News Release Archive - 2009

Washington as Wall Street’s “Biggest Profit Center”

Share

ROBERT WEISSMAN
Public Citizen today released a report titled “Financial Industry Invests Heavily in Key Lawmakers.” The group states: “The industry — including banks, investment firms, insurance companies and real estate companies — has given $42 million in campaign contributions to lawmakers and their leadership political action committees since the current election cycle began in November 2008.”

“The finance sector is investing most heavily in the very lawmakers who will decide the new rules of the road,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, who speaks Monday at a rally in front of Goldman Sachs’ Washington, D.C., headquarters to demand Congress take immediate action on reform.

“It appears that Wall Street’s biggest profit center is not in Manhattan but in Washington, D.C. Investing millions in the lawmakers who are crafting new financial regulations has the potential to earn them billions down the line if they can escape meaningful regulatory controls. It looks like an attempt to buy access and influence at precisely the time when the big banks are lobbying intensely to weaken or kill legislation that would rein in their reckless behavior.”

Weissman added: “It’s outrageous that firms such as Goldman Sachs, with its projected $23 billion in bonuses and compensation, would try to block reform while continuing the extravagant pay practices that helped create this country’s financial crisis.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Obama’s Asia Trip Agenda

Share

JOSEPH GERSON
Gerson is director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England and the author of several books. He has traveled extensively in Asia and is able to comment on various aspects of Obama’s trip as well as to put media in touch with people in various countries Obama is visiting.

Gerson said today: “After years of Bush administration neglect of Southeast Asia, during which China’s diplomatic influence grew exponentially, President Obama will seek to restore U.S. credibility as a partner and revitalize U.S. influence in this economically and strategically important part of the world.”

In Japan, Gerson said, “it will not be as easy as in years past. Yukio Hatoyama, the new prime minister, wants changes in the U.S.-Japan military alliance. Among the critical issues will be: continued Okinawan opposition to U.S. military bases there and demands for the closure of Futenma air base, containing China’s rise, reinforcing the U.S. nuclear ‘umbrella’ over Japan, dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program, and Prime Minister Hatoyama’s call for an East Asian Community that could marginalize U.S. regional influence.”

Gerson said that in China, President Obama will have to navigate the “demands of the competitive interdependence that characterizes the world’s most important bilateral relationship.” These include “U.S. and Chinese military ambitions and U.S. support for Taiwan, trade and other economic issues, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program [and] reaching an agreement on CO2 reductions…”

In Seoul, “the focus will be North Korean overtures to reopen bilateral negotiations with the U.S. and to return to the Six Party Talks, how to move the proposed U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement forward, and an appreciation from President Obama for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s unpopular decision to send more Korean troops to Afghanistan.”

In Singapore, “President Obama will participate in the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) and ASEAN +1 (Association of South East Asian Nations plus the U.S.) meetings.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Prosecution

Share

DAVID SWANSON
Cofounder of AfterDowningStreet.org, Swanson is author of the recently released book Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union. He said today: “Providing charges and trials, even belatedly, even for selected prisoners is progress. But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured, and our president has forbidden our Justice Department to prosecute that crime. A just system would make available at trial all records, including video, of all confessions and interrogations. Under such a system, KSM’s prosecution would lead to the prosecution of his torturers and those who authorized that torture. In addition to this divided system, the provision of trial by civilian court for those most likely to be convicted, and trial by military ‘court’ for those less likely, and lawless imprisonment for those least likely, is not justice; it’s cheating.”

Background:

Fox News: “Pentagon Releases Audio of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Testimony” [unclear whether audio is now available]

Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, recently wrote: “What I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002 — well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion — its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa’ida.” See “Powell Denies Knowledge of Torture-War Link

Also see: “Detainees to Get ‘The-State-Always-Wins’ System of ‘Justice’: Obama’s announcement to try 9/11 defendants would be commendable if it applied to all, rather than some, detainees” by Glenn Greenwald

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

“Healthcare” or Family Intervention?: Low-Income Mothers Singled Out for Home Visits

Share

GWENDOLYN MINK
Mink is co-editor of the two-volume Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and Policy and author of Welfare’s End. She has been following various aspects of healthcare reform legislation.

She said today: “The House bill includes a section calling for home visits by nurses to poor pregnant families and poor families with young children — to provide behavioral and interpersonal guidance for self-improvement. This provision is NOT about the delivery of medical services. As the bill states, one goal of home visits by nurses is to make the poor economically ‘self-sufficient’ and less ‘dependent’ on public assistance.

“In addition to providing for social, personal, and family interventions by visiting nurses, the provision calls for ‘increasing birth intervals’ in low-income families — fertility control. Why is a healthcare bill providing for subjective social intervention into low-income families? The new abortion funding restriction impairs the right of all women to terminate pregnancies. Section 1713 encroaches the right of low-income women to choose to bear children on their own terms.” The relevant sections are available in PDF at Mink’s webpage .

