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Guest Essay: Capitalism: Acting in Good Faith

A guest essay from Henry Schoenberger, who joined us in January of 2012 to talk about his book “How We Got Swindled”.

CAPITALISM: ACTING IN GOOD FAITH: CORZINE? LEHMAN AND THE COURT APPOINTED EXAMINER? OK BUNGEE JUMPING WITHOUT CORDS!

 

How is a 6.3 “billion dollar bet” – “prudent?”  That’s what Corzine testified.

He, “always tried to do the right thing;” he placed the bet to make money because IM Gobal needed to become profitable, he testified. So he bet the store on the direction of the currency of five countries.   There was “no intent” to do the wrong thing – or misplace $1,200,000,000 of customer funds – it was just “chaotic.”  No admission of anything that could be construed as fraudulent behavior – just the empirical evidence of reality.

Is this acting in good faith toward his fiduciary responsibility to customers?  Let alone to his clear legal obligation to not co-mingle customer’s funds?  Funds which probably went down the drain to cover his positions going the wrong way.

Corzine is only testifying to set up a fraud defense, because prosecutors must prove willful intent – and Corzine is a man of prudence, as a former CEO of Goldman.

So huge leveraged betting on currency is not intentional, and is the right thing to do?  Hedge fund managers know currency bets are at the highest level of risk.  Speculation is never prudent, but volatile. More leverage equals geometrically more risk and more volatility.

Capitalism is on trial because of the way it is practiced at the expense of prudent behavior, and because so many Capitalists do not act in good faith.

To Act in Good Faith is a legal term and concept well defined by many areas of the law and established precedent.   Simply put – it is an implied covenant of fair dealing and not breaking (keeping) your word.  Significant SEC and Fed Bank Holding Company regulations stipulate the legal import and requirement to Act In Good Faith – which must be adhered to as significant regulations have the force of law behind them.

So where has acting in Good Faith gone?

The Lehman Bankruptcy in September of 2008 was the largest ever in US history.  The Federal Bankruptcy Court just approved a plan to emerge from chapter 11 for 65 billion dollars, but the fighting for assets and valuations is not over.

Lehman leveraged itself to death, and when the market hit the fan on September 8, 2008, by the 10th it was clear that Lehman could not sell – flip all the egregiously leveraged and worse than junk bond debt it assumed it could always sell – no matter what?

Different suitors stepped forward to ostensibly buy or bail out Lehman. However, it became clear Lehman had manipulated an accounting of financial risks, replete with fictitious valuations through Hudson Castle, an entity set up to get the bad stuff off Lehman’s balance sheet.  So with a myriad of other material issues – Lehman declared bankruptcy. The stock price now hovers at .025 cents.

Lehman Brothers did not practice Good Faith. And the Federal Bankruptcy Judge appointed an attorney from a prominent legal securities defense firm as the court’s Examiner.

The Examiner’s lengthy report reads like a brief in defense of Lehman.  Jenner and Block, where Anton R. Valukas, the court appointed “Examiner,” is a very senior partner with a high profile national public record of defending actions alleging “breach of fiduciary duty,” and “securities fraud.”

The Examiner’s report concluded: “…there was insufficient evidence to support a colorable claim for breach of Fiduciary Duty regarding Lehman’s valuation errors (lies?) … there was insufficient evidence that any Lehman officer acted with the necessary SCIENTER to impose liability.” Further the report concluded that Lehman had a “license to fail.” Which “establishes a future precedent” according to the Center for Policy and Research.   What an examiner, what a business builder for future securities defense work.

Scienter refers to intent or knowledge of wrong doing.

Lehman advanced the ridiculous and implausible notion that when it doubled its risk from $300,000,000,000 to $630,000,000,000 the “630 Billion was still “acceptable risk;” because it was “prepared to lose $4,000,000,000” instead of $2,200,000,000.  Does this ring true?

Because, Lehman was “prepared to lose” (not investors), the Examiner did not consider this as “reckless behavior.”  OK then – unbridled, geometric leverage to speculate in nuclear volatility is not reckless.  Thank God for an Examiner with enough uncommon sense to let Lehman off the hook because it was prepared!

