Republicans Block Investigative Power for Oil Spill Commission
Senate Democrats today asked unanimous consent to pass legislation that would give the BP Oil Spill Commission the subpoena power it needs to do its job. "Frankly, it's time we have a vote after so many Republican objections to this commonsense legislation," said Sen. Robert Menendez. "[This bill] asserts that we want to protect those families, taxpayers, not oil company profits."
How we have who we have in government... (Warning very funny)
(from paul, news contributor)
David Icke "What is Money?" from Radical Truth Knowledge and Revolution
(BIN) In the grand ‘scheme’ of things, history has proven that fascism, communism, statism, corporatism–-any totalitarian or oligarchical regime--strives to have absolute control.
An oligarchy is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, military control, or
religious hegemony. … Such states are often controlled by politically
powerful families whose children are heavily conditioned and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy.
Oligarchies have been tyrannical throughout history, being completely
reliant on public servitude to exist. Although Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the
rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, oligarchy is not
always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy. (-Wikipedia)
Information is empowering. Truth is liberating. But oligarchs think they’re the only ones who deserve to have either. In order to be
controlled, people must be kept in the dark. Whether it be historical facts, scientific truths or current goings on, this information must be
He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.–George Orwell
Rewriting history has been one of the controllers’ biggest programs. The true villains of history have been made out to be heroes, and
vice-versa. Whole chapters of world events simply vanish. What was common knowledge for whole eras has little or no mention at all, or has
been totally reversed.
I’ve been shocked to learn the true history of the Jesuits for example, and how excoriated they were by the nations of the world since
their inception with the maniacal Ignatius Loyola . In fact, the US broke off all diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1867 as a result
of its alleged connection with the murder of Lincoln via the Jesuits, which was only restored in 1984 (!) by the corporatist sell-out Ronald
(Little hand signal action going on?;)
Quite the reversal there. Not only are Jesuits accepted as a mainstream branch of the Vatican, somehow they’ve gotten ahold of our
educational system via high schools and colleges throughout the nation and world. (You’ll be amazed at how many world leaders were trained by
Jesuits.) And as for the Vatican, today our leaders climb all over each other to go and kiss the Pope’s ring, via checking in with the
Queen of England. (And I thought we declared independence. Is this why our rights are eroding and country dissolving–because our leaders have
The New Renaissance
The internet has made the light of truth and information available to an unfathomable extent. The original Renaissance was due to an
information burst, enabled by the invention of the printing press around 1450.
Illustration of Gutenberg’s press
'Before the printing press was created, only the church and royalty were wealthy enough to have books printed. Once printed material
became widely available, a greater number of people learned to read and the flow of textual information reached all corners of Europe. Access
to information helped to feed Europe’s brainpower, closing out the Middle Ages for good and helping to open the door for the Renaissance.' Source
Similarly, the explosion of instant worldwide availability of information and communication via the internet is morphing the world
exponentially as we speak. In fact, our world would-be controllers are openly declaring their fear of this “mass global political awakening”
and are wondering what to do about it. (view
Potential excuses to shut down this source of information have been abounding. A bill was passed that gives Obama power to shut down the
net “for security purposes” in order to free up band width for emergency situations…blah blah blah. Since 9/11 there have been so many
infringements on our constitutional freedoms you can hardly count them. Oddly enough, these types of infringements the 9/11 gullible
“patriots” welcomed as added security during the Bush years, are now protested when coming from the Obama administration, and they
still don’t get how it works.
How do you make it dark? Turn out the lights
Here’s how they play the censorship card: A little at a time. Until we’re used to it.
The gulf situation is being handled very roughly and very publicly so. I think a big part of all this offensive activity by the
government, BP and the coast guard is to get us used to it. If we start getting used to the new standard of being pushed around, that’s good
for them. If we accept limitations on what can be reported on and what can’t, that’s good as well.
We’re being desensitized.
These things have been happening all along, but this public display where even the mainstream media are getting miffed, or are scripted to
get miffed, has me wondering.
That’s pretty strong stuff for our milktoast media. Either Anderson’s genuinely ticked, or they want to fan a few more flames of
discontent. Either way, it’s more lockdown conditioning.
Coincidentally, this story appeared today:
First ask what to tell: Gates tightens media rules
WASHINGTON – (AP) The Pentagon’s small press office is about to get a lot busier. Even top military officials now have to get Pentagon
clearance for interviews and other contact with reporters.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued the order Friday in a brief memo sent to military and civilian personnel
worldwide; it was effective immediately.
The order tells officials to make sure they are not going out of bounds or unintentionally releasing information that the Pentagon wants
to hold back. It comes after President Barack Obama fired the top general in Afghanistan for embarrassing comments in a magazine article.
The memo does not spell out exactly how the new directive will work but appears to require hundreds of thousands of officers to funnel
interview requests through a small central office at the Pentagon.
It’s absurd to even begin to believe that General McChrystal was fired for his Rolling Stone interview comments. Nor was General George
Patton fired for his comments during WW2. They weren’t toeing the mark. The war is supposed to be prolonged, not won–until they say so.
