US occupation not for “liberation of Iraqis

Peace activist and Iraq war veteran Mike Prysner was one of the 160 people arrested in the Anti-war march from the White House to the Capitol Building in September 2007.

July 26 2010

Michael Prysner, an Iraq war veteran and peace activist, was a corporal in the US army that invaded Iraq in 2003, today he is a leader of March Forward, an organization of American veterans from both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict.

Iraq was invaded by a multinational coalition led by the United States in 2003.

The invasion which took place under former US President George W. Bush, overthrew the Ba’ath Regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

On 1 May 2003, Bush declared the “end of major combat operations” in Iraq, while onboard the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln with a large “Mission Accomplished” banner displayed behind him.

In December of 2003 Saddam himself was captured. Then why are US forces still in Iraq?

The following is the transcript of Prysner’s interview hosted by David Becker, discussing Prysner’s experience in the Iraq war.

Becker: You went to Iraq in 2003, just tell us quickly where you went and what you did.

Prysner: I was a member of 10th Mountain Division and I was deployed to Iraq in March 2003 as a part of the initial invasion and landed in the north of the country and pushed on, took the Northern city of Kirkuk and operated in that area for 12 months.

Becker: What did you do at first? What was your job?

Prysner: My job initially was to operate this radar system that was made famous by the previous Gulf War, known as the high way of death, where thousands of people were killed who were fleeing the violence because they were just hit by air strikes and artillery strikes.

My job was to operate a radar system that called in those air strikes, so when we are learning to do this job we are shown pictures of the high way of death and how wonderful the system was and how effective it was.

It was kind of the model operation that we were taught to operate off, so my first several weeks in that country was basically looking at a computer scene and looking at these dots and just calling in bombs and artillery strikes on those dots, not knowing exactly what they were, just knowing that we were bombing them.

Becker: When you went to Iraq, you had certain views about the war, today of course people know you around the country, as an organizer of soldiers and marines who are opposing the war, were you a supporter of the war when you went, if so, what changed you?

Prysner: Absolutely, I joined the army because I wanted to serve my country, because I believed that the US military was a force for good in the world, that we helped those in need, that we freed the oppressed. So, I believed that really in my heart and when the Iraq war started, I volunteered to go on the deployment. I wanted to go and I believed whole-heartedly that we were going to help the Iraqi people, and that’s what I wanted to do and I was willing to give my life to that.

Becker: What happened while you were there that led to such a radical transformation?

Prysner: I saw that it was not for the liberation of the Iraqi people at all. I saw that it wasn’t to help the Iraqi people at all, and I saw that I was doing exactly the opposite, that I was just hurting the Iraqi people. Everyday was a catastrophe for them and it was seeing day by day the things that were committed against them, the lives that they had to live under occupation, I realized that it was a complete sham that we were there to help them.

Becker: When you were there, you were there for a year?

Prysner: Yes.

Becker: 12 months. After the initial invasion, in other words the city of Baghdad, the government of Iraq fell by April 9, 2003, what did you do for the next 11 months?

Prysner: I did a variety of things, everything from prisoner interrogation – I did that for many months – I interrogated hundreds and hundreds of detainees, the vast majority of which had done absolutely nothing wrong. I operated out of fire bases, I did home raids, I heard people’s complaints whose homes had been destroyed, whose family members had been killed, who had mutilated themselves by US bombs.

So, it was kind of this direct disposure, this direct relationship with the Iraqi people that I really got to see first hand, what their life was like living under the occupation.

Becker: Well, during that year, that eventful year, we know that George Bush went on the aircraft carrier, the Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 under that banner that said “mission accomplished” and then announced that major combat operations were over and yet the experience of the occupying forces was just the opposite. Real combat kept growing and growing, the resistance was growing.

Did you feel that? Could you see that where you were?

Prysner: Yes and I remember very clearly, when we saw these pictures, the “mission accomplished” banners just a few months after the invasion and we all said great, now we can all go home. And so we were all awaiting our orders to go back, but it was very obvious that we were there to stay. There was no plan to go home and month by month, the resistance just intensified so it did not start as severe resistance in the beginning, it was month by month and it got worse and worse, and more and more intense.

Becker: We are 7 years later and even though the Iraqi government fell again in early April 2003, there is more than 50,000 US troops in Iraq. From your point of view, has the US operation failed in Iraq? Has it succeeded? How do the soldiers feel about it? What do they think they are doing?

Prysner: Well, I would say that it has failed. The goal of the US government was to go in and quickly overthrow the government, and then set up a Kayin State, I mean this is their fantasy of just easily overthrowing the country and that hasn’t happened. I mean, the US soldiers have bogged down in that country, the only way that the violence and resistance were to be quelled was because over a hundred thousand fighters were put on the US payroll. I mean they were paying people not to shoot at the Americans anymore.

Becker: That was when [General David] Petraeus started the so called surge, they put people on the payroll?

Prysner: Absolutely. And quelling, the violence also came at the expense of the huge number of casualties that came during the troops surge where thousands of US soldiers had lost their lives in Iraq, and over a million Iraqis have died in that also, and they haven’t still accomplished their goals after all this, after all this death and destruction.

Iraq is still a very volatile state where the US government and the corporate interest, that really are behind all of this, can’t operate the way they want to in that country and that’s why there’s this quagmire that’s going on, where the US can’t withdraw, because they can’t have their economic interest satisfied at this point.