In fairness to Lehman it had backed up its risk – hedged it! Hedged 40 times its fictitious net capital, or possibly a higher multiple, an even more specious posture toward acceptable.  Don’t forget September 2008 marks a date in history when it became public knowledge, for the first time, that financial engineered risk management was a cruel joke and clearly did not work.

Hedging is what you do when you know what you are going to do won’t work.

The Examiner’s extremely subjective value judgment (which read more like a legal defense) was:  Lehman’s risk reword ratio was justifiable. Because the reward justified the risk – he concluded, “The rewards outweighed the risk.” And this conclusion from one of the most prominent security defense attorneys in the US establishes a precedent  which could then be applied to any Bank Holding Company in the future that dies from gangrene due to a bowel explosion stemming from all their “manageable” and “worth it” mathematically risk measured, insane leverage.

Here’s a taste of Lehman’s not fraudulent practices:  more than doubling its balance sheet valuation of Archstone – 2 times above market value;  CDOs (“collaterized debt obligations)– termed asset backed securities, backed with either Swaps or pools of worse than junk bond real estate loans – had no real collateral considering any financial standards for what constitutes acceptable collateral for any bank in the US; fallacious accounting and the lack of collateral was not disclosed to investors, a severe violation of disclosure regulations; and the glaring lack of disclosure constitutes the “omission of significant information.”  Further the Examiner found that as the economic downturn worsened Lehman consistently flagrantly inflated the value of its assets; while it continued to grossly overstate its expected (projected) return on investments.  So was this accidental – because it was not intentional, as the Examiner has to conclude to let Lehman off the hook.

And Lehman was not alone in 2008 in their usual and customary business practices just described.  But Paulson and Congress made certain that our government bailed out Goldman and its (investors) counter parties, along with the other culprits.

The Examiner’s report was justified, because THE CENTER FOR POLICY RESEARCH furnished the 99% with an Oversight Report of 33 pages.  This is a Seaton Hall Law School “think tank?” and Mark Denbeaux, the Law Prof in charge – “…could find no legal reason to charge Lehman with misconduct.”  Of course, the Seaton lawyers pointed out that their opinion was, “Pursuant to the standard practice of the Center…”

No legal reason:  fallacious-fictitious risk management and fictitious valuations as policy.  To disguise – conceal the true value of assets and the actual nature of unbridled purely speculative risk?  No legal reason?  How about the lack of disclosure and the omission of significant information!

There have been a number of articles recently on these findings and the emergence of Lehman from chapter 11.  It is amazing how the ability to conduct critical thinking regarding the issuance of reports and legal conclusions is apparently missing in action.  Acceptance of so called experts is what got us into this mess. Acceptance of Econ PhDs return to Laissez-faire theories designed to promote fees for the ultra rich rather than sanity and fairness is still the rule.

To Act in Good Faith is missing in action.  As well as any critical analysis of so-called “risk management.”

It is not logical to mathematically measure risk because risk is subjective and qualitative; therefore can not be quantified.  The Examiner supported the gravitas of virtual mathematical risk measurement by noting and seemingly condemning – “…Lehman valued these investments through gut feelings.”  And their guts (based on greed) regarding unmitigated leverage were legally justified because they (Lehman) – “were prepared to lose.”

And Corzine testified his “bets were prudent.”  Just like bungee jumping without a cord.

The inscription on the tombstone of our devastated economy and the middle class should read – The rewards outweighed the risks. To Act in Good Faith is DEAD!

