bank regulators proposed new guidelines for banks writing risky loans. Those proposals all were stripped from the final rules.
Note: For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from reliable sources, click here.
I spent Sunday afternoon brooding over a [New York Times] front-page article, entitled ["Citigroup Saw No Red Flags Even as It Made Bolder Bets”]. In searing detail it exposed ... how some of our country’s best-paid bankers were overrated dopes who had no idea what they were selling, or greedy cynics who did know and turned a blind eye. But it wasn’t only the bankers. This financial meltdown involved a broad national breakdown in personal responsibility, government regulation and financial ethics. So many people were in on it: People who had no business buying a home, with nothing down and nothing to pay for two years; people who had no business pushing such mortgages, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business bundling those loans into securities and selling them to third parties, as if they were AAA bonds, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business rating those loans as AAA, but made fortunes doing so; and people who had no business buying those bonds and putting them on their balance sheets so they could earn a little better yield, but made fortunes doing so. Citigroup was involved in, and made money from, almost every link in that chain. And the bank’s executives, including ...the former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, were ... so ensnared by the cronyism between the bank’s risk managers and risk takers (and so bought off by their bonuses) that they had no interest in stopping it. These are the people whom taxpayers bailed out on Monday to the tune of what could be more than $300 billion.
Note: For many revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout from major media sources, click here.
Some of the nation's biggest banks are in for a windfall – on top of the $700 billion government bailout – thanks to a new tax policy quietly issued by the Treasury Department. The notice gives big tax breaks to companies that acquire struggling banks hit hard by the mortgage crisis. In some cases, the tax breaks could exceed the cost of acquiring the banks, according to analyses by private tax experts. The change could cost the Treasury as much as $140 billion by enabling firms that acquire struggling banks to use more losses incurred by those banks to offset their own taxable profits. San Francisco's Wells Fargo & Co., which made a bid to acquire Wachovia Corp. just days after the notice was issued, stands to reap about $20 billion in additional tax savings because of the change, according to the analyses. Wells Fargo paid $14.8 billion in a stock deal to buy Wachovia. The notice was issued Sept. 30 as Congress debated the $700 billion bailout plan. Some members of Congress are upset that such a sweeping tax change was issued with no public hearings or congressional input. "I am concerned that the notice, which was never debated by Congress, could end up costing taxpayers tens of billions of more dollars on top of the hundreds of billions of dollars already approved by Congress in the financial rescue plan," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a letter last week to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Some tax lawyers questioned the legality of the notice. Before the notice was issued, the merged bank could write off only a limited amount of the losses. The notice removed those restrictions, enabling the acquiring banks to make huge reductions in their tax liabilities.
Note: With no limitations placed on the nine biggest banks receiving many billions of dollars in bailout money, they are free to buy up smaller banks. And they will likely receive huge tax breaks, sometimes even greater than the purchase price, for doing so! For many revealing, reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Having been handed vast authority and almost no restrictions in the bailout law that Congress passed ... a committee of five little-known government officials, aided by a bare-bones staff of 40, is picking winners and losers among thousands of banks, savings and loans, insurers and other institutions. It is new and unfamiliar terrain for the officials, who are making monumental decisions — a form of industrial policy, some critics say — that contradict the free market philosophy they usually espouse. Predictably, the process is stirring alarm from Capitol Hill to Wall Street. Among the problems, critics say, is that despite earlier promises of transparency, the process is shrouded in secrecy, its precise goals opaque. Treasury officials have refused to disclose their criteria for deciding which banks ... get money. And officials have yet to say they even have a broader strategy, though banking executives are convinced the government wants to encourage acquisitions. Already, critics from Capitol Hill to Wall Street are lashing out at the program, saying the banks are misusing the capital infusions by hoarding the money rather than lending it. The government, the critics say, is wrongly steering funds to banks to take over weaker rivals. All this comes after Mr. Paulson abruptly shifted the focus of the program to injecting capital rather than buying distressed mortgage-related assets from the banks. This meant that Congress had never debated the details of how the government ought to carry out a recapitalization.
Note: With the intense secrecy and all of the lobbyist and big guns for banking fighting for hundreds of billions of dollars given practically free by the government, do you really think these "five little-known government officials" will be impartial in their decisions? For many revealing, reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.
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