Becker: We see two wars – seemingly endless wars – now in Iraq and Afghanistan. And you made the point that [General] Petraeus, in doing the surge, which, in the American media it was presented as that country [Iraq] became less violent and somewhat passive, as a consequence of the addition of tens of thousands more US troops. But you’re saying that the real fact was the US started paying the insurgents, do you know how much they were paying them?

Prysner: One hundred dollars a month.

Becker: A few hundred dollars a month in order for them not to shoot at the US troops?

Prysner: Right, and not only that. The one key aspect of the surge – if you talk to any soldier who was a part of the surge and who was part of those operations in that period of time in the war – it was not only that there were fighters that were put on the payroll; but also the level of violence was completely scaled up. People who were part of the surge were basically “kill everyone…everybody go into the neighborhoods where there is resistance and just kill everybody.”

So, what the Iraqi people went through during that time, through those major invasions, through the surge, it was a catastrophe. It was a disaster and it was something that was going to have such a lasting effect in those communities, I mean if it was something that was going to take generations to recover from, the horrors that they were subjected to.

Becker: I want to talk to you also about the soldiers who are coming back. Of course, many did not come back, I do not know their exact number. It is upwards in the of 5,000 young men and women who lost their lives; [We are talking about] American soldiers, not counting the million plus Iraqis.

Tens of thousands have come back with horrible wounds, either physical or psychological. We see record levels of posttraumatic stress. As a matter of fact, it perhaps is the biggest controversy right now in the VA [Veteran Affairs].

Do you feel that Iraqi occupation has been somewhat different in terms of its impacts on the soldiers from what happened in say World War II?

Prysner: In World War II, there was this understood mission, right? You have to defeat the Nazis or you have to defeat Fascism. So, that was something very different. The Iraq war has no mission that soldiers can understand. It is just these kinds of ambiguous ideas of freedom and democracy and fighting terrorism. Things that really hold no weight, things that are just these kinds of fabrications.

So, soldiers fighting in Iraq, soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, they do not know what they are fighting for. They may think and try to rationalize it in some way but there is no clear mission and there is no understanding of what they are doing.

The mission in Afghanistan for every soldier is just to stay alive, or to come out of it whole. That is why it is a very different thing. That is why so many people are coming back with severe trauma, because they are not going to fight for some just cause, not going to fight for something honorable. You are just going to repress a population, to repress people, to shoot innocent people, to torture innocent people who have done nothing to you.

I would say that the vast majority of soldiers do not have an understanding of what these wars are about. And the ones that think they know, it is something that is completely backwards. It has just been slammed into their heads by the chain of command and by the US government.

Becker: Do you think that the Obama administration is aware of this kind of epidemic of discontent or distress amongst the returning soldiers?

Prysner: Yes, and it is something that they fear very much. The commanders and generals know that one thing that really has the power to thwart their plans for empires is a mass movement within the military. Like we saw during the Vietnam War. Where tens of thousands of soldiers refused to take part, refused to go on missions and sabotaged their equipment. Because they knew that it was a colonial war. They knew that it was a war with no mission, with no reason to fight and die endlessly. So people started resisting. So, that potential exists today.

The government goes to great lengths to make soldiers not feel those things and not understand what wars are about and prevent them from turning into the same thing that we saw during the Vietnam War.

Becker: So, the administration knows what is going on and they know how the soldiers are feeling. They know the soldiers feel that in spite the self-rationalization, that it is an ambiguous mission at last and perhaps a colonial-type mission that they cannot explain. They know this and yet they are sending their soldiers back. In fact, they are sending more soldiers to Afghanistan and keeping tens of thousands in Iraq. How is that viewed by the rank-and-file?

Prysner: There are people going to Iraq and Afghanistan now who are on their fourth, fifth and sixth combat tours. That means four, five or six years of people’s lives that are spent in combat and spent somewhere that is horrible. That has a severe impact on their lives.

Right now, all these soldiers who are being sent to Afghanistan are exhausted and do not want to go. I would say the vast majority of the people I talk to, that is their sentiment. They do not see any reason why they should go and die, why they should go take another life, why they should risk losing their legs, losing their arms for something that they do not understand.

Becker: How many are absent without leave, AWOL, or are deserting? Is that a large number?

Prysner: It is. There are thousands who have gone AWOL.

Becker: Right now, I have read reports about the higher suicide rate, that the number of casualties among the US soldiers from suicide is actually higher in some months, recently, than on the battlefield. Is that right?

Prysner: That is absolutely right and this is a very significant thing and this (the suicide rate) is just for active-duty military. This does not count the veterans who get out of the military and then take their own lives once they are out. It is a fact that there are months where there are more active-duty soldiers that take their own lives than those who are killed in combat. This is a very significant thing.

This is because of the criminally inadequate treatment that soldiers get when they come back. If you are still active duty, the military has one thing in mind. They want to deploy you again and they will do whatever they can to deploy you again. No matter how traumatized you are or how affected you are.

If you get out of the military, they do not want to have to pay compensation; they do not want to have to pay disability. So, they do whatever they can to actively deny those PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) numbers.

Becker: I want to talk to you about Afghanistan. Of course, Afghanistan has been largely out of the news. So, you have a war going on and an increasing number of casualties, but it is not really main stream media front page news at all. And so largely, the American people do not see it everyday.

