Friday, February 12, 2010

Plunge Protection Team Cover-Up

It has long been suspected that the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, aka, The Plunge Protection Team, has been involved in manipulations of the markets.

Through Freedom of Information Act filings, NyPo's John Crudele has been attempting to get documents pertaining to PPT meetings. It's clear the PPT does not want details of these meetings public. The Treasury appears to be very near the edge of breaking the law in not responding properly to Crudele's FOIA requests. I'll let Crudele take over the story here:

I first requested information on the PWG back in 2006. That request fell "through the cracks," according to an internal Treasury memo. A year and a half later, after an e-mail discussion among Treasury officials, I learned that minutes and notes of the PWG's meetings didn't exist.

In November 2007 the Treasury changed its tune and responded to my Freedom of Information Act request with 177 pages, which I described in a column as "crap."

"Included in the 177 pages that the Treasury said responded to our request on the actions of the PWG," I wrote, "were 53 pages on which something was redacted -- blacked out so that the discussion was unreadable."

Soon afterwards, The Post and I filed an appeal, saying we wanted internal documents, especially of a meeting held on Aug. 17, 2007. That was the day the Fed began a series of rate cuts, much to the delight of The Street.

Granted, I was fishing. But why should the PWG be allowed to operate unchecked inside our government? Why should this clandestine organization have so much potential control over the nation's financial markets and Americans' wealth?

Well, I got a response to our appeal -- more than two years after it was filed.

It turns out there are an additional 739 pages of PWG documents that the Treasury "withheld . . . in full."

The latest Treasury letter, signed by Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Rutherford, said: "After carefully considering your appeal, I am affirming the actions on record referred to in your appeal."

Rutherford said the 739 new pages "concerns certain inter-and-intra agency communications protected by the deliberative process privilege."

Huh?

It continued: "The material redacted pursuant to the deliberative process component subsection (b) (5) was determined to be both predecisional and deliberative." It was deliberative "in that it contains personal opinions, analyses, advice, thought processes, strategies and recommendations, reflecting the 'give and take' of the department's consultative."

Huh? huh?

I misplaced my mumbo-jumbo-to-English dictionary, but I'll do my best to interpret.

The Plunge Protection Team either made "decisions" or contributed to decisions being made by others that it doesn't want us to know about. And this was in 2007 -- well before the so-called financial meltdown that gave Paulson and his crew a free hand.

What was the PWG consulting with Treasury and the Fed on? Rate cuts? Market-rigging operations? The d├ęcor of then-Treasury Secretary Paulson's office?

Since we already know about Paulson's exces sively close relationship with Goldman Sachs, shouldn't the Treasury at very least let the public know what sort of chatter was in those 739 pages?

I'll pay the copying costs.

Funny, Paulson's memoir doesn't cover anything about these meetings either. But, then, in his memoir Paulson told us his memory might fail him. This is the exact type spot where you might think a Paulson memory black out might occur.

What are these guys hiding? 739 pages of cover-up is a lot of cover-up.

2 comments:

  1. In NY we have FOIL and it is very similar to FOIA. The FOIL Law in this portion is based on a double negative. The agency may deny records that are...

    (a)...

    (g) are inter-agency or intra-agency materials which are not:

    i. statistical or factual tabulations or data;
    ii. instructions to staff that affect the public;
    iii. final agency policy or determinations; or
    iv. external audits, including but not limited to audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government.

    So if the records requested fall under any of these catagories, they may not have a right to deny.

    In NY I would file an article 78 petition with the local district court for disclosure of the records. The burden of proof is on the agency to show that the records can not be disclosed.

    I would think FOIA would opperate under similar rules and a course of action may be considered. The timeline for filing an article 78 petition is tricky here in NY and probably the same for a FOIA.

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  2. Crudele is very entertaining. "Mumbo-jumbo-to-english dictionary,,," I love it. Where do I get one?

    Not much I can do about our keystone Kops govt. so I might as well get some laughs

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