April 23, 2012

Book 'Em ... Someone ... Anyone?

Last night's 60 Minutes show led off with a report by Steve Kroft on the Lehman Brothers collapse. He began by reminding us of the enormity of the collapse and its impact on the world's economy: "It was the largest bankruptcy in history -- larger than General Motors, Washington Mutual, Enron, and Worldcom combined."

Kroft then interviewed Anton Valukas, a former United States attorney who was appointed by the bankruptcy court to figure out what happened. In the course of that interview, two points were made. First, Mr. Valukas strongly suggested that he had found enough evidence of wrongdoing--flimflammery involving $50 billion and something called Repo 105--to convince him that charges could and should be brought against senior Lehman Brothers officials, including the man in charge at the time, Dick Fuld.

Second, the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had agents working in offices in Lehman Brothers throughout this entire time, has so far done nothing to bring charges against anyone at Lehman Brothers. The Justice Department has been equally unable or unwilling to bring cases stemming from the Great Collapse.

Of the many things that have disappointed me about President Obama, this failure to go after the men who brought our economy to its knees is near the top of the list. We know who did this. We know how and why they did this. We know which laws were broken or bent and by whom. And yet none of the President's men seem willing to take this on.

Why? I'd like to know the answer to that. None of the possibilities are good. There is still time to rectify the situation, but it won't happen unless the President issues a clear mandate to his cabinet and sub-cabinet officials to get these cases into a court room. The American people are owed that much at least.

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