The usual problem with screening companies is that they accuse you of things you didn't do -- and then sell that information to employers.
Why don't we talk about the real issue here -- namely, that these companies are doing jobs that should be done properly, by a federal workforce? But no, that would mean certain members of Congress couldn't get contracts for contributors and heaven forbid that happens!
The difference between the public and private sector is, the emphasis in a public job is on thoroughness and compliance with regulations, not speed and efficiency. As we're seeing now, the private-sector emphasis on getting things done more quickly and cheaper frequently backfires:
Federal investigators have told lawmakers they have evidence that USIS, the contractor that screened Edward Snowden for his top-secret clearance, repeatedly misled the government about the thoroughness of its background checks, according to people familiar with the matter.
The alleged transgressions are so serious that a federal watchdog indicated he plans to recommend that the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees most background checks, end ties with USIS unless it can show it is performing responsibly, the people said.
Cutting off USIS could present a major logistical quagmire for the nation’s already-jammed security clearance process. The federal government relies heavily on contractors to approve workers for some of its most sensitive jobs in defense and intelligence. Falls Church-based USIS is the largest single private provider for government background checks.
After a yearlong investigation, the Justice Department said Thursday that it won't bring charges against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. or any of its employees for financial fraud related to the mortgage crisis.
In a statement, the Justice Department said "the burden of proof" couldn't be met to prosecute Goldman criminally based on claims made in an extensive report prepared by a U.S. Senate panel that investigated the financial crisis.
"Based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report," the statement read.
The Justice Department reserved the right to bring charges in the future if new evidence emerges.
In a statement Thursday, Goldman said: "We are pleased that this matter is behind us."
In April 2011, the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations published a scathing report on the financial crisis, highlighting Goldman as a culprit. Lawmakers accused the firm of breeding a greedy culture and running conflict-ridden businesses, and they said Goldman put its own interest ahead of clients.
Sen. Carl Levin, D., Mich., chairman of the Senate's subcommittee, said Goldman executives lied to Congress about the firm's bets against the housing market. The accusation triggered a Justice Department probe of possible perjury.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Levin's office didn't respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The report concluded that even as securities firms flooded the market with securitized mortgages and advised clients to buy them, firms privately used words like "crap" and "flying pig" to describe the financial instruments. The department's probe was launched when Goldman's reputation already had been battered by civil-fraud charges filed against the New York company by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC accused Goldman of fraud related to a mortgage-bond deal called Abacus 2007-AC1.
Goldman was accused of failing to inform investors that hedge-fund firm Paulson & Co. had helped choose underlying securities in the deal and was betting against it.
Goldman agreed to pay $550 million to end the SEC's civil-fraud suit. The company said marketing materials for the Abacus deal contained "incomplete information."
I swear that “if the Justice Department saw crimes committed, they would have done something” and “it’s a higher bar” are macros on the keyboards of defenders of the lack of prosecutions. But it’s pretty simple to come up with ways to prosecute on this conduct if you really wanted. Just take the Sarbanes-Oxley Act alone.
Oh, and in other great news about the special protective bubble that surrounds the great vampire squid:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has dropped an investigation into Goldman Sachs Group Inc's role in selling $1.3 billion worth of subprime mortgage securities, the investment bank said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.
In February, Goldman received a so-called Wells notice from SEC staff related to disclosures in the deal's offering documents. Such notices typically indicate the agency plans to take some kind of enforcement action, and gives firms a chance to respond.
On Monday, the SEC notified Goldman that the investigation had been closed and that it did not intend to recommend any enforcement action against the bank related to the offering, Goldman said in its quarterly 10-Q filing with the SEC.
The investment bank also lifted its estimate of "reasonably possible" legal losses to $3.4 billion from a previous estimate of $2.7 billion three months earlier. The estimate does not include potential losses from legal matters that are at an early stage or that are too difficult to predict.
P.S. to Eric Holder: Don't confuse "activity" with "productivity." We all know how to shuffle papers to look busy.
Will Eric Holder hold these people accountable? Because at the very least, none of the people who took part in this coverup should still have jobs. Maybe they're infected with the same disease I've seen in cops through the years: "Hey, if this guy didn't do this particular crime, this is payback for all the times we didn't catch him."
Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.
Officials started reviewing the cases in the 1990s after reports that sloppy work by examiners at the FBI lab was producing unreliable forensic evidence in court trials. Instead of releasing those findings, they made them available only to the prosecutors in the affected cases, according to documents and interviews with dozens of officials.