But last week and the last few weeks they have because of the controversy around the Rolling Stone interview with General McChrystal, his firing and his replacement by David Petraeus. From your point of view, does that scandal with McChrystal impact the war? Does it impact the direction of the war? Does it impact the soldiers?

Prysner: It does. I mean it really shows that they are kind of in crisis right now. It is becoming very obvious to the commanders on the ground, to the generals in the Pentagon, to the politicians in the White House that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won. They cannot defeat, not only the Taliban, but the more than a 140 different armed organizations that are resisting for an occupation in that country.

So, there is an understanding that they cannot win that war. So, now there is the finger pointing starting, there is the kind of, you know, people dancing around trying to avoid taking responsibility.

So, what happened with McChrystal was significant because it shows the very volatile situation and it shows that for a general to be speaking with such contempt to his people that outrank him in the chain of command, it shows the state of the conflict right now. That the war cannot be won, and that they are going to be scrambling to avoid taking responsibility and at the same time that the generals and the politicians are trying to avoid taking responsibility; people are dying every single day, last month, June, was the highest number of casualties for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

This is a trend that is going to continue, this year is already on track to be the deadliest year of war, last year doubled the year before, this year is already on track of doubling 2009.

Becker: Are you in touch with the soldiers and their families or the marines and their families who are in Afghanistan, what are they telling you about the actual conditions in Afghanistan – of the war? This is the unvarnished story, not from the headlines.

Prysner: I am in touch with people in Afghanistan, on the front lines, and they are saying that they do not understand why they are there, they do not want to be there anymore, morale is extremely low. There are people who are shooting themselves in the foot to get out of deployments, there are people having psychological breakdowns on the front lines. I mean, the military right now is really at a breaking point, because of repeated deployments and because they are being sent to fight a war that cannot be won, a war that is being lost with no understanding why. No clearly articulated reason why we must fight in Afghanistan. So, we have a situation where there are nearly 100,000 soldiers who are now fighting in Afghanistan with no clear mission and having to endure the daily horrors of being an occupying army.

Becker: So, the Obama administration must know what you know and what the soldiers know? That the war is unwinnable, and yet they are sending more soldiers. What is the goal? They are not trying to win, what are they trying to do?

Prysner: We are trying to avoid the perception of defeat, we are trying to protect the image of the empire, and we are going to kill as many people necessary to do that.

Becker: So, the calculation is that this is a kind of an out-of-the-news war for the most part and so they can keep going and going and going. What is the cost? What is the cost in addition to the soldiers and their lives, which is what you are documenting really well? What is the economic cost?

Prysner: Well, just the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan alone – and this isn’t including the exorbitant defense budget right now – it is over USD $500 million a day that is being spent on these occupations.

At the same time, we are seeing tens of thousands of jobs be lost every month. The increasing number of people going bankrupt is because of hospital bills. We are seeing universities all over the country raising tuition, cutting classes; for students it is becoming increasingly difficult to get a college education, all the while, while working people are having such a difficult time right now economically. We are watching over USD $500 million a day being poured into two quagmires, into two wars that are doing nothing but destroying the lives of thousands and thousands of people.

Becker: Afghanistan in the first year of the war, in 2001, the number of US casualties was 12 and now of course, every week there is that number or more. It is clear to me that the occupation itself in its ninth year has become a catalyst for armed resistance, and as you said, the purpose may just be to avoid defeat, or the perception of defeat by a global empire. But, Afghanistan has some significance from the point of view of its geostrategic location, it is right in South Central Asia, it is close to the former Soviet Republic the US is making military bases. Do you see that as a part of a regional strategy for the US in terms of its projection of its own power, either military or economic?

Prysner: Absolutely. I mean, the United States had long dreamed of having a foothold in Afghanistan, of having bases in Afghanistan. You know what, they really tried to negotiate with the Taliban, to kind of work out business deals where they could pursue economic interests in that country. But 9/11 provided a pretext for an all-out military invasion. And the US thought that the Taliban government would fall easily, and they could easily set up this client state there and that is why in the first year of the war, it was kind of mission accomplished with Afghanistan also.

Becker: CIA Director Leon Panetta went on ABC recently and said that there is no possibility of reconciliation with the Taliban because the Taliban is in essence winning the war, the armed resistance is winning the war. So, they are not in any mood to negotiate. Is it and is it understood that the US goal now is that they want to have a government of national unity that brings the Taliban back in, and do the soldiers know that?

Prysner: Well, the US government cares about one thing, it is whether or not economic interest will be met in Afghanistan. So, if that means the deal with the very same people, we are told we have to fight and kill and die endlessly against – then that is what they are going to do. I mean, the soldiers are realizing that more and more everyday. I am seeing that everyday more and more soldiers are standing up saying that they do not want to take part in this criminal war.

Becker: What can soldiers and their families do in relationship to your own organization?

Prysner: You can go to marchforward.org and read statements and find out what your options are, and I would say to every single soldier in the active-duty military and their families, that you have the absolute right to refuse to take part in these wars. These are wars for the rich and you have the right not to take part in them. Source

There are thousands of stories like this from US Veterans. People should be taking note of them. They were there, they know.

US Wars are for profit, resources and control over other countries.

The US spreading Democracy what a sham…… What a pity the All the American people haven’t figured it out yet.

Who profits from WAR?

America: Arms dealer to the stars! Who’s the number one weapons broker in the world, again? Take a guess

Of course we must not forget the Drug Dealers.