But they sure got their censorship plan ratcheted up and sent out a strong warning to others who are thinking of speaking up. Look for
more of this. They’ll keep pushing the envelope. The real prize will be clamping down on the internet. They’ve been pushing for regulations
and restrictions for a long time to get us used to the idea. The next emergency/false flag will be the excuse.
They’ll get their restrictions, it’s a matter of time. They hate freedom for anyone but them. But it won’t last. The Truth cannot be
bound, and darkness cannot stand the Light. ….and they know that too.
On a morning last week, Floridians along the pristine beaches of the Florida panhandle found themselves the latest shoreline victims
of the underground volcano of oil and dangerous gasses released by BP into the Gulf of Mexico.
And again, the disaster was winning in the water, on the land -- and in the air.
"It's pitiful," said Buck Lee, the executive director of the Santa Rosa County Island
Authority. "It took us four hours to clean up 50 to 60 feet of beach and I don't see this stopping for a while."
As the Pensacola area hoped to salvage the region’s peak tourist season of July Fourth, cleanup
crews worked through the night, sucking up oil and waste near a Perdido Key barrier island.
But they still failed to prevent a three-mile-long oil slick from being washed up between the
Pensacola Beach pier and Fort Pickens National Park.
Dominic Mogavero and his wife, Cyndie Lepori, live about 50 miles due east of Pensacola, smack in the
middle of the panhandle right, in Ft. Watson Beach at the docks at Kid’s Point. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico lap up against the
perimeter of their property.
The Florida couple has been alarmed for weeks about the lack of action and preparation, by BP, the
Coast Guard and local officials.
Lepori, an environmentalist and longtime Florida resident, said she had just returned from Alabama
where she went to rescue endangered dolphins and was now preparing for what was headed for Florida’s beaches.
“My hope in going there was to learn what they were doing in order to save their dolphins and
their back bays and their nurseries, in order to provide safety and education for the people here in Florida since, I am living here in Ft.
Watson Beach,” said Lepori. “And it was an education to say the least.”
A Living Nightmare
Lepori described a living nightmare, reeling off a list of images, one worse than the next.
“We went through an oil pool, right at dusk, when we were out looking for the dolphins, trying
to make sure that they were all right,” she said. “As soon as we hit this it was like you had cut our air off.
“We couldn’t breathe, we couldn’t speak, we were all throwing up over the
side,” she said. “We were all very experienced boat people... We were trying to keep an eye on the dolphins. This is a very
special dolphin pod. It’s called the Friendly Dolphins pod. They have lived there for as long as anyone can remember. Essentially
they were trapped.”
Back in Florida, the couple was on high alert as the rolling slicks of thick gooey brown sludge
crossed from Alabama to Florida.
Lepori’s husband, Dominic Mogavero, became quite alarmed as he observed children playing in the
sand – and the tar balls – at Destin Harbor.
“I was walking along the beach,” said Mogavero, “I came across a young family and
the young kids were playing in the sand on the beach, making sandcastles. They were decorating the sandcastles with tar balls…
“They were literally picking up these pieces of tar, this oil, toxic oil with other toxic
chemicals, with their bare hands and putting it on their sandcastles, because it made their sandcastles look pretty. … The kids said
that. I said what are you doing? ‘We’re making pretty sandcastles’ and yet they’re playing with toxic
Mogavero said he approached the parents, to see if they understood the dangers the kids were facing and they appeared
“I said do you realize what these kids are playing with and they had absolutely no idea that the
young kids – they were 4 or 5 years old – were playing with tar balls,” he said.
Don’t Scare the Tourists
One of the concerns is that the local officials want to downplay the hazards from the oil spill to
avoid alarming tourists and driving even more people away from the beaches.
“The official story,” said Mogavero, “is that the water is clear, and there are a
few tar balls but it is safe to swim in and I feel that is in direct opposition to the reality of the situation…
“When you’ve got this detergent, this dispersant in the water – coming in – I
have first-hand experience with burn marks on my skin with these tar balls that these children are playing in that potentially could cause
The long-time Floridian is also shocked to see people swimming so close to where clean-up boats, with
workers in hazmat suits, were cleaning up the toxic sludge.
“It is probably a couple hundred yards across, right smack in the middle of Destin
Harbor,” he said. “And there are two boats dragging a boom, obviously skimming the surface oil within 20 yards of where there
were people on the beach, entering the water, and going swimming.”
The next day, Lepori went to investigate reports of another school of sick dolphins. As soon as she
got to the water’s edge, she became dizzy and nauseous, similar to her experience out on the Gulf off Alabama.
“Within minutes of getting on the beach with families swimming in the water and it was maybe
because I was so exposed to all these chemicals, I was sick,” she said. “I had a headache, I couldn’t breathe, again, I
was dizzy and I ended up having to leave the beach.
“And again, there were families. I walked along the beach telling the families along the beach,
did you know this water’s poisonous that you’re putting these children in? …There were no signs, no one telling anyone
anything about the toxicity of the water. And you know sometimes I don’t even have words. And none of those people knew.”
Mogavero and Lepori are outraged that the corporate bottom line – and business concerns about
tourism – seem to be limiting the flow of crucial information that could prevent serious injuries and illnesses.
They suspect that BP’s secrecy, and the Coast Guard’s willingness along with other
responders at the federal level to let BP call the shots, has undermined the clean-up and made a terrible disaster even worse.
