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  1. #1
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    HSBC settlement proves war on drugs is a joke

    If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.

    Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.

    The banks' laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC's Mexican branches and "deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows."

    This bears repeating: in order to more efficiently move as much illegal money as possible into the "legitimate" banking institution HSBC, drug dealers specifically designed boxes to fit through the bank's teller windows. Tony Montana's henchmen marching dufflebags of cash into the fictional "American City Bank" in Miami was actually more subtle than what the cartels were doing when they washed their cash through one of Britain's most storied financial institutions.

    Though this was not stated explicitly, the government's rationale in not pursuing criminal prosecutions against the bank was apparently rooted in concerns that putting executives from a "systemically important institution" in jail for drug laundering would threaten the stability of the financial system. The New York Times put it this way:

    Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system.

    It doesn't take a genius to see that the reasoning here is beyond flawed. When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC's Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn't protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most "reputable" banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can't be repeated often enough) murderers and terrorists. Even more shocking, the Justice Department's response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble – they took money to look the other way.

    And not only did they sell out to drug dealers, they sold out cheap. You'll hear bragging this week by the Obama administration that they wrested a record penalty from HSBC, but it's a joke. Some of the penalties involved will literally make you laugh out loud. This is from Breuer's announcement:

    As a result of the government's investigation, HSBC has . . . "clawed back" deferred compensation bonuses given to some of its most senior U.S. anti-money laundering and compliance officers, and agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior officials during the five-year period of the deferred prosecution agreement.

    Wow. So the executives who spent a decade laundering billions of dollars will have to partially defer their bonuses during the five-year deferred prosecution agreement? Are you ****ing kidding me? That's the punishment?

    The government's negotiators couldn't hold firm on forcing HSBC officials to completely wait to receive their ill-gotten bonuses? They had to settle on making them "partially" wait? Every honest prosecutor in America has to be puking his guts out at such bargaining tactics. What was the Justice Department's opening offer – asking executives to restrict their Caribbean vacation time to nine weeks a year?

    So you might ask, what's the appropriate financial penalty for a bank in HSBC's position? Exactly how much money should one extract from a firm that has been shamelessly profiting from business with criminals for years and years? Remember, we're talking about a company that has admitted to a smorgasbord of serious banking crimes. If you're the prosecutor, you've got this bank by the balls. So how much money should you take?

    How about all of it? How about every last dollar the bank has made since it started its illegal activity? How about you dive into every bank account of every single executive involved in this mess and take every last bonus dollar they've ever earned? Then take their houses, their cars, the paintings they bought at Sotheby's auctions, the clothes in their closets, the loose change in the jars on their kitchen counters, every last freaking thing. Take it all and don't think twice. And then throw them in jail.

    Sound harsh? It does, doesn't it? The only problem is, that's exactly what the government does just about every day to ordinary people involved in ordinary drug cases.

    It'd be interesting, for instance, to ask the residents of Tenaha, Texas what they think about the HSBC settlement. That's the town where local police routinely pulled over (mostly black) motorists and, whenever they found cash, offered motorists a choice: They could either allow police to seize the money, or face drug and money laundering charges.

    Or we could ask Anthony Smelley, the Indiana resident who won $50,000 in a car accident settlement and was carrying about $17K of that in cash in his car when he got pulled over. Cops searched his car and had drug dogs sniff around: The dogs alerted twice. No drugs were found, but police took the money anyway. Even after Smelley produced documentation proving where he got the money from, Putnam County officials tried to keep the money on the grounds that he could have used the cash to buy drugs in the future.

    Seriously, that happened. It happens all the time, and even Lanny Breuer's own Justice Deparment gets into the act. In 2010 alone, U.S. Attorneys' offices deposited nearly $1.8 billion into government accounts as a result of forfeiture cases, most of them drug cases. You can see the Justice Department's own statistics right here:

    If you get pulled over in America with cash and the government even thinks it's drug money, that cash is going to be buying your local sheriff or police chief a new Ford Expedition tomorrow afternoon.

    And that's just the icing on the cake. The real prize you get for interacting with a law enforcement officer, if you happen to be connected in any way with drugs, is a preposterous, outsized criminal penalty. Right here in New York, one out of every seven cases that ends up in court is a marijuana case.

    Just the other day, while Breuer was announcing his slap on the wrist for the world's most prolific drug-launderers, I was in arraignment court in Brooklyn watching how they deal with actual people. A public defender explained the absurdity of drug arrests in this city. New York actually has fairly liberal laws about pot – police aren't supposed to bust you if you possess the drug in private. So how do police work around that to make 50,377 pot-related arrests in a single year, just in this city? Tthat was 2010; the 2009 number was 46,492.)

    "What they do is, they stop you on the street and tell you to empty your pockets," the public defender explained. "Then the instant a pipe or a seed is out of the pocket – boom, it's 'public use.' And you get arrested."

    People spend nights in jail, or worse. In New York, even if they let you off with a misdemeanor and time served, you have to pay $200 and have your DNA extracted – a process that you have to pay for (it costs 50 bucks). But even beyond that, you won't have search very far for stories of draconian, idiotic sentences for nonviolent drug crimes.

