Yeah, yeah, blah, blah: Ackerman at last shows interest in the SEC’s operations.
Congressman Gary Ackerman‘s rip-snorting attack on the SEC for not catching Bernie Madoff‘s scam is good entertainment, but it’s only bluster to impress his constituents who got took.
Still, it’s not a bad dog-and-pony show from a congressman who used to take campaign contributions from Madoff, as federal records show.
Despite his spot as vice-chair of a subcommittee overseeing the SEC (which presupposes that he had an interest in Wall Street’s functioning before he assumed that post), Ackerman showed practically no interest in the SEC’s operations until the current Wall Street meltdown.
An examination of bills sponsored by the longtime but relatively low-ranking congressman reveals few measures relating to the SEC. Actually, I could find only one or two, and they were recent. (Please, Gary, correct me if I’m wrong.)
Who should really care what these House members say to the SEC? They’re just posturing. The real can of whup-ass was opened yesterday by whistleblower Harry Markopolos.
Ackerman’s own blistering attack on the sitting-duck SEC officials is easily explained: The congressman represents parts of Queens and Long Island, but he also represents conservative Jews across the country and in Israel as one of Jewish-hawk lobby AIPAC’s most ardent loyalists. Madoff’s scam deeply cut into that constituency of Ackerman’s. Shouting “Shonda!” at the SEC should keep him in good stead with those folks.
He may not have been too active on the SEC front until recently, but Ackerman has over the years introduced a slew of bills at the behest of AIPAC and even the Israeli government.
Not to mention the fact (which I’ll mention again) that, back in the ’90s, Madoff himself (also a Democrat and ardent supporter of Israel’s government) gave Ackerman $1,200 in campaign donations.
Known as a social-issues liberal but a firm friend of Israel’s hawks, Ackerman did Israel’s and AIPAC’s bidding last May, as Ira Glunts noted last summer:
Ordinarily, the American Israel Policy Action Committee (AIPAC) has an influence on U.S. foreign policy which goes unchallenged. In the case of the current House resolution, H. Con. Res. 362, despite the intense pressure exerted by AIPAC, some members of the United States House of Representatives who initially were about to rubber stamp this reckless non-binding resolution promoted by the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, are having a change of heart. After receiving many thousands of messages which pointed out that the resolution could be interpreted as Congressional authorization for military action against Iran, some legislators began expressing their own reservations.
On May 19, 2008, a 12-member House delegation led by House Speaker Pelosi met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. At that lunch meeting, Olmert proposed that a naval blockade be imposed on Iran in order to stop its uranium enrichment program. Present at this meeting were: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, and AIPAC loyalists Reps. Nita Lowey and Gary Ackerman. Three days after this meeting, Mr. Ackerman introduced the resolution H. Con. Res. 362 in the House….
Many people, already alarmed by U.S. and Israeli saber-rattling, were startled at the aggressive tone of the AIPAC resolution. They reacted especially adversely to the clause prohibiting imports of refined petroleum which appeared to demand a blockade. Even if a blockade did not materialize, passage of the resolution could be understood by the Bush administration as a Congressional authorization for the use of force against Iran.
At the very least, passage of H. Con. Res. 362 would indicate a lack of Congressional resolve to prevent the U.S. from expanding America’s Middle East war to Iran. This is especially worrisome in light of the fact that, as Seymour Hersh has written in The New Yorker, a Congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi has already authorized 400 million dollars for covert operations in Iran aimed at arming dissident groups and subverting Iranian nuclear sites.
Ackerman’s middling career in Congress has been dominated by his continual introduction of measures aggressively favorable to Israel. See the Jewish Daily Forward for a 2006 account of Ackerman’s power as an extension of AIPAC in Congress. Too bad he wasn’t focused more on the SEC back then.