Fighting for Information
When I spoke with Coast Guard Commander Scott Linsky, a spokesperson at the Deepwater Horizon Unified
Command Center in Houma, Louisiana, I got a very different take on the crisis, much more upbeat and positive.
“The [clean-up] organization,” Linsky told me, “has just grown immensely over the
last month. We have about 11,000 people in the field, on the beaches, out on the water skimming and burning oil…
“The front we’re working covers hundreds of miles of the entire coast line. And the
steady growth and improvement of the clean-up effort is just amazing.”
The Coast Guard Commander said – based on his extensive intelligence, including aerial flyovers,
satellite data and first-hand experience out in the Gulf – major progress is being made, especially after the personal intervention of
President Barack Obama.
“His focus on the clean-up has certainly delivered a number of resources that have really helped
us succeed,” said Commander Linsky. “I was on an over-flight … and there is certainly oil in many places offshore but
there is also a tremendous amount of area where there is not oil. …
“We have more than 300 wildlife personnel from a multitude of agencies and disciplines working
with the oiled birds, and sampling and researching. And their efforts are just incredible in the things that they are able to do. We had a
real success story yesterday as 35 previously oiled brown pelicans were taken to Texas and released.”
But problems continued to plague efforts to reduce the flow of oil into the Gulf.
Last week, for instance, a robot bumped into BP’s jerry-rigged venting system sending dangerous
gas shooting up through the vent that carries warm water down to prevent ice crystals from forming, creating the potential for an
explosion. The cap was removed allowing a large surge of oil into the already highly polluted waters around the uncontrollable well.
Gulf residents have also grown increasing skeptical of whatever they hear from BP or the government
agencies. Some residents complain that BP continues to gag its workers from discussing concerns about oil spill and its potential health
Louisiana native Elizabeth Cook, a co-founder of a new grassroots action group called the Emergency
Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster, said dozens of residents attended an emergency meeting in New Orleans and vented their anger at BP,
for its secrecy and lack of action, and at the U.S. Coast Guard for “defending and covering up for BP.”
“For myself, I am questioning everything that’s being told to me, particularly by the
officials in charge of the oil spill response,” Cook said in an interview. “I think we have to be suspicious of everything
they’re saying to us. We have to assume they’re withholding the information, that they are possibly even falsifying
information, so as not to cause a panic, because I think the last thing they want is an outraged, panicked public to face.”
She said the federal government and the Coast Guard are marching in lockstep with BP, adding:
“Essentially, the government and BP are one and the same right now. And that’s a really
frightening thing to say I realize that, but that’s what I see. Because the information, whether it’s the public officials,
whether they’re someone from the EPA, or NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], or BP, it’s the
Cook said members of the group spoke to several BP workers who said had been “threatened by BP
with being fired if they spoke publicly, either about what they saw or about getting ill as a result of their work” on the
Cook said the Coast Guard is busy “obfuscating for BP at every turn, withholding information,
bending to the will of BP...letting them control the flow of information.”
Not so, says Commander Linsky. The restrictions on the movements of the press and others seeking
information are intended to protect injured wildlife and the safety of Gulf residents, clean-up workers and the journalists.
“We are working very hard to increase media access,” Linsky said. “We are trying to
facilitate that to the best of our ability, safely for everyone involved. We are just asking that anybody that is around the clean-up
operations be cognizant of the fact that it is a difficult business to recover wildlife, and to reduce the trauma on the wildlife that we
In Florida, east of the Panhandle, Dominic Mogavero and Cyndie Lepori said local officials are in a
bit of a panic over the upcoming July Fourth holiday, one of the most lucrative weekends for tourism.
Charter boats were already experiencing major cancellations, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars,
even before the oil sludge started to soil the legendary whites sand of the coast.
If they close down the beaches and order people out of the water, posting the kinds of danger signs
and warnings that Lepori and Mogavero now say are crucial to save live, the local economy will take a devastating hit.
“My feeling is that a lot of the local authorities, or those in charge of making decisions about
the health and welfare of this environment are leaving information out to protect the bottom line of financial gain from tourism,”
“If the tourists really knew the circumstances as to the water hazard, the fish hazard, the food
hazard as a result of this they would not be here. And yet, economically it would be extremely detrimental and I believe local authorities
are doing everything they can to protect the bottom line, at the risk of peoples’ health.”
Other people I spoke with in the Gulf region also raised health concerns.
Ann Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade which supports communities affected by
the oil and chemical industry, said “hundreds if not thousands” of Louisianan’s are being made sick by oil spill and are
receiving very little effective help.
“The workers are out on boats and getting sick,” said Rolfes, “and People are being
… told that it’s heat exhaustion. I mean, there is no question that it is really hot down here. But there is also no question
that they are working with really dangerous chemicals.
“And I think the really disturbing thing is that it’s not just BP that’s pushing
aside their concerns but it is also the government agencies” like the OSHA and the EPA “who really ought to be protecting them
and all of us,” she said.
Living in Fear
Another resident, Elizabeth Cook, said everyone is living in fear in the Gulf, with the first
hurricanes brewing and the rain starting to get heavy.
“Remember this stuff -- the dispersants -- are evaporating into the air,” Cook said.
