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April 4, 2009

Accountability Means Investigate and Prosecute!

-- by Dave Johnson

Watch this.

"What would happen if after a plane crashes we said, "Oh, we don't want to look in the past, we want to be forward looking." No, we have a non-partisan skilled inquiry. We spend lots of money on, get really really bright people and we find out to the best of our ability what caused every single plane crash in America and because of that aviation has an extraordinarily good safety record. We have to do the same thing in the financial industry. We have to learn what went wrong so it doesn't happen again."

I know that President Obama has only been in office a little over two months, but I am getting impatient for some accountability.

One of the reasons things went so wrong during the Bush years was that there was no accountability. Almost no one was fired for doing wrong. Prosecutons were blocked by a corrupt Justice Department. Regulators were muzzled. Legislators were paid off.

To get our system working again we need accountability. We need to hold people accountable for doing the wrong thing, or a signal will be sent that the sheriff is still on vacation and people will continue to do wrong things. But if you send people to jail for corruption, people will have an incentive to stop.

So where are the investigations of the corruption of the Bush years? Not prosecuting sends a signal that it was OK, and that it can continue. Torture? Corruption? Bribery? No investigation. No one prosecuted.

If I had a company and offered a bribe to an Obama administration official, what would happen? Would they investigate and prosecute? The signal to the public is that they won't because they are not investigating and prosecuting the corruption and other crimes of the Bush years. And if they did prosecute me, why are the bribers of the Bush years allowed to get away with torturing people, destroying the economy, corrupting our government? It would show a double-standard, so people would know that the next Repubican adminsitration can start where the last one left off! That is what happened after Reagan, which led directly to Bush being able to destroy the country and the economy. They wouldn't investigate and prosecute after Reagan, so it just started up all over again under Bush.

The financial system needs accountability from top to bottom as well! Where are the investigations of mortgage fraud and of all the mortgage brokers who helped people get "liars loans" and "ninja" loans? Why are the appraisers who said houses were worth hundreds of thousands more than they really were worth getting off scott free? What about the ratings agencies that gave AAA ratings to CDOs? What about AIG setting up insurance schemes called credit default swaps, while not setting aside the reserves to cover those bets? What about all the others?

What about the regulators at the SEC and other agencies who didn't do their jobs? What happens to them? What about the lobbyists who wrote big checks to get bills passed, and the members of Congress who took the money and did the favors?

So was it wrong and illegal to pay government officials to help individual companies or not? If it was then prosecute. Otherwise, without going back and punishing the offenders who committed crimes I have to assume that this is still going on.

And what about the people who did the right thing and didn't get rich? What signal is being sent to them? That they (we) were all just suckers?

Is Obama signaling that these things are OK, wink, nod? By not investigating and prosecuting this administration is signaling that maybe the party is not over. We either have accountability or we do not. And that includes prior acts -- we must insist that the Obama investigate and prosecute wrongdoing of the Bush years.

Posted by Dave Johnson at April 4, 2009 12:10 PM


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