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Friday, April 11, 2008

What’s my task?

Attorney General Mukasey’s resistance to forming a task force to investigate the nation’s mortgage crisis is now being met with hostility even from within his own party. In a speech on the economy yesterday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain called for the DOJ to create a task force to investigate mortgage crimes.

Mukasey had expressed his reluctance to creating such a task force at a meeting with reporters on March 21, claiming it was premature. “In order to have a task force you need to identify the task,” he stated. “That is what we are doing now.”

There are currently numerous local FBI investigations into mortgage fraud, and local U.S. Attorneys have issued subpoenas to a number of investment banks regarding the packaging of loan bundles to sell to the investing public. However, while the DOJ is “figuring out whether there is a larger criminal story to be told here,” as Mukasey put it, there is no central coordination of efforts to probe what some are calling the worst national economic crisis since the Great Depression.

I appeared before Mukasey many times when he was a District Court judge here in Manhattan, and tried a complex white-collar fraud case to a jury in his courtroom. He is a smart, thoughtful, independent thinker, a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase kind of guy. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the task is here. Simply investigate the deal flow, just as you would with any systemic problem.

Central coordination by a DOJ task force would give focus to the numerous local investigations and serve to reassure the public that a dire problem is being addressed. The time for “figuring out” is over. It’s time to act now. CR

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