Saturday, December 03, 2005

U.S. Won't Prosecute Terror Money Launderer

We mentioned Riggs before - they're all a bunch of criminals, and they're connected to who else, but the Bushies. The guys who are supposedly trying to stamp out terrorism - the U.S. Justice Department - have decided this particular terrorist financier did nothing wrong:

The U.S. attorney's office for the District of Columbia has decided not to prosecute a former bank examiner over his later conduct as an executive at Riggs Bank, a Treasury Department official said last night.

People made all sorts of terror-related transactions through Riggs because it was a safe bet. Riggs executives got a large chunk of that cash through the skimming fees - a percentage of each transaction. With so many close connections to the Bush White House, how could the U.S. prosecute them? Sounds like we needed a special prosecutor.

Works the same with the 'war on drugs'. I don't know where the action is at today, but I suspect a large majority of it still goes through U.S. owned and run banks in the Miami area. The government won't prosecute them b/c that actually could do something about the flow of drugs into the country.

Here's how the drug money laundering works - I'm sure it's very similar to how the terror money laundering worked at Riggs and other well-connected banks:

How do they do it?

Well, you get it in by structuring it in cash--making deposits under $10,000 using multiple accounts. You take cash and you buy money orders which reduces the volume of cash that you have. And then you put the money orders into the bank as if you were a business. You combine all that money in bank accounts and send it to one big account. And then you can do wire transfers off that bank account.

Once the money's into the banking system, you can manipulate it any way you like. Colombian money brokers have legions of employees in Miami and New York that do nothing but get drug money into U.S. banks. And that's a fact. We have documentary proof. We know it. We have identified over 10,000 bank accounts in New York and Miami that have been utilized to launder drug funds.

...Colombians and others will open bank accounts, allow others to use those bank accounts, for money laundering purposes and/or pay the percentage of it. It happens in Miami and New York every day. It's primarily a Miami/New York syndrome, although we have proof that it happens in Detroit, Chicago, Boston and a number of other places, and sometimes in California as well. ...

For the record, we still need to stop this crazy war on drugs stuff. Either that, or actually try and stop it. The U.S. government's 'war on drugs' is just a propaganda campaign for politicians - nothing more.

As far as legalizing drugs, though, I would actually be very worried about poor neighborhoods. I think those places could deteriorate into even worse areas because people there are so desperate and hopeless, that they want any escape they can possibly find - even short term - and that means drugs. The CIA helped to ruin these inner city neighborhoods - they should help rebuild them.

Let's see - the CIA and Offense Department get to split $44 Billion dollars a year? OK - let's say we take, 10% of that each year from here on out and give it back to the inner city communities that were hardest hit by the CIA and Reagan Administration. Cool?

And Chomsky has some great things to say on the U.S. military and R & D and 'guaranteed markets' and the like. Here is a very long excerpt that is just too good. You should read the whole thing, and all of Chomsky's works. This except starts with a question from a caller - presumably to a radio program on which Chomsky was being interviewed:

Caller: It seems that, Professor Chomsky, you are merely a critic of society and you don't have a definite program or political alternative or system that you are clearly advocating. In what you write and what you say you give only the barest and vaguest solutions. You talk vaguely of a social revolution or something of this nature, but you don't say concretely what you believe in.

Another point I'd like to ask you about is the Pentagon budget, which is only about 6 percent of the GNP, and military procurement is only 2 percent or 3 percent of the GNP. If you think that exists to benefit high-tech industries, it seems like it would make more sense for the government to directly fund high-tech industries if they wanted to do that. Probably the public would be even more supportive of it, like they are in Japan. Number three: I've heard you criticize and criticize and go on and on about what you dislike about the United States' political and economic system. Is there anything, anything that you have ever said, or could you say something now, about the U.S.political and economic system that you approve of, that you think is an achievement, a success? I like to hear if you can say anything positive about the politics and economics of this country.

Chomsky: On the first point: You say I haven't written about what I believe is an alternative. That's just not true. I've written a lot about it. You probably haven't read it, but then it's not easily accessible. I've written quite a lot about what I think a libertarian society should look like and what it would mean to take the radical democratic ideals of the Enlightenment, for example, and translate them into a form in which they would apply to a modern industrial society. I could go on to describe it. I'll be glad to give you references, but point number one is just not true.

