By Ben Van Heuvelen
Global Research, October 03, 2007
Salon.com 3 October 2007
Blamed in the deaths of Iraqi civilians, the private security firm has long ties to the White House and prominent Republicans, including Ken Starr.
Oct. 02, 2007 | When Blackwater contractors guarding a U.S. State Department convoy allegedly killed 11 unarmed Iraqi civilians on Sept. 16, it was only the latest in a series of controversial shooting incidents associated with the private security firm. Blackwater has a reputation for being quick on the draw. Since 2005, the North Carolina-based company, which has about 1,000 contractors in Iraq, has reported 195 escalation of force incidents; in 163 of those cases Blackwater guns fired first. According to the New York Times, Blackwater guards were twice as likely as employees of two other firms protecting State Department personnel in Iraq to be involved in shooting incidents.
The former Betsy Prince Edgar and Elsas daughter, Eriks sister married into the DeVos family, one of the countrys biggest donors to Republican and conservative causes. (I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party, Betsy DeVos wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.) She chaired the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2003 to 2005, and her husband, Dick, ran as the Republican candidate for Michigan governor in 2006.
Erik Prince himself is no slouch when it comes to giving to Republicans and cultivating relationships with important conservatives. He and his first and second wives have donated roughly $300,000 to Republican candidates and political action committees. Through his Freiheit Foundation, he also gave $500,000 to Prison Fellowship Ministries, run by former Nixon official Charles Colson, in 2000. In the same year, he contributed $30,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. During college, he interned in George H.W. Bushs White House, and also interned for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. Rohrabacher and fellow California Republican Rep. John Doolittle have visited Blackwaters Moyock, N.C., compound, on a trip arranged by the Alexander Strategy Group, a lobbying firm founded by former aides of then House Majority Leader Tom Delay. ASG partner Paul Behrends is a longtime associate of Princes.
Princes connections seem to have paid off for Blackwater. Robert Young Pelton, author of Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror, has reported that one of Blackwaters earliest contracts in the national arena was a no-bid $5.4 million deal to provide security guards in Afghanistan, which came after Prince made a call to then CIA executive director Buzzy Krongard. Whats more, Harpers Ken Silverstein has reported that Prince has a security pass for CIA headquarters and meets with senior people inside the CIA. But Princes most important benefactor was fellow conservative Roman Catholic convert L. Paul Bremer, former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the American occupation government in Iraq. In August 2003, Blackwater won a $27.7 million contract to provide personal security for Bremer. In charge of the Blackwater team guarding Bremer was Frank Gallagher, who had provided personal security for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when Bremer was managing director of Kissingers consulting firm, Kissinger and Associates, in the 1990s.
By 2005, Blackwater was earning $353 million annually from federal contracts. Blackwaters benefits from government largess havent ended with Iraq. The company was recently one of five awarded a Department of Defense counter-narcoterrorism contract that could reportedly be worth as much as $15 billion. Blackwater also became involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and profited handsomely. According to Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the Worlds Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Blackwater had made roughly $73 million for Katrina-related government work by June 2006, less than a year after the hurricane hit.
Joseph Schmitz, chief operating officer and general counsel: In 2002, President Bush nominated Schmitz to oversee and police the Pentagons military contracts as the Defense Departments inspector general. Schmitz presided over the largest increase of military-contracting spending in history: As of 2005, 77 companies were awarded 149 prime contracts worth $42.1 billion, with hundreds of millions going to Blackwater. Unlike previous I.G.s, Schmitz reported directly to the secretary of defense a setup that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers objected to, given Schmitzs oversight responsibility. Schmitz even carried Rumsfelds 12 principles for the Pentagon in his lapel pocket. The first principle read, Do nothing that could raise questions about the credibility of DoD.
Schmitz has many ties to the Republican Party establishment. His father, John G. Schmitz, was a two-term Republican congressman, and his brother, Patrick Schmitz, served as George H.W. Bushs deputy counsel from 1985 to 1993. Joseph himself worked as a special assistant to Reagan-era Attorney General Edwin Meese.
Obamas Latest Betrayal of America and Americans in Favor of the Big Banks: TISA
By William K. Black
New Economic Perspectives, June 24, 2014
Transparency for Bankers: Maximum Opaqueness for the Public and Congress
The TISA draft (Article X.16) is very clear about the second great paradox: bankers must be told everything that regulators are thinking about adopting and have ample opportunity to influence the regulators drafting of the rule. But TISA is an international secret that will remain an international secret for five years after it is adopted. Like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the drafts are kept secret even from Congress. Indeed, TISA is classified so that those who might blow the whistle on the travesty may be prosecuted. The drafts initial information contains this language:
Declassify on: Five years from entry into force of the TISA agreement .
It must be stored in a locked or secured building, room, or container.