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Former U.S. Diplomat Got Stake in Iraqi Oil

Share

The New York Times reports today: “Peter W. Galbraith, an influential former American ambassador, is a powerful voice on Iraq who helped shape the views of policy makers like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and John Kerry. In the summer of 2005, he was also an adviser to the Kurdish regional government as Iraq wrote its Constitution — tough and sensitive talks not least because of issues like how Iraq would divide its vast oil wealth.

“Now Mr. Galbraith, 58, son of the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, stands to earn perhaps a hundred million or more dollars as a result of his closeness to the Kurds, his relations with a Norwegian oil company and constitutional provisions he helped the Kurds extract.”

REIDAR VISSER
The story broke in the Norwegian press a month ago. On Oct. 10 Visser wrote the piece “While He Was Influencing the Shape of the Iraqi Constitution, Peter Galbraith Held Stakes in an Oilfield in Dahuk.”

Today Visser wrote the piece “Galbraith Was Paid by DNO When He Sat in on Sensitive Constitutional Drafting Sessions in 2005.”

JAMES PAUL
Executive director of Global Policy Forum, Paul said today: “Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat and Congressional staffer, was working from 2003 to 2004 to prevent a strong central government from emerging in Iraq, the kind of government that might prevent big foreign oil companies from returning to control the country’s resources. Now we know that under the guise of sympathy for the Kurds, he had another very personal goal — millions in personal profit from an oil deal that a Norwegian company struck with the Kurdish regional government.” (Galbraith wrote a book titled The End of Iraq.)

Paul added: “This story is about one person’s greed, but it’s symbolic of the central and corrupting effect of oil on all Iraq policy. The smaller companies were getting the early contracts in the Kurdish area, but the big game was the major companies’ efforts to control the supergiant fields in the south under very favorable terms.

“It’s a fascinating window into the race to control the future world energy system, at a time when oil is clearly running out.”

Paul has written several pieces about oil including “Oil in Iraq: The Heart of the Crisis,” featured on the Global Policy Forum’s “Oil in Iraq” webpage.

Also see, by Glenn Greenwald, “The Sleazy Advocacy of a Leading ‘Liberal Hawk’: Peter Galbraith’s vast, undisclosed financial interests in the policies he spent years advocating as an ‘expert.'”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Financial Reform

Share

The Washington Post today features a story headlined “Dodd’s reform plan takes aim at the Fed: Curbs on central bank are at odds with administration’s vision.” Sen. Dodd’s proposal would also “merge numerous federal banking regulators under a single roof,” McClatchy reports.

ANDREW COCKBURN
Cockburn is co-producer of the new film “American Casino.” He said today: “It doesn’t much matter if you have one big regulator or six smaller ones when the government is riddled with recent graduates of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and other banks, who will head straight back to Wall Street when their bout of public service ends.”

Cockburn just wrote the piece “Of Bailouts and Swaps: The Crafting of a Loophole,” which highlights a provision in the current legislation that could undermine any meaningful regulation of derivatives.

His past pieces on finance include “How Goldman Sachs and Citi Run the Show: The Wall Street White House.”

ROBERT AUERBACH
Author of the new book Deception and Abuse at the Fed, Auerbach said today: “The Fed is a very corrupt organization. It claims to be independent, but it is not independent of the banks it regulates — two-thirds of the directors at each of the 12 Federal Reserve district banks are elected by the banks the Fed regulates. The Inspector General of the Fed is appointed by the Fed which also controls his budget.

“My experience assisting [former Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep.] Henry B. Gonzalez in the investigation of the Fed’s 50-plus airplane fleet in the 1990’s is that the Fed’s Inspector General office was a farce. [The IG] would not even look into the corruption in the Fed’s management of the severe problems that were found. The Fed�s Inspector General should be a presidential appointment, confirmed by the Senate. The Fed operates in secret and since 1994 is shredding source transcripts records of its policy-making meetings. It was the Fed that allowed Goldman Sachs to go from being an investment bank to having the shelter of becoming a commercial bank, so it has access to the discount window. This was a mistaken move that will help to fuel the next financial crisis.”

Professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, Auerbach was an economist with the House Committee on Financial Services.

An excerpt from his book is available online.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Veterans Day

Share

SETH MANZEL
Manzel is on the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War and is executive director of GI Voice, which operates Coffee Strong near Fort Lewis in Washington State. He deployed to northern Iraq from 2004-2005 where he worked as a driver, machine gunner and vehicle commander. He was in the Army infantry from 2002-2006.