Not the defense attorneys, mind you. The prosecutors, who were then supposed to tell the defense. Right.
In addition, the Justice Department reviewed only a limited number of cases and focused on the work of one scientist at the FBI lab, despite warnings that problems were far more widespread and could affect potentially thousands of cases in federal, state and local courts.
As a result, hundreds of defendants nationwide remain in prison or on parole for crimes that might merit exoneration, a retrial or a retesting of evidence using DNA because FBI hair and fiber experts may have misidentified them as suspects.
In one Texas case, Benjamin Herbert Boyle was executed in 1997, more than a year after the Justice Department began its review. Boyle would not have been eligible for the death penalty without the FBI’s flawed work, according to a prosecutor’s memo.
PHOENIX — In a strongly worded critique of the country’s best-known sheriff, the Justice Department on Thursday accused Sheriff Joe Arpaio of engaging in “unconstitutional policing” by unfairly targeting Latinos for detention and arrest and retaliating against those who complain.
After an investigation that lasted more than three years, the civil rights division of the Justice Department said in a 22-page report that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which Mr. Arpaio leads, had “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos” that “reaches the highest levels of the agency.” The department interfered with the inquiry, the government said, prompting a lawsuit that eventually led Sheriff Arpaio and his deputies to cooperate.
“We have peeled the onion to its core,” said Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, noting during a conference call with reporters on Thursday morning that more than 400 inmates, deputies and others had been interviewed as part of the review, including Sheriff Arpaio and his command staff. Mr. Perez said the inquiry, which included jail visits and reviews of thousands of pages of internal documents, raised the question of whether Latinos were receiving “second-class policing services” in Maricopa County.
Mr. Perez said he hoped Sheriff Arpaio would cooperate with the federal government in turning the department around. Should he refuse to enter into a court-approved settlement agreement, Mr. Perez said, the government will file a lawsuit and the department could lose millions of dollars in federal money.
A separate federal grand jury investigation of Sheriff Arpaio’s office is continuing, focusing on accusations of abuse of power by the department’s public corruption squad.
That investigation -- unlike this probe, which involved civil law -- is a criminal matter. The other shoe has yet to drop on that score.
No financial executives have gone to jail, despite an overwhelming body of evidence indicating that a group of organized "banker gangs" conducted a widespread Wall Street crime wave that made them rich and while throwing millions into poverty. The Justice Department's failure to act against these bankers is matched only by its declining credibility -- a problem it only makes worse whenever it tries to defend itself.
An interview with an outgoing Justice official in today's Wall Street Journal is merely the latest in a sad parade of weak excuses and implausible arguments, and it comes on the heels of Justice Department official Lanny Breuer's poor 60 Minutes showing this week on the same topic.
Stop. Just stop. If nobody at Justice can get the job done, it's time for the Administration to bring in a whole new team and start again. Did everybody in the banking business break the law? No. Very few did. But some of the ones that did appear to be very well-placed, and if they're not punished they'll do it again and again.
The credibility problem with Holder's (and Obama's) Justice Department doesn't just stem from its failure to act, or even from its inability to offer a plausible explanation for its inaction. The real problem comes from its history of misleading, misdirecting, and deceiving the public about its efforts.
Its "Interagency Task Force" against lending fraud with a lot of fanfare, for example, turned out to be vaporware, a small-time operation that targeted two-bit grifters and petty crime rings but avoided any investigation of big-bank systemic fraud. Not that the operation was a total failure: The SEC charged a psychic with fraud! (I say the psychic shoulda seen it coming.)
The Justice Department boasted about another operation, too, one with the all-too-ironic name "Operation Broken Trust." As with the "Interagency Task Force," we were told that "Broken Trust" was a coordinated Justice Department effort to track down bad guys. And like the Task Force, "Trust" ignored the real crimes on Wall Street while triumphantly listing enough colorful small-time crooks to mount a summer-stock production of Oliver.
But, while both operations were deceptively packaged, Broken Trust was worse. How much worse? The fair-minded Columbia Journalism Review called its roundup of articles on the topic "Obama Administration's Financial Fraud Stunt Backfires." The laundry list of cases named as "Broken Trust" successes included some that were initiated before it was even created. Some were underway before Barack Obama even became President.
"Trust" was a brazen attempt to hoodwink the public -- nothing more.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Justice Department is suing to block AT&T Inc.'s proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA, saying Wednesday that the combination of the second- and fourth-largest U.S. cellphone companies would hurt competition and likely raise prices.
