Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report says Ms. Lynch’s expertise in white-collar crime was defending white-collar criminals, not prosecuting them


Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. The nomination hearing of Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s candidate for attorney general, is underway. On Wednesday, she testified before the nominations committee about her qualifications for the position. Let’s have a look. ~~~ LORETTA LYNCH, NOMINEE FOR U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It has been my signal honor to work hand-in-hand with dedicated law enforcement officers and agents who risk their lives every day in the protection of the communities we all serve. I have served with them. I have learned from them. I am a better prosecutor because of them. Few things have pained me more than the recent reports of tension and division between law enforcement and the communities we serve. If confirmed as attorney general, one of my key priorities would be to work to strengthen the vital relationships between our courageous law enforcement personnel and all of the communities we serve. ~~~ PERIES: Now joining me to discuss the pending appointment is Bruce Dixon. He is the managing editor of the Black Agenda Report. Thank you so much for joining me, Bruce. BRUCE DIXON, MANAGING EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Thanks for inviting me, Sharmini. PERIES: So one of the most contentious things this country is facing right now is the relationship between African-American communities and the various police forces across the country, with over 500 killings of black community members in this country per year. Now, this is a huge undertaking in terms of trying to address this problem. Eric Holder and President Obama has fallen short in terms of really getting at the root of the problem here. Do you think she comes with any qualifications to address the whole area of civil rights and civil liberties? DIXON: Well, once again, yes, she’s got eminent qualifications. Unfortunately, they’re on the other side. She was the head of the Brooklyn DA’s office for a good long while, and she was an assistant prosecutor there for a while, too. So she marked herself out as an exceptionally vicious prosecutor. The federal law enforcement authorities often aid and abet the local ones by enabling police to–by enabling local police to do certain kinds of federal things and by granting authority to them that they wouldn’t otherwise have without federal cooperation. But the federal criminal justice system, as any defense attorney will tell you, is a machine designed to manufacture convictions of poor people. Federal prosecutors, more than 95 percent of cases in federal court never go to trial. They’re all plea-bargained because the prosecutors load up the charges and they offer people the choice between decades in jail or pleading guilty to whatever offense the prosecutor designates if you should plead guilty to it. So cases don’t even go to trial. And this is the kind of person we’re getting in terms of criminal law. So her qualifications on that score are about the same as her qualifications in the area of white-collar crime and protecting the public interest that way. PERIES: Bruce, among the many qualifications that Loretta Lynch has, one that is cited on her record as an asset is the fact that from 2003 to 2005 she served as a board member of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. What do you make of this? DIXON: Well, it sort of tells you who this lady. We know who the Fed is. The Fed are a bunch of private powerful actors in the financial sector who basically control the economy of this country. And if she was entitled to sit on the board with those people, then that’s who and what she is. We really ought to note that whether it’s the Republicans bringing us Clarence Thomas or the Democrats bringing us characters like Jay Johnson, the Defense Department lawyer Eric Holder, or Sonia Sotomeyer, or this lady here, we’re always being brought lawyers who are always corporate lawyers and corporate figures. We never seem to get a people’s lawyer in the Justice Department or as attorney general or on the federal bench. Ms. Lynch has never represented a poor person. She’s never represented someone being dispossessed or evicted. She’s never represented anyone accused of a crime, except of white-collar crime. And when you look on her Justice Department bio, it says that during her first tenure at the Justice Department she was the chair of the white-collar crime subcommittee. And apparently her expertise in white-collar crime was defending white-collar criminals, not prosecuting them. And so that’s the sort of lawyer she is. And the fact that she’s black and wears a skirt is going to be–and is articulate is going to be used to manufacture a whole lot of stand by a sister moments. But Ms. Lynch is a corporate figure, and she really represents the people who are on the Fed. She represents Bank of America. She represents those kinds of interests, not the people’s interests. PERIES: Right. According to one of our regular guests on The Real News, Bill Black, who wrote the book The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One–and he was a former bank regulator–according to him, as far as Eric Holder, her predecessor or the current attorney general’s record is concerned, there was not one prosecution of a big banker. And do you think she will be any different? DIXON: Well, on her DOJ biography and in other places it also notes that Ms. Lynch negotiated the settlement with Citicorp. Citicorp was accused of mortgage fraud, bundling those fraudulent mortgages together to sell them to investors. So Citicorp was one of the actors directly responsible for crashing the economy. And Loretta Lynch was part of the deal that let them off with a $7 billion settlement and, as Bill Black, said didn’t lock up one white-collar criminal. So this is who she is and this is what we’re getting. PERIES: Right. And then, finally, she spent quite a bit of time serving as special counsel for chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the tribunal on Rwanda, which she says was defining for her in terms of her legal career. What do we know about this experience of hers? DIXON: The Rwanda story is a really useful one, has proved to be a really useful one for the architects of American foreign policy. It’s been massively misportrayed to us as in incidents of–what was it? Huto on Tutsi genocide and an affair that the United States should have involved itself deeper in earlier to prevent genocide, when real investigators on the ground have discovered and confirmed that a significant proportion of the murders that the place that season in Rwanda were committed by Paul Kagame and the people who actually won that war and the crew who actually rules Rwanda now. And the genocide story, the hotel Rwanda story that we’re being sold, really does not explain what happened in Rwanda one little bit. And the winners in that war, the people whom Loretta Lynch and the rest of them are painting as the good guys in the Rwanda story, are the ones who bear more responsibility than anyone else for the 6 million dead in the Congo since 1994. So Loretta, if she was involved in that, she has some real, real African blood on her hands. PERIES: And I understand that Kagame was actually acquitted of most of the killings, and that was really the result of the Rwanda tribunal. DIXON: Kagame was never even accused of anything. He was painted as the good guy who stopped the killings. PERIES: Bruce, I want to thank you so much for joining us today and shedding some light on the candidate for attorney general. DIXON: Whoopie. I hope someday we can actually see a people’s lawyer in that post, somebody like your guy Bill Black, somebody like Michael Ratner, or somebody like, I don’t know, Flint Taylor, who founded the People’s Law Office in Chicago. If Thurgood Marshall was alive today, he’d stand no chance to get a federal judgeship or any kind of appointment at the Justice Department. That’s how low we’ve sunk under this black president. PERIES: Thank you so much, Bruce.

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Bruce Dixon

Bruce Dixon is the managing editor of the Black Agenda Report. He has had an extensive career as a union activist in a string of factories, plants and workplaces. He is also the co-chair of the Georgia Green Party.