Monday, April 27, 2009

New Evidence of Torture Prison in Poland

The control tower in Szymany, Poland. Journalist Mariusz Kowalweski with the newspaper Rzeczpospolita claims he is certain there was a CIA prison near the airport. The paper also reported that the Polish intelligence agency made 20 of its agents available to the CIA, something that a former CIA operative has confirmed to SPIEGEL.

Der Spiegel reports:
The current debate in the US on the "special interrogation methods" sanctioned by the Bush administration could soon reach Europe. It has long been clear that the CIA used the Szymany military airbase in Poland for extraordinary renditions. Now there is evidence of a secret prison nearby.

Only a smattering of clouds dotted the sky over Szymany on March 7, 2003, and visibility was good. A light breeze blew from the southeast as a plane approached the small military airfield in northeastern Poland, and the temperature outside was 2 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit). At around 4:00 p.m., the Gulfstream N379P -- known among investigators as the "torture taxi" -- touched down on the landing strip.

On board was the most important prisoner the US had been able to produce in the war on terror: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, also known as "the brains" behind al-Qaida. This was the man who had presented Osama bin Laden with plans to attack the US with commercial jets. He personally selected the pilots and supervised preparations for the attacks. Eighteen months later, on March 1, 2003, Sheikh Mohammed was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan by US Special Forces and brought to Afghanistan two days later. Now the CIA was flying him to a remote area in Poland's Masuria region. The prisoner slept during the flight from Kabul to Szymany, for the first time in days, as he later recounted:
"My eyes were covered with a cloth tied around my head. A cloth bag was then pulled over my head. … I fell asleep. ... I therefore don't know how long the journey lasted."

Jerry M., age 56 at the time, probably sat at the controls of the plane chartered by the CIA. The trained airplane and helicopter pilot had been hired by Aero Contractors, a company that transferred prisoners around the world for US intelligence agencies. According to documents from the European aviation safety agency Eurocontrol, Jerry M. had taken off from Kabul at 8:51 a.m. that morning. Only hours after landing in Poland, at 7:16 p.m., he took off again, headed for Washington.

A large number of Polish and American intelligence operatives have since gone on record that the CIA maintained a prison in northeastern Poland. Independent of these sources, Polish government officials from the Justice and Defense Ministry have also reported that the Americans had a secret base near Szymany airport. And so began on March 7, 2003 one of the darkest chapters of recent American -- and European -- history.

Obama Under Pressure

It was apparently here, just under an hour's drive from Szymany airport, that Sheikh Mohammed was tortured, exactly 183 times with waterboarding -- an interrogation technique that simulates the sensation of drowning -- in March, 2003 alone. That averages out to eight times a day. And all of this happened right here in Europe.

Over six years later, these acts of torture are putting the new US president, Barack Obama, under intense pressure. On the one hand, he released four memos in which his predecessor George W. Bush had legalized such interrogation methods. On the other hand, he decided not to prosecute the torturers. And he initially neglected to launch investigations into these "special interrogation methods."

It is the decision that has earned Obama the harshest criticism during the first 100 days of his presidency. Democrats from the Senate and the House of Representatives announced last week that they would form a truth commission, essentially putting them at odds with their own president. Obama quickly realized that he had apparently underestimated the volatile nature of the issue. So he had US Attorney General Eric Holder announce that no one stood above the law. Holder promised that an investigation would be conducted to find out who in the White House and the Justice Department had declared these methods legal.

What the CIA did back then to prisoners in the Polish military airbase of Stare Kiejkuty, north of Szymany, had been authorized by the president. According to witnesses, Stare Kiejkuty housed a secret CIA prison for "high value detainees" -- for the most prominent prisoners of the war on terror.

There is now no doubt that the Gulfstream N379P landed at least five times at Szymany between February and July, 2003. Flight routes were manipulated and falsified for this purpose and, with the knowledge of the Polish government, the European aviation safety agency Eurocontrol was deliberately deceived.

The public prosecutor's office in Warsaw has the statement of a witness who described how people wearing handcuffs and blindfolds were led from the aircraft at Szymany. He said that this happened far away from the control tower. According to the witness, it was always the same individuals and the same civilian vehicles that stood waiting on the landing field.

