Carl Levin’s Double Standard for Banksters and Spooks

Carl Levin is one of the few people in DC who has tried to hold banks accountable — in his case, via investigations conducted at the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Never mind that DOJ has serially taken his investigations and, seemingly, wiped their ass with them for all the banksters who have been held accountable as a result.

One particularly noteworthy ass-wiping came after Levin referred Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein to DOJ for lying to his customers and, more importantly, to Congress. To him.

The chairman of the U.S. Senate’s investigative subcommittee said he believes Goldman Sachs officials made misleading statements about their trading during the financial crisis and should be investigated criminally.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said on Wednesday that he plans to refer Goldman officials, and potentially officials from other organizations, to the Justice Department for possible prosecution and to the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible civil proceedings.

“In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled the Congress,” said Levin, the chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

[snip]

“We will be referring this matter to the Justice Department and the SEC,” Levin said.

DOJ did what it does — which apparently includes chatting up CEOs — while it is pretending to investigate when it is actually wiping its ass. Then after a year it decided it wasn’t going to prosecute Blankfein.

Still. Just over 2 years ago, Carl Levin believed that when people, even very powerful people, lie to Congress, DOJ should at least consider prosecuting them.

How times change.

Levin also said he was still “troubled” by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the NSA did not collect data on millions of Americans.

“I’m troubled by that testimony, obviously. I don’t know how he’s tried to wiggle out from it, but I’m troubled by it,” Levin said. “How you hold him accountable, I guess the only way to do that would be for the president to somehow or other fire him.”

But, Levin added, “I think he’s made it clear that he regrets saying what he said, and I don’t want to call on the president to fire him although I am troubled by it.”

Golly! Clapper regrets what he said (or rather, that he got caught saying it?). So rather than suggesting we hold Clapper accountable the way Levin tried to do with Blankfein, he instead thinks maybe if the President feels like it on his own because Levin himself isn’t going to call on him to do this, Obama should “somehow or other fire” Clapper.

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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.

6 replies
  1. scribe says:

    I wouldn’t be so hard on Levin. This behavior shows that, even at his advanced age and seniority, he’s capable of learning. In this instance, he learned that calling Holder to actually prosecute the Rich and powerful is a waste of time, energy and breath and he’s decided to pass on such waste.

  2. thatvisionthing says:

    ew, from the Snowden interview you linked to in your “Hiding the 215” post earlier today:

    Interviewer: Do private companies help the NSA?

    Snowden: Yes. Definitive proof of this is the hard part because the NSA considers the identities of telecom collaborators to be the jewels in their crown of omniscience.

    Hey Carl. When did your oath to protect and defend the Constitution get morphed into protecting and defending “their crown of omniscience”?

    John Kirakou quoted Abraham Lincoln in his open letter to Edward Snowden a couple weeks ago:

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/07/02/cia-whistleblower-john-kiriakous-open-letter-to-edward-snowden/

    Remember the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” That is what’s happening to our country now.

    So, Carl.

  3. C says:

    “How you hold him accountable, I guess the only way to do that would be for the president to somehow or other fire him.”

    Not to disagree with a (still) sitting Senator about the rules of his chamber or anything but the Senate can unilaterally charge him with Contempt of Congress for lying to them. They can do so with, I believe, a simple majority vote and can sentence him to prison, financial crimes, and refer the matter to the DC AG’s office.

    Perhaps if Senator Levin had some self-respect or institutional credibility he might point this out to his fellow dems.

  4. thatvisionthing says:

    @C: Why just dems? The Constitution is all of ours, I’m in it and it’s in me x all of us, and a GOP ex-Senator just wrote an open letter to Edward Snowden:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/16/gordon-humphrey-email-edward-snowden

    Mr. Snowden,

    Provided you have not leaked information that would put in harms way any intelligence agent, I believe you have done the right thing in exposing what I regard as massive violation of the United States Constitution.

    Having served in the United States Senate for twelve years as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee, I think I have a good grounding to reach my conclusion.

    I wish you well in your efforts to secure asylum and encourage you to persevere.

    Kindly acknowledge this message, so that I will know it reached you.

    Regards,
    Gordon J. Humphrey
    Former United States Senator
    New Hampshire

    Snowden’s reply at link, begins:

    Mr. Humphrey,

    Thank you for your words of support. I only wish more of our lawmakers shared your principles – the actions I’ve taken would not have been necessary.

    (So, Carl?)

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