Henry Schoenberger is the author of How We Got Swindled By Wall Street Godfathers, Greed & Financial Darwinism ~ The 30-War Against the American Dream; including a foreword by David Satterfield, the former business editor of the Miami Herald, 2 times Pulitzer Prize-winner. www.howwegotswindled.com

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The Killing of Jose Guerena-an Expert Commentary

On May 5th at about 9:30 a.m., an Arizona SWAT team carried out a military assault on the home of Jose Guerena, a marine veteran of two tours in Iraq. They were allegedly executing a search warrant for marijuana. As the SWAT team made entry the father of two with no criminal record picked up an AR-15 assault rifle; a weapon he would never fire. Within 7 seconds, Jose Guerena’s 27 years of life were ended in a hail of gunfire. The young man who had ducked death in Iraq for two years lay dead, his body shredded by 60 bullets fired by US lawmen. The Pima County Sheriffs Department immediately declared the Search Warrant “secret,” by withholding it from public scrutiny.

The airwaves were quickly dominated by so-called use-of-force experts opining as to whether or not the invading SWAT team had the legal right to use deadly force; one even remarked that he thought that shooting the man 60 times was “excessive.” The fact is, as any court-qualified expert knows, from the moment the combat-trained ex marine picked up his gun his homicide was legally justified and that there is no such thing as “overkill.” If the first bullet was justified, all that follow were simply consistent with the old police adage that “one shot begets many.”

One of many examples of legally justified “overkill” was the killing of 23 year-old Sean Bell in 2006 on the eve of his wedding. The unarmed man was hit with more than fifty bullets fired by NYPD undercover detectives. When the judge explained the laws governing the use of deadly force to the jury, the three officers accused manslaughter in the case were quickly acquitted of all charges.

The talking heads now dominating the airwaves in the Guerena case are also focusing on whether or not the police had adequately identified themselves before making a forced entry, yet I could find not a single one who considered that the SWAT team might have been executing a “no-knock” search warrant which would have permitted forced entry with no warning at all. In fact, I’ve heard not a single on-air expert relate the contents of this now-secret search warrant to the tragedy itself. Nor is anyone questioning what possible logic and/or authority would permit the Pima County Sheriffs Department to withhold a search warrant – a public record – from public scrutiny.

A Familiar Pattern
The pattern of events surrounding the killing of this young war veteran are chillingly similar to a pattern that I have been professionally involved with for more than four decades: Search warrants obtained on the basis of uncorroborated or poorly corroborated informants, and/or “phantom informants” – nonexistent informants invented by corrupt police. A largely hidden problem that has been plaguing our justice system since President Nixon declared a “war on drugs” in 1973.

A Case in Point
Donald Carlson of Poway California, a senior executive for a fortune 500 Company, had much in common with Jose Guerena. They each lived in an area where gang-related home invasions were common. Each possessed legally owned guns. Each was targeted by a multi-agency, SWAT Team armed with a search warrant expecting to find drugs.

Neither man had criminal records. Mr. Carlson, like Mr. Guerena, picked up his gun when his front door was battered down and opened fire, luckily hitting nothing but his own furniture. Carlson like Guerena was immediately gunned down in a hail of gunfire, after which the invading police found not an iota of evidence of anything illegal. Donald Carlson, however, survived to hire lawyers to sue the government.

Mr. Carlson’s attorneys retained me as their use-of-force expert. Unlike the Guerena case, the attorneys were able to obtain the search warrant and all its supporting documentation. After I reviewed the reports and warrant, I told the attorneys that, in my opinion, the agents who shot Mr. Carlson acted within the law. Carlson had represented a legitimate threat to their lives. However, what my review also revealed was that the search warrant that brought the SWAT team to Mr. Carlson’s door in the first place was based upon the fabrications of a Confidential Informant, a paid criminal whose uncorroborated words were submitted to a court as “fact.” All standards of Informant-Handling were ignored during a four-month investigation resulting in the granting of four bad search warrants, including the one for Mr. Carlson’s home.

My recommendations were the same as they would have been were I reviewing the case as a Department of Justice Inspector: that the entire matter be put before a federal grand jury to consider criminal charges against the agents and attorneys responsible for the search warrant. This never happened. The government settled out-of-court with Mr. Carlson for $2 million and the matter vanished from both the courts and headlines.
The Carlson case happened in 1992. Since that time, I have been directly involved as a trial consultant/expert witness in more than a dozen similar incidents, most of which resulted in the police using the snitch’s uncorroborated words to justify murder – and then later to villify the victim as protection from a civil law suit and possible criminal action. Jose Guerena is no longer able to defend himself against what an uncorroborated snitch might have said about him in that “secret” warrant, which brings to mind Yogi Berra’s oft quoted words: looks like déjà vu all over again.