If we are to believe the statements of Sheikh Mohammed, a large number of those present at the small airfield wore ski masks. This is what he told a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross that questioned him in the US military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba in late 2006:

"On arrival the transfer from the airport to the next place of detention took about one hour. I was transported sitting on the floor of a vehicle. I could see at one point that there was snow on the ground. Everybody was wearing black, with masks and army boots, like Planet-X people."

Just under an hour's drive corresponds roughly to the distance from Szymany to the Stare Kiejkuty military base, known as a training camp for Polish intelligence agents. The route there passes for two kilometers through a fenced-off military zone, past dense pine forests, then heads northeast for 20 minutes, and finally leads over an unpaved road alongside a lake. The entrance to the base is at the end of this road.

'I Was Never Threatened with Death'

Sheikh Mohammed said that they cut the clothes from his body, photographed him naked and threw him in a three-by-four-meter (10 x 13 ft) cell with wooden walls. That was when the hardest phase of the interrogating began, he claims. According to Sheikh Mohammed, one of his interrogators told him that they had received the green light from Washington to give him a "hard time":

"They never used the word 'torture' and never referred to 'physical pressure,' only to 'a hard time.' I was never threatened with death, in fact I was told that they would not allow me to die, but that I would be brought to the 'verge of death and back again.'"

He says he was questioned roughly eight hours a day. He spent the first month naked and standing, with his hands chained to the ceiling of the cell, even at night. They led them into another room for questioning, he says. That's where the bed stood that he says he was strapped to for waterboarding. The mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks told members of the Red Cross that he eventually realized where he was being held:
"I think the country was Poland. I think this because on one occasion a water bottle was brought to me without the label removed. It had an e-mail address ending in '.pl'. The central-heating system was an old-style one that I would expect only to see in countries of the former communist system."
Thereafter, the al-Qaida operative described how he was strapped to a special bed and submitted to waterboarding:

"Cold water from a bottle that had been kept in the fridge was then poured onto the cloth by one of the guards so that I could not breathe. This obviously could only be done for one or two minutes at a time. The cloth was then removed and the bed put into a vertical position. The whole process was then repeated during about an hour. Injuries to my ankles and wrists also occurred during the waterboarding as I struggled in the panic of not being able to breathe."

Part 2: Investigations across Europe

For more than a year now, Warsaw public prosecutor Robert Majewski has been investigating former Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller's government on allegations of abuse of office. At issue is whether sovereignty over Polish territory was relinquished, and whether former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and his left-leaning Social Democratic government gave the CIA free reign over sections of the Stare Kiejkuty military base for the agency's extraterritorial torture interrogations.

Majewski has questioned a large number of witnesses who worked in the former government, and this year his team even plans to fly to Guantanamo. "No European country is so sincerely and vigorously investigating former members of the government as is currently the case in Poland," says Wolfgang Kaleck from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin, which supports the investigations.

The public prosecutor's office has also launched a probe to determine whether the Polish intelligence agency made 20 of its agents available to the CIA, as was recently reported by the conservative Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita. A former CIA official confirmed this information to SPIEGEL. There was reportedly a document issued by the intelligence agency that mentioned both the 20 Polish agents and the transfer of the military base to the Americans. Two members of a parliamentary investigative committee in Warsaw had an opportunity to view this document in late 2005, but it has since disappeared.

The Missing Piece of Evidence

Journalist Mariusz Kowalewski at Rzeczpospolita and two colleagues have been searching for months now for proof of the existence of a secret CIA base in Poland. The journalists have discovered flight record books from Szymany that had been declared lost, and based on refueling receipts and currency exchange rates, they have reconstructed flights and routes, and spoken with informants. Over the past few weeks, their newspaper and the television network TVP Info have revealed new details on an almost daily basis.

Kowalewski has collected a wide range of documents on his white Apple laptop. He is convinced, though, that he only knows "a fraction of what actually happened." He is certain that there was a CIA base in the Masuria region, where high-ranking al-Qaida prisoners were brought. All that is missing is the final piece of evidence. There are rumors circulating that one of the most important interrogators of Sheikh Mohammed, an American named Deuce Martinez -- the man who didn't torture him, but rather had the task of gently coaxing information out of him -- was in Poland at the time. That is the proof that's still missing.

