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A Multiplicity of Threats: Notes on James Clapper's Testimony to Congress
March 13th, 2013
Yesterday, the nation’s top intelligence official, James R. Clapper Jr., briefed Congress on the most important security threats facing our nation. Clapper didn’t bother to hide his disdain for the annual event, calling an open hearing on intelligence matters a “contradiction in terms.” In a more subtle critique, Clapper also noted that it is virtually impossible to “rank—in terms of long-term importance—the numerous, potential threats to U.S. national security.” In that vein, Clapper said it is the “multiplicity and interconnectedness of potential threats—and the actors behind them—that constitute our biggest challenge.” On that critique, I couldn’t agree more. One of...
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How Shell Corporations are Corrupting U.S. Democracy
February 7th, 2013
On January 22nd, 2010, the day after the Supreme Court ruled on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, Americans knew elections in our nation would never be the same. Although no one was really sure exactly how. In the landmark 5-4 decision, the court ruled that, under the First Amendment, the government could not restrict independent political expenditures from corporations, non-profits, and unions. In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that allowing unlimited corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt our democracy. We might not all agree with the contentious Citizens United decision, but it is...
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Anonymous Owners of U.S. Shell Companies Now Funding Politics
August 5th, 2011
Today, NBC News reports that a Delaware company made a $1 million contribution to a PAC supporting Mitt Romney about six weeks after it was formed, and then dissolved two months later. This ripped-from-the-headlines story of a corporation that was created for the sole purpose of laundering massive political contributions highlights the need for a bill that was just introduced this week in the U.S. Senate. The company, called W Spann LLC, filed a certificate of formation on March 15 with no information about the owners or the business purpose of the entity. On April 28, the LLC made a...
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Dirty Money Flows Take Two to Tango
June 2nd, 2011
In a piece titled Dirty Money: Why does the international banking system make it so easy for corruption to flourish?, the People & Power series on Al Jazeera reports on kleptocrats, grand scale corruption, and the ease of channelling dirty money through the secrecy mechanisms of the global financial system, Again, let's drive the point home here, we're talking secrecy - we are not disputing rights to due privacy - we are talking the kind of secrecy that allows criminals and tax cheats to profit with impunity, and to lead privileged...
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