Drug Addiction is also part of war pollution. Because of the NATO and US invasion in Afghanistan, Heroin addiction has grown like wildfire around the world. Millions are now addicted to Heroin.

CIA Drug  Operations a little history in case you didn’t know

Bush – Cheney and drugs

Afghanistan: Troops Guarding the Poppy Fields

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Top Ten Myths About Iraq, 2008

British officer leaked 8,000 Civilians killed in Afghanistan 2009

2.5 million Iraqi women were widowed by Iraq war

Two-Thirds of Boys in Afghan Jails Are Brutalised, Study Finds

UMRC’s Field Team found Afghan civilians with acute symptoms of radiation poisoning, along with chronic symptoms of internal uranium contamination, including congenital problems in newborns.

Cancer and Deformities – The Deadly Legacy of the Invasion of Iraq

NATO bombings: Aftermath takes toll on Serbia, now left with DU Poisoning (Radiation and DU fallout maps included.)

Study finds: Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination

US-NATO Using Military Might To Control World Energy Resources

What I Learned in Afghanistan – About the United States

Why: War in Iraq and Afghanistan

US Recruits Death Squads

Point of interest From September 2009

Has Usama Bin Ladin been dead for seven years – and are the U.S. and Britain covering it up to continue war on terror?

The Answer to that Question is Yes he is dead

Is Osama bin Laden still alive, Seems the answer is no

Did you know

A Full Israeli  El Al flight took off on 9/11 from JFK to Tel Aviv

The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

Fake Al Qaeda, Fake Passports, Fake planes, Fake Hijackers

Who Benefited the most by J.F. Kennedy’s Death?

US Refuses To Allow Monitoring Of WMD, President Obama rejected inspection protocol for US biological weapons

Cancer and Deformities – The Deadly Legacy of the Invasion of Iraq

No Weapons of Mass destruction in Iraq.

Hans Blix, the former chief UN weapons inspector, accused US and British intelligence yesterday of paying too much attention to Iraqi defectors who told them that Saddam Hussein’s regime had weapons of mass destruction, because that was what they wanted to hear.

The former head of the UN’s Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) has maintained for years that his team of inspectors should have been allowed more time to complete their work in Iraq, which was cut short by the invasion in March 2003. He claimed yesterday that the US administration at the time was “high on military” and thought that “they could get away with it and therefore it was desirable”.

Giving evidence at the Iraq Inquiry he argued that it was “absurd” for the US and British governments to claim that they invaded Iraq to uphold the authority of the UN Security Council when they knew they could not get a majority resolution through the council in favour of war. For entire story go HERE

This just out. Well gee I am just so shocked imagine the US misplacing $9 Billion.  The Americans are very good at losing money. They are also very good at stealing the Americans peoples hard earned money.  Just the day before 9/11 it was announced they lost something like $2.5 Billion, of course with 9/11 and all, no one really noticed  and it wasn’t reported all that much. So they lost another $9 billion that is what the US is good at. I wonder who’s pockets were lined this time? Considering the fact there were no weapons of mass destruction the US should be footing the bill for all reconstruction. Not the Iraqi’s.

The US defence department is unable to account for almost $9bn taken from Iraqi oil revenues for use in reconstruction, according to an official audit released yesterday.

Recent

The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should be Terminated

Mental illness rising among US troops

Republicans in the US House of Representatives want Israel to attack Iran

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Paulson and Co. made a $3.7 billion profit on collapse of subprime mortgage market

The Firm Not Charged in Goldman Case Made Billions on Collapse

By Marisa Taylor

April 18 2010

WASHINGTON – New York hedge fund manager John Paulson was one of the first to predict the collapse of the subprime mortgage market – and to cash in on his knowledge.

By late 2005, he already had concluded that the subprime loans underlying high-yield bonds being sold worldwide would become worthless, even as some Wall Street firms were still ramping up their sale of related securities.

“We determined …that there was a complete mispricing of risk of mortgage securities,” Paulson testified at a congressional hearing in November 2008.

As a result, his firm, Paulson & Co., made a $3.7 billion profit by betting against the housing market as it nose dived in 2006 and 2007. On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed that $1 billion of those profits came in an insider deal in which Goldman Sachs allegedly let the company select subprime securities for a complicated offshore deal and then bet on their failure.

Paulson & Co., which was founded in 1994, manages funds that are open only to “qualified purchasers” – individual investors with $5 million in assets to invest or institutions with at least $25 million to invest. In 2004, the company registered with the SEC as an investment adviser.

The company was able to anticipate the losses because Paulson’s researchers looked at the underlying home loans, Paulson told Congress. Paulson realized they were comprised of risky mortgages – some of which were made with 100 percent financing.

Even worse, he testified, mortgages were given to borrowers who had a history of poor credit, had no verified income or whose appraisal that was typically inflated.

“It was that analysis that allowed us to buy protection on these securities, which resulted in large gains for our funds,” he said.

SEC officials said Friday that Paulson was not charged in the Goldman case because the company did not mislead investors.

In a statement, the company pointed to the SEC’s statements, saying, “Paulson is not the subject of this complaint, made no misrepresentations and is not the subject of any charges.”

The company declined to respond to questions.

Several media outlets reported Friday that former Paulson co-manager Paolo Pellegrini was cooperating with the investigation and provided the SEC with crucial information that led to the Goldman charges.