I note this obvious, indefensible hypocrisy because it is illustrative of the entire draft. When the indefensible appears in a document like this it is because the drafters know that there is no one representing the other side and they can afford to be outrageously one-sided. It was clearly drafted by and for lobbyists for the SDIs. Any government officials involved in the drafting are simply scribes who will be rewarded on the other side of the revolving door. There is no pretense that the draft is a reasoned response to differing views. Only one set of views literally the wish list of the largest, most criminal banks is presented and it is presented in exceptionally extreme language. There is literally nothing in the draft designed to increase the regulatory protections afforded the public from private banks. There is literally nothing in the draft that increases restrictions on private banks.
As a lawyer I recognize exactly what happened because the draft reads exactly like how we draft a wish list. Obama is a lawyer. Mr. President, read the draft and it will be obvious to you that no one is representing the public. The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa (an economist), was outraged when he learned of what the bankers were trying to achieve through TISA. Sadly, the U.S. played a disgraceful role in pushing TISA forward over Ecuadors objections. If Obama were to admit that Ecuador was right, bring the U.S. back to representing the public rather than the looters, and make public the entire disgraceful draft TISA would collapse.
TISAs drafting consists of a meeting of banking thieves who are successfully demanding a return to what Gramlich correctly described as no cops on the beat. If the street robbers of the world demanded that we remove the cops on the beat we would be enraged. Bankers and their neoclassical economist allies, however, regularly lobby for just such a boon to elite white-collar criminals. We have millennia of experience with what happens when we give the elites the power to loot with impunity.
The three des deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization first looted America's S&Ls and then America's banks. Now, TiSA wants to deregulate the world's banks. Anyone think the money will go to a good cause?
Sarajevo, June 28, 1914
Prague, May 29, 1942
Dallas, November 22,1963
To change the course of humanity.
This explains a lot...
...from enemies domestic and foreign to policies at home and abroad:
Kochs put a happy face on free enterprise
Consider the Source: Free market system leads to well-being
By Chris Young
Center for Public Integrity, June 25, 2014
Editors note: This story is one in a continuing series on Washington, D.C.s information industry. The series seeks to illuminate the sometimes-misleading methods used by special interest groups to gain support for their agendas from government and average Americans.
When Arthur C. Brooks stepped on stage in December, the influential conservatives mission was simple, yet ambitious: If I do my job, Brooks began his speech, in the next few minutes Im going to give you the secret to happiness.
Standing before large block letters that spelled H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S, the charismatic president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, explained how genetics, major life events and choices all contribute to ones well-being.
Brooks mentioned the importance of forging close relationships with family, promoted charitable giving and emphasized that money doesnt buy happiness.
Nearing the end of his nearly 20-minute speech, Brooks said happiness also depends on free markets?
The earned-success system that brings you happiness is the system of free enterprise that lifts people out of poverty, Brooks said. Dont work for the stateism, the collectivism that suppresses this, he added. Work for the free enterprise that makes this possible.
That all would be great if the game, playing field and referees weren't, ah, fixed in favor of the billionaire and War Inc.
I don't believe in not being.
Hey, you know Borges' "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"?
Greenwald posted June 6, 2014:
NPRs David Folkenflik has a revealing new look at what I have long believed is one of the most important journalistic stories of the last decade: The New York Times 2004 decision, at the behest of George W. Bush himself, to suppress for 15 months (through Bushs re-election) its reporters discovery that the NSA was illegally eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. Folkenfliks NPR story confirms what has long been clear: The only reason the Times eventually published that article was because one of its reporters, James Risen, had become so frustrated that he wrote a book that was about to break the story, leaving the paper with no choice (Risens co-reporter, Eric Lichtblau, is quoted this way: He had a gun to their head, Lichtblau told Frontline. They are really being forced to reconsider: The paper is going to look pretty bad if Risens book disclosed the wiretapping program before the Times).
Gosh. Bush might've lost be even too big a margin for Corporate McPravda to notice in 2004, were it not for the New York Times spiking the NSA spying story.
Would you have posted the story, if you knew, zappaman? Of course you would.
The pros from Wall Street would know better, but GoldmanSachs666.com reported in 2012:
"Banks and hedge funds will go to any lengths in order to make bigger and better returns. Now they are profiting again from the original crisis that they caused! Note that the article says that "Yields will be greater if forecasts for foreclosures, recoveries or refinancings among the underlying loans prove too pessimistic." In other words, more money will be made if recovery or refinancings are not carried out. (That maybe explains why foreclosed homes have not been properly refinanced through government policies.)"
SOURCE from an outstanding blog: http://www.goldmansachs666.com/2012/08/the-next-big-thing-for-goldman-sachs.html
Which does explain why Uncle Sam, at Tim Geithner's insistence, would only use a small fraction of the hundreds of billions allocated to help home owners.
GoldmanSachs666.com, Tuesday, August 7, 2012
A former Goldman Sachs trader, Deeb Salem, who helped to handle Goldman's bets against sub-prime mortgages that collapsed in 2007, and who tried to manipulate derivative prices tied to loans, is now helping a hedge fund reap further rewards from wagering on US home-loan bonds.