“When we had several bad rain storms, I noticed at the end of the day, a slight smell of oil and I felt sick to my stomach, literally
sick, and it’s not the first time I felt sick.”
There is a growing appetite among Gulf residents and activists for a criminal prosecution.
“Where is the Department of Justice, or the Department of Wild Life and Fisheries, where is the
Department of Labor,” asked Rolfes. “Certainly a cover-up of the crime this big ought to be investigated.”
In neighboring Mississippi, emotions also were running high. Last Friday, most shrimping was banned at the Mississippi coast, and
the industry essentially closed down.
“We have been begging for help from the federal government, from BP, from the Coast Guard, but
particularly from our Governor, Haley Barbour, and from our congressman in the fourth congressional district of Mississippi, Jean Taylor,
but no help has been forthcoming,” said Lynda St Martin, a coordinator of Gulf Oil Disaster Responders in Mississippi.
“Jean Taylor and Haley Barber have been lying to us for more than six weeks. They have been
telling us that we were prepared, when and if it comes ashore here and it may or may not come ashore in Mississippi, but we are
prepared. Well, we are not prepared. The barrier islands are now being inundated by that horrible monster. And we are not
The failure to protect the barrier islands, said St. Martin, has put the entire
region’s ecosystem in grave jeopardy.
“They have failed to protect that placid, beautiful sound,” she said, “that is the
beginning of the food chain for the entire Caribbean Basin, about to be inundated. I wanted those islands boomed and
“The main reason was because if we could protect the Barrier Islands, and it is still not too
late, if they would just do something, if we could protect the barrier islands we can still restock the Gulf and save the marine
“By not protecting those barrier islands, our sea life has no place to go. That’s
where they all go to lay their eggs, lay the larvae. That water is very rich in nutrients and that’s where life in the Gulf
St Martin said she believes Mississippi inaction goes right into the governor’s office
and is explained by Barbour’s close business ties to the oil industry.
“If you ever looked at the Web site of Barber, Griffith and Rogers, our governor’s lobbying
firm, you will see that one of his main clients is big oil,” she said. “I think he is in bed with BP and he would say anything
he could or do anything he could to protect his big oil clients.”
Just like in Louisiana, St Martin said, many people are getting ill in Mississippi and the
impact is being felt well inland.
“I get sick every time I go out and smell the stuff. I go out there to try to look at it
and I also have been on boats taking the media out there. And if I’m close to it and I smell it ….it makes me very
nauseous. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people that are out there trying to work all day in the stuff, because it
does give me a headache.”
MEXICO: Banks Financing Mexico Gangs Admitted in Wells Fargo Deal
by Michael Smith, Bloomberg
June 30th, 2010
Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles
east of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak.
So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet.
They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at
$100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors
later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else.
The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they
transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of
America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.
This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns
out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in
court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers -- including the cash used to buy four
planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based
Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the
violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.
Wachovia admitted it
didn?t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That?s the largest
violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history -- a sum equal to one-third of Mexico?s current gross
?Wachovia?s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to
finance their operations,? says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.
Since 2006, more than 22,000 people
have been killed in drug-related battles that have raged mostly along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border that Mexico shares with the
U.S. In the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, 700 people had been murdered this year as of mid-
June. Six Juarez police officers were slaughtered by automatic weapons fire in a midday ambush in April.
Rondolfo Torre, the
leading candidate for governor in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, was gunned down yesterday, less than a week before elections in
which violence related to drug trafficking was a central issue.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon
vowed to crush the drug cartels when he took office in December 2006, and he?s since deployed 45,000 troops to fight the cartels. They?ve had
Among the dead are police, soldiers, journalists and ordinary citizens. The U.S. has pledged Mexico $1.1 billion
in the past two years to aid in the fight against narcotics cartels.
In May, President Barack Obama said he?d send 1,200 National
Guard troops, adding to the 17,400 agents on the U.S. side of the border to help stem drug traffic and illegal immigration.
the carnage in Mexico is an industry that supplies hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines to Americans. The
cartels have built a network of dealers in 231 U.S. cities from coast to coast, taking in about $39 billion in sales annually, according to
the Justice Department.
?You?re Missing the Point?
Twenty million people in the U.S. regularly use illegal
drugs, spurring street crime and wrecking families. Narcotics cost the U.S. economy $215 billion a year -- enough to cover health care for
30.9 million Americans -- in overburdened courts, prisons and hospitals and lost productivity, the department says.
banks laundering money for the cartels that finances the tragedy,? says Martin Woods, director of Wachovia?s anti-money-laundering unit in
London from 2006 to 2009. Woods says he quit the bank in disgust after executives ignored his documentation that drug dealers were funneling
money through Wachovia?s branch network.
?If you don?t see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 22,000
people killed in Mexico, you?re missing the point,? Woods says.
Cleansing Dirty Cash
Wachovia is just one of the
U.S. and European banks that have been used for drug money laundering. For the past two decades, Latin American drug traffickers have gone to
U.S. banks to cleanse their dirty cash, says Paul Campo, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration?s financial crimes unit.
