I can see as well as you that my calls for disclosing the identities of the AIG counter parties have fallen on deaf ears. When Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) asked Secretary Geithner today who they were, his answer was an argument that letting AIG default on its obligations posed too grave a systemic risk to the US and global economies — a claim which I concede may be true but nevertheless ignored the question: who’s getting the money?
So how about this? Can we get a clear explanation of why we can’t know?
To the extent there is a good reason I figure it must be some form of argument to the effect that our effort to prevent the collapse or undermining of the counter parties would be undermined by disclosing who they are. In other words, if Bank X is owed mountains of cash by AIG. And the cash is only coming from Uncle Sam. Then maybe Bank X is actually in trouble. And you’ll get a run on bank us. This is a pretty crude example, I admit. But I figure some argument of this sort must be the rationale. But these sorts of arguments are too easy to make, too simple a way just to keep information secret because that’s what big institutions — be they treasuries, or banks or Feds — like to do.
So if we’re really not allowed who are billions of dollars are going to, can we at least have a clear explanation of why it is not in our collective interest for this information to remain secret?
(ed.note: And in case you’re wondering, no, this is only half meant in jest. Maybe there is a good reason not to disclose this. But the public is owed a very clear explanation of why. Very clear. Literally just ignoring the question amounts to treating us, the public, with genuine contempt. These are massive amounts of money we’re paying. Quite likely it will get up to a quarter of a trillion dollars with AIG. We deserves serious answers.)
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.