Lawyers for the House of Representatives have escalated their legal fight to block the first-ever congressional insider trading investigation.
The case revolves around allegations that Brian Sutter, a former senior staff member of the Ways and Means Committee, passed along nonpublic information concerning a Medicare reimbursement rate change to a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig in April 2013.
The information was then disclosed to a consulting firm that shared the tip with it’s financial clients. A number of the hedge funds appeared to use the insider tip to trade on stocks that would be impacted.
The Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation and served subpoenas on Sutter and the Ways and Means Committee.
Despite passing a bipartisan law to address the very issue of congressional insider trading — the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act of 2012 — congressional attorneys have fought the SEC investigation at every turn. First they refused to comply with the subpoenas.
It is now well established that following the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operated a global, state-sanctioned program in which it abducted scores of people throughout the world, held them in secret detention—sometimes for years—or “rendered” them to various countries, and tortured or otherwise ill-treated them. While the program officially ended in 2009, the cover-up of these crimes appears to be ongoing.
Many detainees were held by the CIA in pitch-dark windowless cells, chained to walls, naked or diapered, for weeks or months at a time. The CIA forced them into painful stress positions that made it impossible for them to lie down or sleep for days, to the point where many hallucinated or begged to be killed to end their misery. It used “waterboarding” and similar techniques to cause near suffocation or drowning, crammed detainees naked into tiny boxes, and prevented them from bathing, using toilets, or cutting their hair or nails for months. “We looked like monsters,” one detainee said of his appearance while in CIA custody.
Much new information about detention and interrogation in the CIA program became public with the release in redacted form of the 499-page summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report in December 2014 (“Senate Summary”). The Senate Summary reported that the CIA subjected at least five detainees to “rectal feeding,” described in one case as infusing the pureed contents of a lunch tray into the detainee’s rectum via a medical tube, done “without evidence of medical necessity.” The Senate Summary also found that during a waterboarding session, one detainee became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” The CIA forced some detainees to stand for days on end without sleep while they had broken bones in their legs and feet, even though CIA personnel knew this would cause them long-term physical injury. A CIA cable described one detainee as “clearly a broken man” and “on the verge of complete breakdown.”
The US government has not adequately accounted for these abuses. It has an obligation under international law to prosecute torture where warranted and provide redress to victims, but it has done neither. No one with real responsibility for these crimes has been held accountable and the government has actively thwarted attempts on the part of victims to obtain redress and compensation in US courts.
The Obama administration asserted that it conducted a criminal investigation of the CIA program through a Department of Justice inquiry led by a career prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney John Durham. The Durham investigation closed on August 30, 2012 without bringing any criminal charges. The apparent failure of the investigation to question current or former detainees undercuts any claims that it was thorough or credible.
As set out in this report, Human Rights Watch concludes there is substantial evidence to support the opening of new investigations into allegations of criminal offenses by numerous US officials and agents in connection with the CIA program. These include torture, assault, sexual abuse, war crimes, and conspiracy to commit such crimes. In reaching this conclusion, we have drawn on our own investigations, media and other public reports, and the declassified information in the Senate Summary. But more evidence exists that has yet to be made public.
We believe that an independent and impartial investigation that has access to the full Senate report, other information that the government continues to keep classified, and interviews with current and former detainees, would yield further evidence of crimes and identify more suspects than we do here.
The U.S. Postal Service is spying on us. And they’re not doing a very good job at it. I’m not talking about peeking into letters or looking at how many mutual fund statements you receive. I’m talking about the systematic collection of information on every single piece of mail you send or receive, including the names and addresses of the sender and recipient, without a warrant or oversight and without any explanation to the person being targeted.
Indeed, the USPS Inspector General has even issued a report saying that the Postal Service “failed to properly safeguard documents that included the names, addresses, and financial information used by its law enforcement arm to monitor the mail of people suspected of criminal activities or for national security purposes.” The USPS “mail cover surveillance program” is poorly run, poorly managed, and could “reveal personally identifiable information and compromise the security of the mail,” the report said.
What makes this program particularly dangerous is that there is no judicial oversight, no appeals process, and no way of knowing why any one person is under surveillance or when the surveillance began or will end. I know. I’m under Postal Service surveillance.
The USA Freedom Act, which claimed to put an end to the National Security Agency’s controversial collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, was just a placebo pill intended to make us feel better and let the politicians take credit for reforming mass surveillance.
In other words, it was a sham, a sleight-of-hand political gag pulled on a gullible public desperate to believe that we still live in a constitutional republic rather than a down-and-out, out-of-control, corporate-controlled, economically impoverished, corrupt, warring, militarized banana republic.
You cannot restrain the NSA. The beast has outgrown its chains.
You cannot reform the NSA. A government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing does not voluntarily alter its behavior.
You cannot put an end to the NSA’s “technotyranny.” Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have managed to shut down the government’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages, transactions, communications and activities.
Indeed, the government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep niggling, inconvenient laws aimed at ensuring accountability, bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.
It has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.
It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.
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The release of secret archive reveals that the British elite was overwhelmingly Masonic and that Jack the Ripper was protected by the Masonic police force. Ancestry recently made public a secret archive containing the names of over two million British Freemasons from 1733 to 1923. The list “reveals the extent of Masonic influence in the upper reaches of society at the […]