GI Voice said in a recent statement: “The Army has … repeatedly demonstrated that it is more interested in making soldiers ‘deployable’ than it is in helping them fully recover from PTSD and other mental health issues. This often leaves soldiers with few options other than to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. The Army routinely deploys soldiers who are clearly suicidal and homicidal. … It’s time to admit that the wars in southwest Asia are in no one’s best interests.” Manzel can also address racism in the military and how the military has dealt with soldiers who want to get out or are thinking of killing their commanding officers, known as “fragging.”

RICK REYES
Reyes visited Afghanistan earlier this year. After enlisting in the Marine Corps, he served as an infantry rifleman. He was deployed in “Operation Enduring Freedom” (Afghanistan) 2001 and then “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (Iraq) 2003.

Reyes is a co-founding member of Veterans for Rethinking Afghanistan. He said today: “We’re sending our troops to a mission that’s destined to fail. No military strategy is going to do what we say we want in Afghanistan because we don’t have the support of the people — we’re supporting a failed state. Yet, in the latest supplemental, 90 percent went to military operations.” See “Afghan War Vets Patrol Halls of Congress to Stop Troop Escalation

JOYCE and KEVIN LUCEY
Joyce and Kevin Lucey are the parents of Jeffrey Lucey, who committed suicide after being in Iraq for five months in 2004. Joyce Lucey said today: “Let us make sure that this Veterans Day be for all veterans — especially those who are in greatest need; those who lurk in the shadows of train and bus stations begging for money to either exist another day or to feed a habit; those who reel in so much pain for their souls have never left the field of battle and those who have surrendered to the darkness and sought out death to finally achieve peace and rest. …

“There have been months such as January, 2009 when more American soldiers committed suicide than died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined — when the number of suicides have exceeded the formal count of those killed in action — and let us remember that these suicides are only those known.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Healthcare: Devil in the Details

Share

TRUDY LIEBERMAN
Lieberman directs the health and medical reporting program in the graduate school of journalism at City University of New York and is a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. A complete archive of her Campaign Desk articles can be found here .

Her pieces include a string of articles titled “Who Will Be at the Table?” — which tracks the efforts of various lobbies. Another series is “Health Reform Lessons from Massachusetts,” since that state’s legislation has become the blueprint for health system change on a national scale, and its advocates have aggressively marketed some variation of the Massachusetts plan as the reform of choice.

Other recent pieces include: “The Devil in the Details, Part I: The tug-of-war over penalties for not buying coverage,” “The Devil in the Details, Part II: Who can afford health insurance after reform?” and “Truth Emerges about the Public Option: Who really will be allowed to join?”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Fort Hood Shooting

Share

DAHR JAMAIL
Jamail is the author of “The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He just wrote “Mass Shooting Indicates Breakdown of Military.”

AARON GLANTZ
Glantz is an editor at New America Media and author of “The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle Against America’s Veterans.”

He just wrote the piece “After Fort Hood: Count All the Dead,” which states: “Perhaps the most depressing aspect of Thursday’s shoot-out at Fort Hood is that none of the 12 [now 13] people who died in the melee will be counted as casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. …

“Missing are the names of service members, like Sgt. Gerald Cassidy, First Warrant Officer Judson E. Mount, or Spc. Franklin D. Barnett, who died stateside after receiving substandard medical care for wounds sustained in the war zones. …

“Missing, too, are the names of American soldiers and veterans who have killed themselves after serving a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, people like 19-year-old Spc. John Fish of Paso Robles, California who told his superiors [and others at Fort Hood] he was thinking of killing himself after his first deployment, but was ordered overseas a second time anyway.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Healthcare and Unemployment

Share

BRUCE DIXON
Dixon is managing editor of Black Agenda Report, which is one of the groups organizing the “Black is Back” gathering Saturday in D.C.

He recently wrote the piece “If Democrats Don’t Pass Health Insurance Reform This Year, What Do We Lose? And What Do We Gain?” The article states: “In the year since the last election the president has made concession after concession to drug and insurance companies, to private health care providers and their lobbyists. The White House, establishment Democrats and their echo chambers in the corporate media and even on the Internet have worked hard to suppress voices advocating the simple, practical and elegant solution of single-payer Medicare For All, which is still favored in polls by a substantial majority of Americans.” See polling results here.

Dixon adds: “As is highlighted today with the rising unemployment numbers, the principal fact of economic life in America these days is profound insecurity. Tens of millions cannot find work, and tens of millions more who have found it live with the everyday question of what will happen if one of them gets sick or injured. …

“Medicare For All, single payer will enable the working poor to make a stand where they are, and lift themselves out of poverty by organizing for and demanding a greater share of the wealth they produce every day. By removing the dread of financial ruin due to illness or injury, single payer will enable working people to fight for their own collective economic uplift. That’s why the struggle for guaranteed and universal single payer, Medicare For All is the real deal right now, the key to unlocking a better life for millions in the near future, a concrete focus of the civil and human rights movements of our time.”

Background: See “Co-Authors Question Stand Alone Vote on National Single Payer” by Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167