A spokeswoman for Pellegrini, who left to start his own fund, didn’t immediately comment. Source

Who was IKB, the German bank on the losing end of John Paulson’s Abacus bet?

Mike O’Rourke of BTIG explains, and points out why they’re pissed as hell about the bubble bursting.

One of the “victims” of this alleged fraud is IKB, a bank.  If any institution should know how to analyze credit, it’s a bank.  Even worse is that IKB is one of these serial carry-traders who purchased these types of instruments for the Structured Investment Vehicles and floated paper in the Asset Backed Commercial Paper market against them borrowing short and lending long (see chart).  Those are the institutions that truly put the system at risk.

Finally, in this scenario, the “independent” third party portfolio selection agent claimed to be unsure of the client’s intentions.  It should not matter what the related party’s views or intentions are, whether long or short.  The fact is the agent’s very job description is to be unbiased and independent.  Instead, just like the ratings agencies, the collateral managers saw the profits that loomed rather than performing the task at hand.  If ACA had simply performed its task of comprehensively and independently evaluating the underlying RMBS, the deal would not have happened.  It is hard to believe they did not know the intentions for the pool when the higher quality subprime RMBS were replaced.  In addition, if AAA ratings were not handed out to everyone who applied, this deal (like so many others) would not have been done.

The chart says it all.

Source

Related

John Paulson Should Be Kicked Out Of The Securities Industry For Life

John Paulson Needs A Good Lawyer

There is information on the Financial and housing collapse in the 2008 Archives. From September 2008 on.

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Recent

Philippines: Arrests, Torture, and the Presidential Election

War Veteran Jesse Huff Commits suicide outside VA Hospital

The 2nd Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in south Iceland

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Experts fear human trafficking more widespread

ElBaradei: Gaza, world’s largest jail

US violates UN law by threatening Iran

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 6:53 am  Comments Off on Paulson and Co. made a $3.7 billion profit on collapse of subprime mortgage market  
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Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

Private Isn’t Always Better, at Least Not With Vital Functions

By David Mittleman Attorney

August 23, 2009

Sometimes a private option isn’t always the best one. While it is well documented how the powerful Blackwater USA private military organization was responsible for various atrocities in Iraq, sworn statements filed in a federal court in Virginia indicate that Blackwater founder Erik Prince (brother-in-law to Dick DeVos) instructed and orchestrated the murder of individuals who were planning on providing incriminating information to the federal government. Yes, the same Erik Prince who has given generous support to not only brother-in-law Dick DeVos, but gubernatorial hopeful Pete Hoekstra.

In a truly surreal description of events by two former Blackwater employees, whose identities are being kept secret to keep them safe from retaliation, their sworn statements describe activities from illegal smuggling of weapons into Iraq, hiring of guards who were not properly cleared by the State Department, blatant failure to report misconduct to the State Department, to the destruction of any incriminating evidence.

Meanwhile, as the debate rages on across the country over whether or not a public option for health care is a good thing, consider statement 12 by John Doe #2, who states that “Mr. Prince is motivated by greed. He sought every opportunity to deploy to Iraq in order to earn more money from the United States government. Mr. Prince and his top manager Gary Jackson knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money.” Those are harsh allegations, but if true, what is the lesson? The lesson is perhaps that sometimes there are some fundamental health and safety functions, such as keeping us healthy and keeping us safe, that should not be so perilously connected to private enterprise, whose only real objective is to increase profit. The lesson is perhaps that we cannot rely on corporate interests to police themselves, when doing so poses even the slightest harm of reducing profits. The lesson is long overdue.

Source

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

By Jeremy Scahill
The Nation
August 9, 2009

Founder and CEO of Blackwater Worldwide Erik Prince stands in the company’s offices in North Carolina. (Photo: AP)


A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater’s motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as “John Doe #2,” is a former member of Blackwater’s management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, “it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.” John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he “fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration.” He also alleges, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.”

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has “learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances.” Identified as “John Doe #1,” he says he “joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel.” It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is “scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq.” Like Doe #2, he states that he fears “violence” against him for “submitting this Declaration.” No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

“Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds,” states Doe #2. “On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed.”

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

“It’s a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters,” John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. “It would be a crime if we did that.” Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: “We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual.”

The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to comment, she said, “Unfortunately no one can help you in that area.” The representative then said that she would pass along The Nation’s request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has responded further to The Nation.

Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement “in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice.” Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that “Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq.” He states that he personally witnessed weapons being “pulled out” from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that “Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince’s private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines,” adding that Prince “generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade.”

Doe #2 states: “Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution.” Blackwater “was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department,” according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News’s Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a “federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food.” Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation.

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, “were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department.” Doe #2 adds that “Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis.” Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy “unfit men” and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were “the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to ‘kill ragheads’ or achieve ‘kills’ or ‘body counts,'” as well as “excessive drinking” and “steroid use.” However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, “Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to ‘stop costing the company money.'”

Doe #2 also says Prince “repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men.” He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson “hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field,” saying they “knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money.”

Doe #1 states that “Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians.” He concludes, “Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct.” Doe #1 states that he “personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force.” He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or “seriously” wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.

Doe #1 also alleges that “all of these incidents of excessive force were initially videotaped and voice recorded,” but that “Immediately after the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a ‘hot wash.’ Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually occurred.” Blackwater, he says, “did not provide the video to the State Department.”

Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince “made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis.” Specifically, he alleges that Prince “obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis.”

Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy. According to Doe #2, “Prince created and operated this web of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes.”

“For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater) to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his money laundering and tax evasion schemes.” He added: “Mr. Prince contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr. Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in his personal accounts at will.”

Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, “If these allegations are true, Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and murdering innocent civilians.” Kucinich is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and Blackwater since 2004.

“Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically. The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater wouldn’t exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be thoroughly investigated,” Kucinich said.

A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is scheduled for August 7.

Source

Also see

A number of Iraqi victims and victims’ families have filed a lawsuit against Blackwater August 23 2009

Making Sense Of The Blackwater Connection August 21, 2009

New Blackwater Iraq Scandal: Guns, Silencers and Dog Food Ex-employees Tell ABC News the Firm Used Dog Food Sacks to Smuggle Unauthorized Weapons to Iraq: From November 14, 2008


Global Starvation Ignored by American Policy Elites

November 12 2008

By Peter Phillips

A new report (9/2/08) from The World Bank admits that in 2005 three billion one hundred and forty million people live on less that $2.50 a day and about 44% of these people survive on less than $1.25. Complete and total wretchedness can be the only description for the circumstances faced by so many, especially those in urban areas. Simple items like phone calls, nutritious food, vacations, television, dental care, and inoculations are beyond the possible for billions of people.

Starvation.net logs the increasing impacts of world hunger and starvation. Over 30,000 people a day (85% children under 5) die of malnutrition, curable diseases, and starvation. The numbers of unnecessary deaths has exceeded three hundred million people over the past forty years.

These are the people who David Rothkopf in his book Superclass calls the unlucky. “If you happen to be born in the wrong place, like sub-Saharan Africa, …that is bad luck,” Rothkopf writes. Rothkopf goes on to describe how the top 10% of the adults worldwide own 84% of the wealth and the bottom half owns barely 1%. Included in the top 10% of wealth holders are the one thousand global billionaires. But is such a contrast of wealth inequality really the result of luck, or are there policies, supported by political elites, that protect the few at the expense of the many?

Farmers around the world grow more than enough food to feed the entire world adequately. Global grain production yielded a record 2.3 billion tons in 2007, up 4% from the year before, yet, billions of people go hungry every day. Grain.org describes the core reasons for continuing hunger in a recent article “Making a Killing from Hunger.” It turns out that while farmers grow enough food to feed the world, commodity speculators and huge grain traders like Cargill control the global food prices and distribution. Starvation is profitable for corporations when demands for food push the prices up. Cargill announced that profits for commodity trading for the first quarter of 2008 were 86% above 2007. World food prices grew 22% from June 2007 to June 2008 and a significant portion of the increase was propelled by the $175 billion invested in commodity futures that speculate on price instead of seeking to feed the hungry. The result is wild food price spirals, both up and down, with food insecurity remaining widespread.

For a family on the bottom rung of poverty a small price increase is the difference between life and death, yet neither US presidential candidate has declared a war on starvation. Instead both candidates talk about national security and the continuation of the war on terror as if this were the primary election issue. Given that ten times as many innocent people died on 9/11/01 than those in the World Trade centers, where is the Manhattan project for global hunger? Where is the commitment to national security though unilateral starvation relief? Where is the outrage in the corporate media with pictures of dying children and an analysis of who benefits from hunger?

American people cringe at the thought of starving children, often thinking that there is little they can do about it, save sending in a donation to their favorite charity for a little guilt relief. Yet giving is not enough, we must demand hunger relief as a national policy inside the next presidency. It is a moral imperative for us as the richest nation in the world nation to prioritize a political movement of human betterment and starvation relief for the billions in need. Global hunger and massive wealth inequality is based on political policies that can be changed. There will be no national security in the US without the basic food needs of the world being realized.

Peter Phillips is a professor of sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored a media research group.

Source

Starvation is profitable for corporations. How about we take their profits away.

Banks Ripping off Credit Card Customers

Tommy Newsom was shocked when his bank nearly doubled his credit card interest rate this year, to 27%, for no apparent reason. A customer rep told him the law allowed the bank to do so, and that was all the justification it needed.

“I never missed a payment,” says Newsom, 63, of Mesquite, Texas, who owes about $5,000 on the card. “The bank is just looking for a reason to maximize profits.”

In recent years, banks have sharply raised interest rates and penalty fees on credit cards. As the economy tanks and banks’ mortgage-related losses balloon, some banks are stepping up such increases to boost revenue. Bearing the brunt are consumers for whom a jump in rates and fees can make it tougher to pay their bills at a time when household budgets already are being stretched.

A key driver behind this trend: securitization. From 2003 to 2007, seven of the largest issuers of credit cards packaged an increasing amount of card debt into securities and sold them off to investors, just as banks did with mortgages, a USA TODAY review of banking records found.

Selling off credit card debt has given banks a powerful incentive to raise card fees and penalties, according to interviews with dozens of industry analysts, academics and investment specialists.

Here’s why: When banks package and sell card debt, they pass along to investors some of the risk the debt will go bad. Yet, banks often get to pocket much of the profit from rate and fee increases on those accounts. Imposing higher fees on more accounts — without a comparable rise in risk — lets banks raise revenue and keep profits up, at customers’ expense.