Point number two: The figures about percentage of GNP are almost totally meaningless. The point is that the corporate managers in advanced industry -- this is true of electronics, computers, pharmaceuticals, etc. -- expect that the government, meaning the public, will pick up the costly parts of the production process, the parts that are not profitable -- research and development. That's got to be paid for by the public. Furthermore, the public, through the Pentagon, provides a state-guaranteed market, which is available for waste production if commercial markets don't work. That is a gift to the corporate managers. It's a cushion for planning. When something can be sold on the market, you sell it. If not, the public purchases it and destroys it. Furthermore, the public pays the cost while the corporation makes the profit. If you take a look at particular industries you can see how this works.

Take, say, the computer industry, the core of the modern industrial economy. I'm kind of smoothing the edges here, but the story is essentially accurate. You can put in tenth-order effect, if you like. In the 1950s, computers were not marketable, so the public paid 100 percent of the cost of research, development and production through the Pentagon. By the 1960s, they were beginning to be marketable in the commercial market, so the public participation declined to about 50 percent. The idea is that the public pays the costs, the corporations make the profits. Public subsidy, private profit; that's what we call free enterprise. By the 1980s there were very substantial new expenditures required for advances in fifth-generation computers and new fancy parallel processing systems, etc. So the public's share in the costs went up very substantially through Star Wars and the Pentagon, etc. That's the way it works. Percentage of GNP doesn't tell you anything relevant to this process.

As to why the government doesn't just come to the population and play it the Japanese way, the answer is, in my view, and this has been the answer that business has given and I think they're right, that the public here wouldn't tolerate it. This is not a docile, submissive population like Japan. You can't come to the population here and tell them : "Look, next year you're going to cut back on your consumption by this amount so that IBM can make more profits and then maybe ten years from now your son or your daughter will get a job." That wouldn't wash. What you tell people here is: "The Russians are coming, so we better send up a lot of missiles into space and maybe out of that will come something useful for IBM and then maybe your son will get a job in ten years." Those last parts you don't bother saying.

Caller: Who are you quoting? Are you quoting yourself or some analyst in the military or what?

Chomsky: What I'm saying is what politicians in the United States say.

Caller: I've never heard them say that.

You've never heard a politician in the United States say, "The Russians are coming, we have to have more missiles?"

Caller: I never heard them say that we need it because we have to fund some high-tech industries.

Chomsky: You didn't hear what I just said. I said that the last two sentences I added were not what is publicly said. How you do it in the United States is you say, look, we've got to defend ourselves, we need Star Wars, we need the Pentagon system, and the effect of that is to achieve what I just described with regard to the computer industry, or the semiconductor industry, or whatever. That is because this is a relatively free society.

If politicians were to approach the public telling them, "Look, we've decided that next year you're going to cut back on your consumption so that IBM will make more profit," the reaction in the United States would be a healthy reaction: "Who are you to tell me to cut back so that IBM will make more profit? If it's going to be a social decision of that kind, I want to take part in it." And that's precisely why business does not want to be put in those terms. They do not want social policy, which is going to organize people, to become involved in making decisions over investment. This issue has come up over the years, many times, in the business press. Go back to the 1940s. It was recognized, as any economist will tell you, that you can get the same priming effect for industry, maybe even more efficient, through other forms of government intervention besides military production.

Caller: Right. That's my point.

Chomsky: Sure you can do that, but it's irrelevant, and business understands exactly why it's irrelevant. You can read editorials in Business Week going back to the late 1940s where they point out there are two techniques: one technique is the military system, the other technique would be social spending, infrastructure development, hospitals, services, etc. or useful production. But the latter is no good. It will work from a technical, economic point of view, but it has all sorts of unwelcome side effects. For example, it tends to organize public constituencies. If the government gets involved in carrying out activities that affect the public existence directly, people will want to get involved in it.

Start here. My favorite of the moment is Deterring Democracy, but I have to tell you, reading this one will set you back, sit you down, and make you think real deep thoughts. It's not 'heavy' reading in the sense that it's difficult to comprehend, it is 'heavy' in that the actions of the U.S. government have been so damn disgusting for so damn long. Blah.

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