Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Al Quaeda agent?

When Al Quaeda hijacked four airplanes on 9/11, bringing down the World Trade Center with two of them, Americans experienced a sense of righteous rage that won't go away in the lifetime of anybody who witnessed it.

To this day even the most liberal of us – including this cranky writer who is a usual opponent of the death penalty – wouldn’t shed a tear if Osama Bin Laden were shot or blown to bits in his cave, executed by lethal injection after a trial in the United States, or decapitated by a man swinging a sword in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. In fact, my sense of justice and a lingering fury has me longing for the last alternative.

9/11 was intended
economic sabotage

It’s important to remember that Bin Laden’s intent was more than just to murder Americans. Those 3,000 lives were "collateral damage." The 9/11 operation was an act of economic sabotage aimed and wrecking havoc on New York, disrupting the nation’s financial markets, and shaking the world’s faith in the invulnerability of the United States.

So what is an American citizen who deliberately sets out to tear apart a strong American financial system—thus disrupting the financial markets, shaking the world’s faith in America, and possibly driving the entire United States to the verge of another Great Depression?

I’m talking about former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, a man with more unsavory behavior in his background than a stray dog has fleas.

The man who created
a financial avalanche

Gramm is the Texan responsible for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This law repealed Glass-Steagall Act, which once protected the financial integrity of America's banks.

Even more horrifically, Gramm was behind the stealthily-enacted, so-called “Commodity Futures Modernization Act,” which prohibits the government from regulating or even looking into the kinds of complex financial transactions that brought down Bear Sterns, threatens many banks including those where you may have deposits, and which may, as you read this, be snowballing into a financial avalanche that will bring down the United States economy.

I’ve previously railed against the repeal of Glass-Steagall here. And you’ll find a good – if simplified – summary of the havoc Phill Gramm has brought down on the United States economy here.

It seems fairly clear that Gramm did what he did for personal gain in the form of generous campaign contributions from doomsday business entities ranging from Enron (remember them?) to UBS, a now-shaky (thanks in part to Gramm-sponsored legislation) Swiss Bank on whose board Gramm sits.

“Dear Phil, Thanks for the great work.
—Your Pal, Osama Bin Laden”

If Gramm were on the payroll of Osama Bin Laden and did nothing more than what he has already done, an alert U.S. Attorney General would have a field day looking into charges of sabotage and treason relating to Gramm.

Of course, Gramm sabotaged the American economy in the U.S. Senate, which is to say he sabotaged our nation fair and square. So it’s doubtful that he will ever spend so much as a millisecond locked in the slammer. So much the worse for the future of America.

However, it is worth noting that Gramm is the chief financial adviser to Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain. If McCain becomes President, we’ll have the functional equivalent of an Al Quaeda agent of economic sabotage sitting in the Oval Office.

And that’s not just unjust. That’s economic terrorism.

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