Miami-based American Express Bank International paid fines in both 1994 and 2007 after admitting it had failed to spot and report drug
dealers laundering money through its accounts. Drug traffickers used accounts at Bank
of America in Oklahoma City to buy three planes that carried 10 tons of cocaine, according to Mexican court filings.
agents caught people who work for Mexican cartels depositing illicit funds in Bank of
America accounts in Atlanta, Chicago and Brownsville, Texas, from 2002 to 2009. Mexican drug dealers used shell companies to open
accounts at London-based HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe?s biggest bank by assets, an investigation by the Mexican Finance Ministry found.
Those two banks weren?t accused of wrongdoing. Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton and HSBC spokesman Roy Caple say laws bar
them from discussing specific clients. They say their banks strictly follow the government rules.
?Bank of America takes its
anti-money-laundering responsibilities very seriously,? Norton says.
A Mexican judge on Jan. 22 accused the owners of six centros
cambiarios, or money changers, in Culiacan and Tijuana of laundering drug funds through their accounts at the Mexican units of Banco
Santander SA, Citigroup Inc. and HSBC, according to court documents filed in the
The money changers are in jail while being tried. Citigroup, HSBC and Santander, which is the largest Spanish bank by
assets, weren?t accused of any wrongdoing. The three banks say Mexican law bars them from commenting on the case, adding that they each
carefully enforce anti-money-laundering programs.
HSBC has stopped accepting dollar deposits in Mexico, and Citigroup no longer allows noncustomers to change dollars there. Citigroup detected suspicious activity in the Tijuana accounts, reported it to regulators
and closed the accounts, Citigroup spokesman Paulo Carreno says. Criminal
On June 15, the Mexican Finance Ministry announced it would set limits for banks on cash deposits in dollars.
Mexico?s drug cartels have become multinational criminal enterprises.
Some of the gangs have delved into other illegal
activities such as gunrunning, kidnapping and smuggling people across the border, as well as into seemingly legitimate areas such as
trucking, travel services and air cargo transport, according to the Justice Department?s National Drug Intelligence Center.
criminal empires have no choice but to use the global banking system to finance their businesses, Mexican Senator Felipe Gonzalez says.
?With so much cash, the only way to move this money is through the banks,? says Gonzalez, who represents a central Mexican state and
chairs the senate public safety committee.
Gonzalez, a member of Calderon?s National Action Party, carries a .38 revolver for
?I know this won?t stop the narcos when they come through that door with machine guns,? he says, pointing to
the entrance to his office. ?But at least I?ll take one with me.?
No bank has been more closely
connected with Mexican money laundering than Wachovia. Founded in 1879, Wachovia became the largest bank by assets in the southeastern U.S.
by 1900. After the Great Depression, some people in North Carolina called the bank ?Walk-Over-Ya? because it had foreclosed on farms in the
By 2008, Wachovia was the sixth-largest U.S. lender, and it faced $26 billion in losses from subprime mortgage loans. That
cost Wachovia Chief Executive Officer Kennedy Thompson his job in June 2008.
Six months later, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo,
which dates from 1852, bought Wachovia for $12.7 billion, creating the largest network of bank branches in the U.S. Thompson, who now works
for private-equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners LLC in New York, declined to comment.
As Wachovia?s balance sheet was bleeding,
its legal woes were mounting. In the three years leading up to Wachovia?s agreement with the Justice Department, grand juries served the bank
with 6,700 subpoenas requesting information.
Not Quick Enough
The bank didn?t react quickly enough to the
prosecutors? requests and failed to hire enough investigators, the U.S. Treasury Department said in March. After a 22-month investigation,
the Justice Department on March 12 charged Wachovia with violating the Bank Secrecy Act by failing to run an effective anti-money-laundering
Five days later, Wells Fargo promised in a Miami federal courtroom to revamp its detection systems. Wachovia?s new owner
paid $160 million in fines and penalties, less than 2 percent of its $12.3 billion profit in 2009.
If Wells Fargo keeps its
pledge, the U.S. government will, according to the agreement, drop all charges against the bank in March 2011.
Wells Fargo regrets
that some of Wachovia?s former anti- money-laundering efforts fell short, spokeswoman Mary Eshet says. Wells Fargo has invested $42 million
in the past three years to improve its anti-money-laundering program and has been working with regulators, she says.
?We have substantially increased the caliber and number of staff in our international
investigations group, and we also significantly upgraded the monitoring software,? Eshet says. The agreement bars the bank from contesting or
contradicting the facts in its admission.
The bank declined to answer specific questions, including how much it made by handling
$378.4 billion -- including $4 billion of cash-from Mexican exchange companies.
The 1970 Bank Secrecy Act requires banks to report
all cash transactions above $10,000 to regulators and to tell the government about other suspected money-laundering activity. Big banks
employ hundreds of investigators and spend millions of dollars on software programs to scour accounts.
No big U.S. bank -- Wells
Fargo included -- has ever been indicted for violating the Bank Secrecy Act or any other federal law. Instead, the Justice Department settles
criminal charges by using deferred-prosecution agreements, in which a bank pays a fine and promises not to break the law again.
?No Capacity to Regulate?
Large banks are protected from indictments by a variant of the too-big-to-fail theory.
Indicting a big bank could trigger a mad dash by investors to dump shares and cause panic in financial markets, says Jack Blum, a U.S.
