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Congress Demanding DOJ Turn Over Evidence Linked To Obama-Hezbollah Drug Trafficking Scandal

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(Via ZeroHedge)

Congress has demanded that the Department of Justice turn over all documents related to a disturbing report from POLITICO that the Obama administration quashed a massive DEA investigation into a $200 million per month drug trafficking and money laundering scheme on U.S. soil which was directly funding Hezbollah’s various terror campaigns around the world.

“Add this to the long list of concessions the Obama administration made in pursuit of the nuclear agreement with Iran,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter. “The difference here is that this wasn’t just bad policy—it was potentially criminal. Congress absolutely has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this.”

The letter follows a commitment made by congressional leaders to open an investigation into the explosive claims of what is being described as a “potentially criminal” enterprise described to the Free Beacon by a congressional source as an offshoot of Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran which saw $1.7 billion dollars of euros, Swiss francs and other currencies shipped directly to Tehran on wooden pallets.

In early 2016, French police smashed a Hezbollah cell accused of trafficking cocaine for one of the world’s most ruthless drug cartels in order to fund the militant group’s operations in Syria. The Telegraph reported at the time:

The agents, arrested in France, allegedly masterminded a massive global drug ring which raised millions of dollars to arm Hizbollah gunmen fighting for Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, in Syria. Two years ago, one of the outfit’s sicarios, or hitmen, was arrested in Spain on suspicion of having ordered up to 400 murders worldwide. The Hizbollah agents detained by French police include alleged leaders of the group’s European cell, including 45-year-old businessman Mohamad Noureddine. The DEA, which has classified him as a “specially-designated global terrorist”, accuses him of being a Lebanese money launderer for Hizbollah’s financial arm.

A DEA statement said: “These proceeds are used to purchase weapons for Hizbollah for its activities in Syria. This ongoing investigation…once again highlights the dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism.”

Despite the active and ongoing DEA investigations into Hezbollah’s global operations, the Obama administration “threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way” according to Politico.

In a Thursday letter from Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, Congress demanded all communications and documents related to the DEA’s “Project Cassandra” campaign which targeted “a global Hizbollah network responsible for the movement of large quantities of cocaine in the United States and Europe,” along with information on operations “Titan” and “Perseus,” as well as the Lebanese Canadian Bank, The Iran-Hezbollah Super Facilitator Initiative, and several named individuals.

Also sought are “all documents and communications referring or relating to the potential designation of Hezbollah as a Transnational Criminal Organization,” along with “all documents referring or relating to efforts to prosecute targets related to Hezbolah” via the RICO act.

“We have a responsibility to evaluate whether these allegations are true, and if so, did the administration undermine U.S. law enforcement and compromise U.S. national security,” the lawmakers wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions Sessions.

As the Free Beacon reported yesterday:

U.S. drug enforcement agents who spoke to Politico about the matter accused the Obama administration of intentionally derailing an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering efforts that began in 2008 under the Bush administration.

The investigation centered on Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militants who allegedly participated in the illicit drug network, which was subject to U.S. wiretaps and undercover operations.

Hezbollah is believed to have been laundering at least $200 million a month just in the United States, according to the report.

When U.S. authorities were ready to make the case against Hezbollah’s most senior leadership, Obama administration officials allegedly “threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way,” according inside sources who spoke to Politico about the situation

The Obama-led effort to block the investigation was “a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” one source said. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

As we reported yesterday, Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL), a chief national security voice in the House who fought against the nuclear accord, mimicked the views of DeSantis saying that Congress must investigate the Obama administration’s actions and work to increase pressure on Hezbollah.

“The report alleging the Obama Administration turned a blind eye and allowed Hezbollah to pump drugs into the United States to fund its terror campaigns in the Middle East is not surprising,” Roskam said. “Hampering the DEA’s investigation of Hezbollah would be emblematic of the previous administration’s fixation to strike a nuclear accord with Iran at any costs.”

“This blind eye imperiled our efforts to combat Iran and its proxies’ malign behavior and left us with a cash-flush Iran on the warpath across the Middle East with a nuclear program legitimized by the JCPOA,” Roskam said, using the acronym for the nuclear deal’s official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “Congress needs to investigate this report and do what the Obama Administration refused to do, severely increase pressure on Hezbollah and hold the terrorist group, and its benefactor Iran, accountable for their crimes.”

Congress is especially interested to learn whether key Obama Administration officials, such as National Security Council staffer Ben Rhodes, were involved in quashing the DEA investigation in an effort to preserve diplomatic relations with Iran surrounding the nuclear deal. U.S. DEA agents who spoke to POLITICO accused the Obama administration into derailing an investigation launched during the Bush administration into drug trafficking and money laundering by Hezbollah. The derailed DEA investigation centered on Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militants, which used wiretaps and undercover operations to gather evidence.

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Economy

China Pressuring Wall Street To Stop Trump On Trade War

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(Via Zerohedge)

If anyone still doubted President Trump’s determination to slap tariffs on all – or even more than all – Chinese goods flowing into the US, they probably don’t anymore. So far this week, the president has taken to twitter to trash his own Treasury Secretary’s efforts to restart talks with the Chinese, before Trump publicly declared on Friday that he intends to move ahead with plans to slap 25% tariffs on another $200 billion worth of goods.