At a news conference Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the combination would result in tens of millions of consumers facing fewer choices and lower-quality products.
But the agency said the "door is open" to AT&T to propose remedies in the deal.
The proposed tie-up has faced tough opposition from consumer groups and No. 3 carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. since it was announced in March. Shares of AT&T were down 3.7% on the announcement. Shares of Sprint, thought to be a victim of an enlarged AT&T, were 9.6% higher.
[...] The deal would create a giant in mobile telephony that AT&T has argued would provide better service to more of the country. But the Justice Department said in its suit that it would also remove an important challenger—T-Mobile—from the market, reducing pressure on its larger rivals to keep prices down and improve service. T-Mobile has been struggling to compete with the larger carriers, and owner Deutsche Telekom AG has said it isn't willing to invest more in the venture.
Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein has hired high-profile Washington defense attorney Reid Weingarten, according to a government source, as the Justice Department continues to investigate the bank.
Blankfein, 56, is in his sixth year at the helm of the largest U.S. investment bank, which has spent two years fending off accusations of conflicts of interest and fraud.
The move to retain Weingarten comes as investigations of Goldman and its role in the 2007-2009 financial crisis continue.
The news spooked already jittery investors. Goldman shares fell sharply in the final minutes of regular trading after Reuters reporting the hiring, finishing down 4.7 percent at $106.51, their lowest level since March 2009.
They slipped further in after-hours trade to $105.45.
The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) in April released a scathing report that criticized Goldman for "exploiting" clients by unloading subprime loan exposure onto unsuspecting clients in 2006 and 2007, and concluded that its top executives misled Congress during testimony in 2010.
[...] "This was the last thing that Goldman Sachs or any institutions in the sector needed," said Peter Kenny, managing director of Knight Capital in Jersey City, NJ. "There is zero tolerance for risk or perceived risk right now."
This was my first thought when I heard the news: Are the feds really going to let this merger go through? It sounds as though I'm not the only person who had that reaction. But then, I still don't understand how the Comcast/NBC merger went through, either:
The surprising announcement that AT&T Inc. would acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG in a $39 billion merger leaves one giant question mark: Will the U.S. government approve an acquisition that most experts thought was unthinkable until recently?
At the very least, most technology, finance and policy experts say the combination of the second and fourth largest providers of U.S wireless service by revenue will face a rocky road as the two companies seek approval from government regulators.
First, AT&T will need the FCC's approval to acquire T-Mobile's spectrum licenses.
But the deal is also certain to face a thorough investigation by the Justice Department, according to people familiar with the matter.
The merger is likely to be of particular concern to antitrust enforcers because the industry's two dominant companies—Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Vodafone Group PLC and Verizon Communications Inc., and AT&T—are already so far ahead of anyone else, raising the specter of an effective duopoly in mobile telephony.
Antitrust enforcers would likely have taken a more benign view of a potential merger of Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA which would have created a larger third player to compete with the top two providers, those people said.
Herbert Hovenkamp, a law professor at the University of Iowa who specializes in antitrust matters, said the deal would also have a hard time meeting the new merger guidelines recently issued by the Department of Justice.
"It's a pretty highly concentrated market," he said. "The guidelines would say this is a highly questionable merger unless there is a significant provable efficiency. This will get fairly close scrutiny."
O'Donnell: It appears that this is just the same thug tactics that they've been using for months to discredit this anti-establishment movement.
Then she issued a statement declaring that Joe Biden was the chief thug behind her persecution:
"Given that the king of the Delaware political establishment just so happens to be the vice president of the most liberal presidential administration in U.S. history, it is no surprise that misuse and abuse of the FBI would not be off the table."
Sure sounds like an innocent person to me.
We're still waiting for Roger Ailes to offer her a contract at Fox. Should happen any day now.
O'Reilly was flogging the story again last night, ignoring the inconvenient realities of the matter in order to claim that Obama's Justice Department under Eric Holder is discriminating against white people. O'Reilly wrapped it up with this observation:
O'Reilly: Everybody knows that if a Klan guy was outside a polling place with a club, shouting racial remarks, he would have been prosecuted. So you can draw your own conclusions here.
Oh, really, Bill?
Because a Klan guy in Arizona that same election was seen outside a polling place not just with a club, but with a gun -- and the same voting rights section ignored it!
Warden is especially noteworthy because, just like those New Black Panthers, Roy Warden was in fact the subject of a DOJ voter-intimidation investigation -- and they indeed decided not to prosecute him based on a lack of evidence, just as in the NBPP case. Media Matters has more: