David V. Johnson

Is the CIA Planted in State Governments?

Reading Time: 2 minutes WhoWhatWhy commenter David pointed us to the following video of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura discussing his brush with the Central Intelligence Agency as a newly elected state leader . . . In the video, Ventura discusses material from his recent memoir Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!. He repeats the following claims: (1) Shortly Read More

The Blue Dogs: Best Friends of Big Business

Reading Time: 4 minutes [Updates below – Ed.] As the Obama administration attempts to overhaul the nation’s health care, energy, and financial sectors, it faces the growing leverage of the Blue Dog Coalition—the conservative, fifty-two-member faction of the House’s Democratic caucus—to moderate, or obstruct, its goals. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) recently published an investigation into the Blue Read More

The Foreign-Policy Establishment

Reading Time: 3 minutes Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, recently wrote an interesting piece for Foreign Policy magazine about what topics are considered “taboo” among establishment foreign-policy wonks—a group that includes Walt himself as a member. The article is equally compelling for what it says as for what it implies about Walt, as Read More

Opinions to the Highest Bidder

Reading Time: 2 minutes The American Conservative Union describes itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization” devoted to, among other conservative ideals, “a market economy.” For the ACU, it seems, everything should be determined by market forces—including what policies it should support. Politico’s Mike Allen has caught the organization in an embarrassing pay-for-play scandal: The Read More

Did Goldman Sachs Manipulate Markets?

Reading Time: 2 minutes [Update below – Ed.] Over Independence Day weekend, Sergey Aleynikov, a former Goldman Sachs computer programmer, was arrested by the FBI for allegedly stealing the firm’s high-speed stock- and commodities-trading programming code and uploading it to an unidentified Web server in Germany. At Aleynikov’s July 4 bail hearing, Joseph Facciponti, an assistant U.S. Attorney, told Read More

Questions about Developing C.I.A. Story

Reading Time: 2 minutes An official story is forming about the secret program that the C.I.A. hid from Congress: the agency planned to organize assassination squads to target Al Qaeda terrorists around the world, according to a lead article in today’s New York Times. Although this account has gained widespread acceptance, there’s reason to be skeptical. As I noted Read More

CIA Lies to Congress

Reading Time: 2 minutes [Update below—Ed.] During last spring’s controversy over whether congressional leaders were briefed by the CIA over its use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Russ called for an investigation into the congressional briefing process. It is now all the more clear that such an investigation is a must. Yesterday, CQPolitics reported that CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted Read More

Florida Regulators Aided and Abetted Stanford

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Miami Herald published a long investigative piece about how Sir Allen Stanford, whose Antigua-based banking empire has been shut down as a massive fraud, was able to open a Miami branch in 1998 free from regulatory oversight, with the approval of Florida banking regulators. Stanford got his regulatory-free branch—one of his most lucrative franchises—despite Read More

In Defense of Lobbyists

Reading Time: 2 minutes In the days after the November election, Obama’s advisers announced “the strictest, and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history.” These rules included a ban on lobbyists joining the new administration. Why would political ethics demand such a prohibition? According to Obama’s transition team, the new policy sought to curb the Read More

More on Protecting Monopolies

Reading Time: 1 minute The New Haven Independent reports that Sen. Joe Lieberman (D – CT) is leading a coalition of “centrists” and “moderates” against a public option for healthcare—a government-run health plan that would compete with private insurers. As we recently discussed, the public option is supported by about three-quarters of the public, who, in the terms of Read More

Protecting Monopoly Power

Reading Time: 2 minutes It’s rare that a public-policy proposal manages to please three-quarters of the public. A government-run healthcare option has managed to do just that, according to a recent poll by CBS News and the New York Times. Seventy-two percent of respondents, including fifty percent of Republicans, said they favored the creation of a public healthcare plan Read More

IRE

Reading Time: 1 minute Russ has been busy the past couple of days at the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) conference in Baltimore. Today he will lead a panel on book writing and freelancing aimed at investigative reporters in career transition, due to the current instability in the media environment. Russ and I are both card-carrying members of IRE, Read More

Russ on GRITtv

Reading Time: 1 minute Russ was recently on Laura Flanders’s GRITtv to discuss Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination, the Tiller murder, Obama’s Middle East speech, and the upcoming Reagan centennial. Here’s Russ on the public controversies surrounding Sotomayor: I think most of these [accusations against Sotomayor] are what I would call misdirection. It’s an attempt to focus the public’s eye away Read More

The Charity of Lobbyists

Reading Time: 2 minutes USA Today published a thorough investigation of the donations lobbyists pour into the favorite non-profits of Congressmen to gain influence and buy face time at charity events. Only since 2007, when congressional ethics rules were changed, has such beneficence had to be reported. The article shows that the reform didn’t come soon enough, since the Read More

Citigroup’s Bogus Profits

Reading Time: 2 minutes Remember how Citigroup’s reported $1.6 billion first-quarter profits sparked a rally in financial stocks? Martin Weiss of Weiss Research Inc. thinks Citigroup really suffered a $2.5 billion loss: Citigroup’s $1.6 billion in first-quarter profit would vanish if accounting were more stringent, says Martin Weiss of Weiss Research Inc. in Jupiter, Florida. “The big banks’ profits Read More

A Tale of Two Men-on-the-street Pieces

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Los Angeles Times reports today that the majority of people in Florence, Colorado, do not mind terrorist suspects being moved from Guantánamo to the nearby federal “supermax” prison: The Senate last week overwhelmingly rejected providing funds to close the U.S. military prison in Cuba, saying that no community in America would want terrorism suspects Read More

Moral Hazard, Fed Style

Reading Time: 2 minutes How exactly did the Federal Reserve gain the emergency authority to loan more than $1 trillion of taxpayer money to the banks secretly and without oversight? The Washington Post explains today in a long investigative piece by Binyamin Appelbaum and Neil Irwin. As it turns out, Sen. Chris Dodd slipped the necessary language into an Read More

$2 Trillion > $700 Billion

Reading Time: 2 minutes We’ve heard a lot rumbling from the banks in the past several weeks about how committed they are to repaying the TARP money they have received at the soonest opportunity. The motive of such talk is clear: Paying back TARP money would clearly be seen as a sign of strength,” Douglas Elliott, fellow at Brookings Read More