Given the president’s unflinching resolve in pursuing his trade agenda, it’s understandable why a shrewd businessmen would go to great lengths to avoid getting in the middle of what looks to be a protracted geopolitical dogfight.

But unfortunately for top Wall Street firms, many of which harbor ambitions of expanding their business in China, that may no longer be an option. Because while the Trump administration has largely left them alone, the Chinese are now trying to use whatever leverage they can (i.e. preferential access to the world’s second-largest economy) to push America’s top bankers to intervene on Beijing’s behalf.

Reuters reported Friday that top Chinese officials have hastily organized an investment conference in Beijing and requested the presence of several top Wall Street firms. The conference will be chaired by former PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan and ex-Goldman Sachs President John Thornton, and feature an appearance by Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan. Dubbed “the firefighter” by the Chinese people, Quishan, in addition to being the most powerful of China’s vice presidents, is also one of the senior Communist officials involved in managing the trade dispute.

While market liberalization is certainly a priority for the Chinese, it’s difficult to imagine that these top officials are planning to attend this conference – especially with so much else going on – just to brainstorm ideas about how China can proceed with opening up its financial sector.

The subtext here is obvious: China wants to figure out who in the US financial services community can help them get through to Trump and help stop this conflict before losses in China’s currency and stock market spiral out of control. And if the carrot of access doesn’t work, China has already proven adept at leveraging the stick.

(Full Article Here)

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Politics

Jeff Bezos Thinks President Trump’s “Attacks” Are “Dangerous”

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(Via Zerohedge)

A day after unveiling his first major charitable initiative (an announcement that arrived, coincidentally, we’re sure, after a bruising week of headlines detailing the latest crop of worker-abuse allegations directed at Amazon), Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (also the world’s wealthiest man) disappointed hundreds of powerful people who had convened to hear him speak – as rumors swirled that he might reveal the location of Amazon’s much-hyped HQ2 – last night at the Economic Club of Washington DC. But instead of an outright reveal, Bezos assured his audience that Amazon plans to announce the location by the end of the year, though he wouldn’t elaborate beyond that.

According to CNBC, Bezos, who was interviewed by private equity titan David Rubenstein, assured his audience that Amazon’s team is “working hard” on evaluating the finalists (the company announced 20 finalists earlier this year).

“The answer is very simple…We will answer the decision before the end of the year,” Bezos said. “We will get there.” Bezos swiftly changed the subject to his recently launched “Day One” charitable fund, which he recently seeded with $2 billion of his personal fortune.

As is his nature, Bezos shared his intentions to expand the “Day One” fund as his team learns more about the “business” of philanthropy.

“I believe in the power of wandering,” Bezos said. “All of my best decisions in business and life have been made with heart, intuition, guts — not analysis.”

He later said he would like to invest “a lot of money” in an enterprise that most rational investors would view as a “really bad investment”, a statement that turned into a plug for his Blue Origin space exploration company.

(Full Article Here)

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Politics

Bailing Out The Rich Only Makes It Worse

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(Via Zerohedge)

In 1948, the architect of the post-war American suburb, William Levitt, explained the point of the housing finance system. “No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist,” he said. “He has too much to do.”

It’s worth reflecting on this quote on the ten-year anniversary of the financial crisis, because it speaks to how the architects of the bailouts shaped our culture. Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, and Hank Paulson, the three key men in charge, basically argue that the bailouts they executed between 2007 and 2009 were unfair, but necessary to preserve stability. It’s time to ask, though: just what stability did they preserve?

These three men paint the financial crisis largely as a technical one. But let’s not get lost in the fancy terms they use, like “normalization of credit flows,” in discussing what happened and why. The excessively wonky tone is intentional – it’s intended to hide the politics of what happened. So let’s look at what the bailouts actually were, in normal human language.

The official response to the financial crisis ended a 75-year-old American policy of pursuing broad homeownership as a social goal. Since at least Franklin Delano Roosevelt, American leaders had deliberately organized the financial system to put more people in their own homes. In 2011, the Obama administration changed this policy, pushing renting over owning. The CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, echoed this view shortly thereafter. There are many reasons for the change, and not all of them were bad. But what’s important to understand is that the financial crisis was a full-scale assault on the longstanding social contract linking Americans with the financial system through their house.

The way Geithner orchestrated this was through a two-tiered series of policy choices. During the crisis, everyone needed money from the government, but Geithner offered money to the big guy, and not the little guy.

First, he found mechanisms, all of them very technical—and well-reported in Adam Tooze’s new book Crashed—to throw unlimited amounts of credit at institutions controlled by financial executives in the United States and Europe. (Eric Holder, meanwhile, also de facto granted legal amnesty to executives for possible securities fraud associated with the crisis.)

Second, Geithner chose to deny money and credit to the middle class in the midst of a foreclosure crisis. The Obama administration supported this by neutering laws against illegal foreclosures.

The response to the financial crisis was about reorganizing property rights. If you were close to power, you enjoyed unlimited rights and no responsibilities, and if you were far from power, you got screwed. This shaped the world into what it is today. As Levitt pointed out, when people have no stake in the system, they get radical.

Did this prevent a full-scale collapse? Yes. Was it necessary to do it the way we did? Not at all.

(Full Article Here)

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