On Thursday June 25, a Congressional committee subjected the Fed Chairman, Dr. Ben Bernanke, to an accusatory interrogation about the events surrounding the acquisition of Merrill Lunch by Bank of America. This was an amazing spectacle because we simply could not believe the utter stupidity of the Congressional Representatives on that committee. It was disgusting because these elected representatives apparently felt no shame in besmirching the reputation of man of unquestionable integrity.
It was a spectacle that tells us that the American people need the legal ability to recall members of Congressional Committees or to permanently bar them from serving on congressional committees. We are not alone in our outrage. For once, Financial TV networks, Journalists as well as both Bullish and Bearish Investors condemned the behavior of the Congressional representatives.
Let us look back to last November-December. It was a period when we faced the prospect of Financial Armageddon and the American economy was in a free fall. The stability of the global financial system was teetering. And Nobody was in charge in the White House or the Treasury Department. The Bush Presidency was a lame duck and President-Elect Barak Obama was working on his transition. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was on his way out and the new Treasury Secretary had not been named. The Congress as usual was absent and hiding in their constituencies.
Only one man was stood in the way of financial disaster. That man was the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Dr. Bernanke single handedly cut interest rates to zero, launched innovative programs to provide liquidity to America’s Financial System and provided swap lines to foreign central banks of allied countries including UK and Switzerland. He avoided financial calamity and paved the way for resumption of normal functioning of America’s financial system.
This is why people like Warren Buffet and Jack Welch have called Ben Bernanke a national hero and publicly expressed their gratitude for his heroic efforts.
How has America’s political system rewarded this hero? President Obama has virtually ignored him in public, bending only to speak tersely about his success. At least, Mr. Obama has not criticized him. That was left to the great Congress of the United States.
Now that the crisis is over and the financial markets are on a roll, the House of Representatives launched a Kangaroo hearing in which they abused, insulted and heaped scorn on Ben Bernanke for their political purposes. We have great confidence in Dr. Bernanke and we are absolutely positive that he will continue to take the right steps at the Fed until he is asked to step down by President Obama.
But, the inquisition of Ben Bernanke made us wonder about the war against terrorists being fought by the hundreds of loyal, patriotic Special Forces and CIA Agents in far away places. These people take great personal risks to locate terrorist plots against America and then take even greater risks to foil these. These agents work under cover and in areas where no CIA or Army lawyer is available to advise them about the fine points of US law.
Imagine that you are one of these people and you saw the Congressional Inquisition of a National Hero like Ben Bernanke. Would that give you courage to take greater risks for your country or would that scream at you to do everything by the book? Would you not wonder whether another Congressional committee would interrogate you months after you took risks to foil a terrorist plot against America? Would you not wonder whether actions that seem eminently reasonable in a remote corner of Afghanistan-Pakistan would seem terrible, violent and perhaps illegal under the bright lights of a Congressional Inquisition in safe, secure Washington DC?
We think it is likely that you would pause to consider this possibility and it might persuade you to lower your zeal, to pause, to reach out to your legal team at HQ for their advise. If you do so, it might result in losing that one opportunity to capture that terrorist, to interrogate that captured suspected terrorist before he gets over the shock of his capture and hardens his mental defenses. While that is highly regrettable, at least you would have protected yourself from the United States Congress.
The above is our conjecture, a logical, reasonable and emotional derivative of watching the Congressional Committee trying to entrap Ben Bernanke into an admission. We sincerely hope that the hundreds of patriotic, brave Special Forces and covert CIA operatives in Af-Pak do not think like us investors and bloggers. If they did, then we would be very afraid for the success of the current War Against Terrorists.
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