Senate investigator for 14 years and a consultant to international banks and brokerage firms on money laundering.
The theory is
like a get-out-of-jail-free card for big banks, Blum says.
?There?s no capacity to regulate or punish them because they?re too big
to be threatened with failure,? Blum says. ?They seem to be willing to do anything that improves their bottom line, until they?re caught.?
Wachovia?s run-in with federal prosecutors hasn?t troubled investors. Wells Fargo?s stock traded at $30.86 on March 24, up 1 percent
in the week after the March 17 agreement was announced.
Moving money is central to the drug trade -- from the cash that people
tape to their bodies as they cross the U.S.-Mexican border to the $100,000 wire transfers they send from Mexican exchange houses to big U.S.
?Doesn?t Stop Anyone?
In Tijuana, 15 miles south of San Diego, Gustavo Rojas has lived for a quarter of a
century in a shack in the shadow of the 10-foot-high (3-meter-high) steel border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico there. He points to
holes burrowed under the barrier.
?They go across with drugs and come back with cash,? Rojas, 75, says. ?This fence doesn?t stop
Drug money moves back and forth across the border in an endless cycle. In the U.S., couriers take the cash from drug
sales to Mexico -- as much as $29 billion a year, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That would be about 319 tons of $100
They hide it in cars and trucks to smuggle into Mexico. There, cartels pay people to deposit some of the cash into Mexican
banks and branches of international banks. The narcos launder much of what?s left through money changers.
Anyone who has been to Mexico is familiar with these street-corner money changers; Mexican regulators say there are
at least 3,000 of them from Tijuana to Cancun, usually displaying large signs advertising the day?s dollar-peso exchange rate.
Mexican banks are regulated by the National Banking and Securities Commission, which has an anti-money-laundering unit; the money changers
are policed by Mexico?s Tax Service Administration, which has no such unit.
By law, the money changers have to demand
identification from anyone exchanging more than $500. They also have to report transactions higher than $5,000 to regulators.
cartels get around these requirements by employing legions of individuals -- including relatives, maids and gardeners -- to convert small
amounts of dollars into pesos or to make deposits in local banks. After that, cartels wire the money to a multinational bank.
The people making the small money exchanges are known as Smurfs, after the cartoon characters.
?They can use an army of people like Smurfs and go through $1 million before lunchtime,? says Jerry Robinette, who oversees U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations along the border in east Texas.
The U.S. Treasury has been warning banks about big
Mexican- currency-exchange firms laundering drug money since 1996. By 2004, many U.S. banks had closed their accounts with these companies,
which are known as casas de cambio.
Wachovia ignored warnings by regulators and police, according to the deferred-prosecution
?As early as 2004, Wachovia understood the risk,? the bank admitted in court. ?Despite these warnings, Wachovia
remained in the business.?
One customer that Wachovia took on in 2004 was Casa de Cambio Puebla SA, a Puebla, Mexico-based
currency-exchange company. Pedro Alatorre, who ran a Puebla branch in Mexico City, had created front companies for cartels, according to a
pending Mexican criminal case against him.
A federal grand jury in Miami indicted Puebla,
Alatorre and three other executives in February 2008 for drug trafficking and money laundering. In May 2008, the Justice Department sought
extradition of the suspects, saying they used shell firms to launder $720 million through U.S. banks.
Alatorre has been in a
Mexican jail for 2 1/2 years. He denies any wrongdoing, his lawyer Mauricio Moreno says. Alatorre has made no court-filed responses in the
During the period in which Wachovia admitted to moving money out of Mexico for Puebla, couriers carrying clear plastic bags
stuffed with cash went to the branch Alatorre ran at the Mexico City airport, according to surveillance reports by Mexican police.
Alatorre opened accounts at HSBC on behalf of front companies, Mexican investigators found.
Puebla executives used the stolen
identities of 74 people to launder money through Wachovia accounts, Mexican prosecutors say in court-filed reports.
?Wachovia handled all the transfers, and they never reported any as suspicious,? says Jose Luis Marmolejo, a former
head of the Mexican attorney general?s financial crimes unit who is now in private practice.
In November 2005 and January 2006,
Wachovia transferred a total of $300,000 from Puebla to a Bank of America account
in Oklahoma City, according to information in the Alatorre cases in the U.S. and Mexico.
Drug smugglers used the funds to buy the
DC-9 through Oklahoma City aircraft broker U.S. Aircraft Titles Inc., according to financial records cited in the Mexican criminal case. U.S.
Aircraft Titles President Sue White declined to comment.
On April 5, 2006, a pilot flew the plane from St. Petersburg, Florida, to
Caracas to pick up the cocaine, according to the DEA. Five days later, troops seized the plane in Ciudad del Carmen and burned the drugs at a
nearby army base.
?I am sure Wachovia knew what was going on,? says Marmolejo, who oversaw the
criminal investigation into Wachovia?s customers. ?It went on too long and they made too much money not to have known.?
Wachovia?s anti-money-laundering unit in London, Woods and his colleague Jim DeFazio, in Charlotte, say they suspected that drug dealers were
using the bank to move funds.
Woods, a former Scotland Yard investigator, spotted illegible signatures and other suspicious
markings on traveler?s checks from Mexican exchange companies, he said in a September 2008 letter to the U.K. Financial Services Authority.
