Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department's criminal division, is stepping down, leaving countless ruined lives in his wake.
It's hard to know where to begin the list of colossal, and sometimes fatal, mistakes by Breuer--from the botched Fast & Furious gun-walking operation, to not prosecuting a single top Wall Street executive, to his brutal war on whistleblowers using the bludgeon of the Espionage Act.
The revisionist history is already beginning. The Washington Post praises Breuer as
leading the agency’s efforts to clamp down on public corruption and financial fraud at the nation’s largest banks, according to several people familiar with the matter.These folks obviously didn't watch the searing FRONTLINE documentary on how Breuer didn't punish a single Wall Street top executive for their role in the nation's worst financial crises.
Breuer also presided over the "Fast and Furious"--the botched "gun-walking" scheme in which ATF lost at least 2,000 guns it allowed to "walk" into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The missing guns were linked to the deaths of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and ICE agent Jaime Zapata, as well as dozens of civilian deaths. Breuer not only knew about the ATF's bungled gun-walking operation, but allowed it to continue without asking key questions. Breuer expressed "regret" that he didn't tell others, including his boss, but refused Congressional calls for his resignation.
Then there are the lives ruined by going after whistleblowers for allegedly mishandling allegedly classified information. The most obvious case is that of NSA's Tom Drake, who blew the whistle on a multi-billion-dollar domestic surveillance program that infringed the privacy of Americans. He was charged with ten felony accounts for allegedly retaining classified information for the purpose of disclosing it to a reporter. The case collapsed in spectacular fashion after it was revealed that Drake never gave classified info to a reporter and none of the documents he possessed were in fact classified. Still, the case bankrupted Drake, whom I represented pro bono along with public defenders because he qualified as indigent. The former NSA senior executive is now a wage-grade employee at an Apple Store.
CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou is being sentenced tomorrow to 30 months in jail for confirming the name of a torturer to an investigator for Guantanamo detainees. None of the DOJ lawyers who who justified torture, nor the CIA agents who carried it out are being prosecuted. Moreover, high-level government officials like Mike Vickers revealed covert identities to make an agitprop Hollywood movie--Zero Dark Thirty. Other ruined lives that still hang in the balance include those of Jeffrey Sterling, Steven Kim and Bradley Manning.
Finally, as detailed on Frontline, Breuer failed to prosecute any top Wall Street executives for their part in the 2008 financial crisis, which irreparably injured hundreds of thousands of Americans. Despite numerous big-bank whistleblowers and due diligence underwriters revealing how lenders knowingly perpetrated and ignored fraud, Breuer said bringing criminal charges would be "too complicated," but managed to gin up an entire case out of whole cloth against Tom Drake.