Michael Levine

Hear the EWRS episode that covered this

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The Phony War – a documentary featuring The Big White Lie (La Guerra Falsa)

This is a spanish-language documentary from the early 1990s, featuring Michael Levine and his book The Big White Lie (La Guerra Falsa).


Videos tu.tv

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UFO theorists gain support abroad, but repression at home

We broadcast an interview with Leslie Kean in September of 2010.  This is the article that got her started researching the subject of UFOs.

The COMETA report referenced in the article can be downloaded here – in 2 parts:

COMETA_- Part I

COMETA_- Part II

UFO theorists gain support abroad, but repression at home

Study by French officials, routine unexplained sightings, US military safety aspects combine to boost believers

Leslie Kean, Boston Globe, 5/21/00

Last month’s release of the first detailed satellite images of Area 51, the top-secret US Air Force test site in Nevada, prompted a Web site meltdown as people from across the nation logged on in search of clues about unidentified flying objects.

”The interest has been really phenomenal,” said David Mountain, marketing director for Aerial Images Inc., which posted the high-resolution photographs of Area 51 on the Internet.

But those hoping to see signs that captured UFOs are stored at the site (as some aficionados have suggested) were destined to be disappointed. Most of Area 51′s operations occur underground, making photos meaningless.

Anyone looking for fresh information on UFOs would have better luck trying a new, but less publicized, source: a study by the French military, just translated into an approved English edition.

High-level officials – including retired generals from the French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense, a government-financed strategic planning agency – recently took a giant step in openly challenging skepticism about UFOs.

In a report based on a three-year study, they concluded that ”numerous manifestations observed by reliable witnesses could be the work of craft of extraterrestrial origin” and that, in fact, the best explanation is ”the extraterrestrial hypothesis.” Although not categorically proven, ”strong presumptions exist in its favor and if it is correct, it is loaded with significant consequences.”

The French group reached that conclusion after examining nearly 500 international aeronautical sightings and radar/ visual cases, and previously undisclosed pilots’ reports. They drew on data from official sources, government authorities, and the air forces of other countries. The findings are contained in a 90-page report titled ”UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For?”

”The number of sightings, which are completely unexplained despite the abundance and quality of data from them, is growing throughout the world,” the team declared.

The authors note that about 5 percent of sightings on which there is solid documentation cannot be easily attributed to earthly sources, such as secret military exercises. This 5 percent seem ”to be completely unknown flying machines with exceptional performances that are guided by a natural or artificial intelligence,” they say. Science has developed plausible models for travel from another solar system and for technology that could be used to propel the vehicles, the report points out.

It assures readers that UFOs have demonstrated no hostile acts, ”although intimidation maneuvers have been confirmed.”

Given the widespread skepticism about UFOs, many will quickly dismiss the generals’ ”extraterrestrial hypothesis.” But it is less easy to do so once the authors’ credentials are considered. The study’s originators are four-star General Bernard Norlain, former commander of the French Tactical Air Force and military counselor to the prime minister; General Denis Letty, an air force fighter pilot; and Andre Lebeau, former head of the National Center for Space Studies, the French equivalent of NASA.

They formed a 12-member ”Committee for In-depth Studies,” abbreviated as COMETA, which authored the report. Other contributors included a three-star admiral, the national chief of police, and the head of a government agency studying the subject, as well as scientists and weapons engineers.

Not only does the group stand by its findings, it is urging international action. The writers recommend that France establish ”sectorial cooperation agreements with interested European and foreign countries” on the matter of UFOs. They suggest that the European Union undertake diplomatic action with the United States ”exerting useful pressure to clarify this crucial issue which must fall within the scope of political and strategic alliances.”

