Monthly Archives: April 2011

FBI Abuses the Patriot Act? Say it ain’t so!

Continuing their excellent work, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), through diligent research has obtained FBI documents, via FOIA request, that document abuses of the portions of the Patriot Act that are set to sunset after their temporary extension.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/03/documents-obtained-eff-reveal-fbi-patriot-act

Documents Obtained by EFF Reveal FBI Patriot Act Abuses

In yesterday’s (March 30, 2011) Senate Judiciary Hearing, “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” FBI Director Robert Mueller testified about the Bureau’s desire to extend three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act — PATRIOT Section 215, authorizing secret court orders for the Internet and financial records of innocent Americans; the “lone wolf” wiretapping provision, which unconstitutionally allows foreign intelligence investigators to bypass traditional wiretapping protections and spy on people inside the U.S. who have no link to any foreign organization; and the “John Doe” roving wiretap provision, which allows blank-check wiretapping orders that don’t identify the suspect or the particular phone or Internet connections to be tapped.

During the question and answer portion of Mueller’s testimony, Senator Grassley asked the FBI Director: have “any of these three provisions been subject to any negative reports of finding abuse?” Mueller responded, “I’m not aware of any.” Well, Director Mueller — EFF is aware of some.

As part of EFF’s FLAG Project, we issued a FOIA request for records of intelligence violations stemming from the FBI’s use of the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act. In the FBI’s response to our request, we uncovered evidence of multiple reports of potential violations (pdf); however, intypical FBI fashion, the reports are almost entirely redacted. As a result, the details of most of the violations remain secret. Nevertheless, by comparing the FBI’s response to our PATRIOT Act request with the Bureau’s response to another EFF FOIA request, the murky details of at least one potential violation involving PATRIOT provisions became more clear: the FBI, in a case where use of a “John Doe” roving wiretap was authorized, monitored the conversations of “young children” for “approximately” five days.

READ THE REST, including the FBI documents………..

Besides the fact the FBI abused the questionable portions of the Patriot Act, and were less than forthcoming in admiting through extenstive redacting, one has to also wonder: is FBI Director Robert Mueller ignorant, stupid or lying?  Was he really “not aware of any”? Or perhaps he didn’t WANT to be aware of any, utilizing the old political fall back of plausable denialability.  Either way, not good.

Also, though not covered by the FOIA documents in this article, another additional question is raised on the “John Doe” roving wiretaps: if the Government can get a wiretap that allows the Government to record any/every call by a person, regardless of the phone they make the call on, doesn’t that mean that for the Government to have that ability, THEY ALREADY HAVE ALL PHONES CALL MONITORED/TAPPED?

So the FBI abuses the Patriot Act?  Guess there is only one thing to say:

Tea Party Darling Paul Ryan – typical politican

Proving once again the old adage: government creates the problem, then volunteers to solve it for you, at a cost of course. The tea party’s latest darling, Paul Ryan – WI, R, takes a swing and a miss on political consistency and the budget.

While better late than never in trying to reduce the size and scope of the budget as well as the deficit, let’s not forget that it was Paul Ryan who was part of the problem in growing government and the deficit.  Ryan has supported the 2003 Medicare expansion, the No Child Left Behind Act, TARP, the GM & Chrysler bailouts, and ethanol subsidies.  But, hey, NOW it’s a problem, and he’s gonna fix it for you.

Why Is There a U.S. Mint Coin Shortage?

Ron Paul wants to know! And so should you.

Daniela Cambone over at Kitco News explains:

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has one question for the U.S. Mint: why is there a coin shortage?

He is aiming to get to the bottom of this during a scheduled April 7 hearing of his U.S. House Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy to examine the bullion programs at the U.S. Mint.

“We are going to try and find out what the Mint has done so they can give us a better answer as to why there is a shortage. Why can’t they keep the supply of coins up?” said the congressman in an exclusive interview with Kitco News.

Demand for precious metals in the futures markets and in physical gold bullion coins increases as the dollar weakens, which often leads to coin shortages.

Part of the problem lies in manufacturing the blanks, said Paul. The blank planchets are not made at the Mint, which hasn’t had the production capacity for this stage of the minting process since the budget cuts of 1981.

READ THE REST……….

The foreclosure mess isn’t going away (it’s only going to get worse)

Zachary Roth over at The Lookout, a Yahoo News blog does a great job of summarizing why the foreclosure mess isn’t going away, in fact, I say it will only get worse.  Roth explains how the banks played fast and loose, if not outright violated the law, in foreclosing  on  homes.

And I particularly like sending a SWAT team to evict a little old lady.  What jackass judge signed off on that!  Just remember that the next time someone says that the actions of cops are reviewed and signed off by judges.

We’ve told you before about how big banks cut corners on paperwork over the last few years in order to speed struggling homeowners into foreclosure. And a “60 Minutes” report that aired last night offers fresh anecdotal reporting on just how irresponsible–and potentially fraudulent–the banks’ practices were. Meanwhile, compelling video of a grandmother being evicted from her home by a SWAT team last week suggests the banks aren’t slowing down their rush to foreclosure and eviction.

Banks profit by processing a vast number of homes into foreclosure as quickly as possible. But as “60 Minutes” details, many of the mortgages at issue were bundled and sold from one Wall Street investor to another during the housing boom, with scant attention paid among financial players to the actual underlying ownership documents. And as the foreclosures unwind in a slew of court proceedings nationwide, many banks have produced dubiously rendered legal documents that seek to shore up the ownership paperwork long after the original mortgage transactions were on the books. In some cases, financial institutions paid contract companies who employed an army of “robo-signers”—office workers who forged signatures on mortgage documents that were then used to initiate foreclosures.

READ THE REST………

And be sure to click through and watch the 60 Minuets piece. Oh, the bank VICE-PRESIDENTS in question, actually paid $10 an hour. Then again that’s probably all the real bank presidents are worth.

However, Roth does get thing wrong, and unfortuneatley it’s not minor!

All 50 state attorneys general are currently conducting an investigation into the foreclosure mess–including cases that involve forged documents like these. And Shelia Bair, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, told CBS she thinks the banks should have to pay billions to set up a compensation fund for those who are being forced to accept foreclosure without proper documentation.

But if you thought all this might have chilled the banks’ zeal to push struggling borrowers from their homes, think again.

The 50 AGs are NOT looking out for you and I, they are trying to find a way to paper over and legitimize the actions of the bank.  More on that here.

The 27-page fluff-piece is now out where we can see it….

Let’s be blunt: There’s no “there” there.

The entire document is a rehash of what servicers had a legal mandate to do right up front.  Accurately apply payments.  Respond to inquiries.  Operate in good faith.  Use a NPV test for HAMP (was in the HAMP program originally.)  Document the assignment chain before foreclosing.

There’s exactly one substantive change, in that HAMP did not prohibit “dual-track” (that is, foreclosure while attempting modification.)

Essentially every other item in this 27 pages is something that Servicers already had a legal duty to do, either as a fiduciary to the investor or just through the ordinary covenant of operating in good faith (You know, the original standards that all businesses are held to that aren’t actually racketeering outfits and gangsters?  Yes, that.)

There’s no prosecution for all the bad affidavits, despite them being apparent acts of perjury.

READ THE REST………..