Another Tough Day In America: Criminals Rewarded, Heroes Jailed, Dollar Destroyed
by Jim Karger
I wish I had been busier a few days ago, more occupied, or at least more distracted, with less time to follow the news. But I read it all and I regretfully report that it was another tragic day in America, another palpable step toward an ignominious end.
The day began with the mainstream press reporting, matter-of-factly, that the US government was giving a reward to former UBS banker, Bradley C. Birkenfeld, admitted liar, tax fraud promoter, low-rent trash in a suit who violated every promise he ever made to his employer and to his clients. For his efforts, he will receive a total of $104 million. The US government disingenuously classified his collective breaches of contract, trust, and ethics a compensable “service” to a government that collected billions by extorting foreign banks that had the audacity to accept deposits from US clients, not knowing they were expected to also act as agents of the Internal Revenue Service. US foreign account holders also ended up paying billions after being threatened with prison if they did not self-report and pay draconian fines.
The government cynically characterized Birkenfeld’s actions as “blowing the whistle”, ignoring the fact that tattling is only honorable when done for honorable purposes, to reveal dishonesty, not to garner a personal reward. If you squeal for money, it is not whistle-blowing. It is bounty-hunting. Even as a paid government snitch, Birkenfeld couldn’t do it straight and was sentenced to 40 months in prison for lying during the course of the very investigation he initiated. No hard feelings, though. He was just released early to a lifetime of fabulous wealth.
As I perused that hideous story, the contrast with Bradley Manning was too obvious, too stark, too disturbing. Manning blew the whistle, too, not for cash, but to deal with the profound guilt he felt from reading and seeing the war crimes of his government which were kept hidden. Since his act of heroism, or treason, depending on how you define those terms, Manning has spent 2 1/2 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement, tortured, with no trial. By any definition, Manning was a whistleblower. Unfortunately for him, he blew the whistle on a 900 pound gorilla in the room, the one with a bad attitude and a gun.