Similar conclusions were reached by the second investigative report on CIA kidnappings in Europe, which was submitted two years ago by the special investigator of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty. (Eds: The Council of Europe is an international organization and watchdog for human rights in a total of 47 states in the European region.) According to Marty's report, members of the former Polish military intelligence and counterintelligence agency, WSI, were given positions with the border police, customs and airport administration to safeguard the activities of the CIA. "The latest revelations in Poland fully corroborate my evidence, which is based on testimony by insiders and documents that have been leaked to me," says the investigator today. Now, under the "dynamic force of the truth" that Obama has unleashed, Marty says that Europeans must finally reveal "which governments tolerated and supported the illegal practices of the CIA."

All that remains is the question of who in Poland at the time approved the collaboration with the CIA and gave the Americans unencumbered use of sections of Stare Kiejkuty.

"The order to give the CIA everything they needed came from the very top, from the president," a member of the Polish military intelligence agency told the Marty team in 2007. Kwasniewski denies this. He says that there was close intelligence corporation with the US, but no prisons on Polish soil. When asked to comment on the reports, former Prime Minister Miller said: "All of this is just another opportunity for me to say that I have nothing to say."

It's very possible that the debate on torture and responsibility which is currently being conducted in the US will soon also reach Europe. After all, Germany granted the US flyover rights and dropped its bid to extradite 13 CIA operatives in the case of Khalid el-Masri, a German citizen who claims he was abducted by the Americans. The Italian intelligence agency allegedly assisted the CIA with the kidnapping in Milan of the Islamic cleric Abu Omar. Britain's intelligence agency, MI6, reportedly delivered information directly to CIA agents who were conducting interrogations in Morocco. And there are also reports of a secret prison in Romania. Investigations have been launched into these allegations in nearly all of these countries.

Jerry M., the pilot who flew Sheikh Mohammed from Kabul to Szymany in March, 2003, now lives in Birmingham, Alabama, in a brick house with white shutters and box trees planted in front of the door. Two stone lions guard the path that leads to the entrance. For two years, Jerry M. only had a post box address, like everyone else who flew CIA prisoners around the world: P.O. Box 22 99 43, code name Jerry Allen Bostick.

It appears the 62-year-old would rather deny all knowledge of this period in his life. When the SPIEGEL asked him over the phone if he had ever been to Poland, he said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. Really no idea." When he was asked if he had ever worked for a company named Aero Contractors, the line suddenly went dead. Jerry M. had hung up.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Susan Boyle Gets A New Look

Susan Boyle, who's performance on television show Britain's Got Talent sparked global interest, outside her home in Blackburn, Scotland, revealing a new look after undergoing a makeover Friday April 24, 2009. (AP Photo / Andrew Milligan ,PA)

Hmmmm, where have we seen this look before?.....

I'd have just swapped out the handbag. [Purchase here, if you must.]

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry that Sarah Palin's influence has crossed 'the pond', and we can look forward to a chorus of "You betcha"s with Scottish brogues and other accents.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Art Imitates Life

I've got a neighbor like this bug; shows up at dinnertime to borrow something ["I was wondering if you had a screwdriver I could borrow?....Is that meatloaf I smell?"].

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Last & Only Word On The Teabaggers

The tax rates that they're objecting to are the George W. Bush tax rates:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Palin To Go AWOL As Alaska Legislature Adjourns On Stimulus Spending Decisions reports:
With just one week left before the Alaska Legislature adjourns for the year, the conflict between Gov. Sarah Palin and lawmakers over taking federal economic stimulus money is the dominant issue left.

In fact, legislative leaders don't seem intent on doing a whole lot else this year.

Just nine of the 419 bills introduced have passed through the full Legislature so far, and while many more will pass in the frenzied final week, there is little desire to make major state policy changes in what Senate President Gary Stevens conceded is basically a session of preserving the status quo.
There's still a chance that bills will pass increasing the state minimum wage, requiring parental notification when a teenager gets an abortion, expanding Alaska children's health insurance for lower-income families and stopping the state, including the Permanent Fund, from investing in companies doing business in Sudan, the African country whose government has been blamed for genocidal killing in the Darfur region.