Why might the United States be interested – albeit, privately – in a subject often met with ridicule, or considered the domain of the irrational?

For one thing, declassified US government documents show that unexplained objects with extraordinary technical capabilities pose challenges to military activity around the globe. For example, US fighter jets have attempted to pursue UFOs, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command logs and Air Force documents. Iranian and Peruvian air force planes attempted to shoot down unidentified craft in 1976 and 1980. Belgium F-16s armed with missiles pursued a UFO in 1990.

Further, the French report says that there have been ”visits above secret installations and missile bases” and ”military aircraft shadowed” in the United States.

Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who was the sixth man to walk on the moon, is one of many supporters of international cooperation on UFOs. Of the French report, he says, ”It’s significant that individuals of some standing in the government, military, and intelligence community in France came forth with this.”

Mitchell, who holds a doctorate from MIT in aeronautics and astronautics, is convinced ”at a confidence level above 90 percent, that there is reality to all of this.” He says, ”People have been digging through the files and investigating for years now. The files are quite convincing. The only thing that’s lacking is the official stamp.”

Mitchell joins five-star Admiral Lord Hill-Norton, the former head of the British Ministry of Defense, in calling for congressional fact-finding hearings into the UFO question.

Although Congress seems disinclined to pursue the matter, the public’s interest in UFOs is undiminished. A ballot initiative underway in Missouri, certified by the secretary of state in March, urges Congress to convene hearings. The initiative states that ”the Federal Government’s handling of the UFO issue has contributed to the public cynicism toward, and general mistrust of, government.”

US Naval Reserve Commander Willard H. Miller has long been communicating this same concern to high level federal officials. With over 30 years in Navy and joint interagency operations with the Defense Department, Miller has participated in a series of previously undisclosed briefings for Pentagon brass about military policy regarding UFOs.

Like many, Miller says he worries that the military’s lack of preparation for encounters with unexplained craft could provoke dangerous confrontation when, and if, such an encounter occurs; ”precipitous military decisions,” he warns, ”may lead to unnecessary confusion, misapplication of forces, or possible catastrophic consequences.”

And he says he is not alone in his concerns. ”There are those in high places in the government who share a growing interest in this subject,” Miller reports.

If the US military is concerned about UFOs, it is not saying so publicly. Indeed, the French report chastises the United States for what it calls an ”impressive repressive arsenal” on the subject, including a policy of disinformation and military regulations prohibiting public disclosure of UFO sightings.

Air Force Regulation 200-2, ”Unidentified Flying Objects Reporting,” for example, prohibits the release to the public and the media of any data about ”those objects which are not explainable.” An even more restrictive procedure is outlined in the Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146, which threatens to prosecute anyone under its jurisdiction – including pilots, civilian agencies, merchant marine captains, and even some fishing vessels – for disclosing reports of sightings relevant to US security.

Although researchers have been able to obtain some information through the Freedom of Information Act, many UFO documents remain classified.

In earlier decades, issues that remain pertinent today were openly discussed. In 1960, for example, US Representative Leonard G. Wolf of Iowa entered an ”urgent warning” from R.E. Hillenkoetter, a former CIA director and Navy vice admiral, into the Congressional Record that ”certain dangers are linked with unidentified flying objects.” Wolf cited General L.M. Chassin, NATO coordinator of Allied Air Service, warning that ”If we persist in refusing to recognize the existence of the UFOs, we will end up, one fine day, by mistaking them for the guided missiles of an enemy – and the worst will be upon us.”

These concerns were taken seriously enough to be incorporated into the 1971 US-Soviet ”Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Outbreak of Nuclear War.”

The French report may open the door for nations to be more forthcoming once again. Chile, for example, is openly addressing its own concerns about air safety and UFOs. The now retired chief of the Chilean Air Force has formed a committee with civil aviation specialists to study recent near-collisions of UFOs and civilian airliners.