He sent copies of the letter to the DEA and Treasury Department in the U.S.
Woods, 45, says his bosses instructed him to keep
quiet and tried to have him fired, according to his letter to the FSA. In one meeting, a bank official insisted Woods shouldn?t have filed
suspicious activity reports to the government, as both U.S. and U.K. laws require.
?I Was Shocked?
shocked by the content and outcome of the meeting and genuinely traumatized,? Woods wrote.
In the U.S., DeFazio, who had been a
Federal Bureau of Investigation agent for 21 years, says he told bank executives in 2005 that the DEA was probing the transfers through
Wachovia to buy the planes.
Bank executives spurned recommendations to close suspicious accounts, DeFazio, 63, says.
think they looked at the money and said, ?The hell with it. We?re going to bring it in, and look at all the money we?ll make,?? DeFazio
DeFazio retired in 2008.
?I didn?t want anything from them,? he says. ?I just wanted to get out.?
Woods, who resigned from Wachovia in May 2009, now advises banks on how to combat money laundering. He declined to discuss details of
U.S. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan told Woods in a March 19 letter his efforts had helped the U.S.
build its case against Wachovia.
?You demonstrated great courage and integrity by speaking up
when you saw problems,? Dugan wrote.
It was the Puebla investigation that led U.S. authorities to the broader probe of Wachovia.
On May 16, 2007, DEA agents conducted a raid of Wachovia?s international banking offices in Miami. They had a court order to seize Puebla?s
U.S. prosecutors and investigators then scrutinized the bank?s dealings with Mexican-currency-exchange firms. That led
to the March deferred-prosecution agreement.
With Puebla?s Wachovia accounts seized, Alatorre and his partners shifted their
laundering scheme to HSBC, according to financial documents cited in the Mexican criminal case against Alatorre.
In the three
weeks after the DEA raided Wachovia, two of Alatorre?s front companies, Grupo ETPB SA and Grupo Rahero SC, made 12 cash deposits totaling $1
million at an HSBC Mexican branch, Mexican investigators found.
Another Drug Plane
The funds financed a
Beechcraft King Air 200 plane that police seized on Dec. 29, 2007, in Cuernavaca, 50 miles south of Mexico City, according to information in
the case against Alatorre.
For years, federal authorities watched as the wife and daughter of Oscar Oropeza, a drug smuggler
working for the Matamoros-based Gulf Cartel, deposited stacks of cash at a Bank of
America branch on Boca Chica Boulevard in Brownsville, Texas, less than 3 miles from the border.
Investigator Robinette sits
in his pickup truck across the street from that branch. It?s a one-story, tan stucco building next to a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.
Robinette discusses the Oropeza case with Tom Salazar, an agent who investigated the family.
?Everybody in there knew who they
were -- the tellers, everyone,? Salazar says. ?The bank never came to us, though.?
The Oropeza case
gives a new, literal meaning to the term money laundering. Oropeza?s wife, Tina Marie, and daughter Paulina Marie deposited stashes of $20
bills several times a day into Bank of America accounts, Salazar says. Bank
employees got to know the Oropezas by the smell of their money.
?I asked the tellers what they were talking about, and they said
the money had this sweet smell like Bounce, those sheets you throw into the dryer,? Salazar says. ?They told me that when they opened the
vault, the smell of Bounce just poured out.?
Oropeza, 48, was arrested 820 miles from Brownsville. On May 31, 2007, police in
Saraland, Alabama, stopped him on a traffic violation. Checking his record, they learned of the investigation in Texas.
searched the van and discovered 84 kilograms (185 pounds) of cocaine hidden under a false floor. That allowed federal agents to freeze
Oropeza?s bank accounts and search his marble-floored home in Brownsville, Robinette says. Inside, investigators found a supply of Bounce
alongside the clothes dryer.
All three Oropezas pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in
Brownsville to drug and money-laundering charges in March and April 2008. Oscar Oropeza was sentenced to 15 years in prison; his wife was
ordered to serve 10 months and his daughter got 6 months.
Bank of America?s Norton says, ?We not only fulfilled our regulatory
obligation, but we proactively worked with law enforcement on these matters.?
Prosecutors have tried to halt money laundering at
American Express Bank International twice. In 1994, the bank, then a subsidiary of New York-based American Express Co., pledged not to allow
money laundering again after two employees were convicted in a criminal case involving drug trafficker Juan Garcia Abrego.
1994, the bank paid $14 million to settle. Five years later, drug money again flowed through American Express Bank. Between 1999 and 2004,
the bank failed to stop clients from laundering $55 million of narcotics funds, the bank admitted in a deferred-prosecution agreement in
August 2007. Western Union
It paid $65 million to the U.S. and promised not to break the law again. The
government dismissed the criminal charge a year later. American Express sold the bank to London-based Standard Chartered PLC in February 2008
for $823 million.
Banks aren?t the only financial institutions that have turned a blind eye to drug cartels in moving illicit
funds. Western Union Co., the world?s largest money transfer firm, agreed to pay $94 million in February 2010 to settle civil and criminal
investigations by the Arizona attorney general?s office.
