A Tale of Two Classes of Defendant and Lanny Breuer
By R Tamara de Silva
January 28, 2013
“swaying power such as has never in the world’s history been trusted in the hands of mere private citizens,…after having created a system of quiet but irresistible corruption-will ultimately succeed in directing government itself. Under the American form of society, there is now no authority capable of effective resistance.”
Henry Adams writing about the corruption of the Erie Railroad for the Westminster Review in 1870, he described corporate influence growing to the point of being uncheckable with political parties that would sacrifice principle for accommodation.
Last week, the Head of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, announced his resignation. His resignation is remarkable only in so far that it draws attention to the enormity of what he would not do. Under Breuer’s watch, leaving aside some high profile and related insider trading prosecutions, not one senior Wall Street executive was prosecuted or even charged (by some accounts- not even investigated) with anything having to do with the worst financial crisis in American history-a crisis that resulted in a bailout of Wall Street banks and the financial sector at a cost to American taxpayers of between $43.32-$59.75 billion. A day before Lanny Breuer’s resignation, PBS’ Frontline aired an investigation about the failure of the Justice Department to prosecute a single senior banker involved in the mortgage crisis called, “The Untouchables.” During this same time that the Department of Justice refused to go after a single head of a Wall Street firm,
they took a particularly hard line on a torture whistleblower (not the torturers), and many financial criminals responsible for not the billions caused by elite Wall Street firms but between thousands to hundreds of thousands like elderly couples for possible pension fraud, an appraiser in Florida, individuals who committed bank fraud by lying on mortgage applications and other criminals like pot smokers and Aaron Swartz. It is not that I condone wrong-doing,
only a record of selective prosecution on steroids. Lanny Breuer’s Justice Department exposed its full fury to the chubs of the criminal justice systems while systematically saving the titans and whales.