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Banker denies responsibility for JP Morgan losses
Ina Drew blames deception by London team for 'London Whale' trading incident, which saw company lose £4bn

Drew, who was one of Wall Street's highest-paid bankers, was head of the "chief investment office" that oversaw the London trading operation where the so-called London Whale trading incident took place. The incident is so called because a trader named Bruno Iksil, known as the London Whale because of the size of the positions he took, made a bad bet on derivatives positions. The Senate investigation found Iksil had objected to the directives of his bosses over the trades and called their instructions "idiotic".

"Some members of the London team failed to value positions properly and in good faith, minimised reported and projected losses, and hid from me important information regarding the true risks of the book," Drew said.
[...]
The hearing, chaired by retiring Democratic senator Carl Levin, came a day after the committee published a damning 300-page report on JP Morgan's handling of the London Whale trade. "Firing a few traders and their bosses won't be enough to stanch Wall Street's insatiable appetite for risky derivative bets or stop the excesses. More control is needed," said Levin in his opening statement.

"The American people have already suffered one devastating economic assault rooted largely in Wall Street excess, and they cannot afford another. When Wall Street plays with fire, American families get burned. The task of federal regulators, and of this Congress, is to take away the matches. The Whale trades demonstrate that task is far from complete," he said.

The committee heard that Dimon temporarily withheld key data from the regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, as the bank's trading problems grew. Executives said the bank was concerned that information had been leaked in the past. "I'm not sure that there are many organisations or institutions that could get away with such a thing," said Senator John McCain.

Some good days in the courts this week!
FBI's demands for private data struck down by federal court
Judge says national security letters – which allow government to obtain data without citizens' consent – breach first amendment

The FBI has suffered a dramatic setback in its use of hyper-secret gagging orders in the name of national security to obtain the private data of US citizens, after a federal court struck down the practice.

A judge in a California US district court ordered the US government to stop issuing what are called "national security letters". Susan Illston said the letters, which have mushroomed since 9/11 under the Patriot Act, were unconstitutional as they breached the first amendment rights of the parties being served the orders.

NSLs have been an increasingly important part of the US government's approach to counter-terrorism, though their growing use has been matched by mounting unease on the party of civil libertarians. Last year the FBI sent out more than 16,000 of the letters relating to the private data – mainly financial, internet or phone records – of more than 7,000 Americans.

ACLU.
Victory in Court: CIA Can No Longer Refuse to "Confirm or Deny" on Drones

In an important victory for transparency, a federal appeals court today put an end to the CIA's absurd claims that it "cannot confirm or deny" whether it has information about the government's use of drones to carry out targeted killings.

In a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the influential D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "it is neither logical nor plausible for the CIA to maintain that it would reveal anything not already in the public domain to say that the Agency" had a so-called "intelligence interest" in the government's killing program. The ruling affirms the public's right to understand and evaluate the government's defense of the program with information that goes beyond what has been provided through the government's own selective leaks and disclosures.

As ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before the appeals court in September, said today:

This is an important victory. It requires the government to retire the absurd claim that the CIA's interest in the targeted killing program is a secret, and it will make it more difficult for the government to deflect questions about the program's scope and legal basis. It also means that the CIA will have to explain what records it is withholding, and on what grounds it is withholding them.
Wow, the Pakistani government told the UN rapporteur that it does not consent to the drone strikes. Now this would not be a new thing. We have been told that they consent to them privately but not publicly, for obvious reasons.  But is it possible that they really don't consent to them at all?  Here is a link to Emmerson's statement. Update: emptywheel's article about this notes that the rapporteur did not directly speak to the Pakistani military or intelligence (ISI).  Instead the civilian govt. spoke for them.  She also notes that Emmerson's statement undermines every legal basis that the U.S. uses for drone strikes in Pakistan.  This shows the wide gap between their civilian govt and their military, which is not a surprise, but it does cause problems for our govt. and particularly CIA director John Brennan in carrying out these strikes.
US Drone Strikes In Pakistan Violate Country's Sovereignty, UN Says

According to a U.N. statement that Emmerson emailed to The Associated Press on Friday, the Pakistani government told him it has confirmed at least 400 civilian deaths by U.S. drones on its territory. The statement was initially released on Thursday, following the investigator's three-day visit to Pakistan, which ended Wednesday. The visit was kept secret until Emmerson left.

Imtiaz Gul, an expert on Pakistani militancy who is helping Emmerson's team, said Friday that the organization he runs, the Centre for Research and Security Studies, gave the U.N. investigator during his visit case studies on 25 strikes that allegedly killed around 200 civilians.

The U.N. investigation into civilian casualties from drone strikes and other targeted killings in Pakistan and several other countries was launched in January and is expected to deliver its conclusions in October.

Add another country to the drone strike list?  So is this one of the reasons why it was reported that CIA was ramping up operations in Iraq?
CIA begins sizing up Islamic extremists in Syria for drone strikes
The strategy is part of the agency's secret contingency planning to protect the U.S. and its allies as the violence there grows. Some militants in Syria are seen as closely linked to Al Qaeda.

WASHINGTON — The CIA has stepped up secret contingency planning to protect the United States and its allies as the turmoil expands in Syria, including collecting intelligence on Islamic extremists for the first time for possible lethal drone strikes, according to current and former U.S. officials.

President Obama has not authorized drone missile strikes in Syria, however, and none are under consideration.

The Counterterrorism Center, which runs the CIA’s covert drone killing program in Pakistan and Yemen, recently shifted several targeting officers to improve intelligence collection on militants in Syria who could pose a terrorist threat, the officials said.

U.S. Leadership Earning Lower Marks Worldwide
Forty-one percent median approval lowest of Obama's presidency

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The image of U.S. leadership worldwide was weaker during President Barack Obama's fourth year in office than at any point during his first administration. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 130 countries stood at 41% in 2012, down measurably from 49% approval in Obama's first year. Despite these poorer scores, approval ratings for the most part remain stronger than they were at the end of the last Bush administration.





Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest


Evening Blues
Court Rules for ACLU Against the CIA
Social Security Blogathon Twitter Team Sign up
Rebels Still Stand Alone
UPDATED: The Democrats Have No Clothes
American Crossroads, 2014, and the Brand Crushing Not-So-Grand Bargain
$1,000,000 in Medical Debt Ripped Up and Spit Out by Strike Debt NYC.
Sad Tidings





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