The effects of Goldman's guys on the economic system are like the proverbial stone thrown into a pond: the ripples of their influence on the economy just continue outwards forever.
Banks and hedge funds will go to any lengths in order to make bigger and better returns. Now they are profiting again from the original crisis that they caused! Note that the article says that "Yields will be greater if forecasts for foreclosures, recoveries or refinancings among the underlying loans prove too pessimistic." In other words, more money will be made if recovery or refinancings are not carried out. (That maybe explains why foreclosed homes have not been properly refinanced through government policies.)
[font color="red"]There is something inherently evil about a bank or hedge fund that creates more and more wealth for itself by taking advantage of the misfortunes of others![/font color]
One wonders what the hedge fund has in mind. Maybe it could buy up thousands of foreclosed upon houses and rent them. They could create higher and higher rents so that defaults will occur. CDOs based on rents could be sold to investors. Then the hedge fund could buy CDS in case of default and, wonder of wonders, we have another round of scams to contend with. Where will it all end?
GoldenTree Hires Goldman Sachs Trader Salem In Mortgage Push
By Jody Shenn - Bloomberg
. . . .
Returns on senior subprime securities from 2005 through 2007, the years that produced the most defaults, have averaged more than 26 percent this year, Barclays Plc index data show.
Salem joined Goldman Sachs in 2001, according to records maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which dont show him involved in any regulatory actions, civil lawsuits, criminal matters or customer complaints.
During the mortgage meltdown in 2007, he was the banks lead trader of single-name credit-default swaps referencing residential-mortgage-backed securities, according to the 2011 report by the Senates Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
His group was able to learn from our bad long position at the end of 2006 and layout the game plan to put on an enormous directional short, Salem said in a 2007 self-evaluation excerpted in the report. The results of that are obvious.
Company documents also showed Goldman Sachs traders led by Michael J. Swenson sought to encourage a short squeeze by putting artificially low prices on swaps that would gain in value as mortgage securities fell, the panel said. The idea, abandoned after market conditions worsened, was to drive holders to sell and help the bank buy at reduced prices, according to its report.
SOURCE w link to Original Article quoted: http://www.goldmansachs666.com/2012/08/the-next-big-thing-for-goldman-sachs.html
Even more infuriating, Goldman Sachs was made whole by the US taxpayer in the bailout.
Timothy Geithner and AIG-Gate
The Worlds Greatest Insurance Heist
by ELLEN BROWN
FEBRUARY 08, 2010
Geithner has been under the House microscope for the decision of the New York Fed, made while he headed it, to buy out about $30 billion in credit default swaps (over-the-counter derivative insurance contracts) that AIG sold on toxic debt securities. The chief recipients of this payout were Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank. Goldman got $13 billion, roughly equivalent to its bonus pool for the first 9 months of 2009. Critics are calling the New York Feds decision a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been put through bankruptcy proceedings in the ordinary way. In a Bloomberg article provocatively titled Secret Banking Cabal Emerges from AIG Shadows, David Reilly writes:
(T)he New York Fed is a quasi-governmental institution that isnt subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom of information requests, unlike the Federal Reserve. This impenetrability comes in handy since the bank is the preferred vehicle for many of the Feds bailout programs. Its as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nations central bank.
The beneficiaries of the New York Feds largesse got paid in full although they had agreed to take much less. In a November 2009 article titled Its Time to Fire Tim Geithner, Dylan Ratigan wrote:
(L)ast November . . . New York Federal Reserve Governor Tim Geithner decided to deliver 100 cents on the dollar, in secret no less, to pay off the counter parties to the worlds largest (and still un-investigated) insurance fraud AIG. This full payoff with taxpayer dollars was carried out by Geithner after AIGs bank customers, such as Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, had already previously agreed to taking as little as 40 cents on the dollar. Even after the GM autoworkers, bondholders and vendors all received a government-enforced haircut on their contracts, he still had the audacity to claim the sanctity of contracts in the dealings with these companies like AIG.
Geithner testified that the Feds hands were tied and that the bank could not selectively default on contractual obligations without courting collapse. But if it was all on the up and up, why all the secrecy? The contention that the Fed had no choice is also belied by a recent holding in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, in which New York Bankruptcy Judge James Peck set aside the same type of investment contracts that Secretaries Paulson and Geithner repeatedly swore under oath had to be paid in full in the case of AIG. The judge declared that clauses in those contracts subordinating other claims to the holders claims were null and void in bankruptcy.
And notice, comments bank analyst Chris Whalen, that the world has not ended when the holders of [derivative] contracts are treated like everyone else. He calls the AIG bailout a hideous political contrivance that ranks with the great acts of political corruption and thievery in the history of the United States.
While Goldman got gold, my friends got kicked out of their homes. That made me angriest of all.
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