    Just ask Cameron Douglas, the son of Michael Douglas, who got five years in jail for simple possession. His jailers kept him in solitary for 23 hours a day for 11 months and denied him visits with family and friends. Although your typical non-violent drug inmate isn't the white child of a celebrity, he's usually a minority user who gets far stiffer sentences than rich white kids would for committing the same crimes – we all remember the crack-versus-coke controversy in which federal and state sentencing guidelines left (predominantly minority) crack users serving sentences up to 100 times harsher than those meted out to the predominantly white users of powdered coke.

    The institutional bias in the crack sentencing guidelines was a racist outrage, but this HSBC settlement blows even that away. By eschewing criminal prosecutions of major drug launderers on the grounds (the patently absurd grounds, incidentally) that their prosecution might imperil the world financial system, the government has now formalized the double standard.

    They're now saying that if you're not an important cog in the global financial system, you can't get away with anything, not even simple possession. You will be jailed and whatever cash they find on you they'll seize on the spot, and convert into new cruisers or toys for your local SWAT team, which will be deployed to kick in the doors of houses where more such inessential economic cogs as you live. If you don't have a systemically important job, in other words, the government's position is that your assets may be used to finance your own political disenfranchisement.

    On the other hand, if you are an important person, and you work for a big international bank, you won't be prosecuted even if you launder nine billion dollars. Even if you actively collude with the people at the very top of the international narcotics trade, your punishment will be far smaller than that of the person at the very bottom of the world drug pyramid. You will be treated with more deference and sympathy than a junkie passing out on a subway car in Manhattan (using two seats of a subway car is a common prosecutable offense in this city). An international drug trafficker is a criminal and usually a murderer; the drug addict walking the street is one of his victims. But thanks to Breuer, we're now in the business, officially, of jailing the victims and enabling the criminals.

    This is the disgrace to end all disgraces. It doesn't even make any sense. There is no reason why the Justice Department couldn't have snatched up everybody at HSBC involved with the trafficking, prosecuted them criminally, and worked with banking regulators to make sure that the bank survived the transition to new management. As it is, HSBC has had to replace virtually all of its senior management. The guilty parties were apparently not so important to the stability of the world economy that they all had to be left at their desks.

    So there is absolutely no reason they couldn't all face criminal penalties. That they are not being prosecuted is cowardice and pure corruption, nothing else. And by approving this settlement, Breuer removed the government's moral authority to prosecute anyone for any other drug offense. Not that most people didn't already know that the drug war is a joke, but this makes it official.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics...-joke-20121213

    Long piece, but worth the read. For anybody that has been following this scandal, the settlement is a complete joke. We jail non-violent, small time marijuana users yet ignore banks admittedly laundering billions of drug money(which we knew as early as the 80s, from the Iran Contra scandal).

    Yet another example of the scam that is the so-called "War on Drugs"...

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Unfortunately, not too surprised... Its obviously a joke. People should be irate about this.

  3. #3
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    Well, this makes you angry at just about everything. The war on drugs, Obama, Capitalism, banking, justice system, morality, and just about everything else.

    Depressing really.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManRamForPrez24 View Post
    Well, this makes you angry at just about everything. The war on drugs, Obama, Capitalism, banking, justice system, morality, and just about everything else.

    Depressing really.
    Agreed.

    The system is so completely F'd up. The corruption is so embedded that it's impossible to root it all out.
    Quote Originally Posted by AmsterNat View Post
    How unsurprising. Dude, give up trying to argue with valade. He cut you into little pieces, had you for breakfast, and shat you out.
    Quote Originally Posted by mariner4life View Post
    Valade you have totally owned this thread. Well done
    My fanbase is growing.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManRamForPrez24 View Post
    Well, this makes you angry at just about everything. The war on drugs, Obama, Capitalism, banking, justice system, morality, and just about everything else.

    Depressing really.
    Agreed. Just so many layers of corruption here. Makes you sad to be a human really. All about greed.

  6. #6
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    Anyone read The New Jim Crowe by Michelle Alexander?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    ^ESPN and PSD Agrees

  7. #7
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    THis just tells me I need to start growing my own weed. I'll be doing my part to reduce drug trafficing, and now money laundering too.

    As Michael Scott would say, its a win win win!

  8. #8
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    Dems may be in the WH today under this LATEST proof of corporate malfiesance, but it has been a staple of American capitalism since ohhh about 1776.
    Corporations OWN politicians...OWN THEM.

    This is not a R vs D issue, it is the failure of our Governmental system to address the impact of money in our Financial process.

    The war on Drugs has always been a Joke.
    Reagan was funding Drug dealing "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua in the 80s
    Both sides refused to decimate the poppy crops in Afghanistan.

    There are Three strike Marijuana criminals that are in prison FOR LIFE.
    never lifted a finger against another soul, but their life has been forfeited.

  9. #9
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    shootings in CT. elementary school

    entered in error
    Last edited by stephkyle7; 12-14-2012 at 05:03 PM.