Legislators will also vote Thursday on approving the governor's appointees, including attorney general Wayne Anthony Ross, who has proven controversial but is still likely to be confirmed.

Palin herself will be leaving Alaska this week to attend the Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in Evansville, Ind. on Thursday, as well as an event for special-needs children. Fairbanks Republican Rep. Jay Ramras questioned her leaving town right at the end of the session, when critical decisions are being made.

"There are some concerns (in the Capitol) about the focus of our chief executive because she's taken a speaking engagement in Indiana for a 36-hour period with only 72 hours left in the legislative session," Ramras said.

Palin, who has barely left Alaska during the legislative session, is clearly irritated.

"I'll be gone for one day. I already have been on record with lawmakers on this. I told lawmakers, you know what, 'Please, don't make me feel that I have to ask you permission, lawmakers, to leave the capital city,' " Palin said.


Legislators say the biggest question left is what happens with the $930.7 million in federal economic stimulus money that Alaska state government is eligible to get. Both the House and Senate want to accept every penny of the money. But Palin, who will have the final say through vetoes, has balked at taking one-third of it, including money for schools, energy assistance and social services.

Palin now says she'll accept the federal money if the Legislature agrees to use some of it to replace state spending. For example, she wants to cut 93 million state dollars that would go to schools -- and then award the schools that same amount in federal stimulus money to make up the difference.

That could be a tough sell with legislators. School districts are pushing hard to get the stimulus money on top of what they'd otherwise get from the state -- not instead of.

There are questions about whether Palin's plan is legal under the federal stimulus law as well. Anchorage Democratic Rep. Mike Doogan said using the dollars just to replace state spending goes against the purpose of Congress.

"The idea is putting more money into the economy," Doogan said.

Palin said she has philosophical objections to the stimulus, given the federal deficit. She also said the public will expect programs funded with stimulus dollars to continue after the federal money runs out -- and pressure the state to pay for them.

Palin said her plan to use stimulus money to replace state money is legal and will save money. "I'll feel better about it because then those dollars won't just be additional dollars, they'll be replacement dollars," the governor said.


The other main thing legislators must do before they leave town is work out differences on how much the state spends next year. That shouldn't be much of an issue, since there is general agreement on a basically status quo budget for state operations and minimal new state spending on construction projects. The bottom line is an expected draw of about $1.2 billion from savings to pay for next year's budget -- on top of taking a similar amount from reserves this year.

Legislators also plan to hash out what they can do to help with regulatory and right-of-way issues for the proposed in-state natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Cook Inlet. And most lawmakers agree a bill letting the state revenue department lend money to the state student loan corporation needs to pass.

The student loan corporation normally sells bonds to finance college loans, but the poor financial markets have kept the bonds from selling. That's forced the state to stop processing student loan applications for the 2010 and 2011 school years.

Other than that, legislative leaders say there's not much they really need to do.

Members of the state Senate minority complain that it has been a very slow year in Juneau. "We're doing Marmot Day and license plates and naming bridges and naming the building next door and that sort of thing," said Anchorage Republican Sen. Con Bunde. "Not legislation of great consequence."

The Legislature is on a two-year schedule, though, so bills that don't pass in this 90-day session do not have to start over next year in the slow climb up through committees.

State House Speaker Mike Chenault, a Nikiski Republican, said the budget and stimulus have kept lawmakers busy and they shouldn't be judged on passing few bills.

"We don't have to pass bills. Usually bills take away people's rights in some form or fashion," he said.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Goldman Sachs Hires Law Firm To Shut Blogger's Site

Goldman Sachs is attempting to shut down a dissident blogger who is extremely critical of the investment bank, its board members and its practices.

This is the same Goldman Sachs that took billions in bailout money and gave it all out (and more) in bonuses.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

The Telegraph reports:
The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.

Florida-based Mr Morgan began a blog entitled "Facts about Goldman Sachs" – the web address for which is – just a few weeks ago.
In that time Mr Morgan, a registered investment adviser, has added a number of posts to the site, including one entitled "Does Goldman Sachs run the world?". However, many of the posts relate to other Wall Street firms and issues.

