The Goldman Sachs Department of Justice™ Would Like to Apologize to Mr. Blankfein for the Inconvenience

By now you’ve heard that Goldman Sachs will not be prosecuted for lying to its customers and having its CEO lie to Congress.

“The department and investigative agencies ultimately concluded that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time,” the department said.

Mind you, it’s not a surprise that Lloyd Blankfein wasn’t prosecuted. That’s because DOJ basically rewrote law in the last couple of years to make sure Scott Bloch, the former Special Counsel, would do no jail time for lying to Congress. As a result they’ve basically taken that inconvenient law off the books. As Congress continues to pursue DOJ for Fast and Furious, I’m sure that’s a comforting thought for some in the Department.

Still, let’s pretend for a moment that DOJ really didn’t believe they could prosecute this case.

That leaves us at a place where actual people are subject to the rule of law but corporations–because DOJ is simply helpless, helpless!! against those big bad corporations–are not. If DOJ really refuses to prosecute any corporations for the very same crimes they’re imprisoning actual people for, it needs to start considering how it is rushing our country headlong toward Banana Republic status. That is, if it can’t or won’t prosecute corporations but–perhaps to justify taking a salary until such time the prosecutors check out and join the corporations they’ve set free–still jails the little people, then DOJ has become just another cog in the machine slowly turning our great democracy into a NeoFeudal land.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

16 replies
  1. EH says:

    could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time

    Guess it’s too much for them to get more facts. “We’ve tried nothin’ and we’re all out of ideas.” Maybe they should have asked the NSA.

  2. Jerry J Moe says:

    “And Justice for Some” by GGreenwald is hard to read because it shows what we’ve become.

  3. chetnolian says:

    Did you read to the end of the Bloomberg piece? Shorter DOJ “But look how well we are doing beating up foreigners?”.

    They are of course entirely right to pursue Libor but you have to wonder.

  4. emptywheel says:

    @chetnolian: Yup. Thought of you. And of course those Treasury based settlements are all based on us having SWIFT access, literally an open book.

    That said, even there, there’s reason to believe we’re settling for orders of magnitude less than the issues involved. Especially with JPMC, which went unmentioned.

  5. Frank33 says:

    “The department and investigative agencies ultimately concluded that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time,” the department said.

    Law and the facts, are too difficult, to punish Goldman Sachs. They need to persecute and prosecute weaker targets.

    The Goldman Sachs Department of Justice is busy, saving America from the Marijuana menace, that is far more threatening to the Establishment , rather than trillion dollar Hedge Fund Fraud. The Drug War is more important and protecting Drug Cartels is one of the most important jobs of the Goldman Sachs Department of Justice.

    Yes, Holder and his thugs have bigger fish to fry, or rather they need to terrorize the Hippies. They, the Hippies, are horrible and controversial enemies of the State.

    There is a clever way to suppress legal use of Marijuana. But Federal prosecutors have no clever way to suppress Goldman Sachs. They always protect the crimes of Goldman Sachs. We can expect these DOJ shills to be hired by Goldman Sachs in the future.

    Federal prosecutors are pressuring landlords to either shut down their shops or risk losing their property under a civil statute originally designed to allow the government to seize drug-trafficking organizations’ assets. Greg Baldwin, a former federal prosecutor specializing in white-collar criminal defense, explains the logic behind the DOJ’s indirect approach:

    BALDWIN: Filing asset-forfeiture lawsuits against these commercial properties is a very clever way to handle an otherwise horribly difficult and controversial situation.

  6. What Constitution says:

    Waiting for the BIG story: which intrepid financial reporter will break the news about what brand of cigar Geitner was keeping in his top desk drawer for the occasion, and what Geitner’s reaction was to hearing the news from Holder.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Well, this avoids the cost of an investigation, prosecution and trial, the costs of a pre-trial negotiation, and the cost of a structured settlement or supervision by an outside law firm of the management and practices changes Goldman Scratch would make so as to avoid prosecution. (That must mean former John Ashcroft must be all booked up.) It’s just a measure of well the DoJ’s new, business-like efficiency standards are working. And it couldn’t possibly have any bearing on the political contributions the Dems expect to reap from Wall Street this election year. Nope. Nada.

  8. Bob Schacht says:

    Unfortunately, the American system of justice depends on at least three things: The Law, the Facts, and the Budget. If any of the three are lacking, then the case becomes “unprosecutable.”

    But what is this “Budget” thing? In a way, this is similar to what is happening with taxes: The megacorporations and billionaires have fleets of lawyers to generate extraordinary filings, and to protect themselves from lawsuits. Do you have any idea how much money it would take to prosecute GS for fraud? Does DOJ even have enough staff, counting every last desk, to prosecute GS successfully? Same with IRS: megacorporation’s returns are rarely examined with any care, because they run to hundreds of pages, and involve nuances in the law that are ambiguous. The IRS does not have sufficient staff to audit any of the megacorporations.

    And guess what? Republicans want to shrink government down to a size that can be flushed down the toilet. Of course, the military is exempt from such efforts, they only mean to reduce “discretionary” spending (you mean that going to war against Afghanistan and Iraq did not involve discretion– i.e., was indiscrete?). And they could not chop down Soc Sec. or Medicare. For them, the low-hanging fruit was the IRS (who likes them?) and offices that have anything to do with regulation or oversight (like fraud investigation).

    So we find a double strategy: On the legal front, make sure that the laws have sufficient loopholes and ambiguity that you could drive an Abrams tank through. On the budget front, make sure that DOJ and the regulators don’t have sufficient budgets to do any serious fraud investigation or regulatory oversight.

    So whaddya know? All those nice sounding laws about fraud are toothless against the hordes of lawyers that the megacorporations and billionaires have on call.

    And, of course, with budget deficits like ours, we “can’t afford” the hordes of lawyers we would need to prosecute such cases.

    And that makes those cases “unprosecutable.”

    Quod era demonstrandum.

    Bob in AZ

  9. rugger9 says:

    The thing about this situation is that the MOTUs are hosing themselves, because one of the benefits of the rule of law is the reliable enforcement of contracts. Otherwise the law of the jungle prevails. As it is we see some smatterings arising from LIBOR, where the smaller houses and municipalities are starting legal proceedings against the big boys. These are entities big enough to keep the litigation going long enough to wring some justice out of it, as opposed to the middle class homeowner fighting to keep their house.

  10. tinao says:

    Well, well W and B Heads…I don’t care what kind of experts you are and I’m not…holder needs to go. The 666 man. And I won’t say, told yinz so.

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