  10. #10
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    Drug money is so big, the CIA was caught with their hands in the drug racket. It wouldn't surprise me if western nations are involve in it, like they were back in the mid 1800 with the opium wars in China. When the money gets to big, it doesn't matter if it is dirty are not, banks, government, overt agencies will get involve. Drug money gives you to much of a massive returns on the top levels. If you think I am crazy, just ask yourself, with all the watchdog agencies over banking, why don't hear about bank getting caught laundering money. Good article Schmooze. The drug war is all a game, and we are the suckers.

    The worst part of the drug war, besides it's racist use, is the forfeiture law. A kentuckian was growing alittle pot to ease his way thru cancer treatment. The cops raided his house, took three oz of bud, and six plants in the backyard. With these items, they took his six acres home on the ground of ill gotten gains from a drug operation. They took his home before he even appeared before a judge or any due process of the law.

    There are several groups, like Fear:forteiture endangers american rights, fighting these laws, but they still remain on the books in many states and local police. Great income for the cops and local government. You got to love this country, because no one else would.
    Last edited by WES445; 12-14-2012 at 10:20 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephkyle7 View Post
    Dems may be in the WH today under this LATEST proof of corporate malfiesance, but it has been a staple of American capitalism since ohhh about 1776.
    Corporations OWN politicians...OWN THEM.

    This is not a R vs D issue, it is the failure of our Governmental system to address the impact of money in our Financial process.

    The war on Drugs has always been a Joke.
    Reagan was funding Drug dealing "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua in the 80s
    Both sides refused to decimate the poppy crops in Afghanistan.

    There are Three strike Marijuana criminals that are in prison FOR LIFE.
    never lifted a finger against another soul, but their life has been forfeited.
    And yet again the disease is totally missed...

    The reason the government fails to regulate the impact of money in the financial process is because any power they receive to do so only gets bought out by the people they are suppose to regulate.

    The only solution is a decentralization of power, and until that realization is made nothing will change.
    Son, you just don't get it, i'm talking bout TWTW!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikekhelxD View Post
    Anyone read The New Jim Crowe by Michelle Alexander?
    I haven't read it, but did hear her interviewed. Her thesis is, essentially, that Jim Crow laws have gone away, but been replaced by an openly racist "War on Drugs". This has resulted, by design, in massive and disproportional rates of imprisonment among minorities.

    I highly recommend: "With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful" by Glenn Greenwald (Jul 3, 2012)
    The book focuses on exactly the outrageous double standard revealed by this news story. Steal $500 from a bank and it's a felony, steal billions from every municipality in the US and it's business as usual. This pattern is replicated throughout our society. Equality before the law has become a pathetic fiction, and that's a dangerous state of affairs.

    On a tangent, pro-corporate, big business supporters like to go on about the "moral hazard" created by giving the indigent enough food or money for bare subsistence. I would argue that there is a much more serious moral hazard created by allowing the most powerful entities in our society to act blatantly and profitably outside the law, then declining to punish them meaningfully when it's discovered. Or worse, bailing them out from the terrible results of their behavior.
    “A riot,” said Martin Luther King, “is the language of the unheard.”

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by whitesoxfan83 View Post
    And yet again the disease is totally missed...

    The reason the government fails to regulate the impact of money in the financial process is because any power they receive to do so only gets bought out by the people they are suppose to regulate.

    The only solution is a decentralization of power, and until that realization is made nothing will change.
    If you would wsf,I would enjoy reading your further thoughts on the matter, because the same dynamic which you are describing is equally relevant to the free market.
    As Ive suggested before a governmental body and a corporation have very little seperating them. The both weild wealth and power and tend to use it for purposes of limited scope and benefit.
    How would you suggest one is corralled while not allowing the other to become the monster?

    @ laborgrown...Ive also tried to express the same thing to people in a micro level as well.
    If an inner city kid knocks over a liqour store, hes in Jail for 5-10
    When Romney avoids millions in taxes, hes just smart..?

    If a kid gets caught with a rock of crack, hes a felonious drug criminal for the rest of his life, if a buissness man wants to get high, he just pays a doctor to perscribe an opiate based "pain killer"...Oxycotin is a synthetically derived Heroin substitue, it behaves in the exact same manner , producing the same result, and the same addictive nature.
    But, you "paid" a doctor, and then you bought it from a "legitimate" (taxed) source, soooo....Have a ball GUY!! its all good!

    There are very few truely righteous people in this world.
    I greatly admire them.
    I am not one of them, and Of all the people Ive met in my life ,I would put the % under 10, who actually lived by the Moral guidlines we espouse.

    as long as our MO is its not cheating unless you get caught we will continue to see these behaviours.

  14. #14
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    Just more evidence that proves the people with the money and the power make the rules the rest of us are supposed to abide by.
    Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.-Theodore Roosevelt


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    -Barack "drone" Obama, 11/18/2012

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikekhelxD View Post
    Anyone read The New Jim Crowe by Michelle Alexander?
    I have. Awesome book.

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