According to Chadbourne & Parke's letter, dated April 8, the bank is rattled because the site "violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights" and also "implies a relationship" with the bank itself.

Unsurprisingly for a man who has conjoined the bank's name with the Number of the Beast – although he jokingly points out that 666 was also the S&P500's bear-market bottom – Mr Morgan is unlikely to go down without a fight.

He claims he has followed all legal requirements to own and operate the website – and that the header of the site clearly states that the content has not been approved by the bank.

On a special section of his blog entitled "Goldman Sachs vs Mike Morgan" he predicts that the fight will probably end up in court.

"It's just another example of how a bully like Goldman Sachs tries to throw their weight around," he writes.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Morgan explained how he went through a similar battle with US home-builder Lennar a few years ago after he set up a website to collect information on what he alleged was shoddy workmanship in its homes. The pair eventually settled out of court.

"Since I went through this with Lennar, I've had advice from some of the best intellectual property lawyers, and I know exactly what I can and can't do. We're not going to back down from this," he promises.

Mr Morgan adds that if Goldman manages to shut down his site, he has a number of other domain names registered.

• Speculation is mounting that Goldman Sachs is set to raise several billion dollars via a share sale, possibly next week, in order to pay down a $10bn (£6.8bn) US government loan, as revealed in The Sunday Telegraph last week.

Tuesday Is D(og)-Day

So says TMZ:
We have lots of exclusive details on the Portuguese Water Dog President Barack Obama and Michelle are getting for Sasha and Malia. The pooch will make its grand entrance on Tuesday, and it's coming from a prominent Texas kennel, with the help of Senator Ted Kennedy's family.
The black dog -- a male -- is approximately six months old. We've learned it was bred at the kennel and sold to someone who gave it back. The kennel is now "re-homing" the dog to the Obamas. The dog was named Charlie, but the Obamas will rename it.

Now here's where the Kennedys come into play. The kennel has sold the Kennedys three Portuguese Water Dogs in the past, all from the same lineage. The dog the Obamas will be getting is from the same lineage as the Kennedy dogs. The Kennedy family will be presenting the new dog to the Obamas, but it's really coming from the kennel.

The reason this all sounds so technical is that there are issues regarding gifts to the Prez. The fact that the pup is being re-homed makes it all kosher.

The dog pictured is a Portuguese Water Dog, but not the pup the Obamas are getting.
With all the news lately of Bush, Cheney and their merry band of crooks and thieves trying to muscle their way back into the spotlight and assert their version of the last eight years and vision of the world, there's not been one word about Barney, Bush's Scottish terrier. That's a shame, as Barney's the only character from that administration that I'd like to know about since leaving the White House and how he's faring, being that he's forced to spend 24/7 with Bush, and with no reporters to take his frustration out on.

UPDATE [4/12/09, 3:27 P.M. PDT]
Bo Obama, formerly known as Charlie
In this undated photo released by the White House, the Obama family's new dog, Bo, a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog, is shown at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza)
Bo? No jest.

The first family has settled on a first pet _ a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog that the Obama girls are naming Bo.

The selection was one of the White House's most tightly kept secrets.

President Barack Obama's daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, picked a black and white pup, a White House official speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press Saturday night.

The dog is a gift from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who owns several Portuguese water dogs himself.

"We couldnt be happier to see the joy that Bo is bringing to Malia and Sasha," Kennedy said in a statement. "We love our Portuguese water dogs and know that the girls _ and their parents _ will love theirs, too."

The Washington Post reported in its online editions Saturday night that Obama's daughters chose the name Bo for the pup because first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley. The name for the dog was an apparent reference to the singer "Bo" Diddley.

White House aides told the AP that the office of the first lady arranged an exclusive deal on the dog story with the Post. The officials, who demanded anonymity because of the deal with the Post on exclusive details, said the dog was not in the White House as of Saturday evening.

Throughout the day Saturday, celebrity Web sites and bloggers were abuzz with rumors of the first family's selection of a Portuguese water dog; one site even claimed it had pictures of the future first pet.