As the international conversation about UFOs unfolds, sightings continue, as they have for decades. Perhaps the most notable recent USsighting took place in March 1997. Hundreds of people across Arizona reported seeing huge triangular objects, hovering silently in the night sky – a sighting that, as the state’s US Senator John McCain noted recently, has ”never been fully explained.”

As recently as Jan. 5, four policemen at different locations in St. Claire County, Illinois, witnessed a huge, brightly lighted, triangular craft flying and hovering at 1,000 feet. One officer reported witnessing extreme rapid motion by the craft that cannot be explained in conventional terms. Nearby Scott Air Force base and the Federal Aviation Administration purport to know nothing.

The Defense Department maintains it can find no information acknowledging the existence of the triangular objects. In response to a suit by curious Arizonans, it provided details of its search to US District Court Judge Stephen M. McNamee of Phoenix. On March 30, McNamee concluded that ”a reasonable search was conducted” even though no information was obtained, and he dismissed the case.

There is one government agency in the country that has taken steps to prepare for a UFO encounter. The Fire Officer’s Guide to Disaster Control, second edition – used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and taught at the seven universities offering degrees in fire science – warns of ”UFO hazards,” such as electrical fields that cause blackouts, force fields, and physiological effects.

”Do not stand under a UFO that is hovering at low altitudes,” the book warns. ”Do not touch or attempt to touch a UFO that has landed.”

The text leaves little room for skepticism. John E. Mack, professor of psychiatry at Harvard University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, stopped being skeptical a long time ago.

”No culture from the beginning of time, no culture from anywhere on the planet, has ever voided the idea of all other intelligent life other than ourselves,” he told a UFO conference at the New York Hall of Science two weeks ago. ”That’s arrogance.”

Leslie Kean is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay area.
This story ran on page E3 of the Boston Globe on 5/21/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Essay: Mainstream Media: The Drug War Shills

Mainstream Media: The Drug War Shills
by Michael Levine

(unedited draft of essay now published in
INTO THE BUZZSAW, Prometheus Press,
edited by Kristina Borjesson)

Everything you need to know about mainstream media’s vital role in perpetuating our nation’s three—decade, trillion dollar War on Drugs despite overwhelming evidence that it is a fraud  you can learn by watching a Three Card Monty Operation.

Three Card Monty is a blatant con game where the dealer lays three cards on a folding table,  shows you that one of them is the Queen of Spades, turns them over, shuffles them quickly.  You’re sure you know where the queen is and you saw a guy before you win easily a couple of times,  so you bet your money. If that dopey looking guy can win, so can you.   But, incredibly, you’ve guessed wrong. You lost.  You’ve been taken for a sucker.

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Essay: The “Perception of Cover-up”

The “Perception of Cover-up”
by Michael Levine

On April 1, 1992,  a House committee chaired by Congressman John Conyers Jr., declared that U.S. Customs and other Federal law enforcement agencies are poorly trained, badly supervised and that there is a “perception of cover-up” for their misdeeds.[1] (emphasis mine).  At about midnight,  August 25,  1992, just four months after those hearings, and a few days after the shooting of White Sepratist Randy Weaver’s wife and child by the FBI agents,    Customs, DEA, BATF and Border Patrol agents launched a joint, military style invasion of the San Diego home of Mr. Donald Carlson, a 41 year old, computer company executive.  The feds had a search warrant indicating that they expected to find 5,000 pounds of cocaine (having a street value of roughly $100 million),  and four heavily armed Colombian drug dealers hiding in Mr. Carlson’s garage.

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Essay: The Emperor is Butt Naked

The Emperor is Butt Naked
by Michael Levine

To the Reader:  This article was first published in 1997, four years prior to 9/11.  Imagine what a difference it might have made if mainstream media had really played its “watchdog” role and forced Congress to demand the best from our first line of defense,  instead of their looking the other way at the kind of ineptitude exposed here…and only here.