Securitization has been a “major impetus” for banks to expand penalty fees and rates in recent years, says Adam Levitin, a Georgetown University law professor and card expert. Banks “have little to lose if they squeeze too hard (if consumers default), but a lot to gain if they can extract additional payments” from card users, he says.

Banks deny any link between securitization and rising penalties. They say fees are rising because of superior data-tracking tools that allow banks to draw precise profiles of card users. Banks can price debt fairly, officials argue, with riskier borrowers paying more, as they should.

“Securitization is a method of funding credit card loans,” says James Chessen, chief economist at the American Bankers Association. “Penalty fees and rates are entirely separate and completely avoidable.”

As the debate unfolds about whether — and how much — securitization drove up penalties, analysts are bracing for an acceleration in credit card losses. Already, delinquencies are at their highest point in six years. Defaults, triggered when banks give up on collecting bad loans, are rising rapidly, too.

By the end of 2009, banks are likely to write off a record amount — up to $96 billion, or about 10% — of all credit card debt, says Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, a research firm that was among the first to predict the mortgage meltdown. The credit card market is a fraction of the size of the mortgage world, but its collapse could threaten some issuers’ solvency and make it harder for others to absorb financial shocks, says Gregory Larkin, a senior analyst at Innovest.

“Mortgages were simply the first storm to make landfall,” Larkin says. “Credit cards are next.”

Experts worry that the $700 billion authorized by Congress to help stabilize financial markets will do little to solve the underlying problems.

“Securitization is an important economic tool,” says Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. “But when we saw the subprime (mortgage) meltdown occur, we started really looking at credit cards as the next crisis. We have to crack down on the abuses.”

Several bills in Congress, including Maloney’s Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, seek to clamp down on hair-trigger fee and rate increases. The Federal Reserve has proposed limiting rate increases on existing debt and curtailing excessive fees for borrowers with marred credit.

Meanwhile, amid the slowdown of the securitization markets, Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., wants more restrictions on mortgage- and credit-card-backed securities. “We’re finding in retrospect that being able to securitize debt … weakens underwriting discipline,” Bair says. “Whether it’s credit cards or mortgages, this dynamic needs to be dealt with.”

A proposal by the Financial Accounting Standards Board could lead banks to keep more card debt on their balance sheets, and hold more capital in case those loans sour. Banks’ inadequate capital levels have prolonged the economic crisis, analysts say.

Reform is needed, says Travis Plunkett, legislative director for the Consumer Federation of America, because many of the credit card practices under fire “have been fueled at least in part by securitization.”

A downward spiral

“Securitization,” he says, “has increased the willingness of credit card companies to offer riskier loans. And to compensate, they have moved to a business model that involves hitting consumers with very high — often unjustifiably high — rates and fees.”

Banks cite the destabilization of their industry as a reason regulators should refrain from cracking down on their ability to raise fees and interest rates as they wish.

Reforms would “clearly affect issuers’ profitability” at a time when they’re already struggling, says Mark Furletti, a lawyer at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, which represents banks.

Banks also warn that restrictions would reduce investors’ appetite for card-backed securities. That, in turn, would force banks to cut back on card loans and raise credit costs, says the American Securitization Forum, which represents banks and investors.

Consumer advocates fear these arguments could sway regulators away from enacting strong measures to protect consumers from hair-trigger pricing. Proposed card reforms, while a good first step, won’t dismantle a system that is increasingly relying on punishing fee practices to boost profitability, advocates say.

“In a bad economy … consumers need more protection from unfair practices, not less,” says Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Already, a downward spiral is unfolding, banking analysts say, as more consumers, pushed over the edge by penalties, default on their credit card bills. Banks are pulling back on credit to risky card borrowers even as consumers’ access to other loans, including home equity, has dried up.

Revolving debt — most of it on credit cards — is soaring, topping $970 billion in September. The average household now owes $10,678 in credit card debt, up 29% from 2000, according to CardWeb.com, a research firm.

And more borrowers are paying their credit card bills before their mortgage bills, credit bureau data reveal, an alarming shift that suggests people are walking away from mortgages and using credit cards to get by.

Borrowers are also piling up card debt for other necessities.

Newsom, for example, began relying heavily on his Bank of America credit card after $25,000 in health costs depleted his savings. As his card balance climbed, Bank of America almost doubled his rate even though he regularly paid above the minimum and did so on time.

“I’m still managing,” says Newsom, an energy company manager. “But it’s tough.”

Bank of America declined to comment on Newsom’s case but says it “regularly assesses the risk profile of accounts.” If the bank decides to raise a customer’s rate, it will notify the customer first and give him or her the chance to “opt out” and pay off the card balance at the existing rate, bank spokeswoman Betty Riess says.

Banking specialist Levitin says credit cards have become “the drip pan of the economy,” a short-term fix that merely delays a day of reckoning for many people and makes their crisis all the more ruinous once it arrives.

Rising rates and fees

Bank One helped pioneer credit card securitization in 1986, when it packaged $50 million in debt and issued securities linked to them. In doing so, it tapped a funding source that financial institutions had previously used mainly for home and car loans.

Other banks followed. They sold card-backed securities to pension funds, hedge funds and other investors. Today, nearly half the nation’s household revolving debt is securitized via major banks.

Among large card issuers, Bank of America, Citigroup, Discover and Washington Mutual securitized more than half their outstanding credit card debt last year. JPMorgan Chase — which acquired Washington Mutual in September — securitized nearly half its card debt and American Express close to a third. Capital One sold off almost three quarters of its portfolio.