The president had embraced the frenzy: "Oh, man, now, that's top secret," Obama joked Friday to reporters.

Obama promised his daughters a puppy during the campaign.

"This is Washington. That was a campaign promise," Obama said when he appeared on Jay Leno's talk show last month, as the audience roared with laughter. "No, I'm teasing. The dog will be there shortly."

The president and first lady had said their choice was down to either a Portuguese water dog or a Labradoodle because they were considered good pets for children who have allergies, as Malia does.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Geithner's Stress Test "A Complete Sham," Former Federal Bank Regulator Says

According to Aaron Task:
The bank stress tests currently underway are “a complete sham,” says William Black, a former senior bank regulator and S&L prosecutor, and currently an Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. “It’s a Potemkin model. Built to fool people.” [see Bill Moyers interview with William Black on 'Bill Moyers Journal', April 3, 2009] Like many others, Black believes the “worst case scenario” used in the stress test don’t go far enough.

He detailed these and related concerns in a recent interview with Naked Capitalism. But Black, who was counsel to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board during the S&L Crisis, says the program's failings go way beyond such technical issues. “There is no real purpose [of the stress test] other than to fool us. To make us chumps,” Black says. Noting policymakers have long stated the problem is a lack of confidence, Black says Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is now essentially saying: “’If we lie and they believe us, all will be well.’ It’s Orwellian."

The former regulator is extremely critical of Geithner, calling him a “failed regulator” now “adding to failed policy” by not allowing “banks that really need desperately to be closed” to fail. (On Saturday, Geithner said on Face the Nation, if banks need "exceptional assistance" in the future "then we'll make sure that assistance comes with conditions," including potentially changing management and the board, but did not say they'd be shut down.)

Black says the stress test must also be viewed in the context of Geithner’s toxic debt plan, which he calls “an enormous taxpayer subsidy for people who caused the problem.” The fact bank stocks have been rising since Geithner unveiled his plan is “bad news for taxpayers,” he says. “It’s the subsidy of all history."

Mortgage Fraud Epidemic: How the FBI Blew It and Why There's No 'Perp Walks'

According to Aaron Task:
In the wake of the bursting of the housing bubble, you'd think there'd be a significant number of investigations into criminal wrongdoing and accounting fraud, similar to what occurred after the S&L crisis and bursting of the stock bubble in 2000.

But two years into the crisis the FBI "doesn't have a single major conviction or indictment of anyone," notes William Black, a former senior bank regulator and S&L prosecutor, and currently an Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. [see Bill Moyers interview with William Black on 'Bill Moyers Journal', April 3, 2009]

Black, who was counsel to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board during the S&L crisis of the 1980s and blew the whistle on the "Keating Five" in 1989, reiterated what he told us in November: Though the FBI warned of an "epidemic" of mortgage fraud in 2004, they subsequently made a "strategic alliance" with the Mortgage Bankers Association, which Black calls the "trade association of perps."

Indeed, as much as 80% of the fraud during the boom was "induced by the lenders," who either encouraged people to lie on loan applications or actively altered documents to make them more likely to be approved, says Black.

How extensive was the fraud?

"There was the appearance of fraud or misrepresentation in almost every file," Fitch Investors declared in late 2007 after reviewing nonperforming subprime MBS (the same stuff they, S&P and Moody's rated triple-A).

Black estimates there are as many as 500,000 cases of mortgage fraud that need to be investigated. Furthermore, such extensive mortgage fraud led to accounting fraud, which led to securities fraud at any/all publicly traded mortgage lenders. As with the FBI, the SEC was "completely ineffective" in stopping such crimes, much less investigating them now, he says.

Among the biggest mortgage lenders, IndyMac was put into FDIC receivership, Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America, Golden West was acquired by Wachovia, and WaMu was ultimately acquired by JPMorgan.

This is relevant because the government's current practice of keeping banks' senior management and boards intact (unlike, say GM's) is effectively prohibiting any investigation of possible (likely) wrongdoing at those firms.

It is for these reasons Black says the FBI's current level of 800 cases per year is "no longer symbolic prosecutions, it's shambolic prosecutions."