Monday, November 10, 2008

UBS hands over account information on 70 US Citizens (out of 19,000)

This is what it looks like when the shoe drops:
The U.S. government has chipped new holes in the secrecy of Swiss bank accounts, obtaining the names of American clients of the banking giant UBS as part of an investigation into the use of foreign banks to evade taxes.

In an unusual move, the Swiss have turned over information on about 70 UBS clients for use by Justice Department investigators, a source close to the case said.

The Swiss were responding to a Justice Department request for information on Americans who held "undeclared" accounts at UBS in Switzerland -- accounts that they had not revealed to the Internal Revenue Service, the source said.

Meanwhile, criminal investigators have obtained the names of an additional 30 or so American holders of undeclared UBS accounts from other parties, and people with inside knowledge of the bank have been giving federal prosecutors information about UBS's conduct, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity.
Justice takes awhile. I'm so glad I keep my money in Nevis. So glad.

How would you like to be a certain Mr. Phil Gramm right about now? The bank Gramm was a lobbyist for has essentially revealed that Gramm was lobbying for an institution used by US persons to hide their money from the US Government. How does that add up to being a patriotic American? Aren't you supposed to be helping America crush Switzerland, sir? And, I may be impolite to say this, but I will anyway. Isn't it a little odd that we're hearing about this nearly a week after Election Day?

Come on, Washington Post--try harder:
The 70 or so names turned over by the Swiss in recent months are far from a full disclosure. According to a July report by the staff of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, UBS told Senate investigators that about 19,000 Americans held undeclared accounts with the bank in Switzerland.
You mean to tell me that there could be 19,000 Americans who are illegally hiding money in a bank in Switzerland and that that same bank is now giving the Federal government full cooperation?

A whole lot of rather wealthy and influential people just soiled themselves. Expect a run at the dry cleaners.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Fine Soldier and a Fine Leader of Men

Sounds like a badass to me:
Retired Marine Col. John Ripley, who was credited with stopping a column of North Vietnamese tanks by blowing up a pair of bridges during the 1972 Easter Offensive of the Vietnam War, died at home at age 69, friends and relatives said Sunday. Ripley's son, Stephen Ripley, said his father was found at his Annapolis home Saturday after missing a speaking engagement on Friday. The son said the cause of death had not been determined but it appeared his father died in his sleep.

In a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program, Ripley said he and about 600 South Vietnamese were ordered to "hold and die" against 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers with about 200 tanks.

"I'll never forget that order, 'hold and die'," Ripley said. The only way to stop the enormous force with their tiny force was to destroy the bridge, he said.

"The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous," Ripley said. "When you know you're not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you're going to save your butt."

Ripley crawled under the bridge under heavy gunfire, rigging 500 pounds of explosives that brought the twins spans down, said John Miller, a former Marine adviser in Vietnam and the author of "The Bridge at Dong Ha," which details the battle.

Miller said the North Vietnamese advance was slowed considerably by Ripley.

"A lot of people think South Vietnam would have gone under in '72 had he not stopped them," Miller said.
I don't recall whether or not Mr. Ripley felt he was entitled to the Presidency, do you? Sounds like he did his job and came home and lived an honorable life. And we probably don't think of Vietnam as a tank war, or a war with uniformed troops against uniformed troops, but that's how it turned out in the end. When was the last time you saw a movie about the Vietnam war that featured naval gunfire stopping tanks from crossing a river? Or tens of thousands of uniformed North Vietnamese troops? Many wars start out with small groups of insurgents with small arms and end up with large armies fighting conventionally; could that happen in Iraq or in Afghanistan one day?