Outstanding card debt securitized by Capital One, Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Citigroup, Discover, JPMorgan Chase and American Express has doubled since 2003, hitting nearly $400 billion in 2007. Investor demand for securitized card debt has slowed with the economy, but not disappeared.

Securitization has helped large banks expand their dominance of the card market, says Arthur Wilmarth, a law professor at George Washington University. That, in turn, has given banks the “market power to charge such high fees to consumers.”

As securitization ballooned, banks also won legal battles that gave them greater leeway to set credit card rates and fees. They’ve replaced cards with fixed rates and few fees with those carrying multiple rates and a variety of charges, such as phone-payment fees, balance-transfer fees and late and over-the-limit fees.

From January 2003 to December 2007, the average late fee charged by large card issuers rose 17%, to $35.24, and the average fee charged to those who spend beyond their credit limits surged 23%, to $26.88, according to CardWeb.com.

Late and over-the-limit fees have grown at a “remarkably similar” pace to the growth of securitized credit card balances, Levitin says. Such fees have boosted banks’ profits. In 2007, lenders collected a record $18.1 billion in credit card penalty fees, up 69% from 2003, according to R.K. Hammer, a consulting firm. Fee income is likely to rise another 5.5% this year as people struggle to pay bills and get hit with more late fees, Hammer says.

Ken Clayton of the American Bankers Association notes that users who abide by terms of their loans pay no penalties. He contends that securitization has allowed banks to meet growing demand for cards, resulting in a “lower cost for consumers and more access to credit for everyday Americans.”

Yet, while the average interest rate has fallen from 18.2% in 1990 to 14.7% in 2007, those who pay late or exceed the credit limit — even once — can be hit with far higher rates, up to 32%.

The average card rate has declined only “because banks have figured out (other ways) to get their revenues,” says Duncan MacDonald, a former group counsel at Citigroup. “These guys have figured out how to deconstruct pricing.”

Rising demand for credit card securities enabled banks to become more innovative in raising rates and fees, says Nomi Prins, who formerly ran a Bear Stearns group that analyzed securitized consumer debt.

“As long as investor demand grew for credit card collateral embedded with these fees and higher rates, issuers knew they had a place” to offset their risk and boost their profits, says Prins, now a senior fellow at Demos.

Securitization gives banks “more of the upside with less of the downside,” agrees Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor. If a bank that sells off card debt doubles a borrower’s interest rate, it will typically keep most of the profits from this increase — yet, may not bear all the exposure if the account later defaults.

Vernon Wright, former chief financial officer at MBNA, now part of Bank of America, says that selling off credit card debt doesn’t give an issuer more incentive to raise card fees than if it held the loans on its books.

Banks may raise rates and fees if card defaults rise because these profits will be “part of the cash flow that’s going to make up for the losses,” says Wright, regarded as the “grandfather” of credit card securitization.

But the banks would do so, he adds, whether or not they sell off debt.

Indiscriminate lending

Tom Deutsch of the American Securitization Forum, a trade group for banks and investors, argues that by spreading the risk to investors, securitization has become “one of the largest reasons why credit is available to borrowers in low-income, minority neighborhoods.”

But experts say card securitization led banks to offer too much credit, too fast, to too many, similar to what happened in the mortgage world.

Patrick Sargent, a partner at Andrews Kurth law firm, says that banks wanted to get as many cards securitized as possible. To do so, he says, they expanded lending indiscriminately.

“They were being too flip with underwriting,” says Sargent, whose firm worked on some of the first card-securitization deals.

As securitization took off in the 1990s and boomed in the 2000s, banks’ card mailings to households with less than $50,000 in income also surged, peaking in 2001 at a record 2.1 billion offers, compared with 1.2 billion offers five years before, according to Synovate Mail Monitor.

Lower-income consumers who carry a balance can be more profitable for banks than other borrowers.

A 2006 Demos study reveals that households with incomes below $25,000 are twice as likely to pay credit card rates of more than 20% than those earning $50,000 and five times more likely to pay such rates than those earning $100,000. Lower-income, single and minority borrowers were also more likely to pay late fees than others were.

“When you have higher risk, you have to charge more, which is what investors (in credit card securities) demand,” says Michael Brosnan, a deputy comptroller at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks.

Yet, in a society where credit has become a necessity rather than a luxury, many people who can ill afford it are now paying high rates on debt swollen with penalty fees.

Tim Bellamy, 35, of Grove City, Ohio, says he opened a card account in 2005 with the best of intentions: to fix a credit record marred by a bankruptcy filing.

Card offers poured in. He racked up $5,000 in card debt after his girlfriend lost her job and he had to pay the couple’s bills. Eventually, he fell behind on card payments. The banks increased his rates and tacked on hundreds of dollars in fees.

“It’s my fault I got in this problem, and I understand that banks need to make money,” Bellamy says. “But they are ruthless.”

Contributing: Mike Bondi

Source

Charging more interest puts the customer at a higher risk of going Bankrupt.

Seems the ones who can afford it the least always have to pay the most.

So I am guessing when the credit card market fails they will have some feeble excuse like it was the customers fault, when in fact they drove customers to the bankruptcies.

32% is hyway robbery.

Seems more like they are borrowing money from the MOB.

Now tell me again why is American great because I just don’t see it?

IT Looks more like a den of theives to me.

Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights