Operation Choke Point’ unfairly targets businesses it doesn’t like.

Operation Choke Point’ unfairly targets businesses it doesn’t like.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/05/26/justice-department-porn-stars-first-amendment-column/9594113/

The ability to destroy legal industries through secret actions to deprive them of banking services has obvious political consequences. . . . In principle, of course, the logic of Operation Choke Point could be extended to groups not currently targeted. Notably absent from the FDIC’s hit list, for example, are abortion clinics, radical environmental groups, or, well, marijuana shops, for that matter. Something similar was done to cut off credit-card payments to support the operation of WikiLeaks .

Personally, I don’t think that regulators should be able to abuse their discretion — and this certainly looks abusive to me — in order to pressure banks to shut down the accounts of legal businesses. (As Sen. David Vitter, R-La., noted in March, the Justice Department has no statutory authority to do this). And while abortion clinics and environmental groups are probably safe under the Obama administration, if this sort of thing stands, they will be vulnerable to the same tactics if a different administration adopts this same thuggish approach toward the businesses that it dislikes. And why wouldn’t it, if the Justice Department gets away with this?

Congress, and the courts, and the press, need to bring the Justice Department to heel. And, in fact, I think that the officials involved should be named, shamed, and disciplined. Because what’s going on here doesn’t look much like justice at all.

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