Yesterday upon the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I think he’s from the CIA

At this moment the next big and terrible secret that our CIA and some of their shills in congress and the media are scrambling to keep under wraps is that for the past eight years, they have been protecting and covering up for yet another world class drug trafficker while he and his family amassed a colossal fortune by flooding American cities with drugs.   Ex- President of Mexico, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, linked to a half billion dollars in suspected drug money is now in hiding,[1] only I’m betting that my own government sources are right when they say that he is in daily contact with his CIA handlers.

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Essay: KING RAT

KING RAT[1]
The American Justice System – Where the Rat is King.

by Michael Levine

“Gentlemen, in this business, you’re only
as good
as your rats.”—Lecture on the Handling of
Criminal Informants (CIs) from U.S. Treasury Law
Enforcement Academy, August, 1965

“I’m looking for Mike Levine, ex-DEA,” said the man’s voice.

“How’d you get this number?” I said. It was close to midnight and my wife and I were in a San Francisco hotel on business.

“Man, you don’t know what I went through to find you.”

The voice belonged to a well known California defense attorney who said that he’d tracked me through my publisher.

“I’m in the middle of trying a case,” he said. “I need you to testify as an expert witness.  The judge gave me over the weekend to find you and bring you here—”

“Whoa! Whoa!” I said. “Back up.  I’m not a legal consultant—”

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Essay: Funeral Train

Funeral Train
by Michael Levine

“Any day is a good day to die”—Arab proverb

On Saturday, June 8, 1968, I witnessed violent death. It wasn’t the first time, it wouldn’t be the last. Yet the images of that day festered in my memory for three decades. It wasn’t until recently that I understood why.

It is a hot day and I’m leaning out  from between two cars of a southbound train trying to catch a breeze.  Throngs of people line the tracks as far as the eye can see,  gawking at us.   Here and there an American flag hangs limp in the dank heat. The body of the Senator Robert F. Kennedy in a flag draped coffin is in the rear compartment.  More than a million people line the tracks between New York and Washington DC where he will be buried.  My train is packed with (literally) the year’s hottest celebrities— the air-conditioner, unimpressed, has quit.

Ahead, some of the crowd push onto the tracks for a closer look.   A northbound train suddenly speeds around a curve heading right at them.   I wave and shout.   Most scatter to safety.  But a few freeze in their tracks like frightened deer an instant before the  mass of steel grinds them into road kill.   I’m thinking, “I didn’t see that.”  There is an explosion of sound.   Shrieks of horror over screeching steel.  A blur of dirty brown metal.  The indescribable smell of death.

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Essay: I Volunteer to Kidnap Ollie North

I Volunteer to Kidnap Ollie North
by Michael Levine – ©1992

We Americans have no idea how the image of our great country has suffered throughout the world as a result of our leader’s so-called war on drugs.  I just returned from an international drug symposium under the auspices of the OGD (  ), where I spent a week listening to representatives—members of police agencies, college professors, bureaucrats, elected officials and journalists—of virtually every nation in the world affected by drug problems, all of whom seemed to have one point of view in common: that the U.S. war on drugs was both a failure and a fraud.

The fact that it is a failure is readily evident on the streets of our country where it is proven in blood every day.  The indications that it is a fraud, however, are much more public knowledge around the world than they are right here, where our media has lost its courage to confront political power and continue to be the kind of watchdog over our Constitution that it started to be during the Watergate years.

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Some Prior Guests

David Moorhouse

Ray McGovern

Dr. Rick Nuccio

Renee Boje

Daniel Ellsberg

Richard Stratton

Gerard Colby

Greg Palast

Dennis Dayle

Ralph McGeehee

Stan Goff

Mark Levine

Vincent Bugliosi

J.H. Hatfield

Siobhan Reynolds

Charles Bowden

Katherine Gun

Bob Parry

Sandy Gonzalez

Sibel Edmonds

Ellen Mariani

Peter Lance

Senator Bob Graham

Cele Castillo

Tosh Plumlee

Donald Bains

Will Northrop

Aukai Collin

John Loftus

Joyce Reilly Von Kliest

Kelly O' Meara

John P. Flannery

Bill Conroy

Sander Hicks

Paul Williams