Undercover state police posing as drug dealers bribed Western Union
employees to illegally transfer money, says Cameron Holmes, an assistant attorney general.
?Their allegiance was to the
smugglers,? Holmes says. ?What they thought about during work was ?How may I please my highest- spending customers the most???
Workers in more than 20 Western Union offices allowed the customers to use multiple names, pass
fictitious identifications and smudge their fingerprints on documents, investigators say in court records.
?In all the time we did
undercover operations, we never once had a bribe turned down,? says Holmes, citing court affidavits.
Western Union has made
significant improvements, it complies with anti-money-laundering laws and works closely with regulators and police, spokesman Tom Fitzgerald
For four years, Mexican authorities have been fighting a losing battle against the cartels. The police are often two steps
behind the criminals. Near the southeastern corner of Texas, in Matamoros, more than 50 combat troops surround a police station.
Officers take two suspected drug traffickers inside for questioning. Nearby, two young men wearing white T-shirts and baggy pants watch and
whisper into radios. These are los halcones (the falcons), whose job is to let the cartel bosses know what the police are doing.
While the police are outmaneuvered and outgunned, ordinary Mexicans live in fear. Rojas, the man who lives in
the Tijuana slum near the border fence, recalls cowering in his home as smugglers shot it out with the police.
?The only way to
survive is to stay out of the way and hope the violence, the bullets, don?t come for you,? Rojas says.
To make their criminal
enterprises work, the drug cartels of Mexico need to move billions of dollars across borders. That?s how they finance the purchase of drugs,
planes, weapons and safe houses, Senator Gonzalez says.
?They are multinational businesses, after all,? says Gonzalez, as he
slowly loads his revolver at his desk in his Mexico City office. ?And they cannot work without a bank.?
(BIN) Too many things fit. The prior orchestration of emergency evacuation drills. The deliberate, offending shut down of the press.
BP thumbing their nose at curtailment of wrong actions or exposure of ineptness. Congressional stonewalling. Stepped up empty froth from our
leadership and media…regarding just about anything.
Another curious thing is the chemtrails letting up. I’ve spoken to others from Seattle to regions of California where I live and have
witnessed this, to a very conscious trucker from Kentucky crossing the nation regularly who say the same; they’ve apparently temporarily
curtailed their sick aerosol program, at least in part. If this is the case, you can only wonder what the mandate is amongst our loving
military industrial masters. Will there be a new concoction? Are the chemtrail jets needed elsewhere? What's up?
More importantly, Is this “accidental” oil spill working more effectively than they dreamed and will set off the appropriate
triggers, so other programs can now go on hold?
The calm before the storm
While the mainstream media keeps playing down the portending oil apocalypse, scientists off of the government payroll are alarmed and
speaking up. Richard Hoagland, acclaimed researcher had this to say about the oil disaster on
Coast to Coast. And Dr. Bill Deagle, in touch with many scientists tracking the disaster, is always ready to tell it like it is, and might
be, as well. His alarming interview with Bill Ryan of Project Avalon is moving fast around the net. If you haven’t heard it, you can hear it
The evacuation preparation reports are frightening. What’s again more frightening is the lack of any mainstream reporting to this effect.
Is the idea to blindside everyone, and thus provoke a resistant response to justify draconian measures, like they’ve again
done at the Toronto G-20 Summit? It doesn’t look good any way you look at it. Ignorance breeds fear–and the media outlets are the bought and
paid stooges for doing just that.
They’re about to play the Iran gambit–and things will shift!
The attack on Iran is imminent. It has to be. The air is pregnant with tension and more importantly, lack of
information. Once again, the Orwellian media controllers seem to be luxuriating in their increased unquestioned dominance.
Think about it:
Oil disaster: Back step, cover-up, say little, if anything. Blatant thuggish control of the media and shut-down of local response or real
Iran: The ships are in place, the media campaign continual and assumptive, and Israel is poised to advance.
Economy: Same old propaganda, as it slides to oblivion and the market manipulators lure investors and the dollar about to get dropped.
Media Output: Government pablum, soccer, celebrities, beer and fireworks
Leadership: None. In fact, it seems even most of our regulars hardly show up any more. Where are they? Must be in meetings somewhere…
Fascism hits the jackpot
I mean, c’mon. If a war “breaks out” after a “surprise attack” on either the US or Israel or some perceived ally, fascism hits the
jackpot. The controllers can finally declare a national emergency–without flu scares, no underpants or shoe bombers, just using another
9/11 charade that worked like magic the first time. Presto.
It appears to me the new Katrina on steroids oil disaster gave them the ultimate parallel weapon to be used on Americans to justify
curtailing our remaining sovereignty and constitutional freedoms. Coupled with their planned WW3 aggression into Iran it’s gonna be a tough
go here in the US.
Remember how the world changed after 9/11? This time, whichever way they swing it, will mimic a seismic shock that will release monstrous
underground forces that will rock the entire continental social shelf. Everything you’ve seen them itching to implement will suddenly be
mandated. Curtailment of uncontrolled internet use, military intervention in day to day life, a huge economic downturn, and overall national
destabilization. Sorry, but it doesn’t look pretty.
Be prepared. Things are shifting in silent preparation, the elite are taking their protective places, and things are ready to rumble.