The More You Look for Terrorists, the Fewer Banksters You Have to Prosecute

This report–or rather the HuffPo piece on it–has gotten a lot of attention. It shows the government as a whole has prosecuted 57.7% fewer financial fraud crimes than they did 10 years ago, when 9/11 changed everything.

The report on our government’s growing disinterest in prosecuting banksters should be paired with this FBI report which I reported on some weeks ago (since that time, FBI has removed the link to the report). The FBI report makes it clear that the FBI, at least, has shifted its approach over the last decade from a “case driven” focus to a “threat driven” focus–meaning that it decides what it’s going to look for and then goes to find criminals committing that crime rather than finds crimes and responds to them. Depending on whether you believe this report or Director Mueller’s June reconfirmation hearing, financial fraud is either the 7th or 5th highest priority for the FBI, behind terrorism, counterintelligence, and cyberattacks.

Those priorities show. As part of its focus on terrorism, the FBI has increased surveillance capacity by 48%. And over that time, the report boasts, the FBI has written 85,500 raw intelligence reports. It has set up 10,200 SCI workstations.

All of which costs money. The FBI reports that its budget authority–which it notes is driven by the strategy–has more than doubled over the period in which it has found half as many banksters.

Most telling, though, is a stat you get by putting the two reports together. TRAC notes that FBI referred 37.6% of the fraud cases for prosecution so far this year–working out to be roughly 470 cases. But if you work out how many financial cases they say they were tracking last year (they say “more than 2,800” equates to 57% of the cases), you see they were tracking roughly 4,912 financial fraud cases. If these numbers are correct, it means fewer than 10% of the banksters and other fraudsters they’re tracking ever get charged.

In other words, it’s not that they’re not seeing the crime. They’re just not referring it for prosecution, choosing instead to look for young Muslim men to entrap.

9 replies
  1. jerryy says:

    This sounds like the investigators have become versions of Robert Redford’s character in the movie Three Days of the Condor (his character analyzed popular fiction books for the CIA and reported upward any plots he found that might be sucessful), once the investigators dream up something that might be notable, they can then hire someone to take a vacation, hardly any work needed — anyone check to see how many of those dangerous, albeit incompetent, folks are stil in prison?

    Easy money… those big budgert increases… why should the defense contractors get all of the slush funds?

  2. JohnLopresti says:

    The fbi’s portfolio has globalized. their reports on gtmo, abu ghraib, an Afghanistan prison, even the comportment of mercenaries in foreign countries, demonstrate a new, wider scope than in the prior architecture of the bureau at the time of its founding quite a few decades back. Plus, there are many new kinds of cyberintegration among analog agencies.

  3. jerryy says:

    To follow up a bit more, the DOJ is trying to criminalize violating a web-site’s Terms Of Service (TOS — the long list of nonsense you usually skip and just click on the ‘agree’ button in order to post comments on web sites).

    Guess who would invstigate these ‘violations’?

    This goes beyond lunacy. If this happens, as some have noted, you could be tossed in jail for lying about your weight in your profile you post on a dating web-site.

    Various web site owners hide little amusing but extremely demented ‘easter aggs’ in these TOS agreements.

    Yes, I know that only Congress and not the DOJ or the FBI passes laws that make activiities ileagal, but lining up the forces of government to toss your kid into prison for singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and uploading the video they took of them doing so to You-Tube so that their grandparents can see it (HB is copyrighted) is worse than disgusting.

    But it is easier than investigating banksters.

  4. Arbusto says:

    I take it the FBI investigates cyber-attacks as opposed to counter or stop them. If I remember correctly, a desktop PC at the FBI was rare 10 years ago and management couldn’t spell Microsoft. Now they run, update and maintain a gigantous database of all miscreant citizens, open to any “law and order” types wanting to check on their ex-wife. I feel safer already.

  5. emptywheel says:

    @Arbusto: No, they’re part of trying to recruit hackers to flip and become informants, too.

    It’s not clear they’re very good at it–DOD seems better. But they do definitely try.

  6. Peterr says:

    So what we need to do is reframe Lloyd Blankfein as a financial terrorist and Goldman Sachs as a terrorist organization?

    Works for me.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Comparing only the physical destruction of property, the banksters have destroyed far more real estate than did the 9/11 terrorists. Comparing the lives disrupted and torn asunder, the banksters come out on top again. Comparing the killed, it’s possible the terrorists win that one. Comparing the money reallocated from productive uses to the privatized government and its “war” on “terror” vs. the money gouged from private lives and the bailouts that depleted those same lives as well as government coffers, the banksters come out way on top.

    All in, the banksters and their government supporters have done far more damage to American lives than the terrorists. The only actor that competes with the damage they’ve caused is the USG itself. It now unapologetically spies on its people, copies and vivisects their digital lives, tears money from their pockets and uses it to unleash the dogs of war in order to “protect” us, all the while privatizing government and wildly enriching the lives of hundreds.

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