FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg came under fire Tuesday at a House subcommittee hearing over allegations that Operation Choke Point, a controversial federal law enforcement program, abused its authority by cutting off funding for targeted businesses.
During one exchange, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc., suggested Gruenberg step down as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after Gruenberg was unable to answer questions about employees involved with Choke Point as well as specific allegations the agency overstepped its authority.
Duffy said the hearing was called to get answers directly from Gruenberg on what he knew, when he knew it and who has been held accountable.
“You are abusing your power and going after small businesses all over America,” Duffy said. He later added, “Bottom line, you are putting people out of business. They haven’t been fired, they haven’t been reprimanded.”
Under Operation Choke Point, banks and other financial institutions were reportedly pressured to cut off accounts for targeted businesses that included gun stores, casinos, tobacco distributors, short-term lenders and other businesses.
Critics claim the program – overseen by the Justice Department, FDIC and other agencies – was used to squeeze legal companies that some politicians considered morally objectionable.
“Our concern is you have agencies in the Obama administration that are using government as a weapon and they going after industries and people that they don’t like,” Duffy, who co-chairs the Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said. “This is not the old Soviet Union or Venezuela or Cuba. I think it’s important for all Americans to stand up and push back on policies that are an abuse of government.”
Several members of Congress have openly called Operation Choke Point a blatant abuse of power, and an example of government bureaucrats appointing themselves morality police so they could operate around the law.
In response to the controversy, the FDIC put out a statement that said in part: “It is the FDIC’s policy that insured institutions that properly manage customer relationships are neither prohibited nor discouraged from providing services to any customer operating in compliance with applicable law… the FDIC has a responsibility to cooperate with other government agencies and to ensure that the banks we supervise are adhering to laws, including those governing anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.”
Initially, the FDIC put out a list of 30 high-risk businesses, but that list has since been rescinded.
The U.S. Consumer Coalition claimed taking down that list only removed a guideline, and without a specific list of businesses, the subjectivity of who gets targeted was increased.
Brian Wise, with the U.S. Consumer Coalition, points out the irony. “By shutting down the bank accounts of these legally operating businesses, what they’re actually doing is forcing these businesses to deal solely in cash, which is completely opposite of what they have said their intention is,” he said. “It’s a whole lot easier to launder money with cash than having to go through a financial institution.”
Wise said questioning the chairman of the FDIC is a good start, but the problem doesn’t end there. “We know that it doesn’t just stop with the FDIC. This is a program that includes the CFPB, FDIC, Department of Justice and may lead all the way up to the president,” he said.
If you ask a concealed handgun permit holder why they choose to carry a concealed weapon all of the time, they’ll sometimes dryly reply that it’s because criminals are rarely considerate enough to put their deadly crimes on the intended victim’s calendar.
Such was the case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania yesterday, when a man with a concealed carry permit heard gun shots as he passed by a barbershop, ran in, and stopped a massacre in the making by shooting a man who had opened fire on employees and customers:
Police say a man likely saved the lives of several people when he shot and killed a gunman inside a West Philadelphia barbershop.
A 40-year-old man was inside Falah Barber Shop Inc. on the 600 block of Preston Street shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday when police say he began fighting with another person inside.
“They were arguing,” said 16-year-old Yusaf Mack who was a customer inside the shop at the time. “They were taking it too far and one of the barbers said, ‘chill out.’”
The fight quickly escalated and the 40-year-old man took out his gun and opened fire on customers and barbers, police said.
“I heard gunshots so I ducked and I ran,” said Mack.
As he was shooting, another man outside heard the gunfire, ran into the shop and took out his own gun, according to investigators. He then opened fire, striking the 40-year-old man once in the chest.
The man who had started shooting at customers and staff in the barbershop was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.
The concealed carry permit holder turned himself in at a local police precinct after the shooting, and Philadelphia police are conducting a formal investigation. Early indications are that the permit holder likely saved “a lot of people.”
As a general rule, citizens have the right to defend their lives and the lives of others against immediate and proximate deadly force attacks.
No charges are expected to be filed against the concealed carry permit holder.
President Barack Obama enjoyed NCAA women’s college basketball tournament action on Saturday as approximately U.S. 100 troops evacuated a rapidly deteriorating and chaotic situation near the southern Yemen city of al-Houta.
The soldiers – many of them elite special forces commandos – had been stationed at al-Anad air base in the war-torn Arab country, reports BBC News.
The proximate cause of the hasty Saturday exit was a Friday attack on the city of al-Houta by al-Qaida fighters. A quick counter-attack by the Yemeni army has since reportedly minimized al-Qaida gains.
Friday also saw a suicide bomb attack in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. At least 137 people died in the bombing, for which Islamic State-associated combatants have claimed credit.
Obama sat in a prime seat at the first-round NCAA tournament game at XFINITY Center in College Park, Md. He was surrounded by a group of fans festooned in orange and black — the colors of fancypants Princeton University.
Obama’s niece, Leslie Robinson, plays on the Princeton women’s team, which is currently undefeated for the season.
Princeton, a #8 seed, beat the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, a #9 seed, by a score of 80-70 on Saturday afternoon.
Fans at the game chanted “four more years,” notes Yahoo! News.
In the fall of 2014, Obama touted Yemen as a War on Terror success story.
Yemen is currently undergoing what amounts to a civil war involving several armed and vigorous elements including al-Qaida and ISIS.
A number of weeks ago, U.S. Marines allegedly destroyed their weapons or simply left them to Yemeni factions before leaving in the midst of an Iran-backed coup.
Two weeks after passage, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally released its landmark “net neutrality” regulations Thursday morning.
Among its many determinations, the FCC stated that broadband providers do not enjoy First Amendment protections because they do not have a right to free speech.
“The rules we adopt today do not curtail broadband providers’ free speech rights,” the commission said on page 268 of its decision, noting that because they merely serve as a means for others to express themselves, broadband providers are not entitled to free speech rights themselves.
Makes sense to fascists, I guess.