Who Launched the USS Fannie Mac?

Bruce Krasting's picture

Marla Singer at Zero Hedge wrote an important piece
regarding the Agencies this weekend. I am sure that she will get a lot
of .GOV reads from this. I believe that she might be the first to not
only blame the government for the problems at Fannie and Freddie but to
make a case that the government might be responsible for some of the
consequences. Ms. Singer may be onto something.

There was an interesting court case down in New Orleans last fall.
There are numerous appeals out on this case, so no precedent has been
set as yet. But we are getting close. There may be some connection to
the facts in NOLA and what happened with Fannie and Freddie.

I am not a lawyer, so allow me to spell this out in layman’s language. I will let the lawyers out there pick this apart.

Following the Katrina disaster in New Orleans there were many lawsuits
from property owners who had been flooded and lost all that they had.
Most of these suits were directed at the Army Corps of Engineers
(“ACE”). The argument put forward was that the ACE failed in its
responsibilities to protect the property owners in NO, and as a result
they were liable for damages. Legally this argument has little merit.

There are statutes and precedents that establish that the Government
has substantial immunity from lawsuits. Even if the ACE did screw up,
the government is shielded from liability. (The seminal case of Central
Green Co. v. United States, 531 U.S. 425 (2001))

But that is not what US District Judge Stanwood Duvall said in his
opinion. He found in favor of the plaintiffs. Judge Duvall awarded five
victims of hurricane Katrina almost $750,000, ruling that the Army
Corps of Engineers helped cause the flooding of their homes and
businesses by carelessly maintaining a shipping channel to the Gulf of

The following comments were made:

-The Corps had not acted with due care when it botched operation and maintenance of MRGO, (a shipping canal). {MRGO=FNM/FRE??}

-Army Corps of Engineers failed to tell Congress about the channel's environmental and safety problems. {OFHEO??}

On the more difficult issue of whether one can sue the Government, even
when they screw up, the Judge made a most interesting (to me) legal

“Would the United States be immune for
all damages if a Navy vessel lost control and broke through a levee
where the sole cause of the failure of that levee was the Navy vessel’s

The Judge relied on this logic when he ruled against the ACE/US
Government. I can’t help but make the comparison to the Government’s
role with respect to Fannie and Freddie. Both the Executive and
Legislative arms of Government misused the Agencies for decades. As a
result, the F/F equity holders took a quarter of a trillion dollar
shellacking, and damn near everyone in the globe felt some of the pain.
The US will pay for it over the next twenty years.

It’s a stretch to compare Judge Duvall’s ruling in NOLA to the
circumstances behind F/F. But not that much of a stretch. I have a book
of examples. A major turning point in this history took place in 2002.
The numbers exploded after that and the die was cast. This from a
George Bush speech in 2002.

"Economic security at home is just an important part of -- as
homeland security. And owning a home is part of that economic security."

"I called upon the private sector to help us and help the home
buyers. I'm proud to report that Fannie Mae has heard the call and, as
I understand, it's about $440 billion over a period of time. Freddie
Mac is interested in helping. I appreciate both of those agencies
providing the underpinnings of good capital

In 2002 Bush was consumed with Homeland Security. He used Fannie and
Freddie to support his goals. Notice he refers to F/F as the “private sector”. He knew better. His T-Secretaries were warning Congress that the Agencies posed a systemic risk.

Fannie Mae heard the call”. What bunk. Fannie was told what to do by the Administration. For Mr. Bush to have suggested that this was somehow the “underpinnings of good capital”
speaks for itself. That statement makes no sense. But, none of this
made sense. The audience of mortgage bankers cheered loudly however.

This was the battleship USS Fannie Mac headed for the levee. It just took six years for the crash to happen.

Back in NOLO the lawyers are lining up clients who got flooded. The
talk is of a $100b class action lawsuit as a result of Judge Duvall’s
ruling. Some experts see as inevitable the creation by Congress of a
fund to compensate Katrina victims ala the 911 victims. The results of
the lawsuit and the proposal for a settlement has gotten support from

Professor Oliver Houck of Tulane Law School, "This was our 9/11. There's even more of a rationale here, because the government was largely responsible."

Those that chase Fannie and Freddie stock might do well to follow the
appeals of Judge Duvall’s ruling. Those that chase ambulances might do
well to follow it too. There is a case here somewhere.

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Carl Marks's picture

The United States Government has usurped the Constitution with the acquiescence of the people whose insatiable demand for largess has destroyed the foundation of this country. American corruption, greed and sloth has brought about her destruction from within. You wanted democratic socialism but you got corporate fascism. Right wing populism is simmering. It took the Civil War to eviscerate the Tenth Amendment. The Great Depression heralded the end to constitutional government. Reform will come from the barrel of a gun. Military dictatorship under the guise of public safety will follow. You won your freedom only to lose it to your base need for comfort.

Anonymous's picture

I am glad to see only Bush was responsible for the crisis. The previous administrations and congresses past and present should not be lumped in with Bush. That would tarnish there already stellar reputations.

Ned Zeppelin's picture

I agree Fannie and Freddie are disasters, billions in losses. This seems to be an argument to the effect that the proximate cause of these monumental losses is garden-variety negligence, e.g., the immense battleship whose helmsman is momentarily distracted, with unfortunate consequences.

However, it is hard to argue that actions endlessly repeated, and endlessly ratified by all of the various participants, constitutes "negligence."   I see it as a grand series of business transactions, with a profit motive.  Then it follows, that for every loss, there is a counterparty who profits, in this case handsomely, who therefore has motive to enter into the transaction, especially one in which the outcome can be greatly influenced to one's benefit by political contributions and lobbying. So, who profited? Follow the money to the real perps. 

Bruce Krasting's picture

Is conflict of interest negligence? Is willful misuse of power negligence?

That's for the lawyers to work on. For me I have made up my mind. The WH used F/F to further their agenda. While their intent way back then was benign, the consequences were catastrophic.There were many in the Bush administration (include all of the Treasury Secretaries and his life long friend James Lockhart) who were all saying they constituted a systemic risk. No one listened and now we pay........The battleship hit the dike and we all got flooded.

We can't rewrite history. But I will ask the question anyway. Where would we be today if F/F did not load up on Sub Prime and Alt A loans in the 02-06 years?

Answer: Much better than were are today.


Miles Kendig's picture

While their intent way back then was benign,...

What makes you so sure Bruce?

heatbarrier's picture

Oh boy. Bruce, don't feed the fire, the piece on the agencies is deeply flawed. There are people out there trying to sink the ZH Bismarck, why give them an easy shot?  

Cursive's picture


I would rather this have died earlier this weekend, too.  Howard and you wrote some excellent rebuttals that referenced actual experience in the field.  To say that the fraud was ring-fenced inside F/F and that there is a wide moat between F/F and the ratings agencies and investment banks is, well, unbelievable (and that was the least inflammatory word I could think of).

heatbarrier's picture

Cursive, Howard and I are dissenters the spirit of communitas, it is because we care about ZH. There are two important stories IMO around MBS-ABS and they are not about the agencies:

1. The rise of non-agencies MBS and the massive fraud that accompanied it,



2. The discrediting of the MBS-ABS technology, the only challenge to the banking model, and the rise of banks so large that they are de facto GSEs.

Cursive's picture

@ heatbarrier

I care about ZH, too.  Reading Denniger this morning, he posits a theory that the Christmas Eve open credit line extended the F/F could be a window for the banksters to unload the principal reductions on their underwater loans/HELOC's.  If that were to happen, who would be the ultimate beneficiary?  The banks.  Who among the ZH community doesn't think the banks are pushing for these bailouts?  And there are so-called economists such as Mark Zandi saying this is exactly what we need.  F/F are problems, but it is wrong to focus on F/F as the origin of the problem.

RobotTrader's picture

No wonder the banks are now showing relative strength.

All the garbage will be offloaded from the balance sheets onto FNM and FRE, and the taxpayers will end up paying the bill.

Rainman's picture

Agreed. The BAD BANK (S) have already been created with this intent.

The horror.

Anonymous's picture

Wishful thinking at best.

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

I worked at Fannie Mae for 5 years.  Grew to loath it, it's 'mission' to push the "American Dream" on everyone, and creeps like Barney Frank, Jamie Gorelick, Frank Raines, etc., the pathetic, racist 'diversity' training classes they made employees suffer through, and the promotion of employees on bases other than merit.

My own view is that the present economic mess in this country germinated not from a failure of free markets but from the Gubmint's having stuck its finger in the sector underlying the US economy - the housing sector - via Fannie and Freddie.

The WSJ repeated warned/editorialized over the years that the Gubmint's implicit backing of Fannie/Freddie would one day become explicit.  They were right, and today, the preliminary, soon-to-grow price tag has emerged at $400 billion.

Nice work, Barney & Co.  I nominate Barney Frank for Time Magazine Person of the Decade.

Bruce Krasting's picture

I sure do love to hear from F/F employees. Any others want to contribute?

Lndmvr's picture

Little of track , but I just saw some government bastard on This Week say somthing about " we have to decide what we are going to do about american terrorists who contact Aquida. (?)" Get the hell out of Missouri if you can!

Anonymous's picture

After MONTHS of telling everyone that the equity was good money AND allowing Fannie Mae to raise $7BILLION in straight Preferreds, 2 months before the gov't nationalized them and WIPED it ALL OUT. That absolutely disgusted me, because that is the start of the mass exodus of capital from this country. It's going to be an economic wasteland for years and perhaps even decades to come. Gov't now makes up >55% of GNP. After learning about the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and seeing that 2 tiered accounting and the notion that now they have complete control of the mortgage market AND have a grasp on Health Care, we're done.

No question in my mind that the way they handled Freddie and Fannie was completely classless and was officially the beginning of the end.

ATG's picture

True understanding...

Anonymous's picture

The judge's analogy of a Navy ship being bearing sole responsibility for a levee breach might be accurate were it not for the not so small matter of the hypothetical Navy ship being driven into a levee by a hurricane! Katrina was an 'Act of God' in my estimation.

I believe you are a weather buff Mr. Krastings and I am not
but I do remember the NHC Sunday night warning on Katrina. A category 5 hurricane with sustained winds in excess of 175mph! Without that tempest in the Gulf of Mexico New Orleans would have been just fine as would have been Biloxi.

What happened at the GSE's was entirely manmade and had more to do with 'animal spirits' and pushing homeownership to people who were not "culturally or financially ready for homeownerhship " to quote Barney Frank.

moneymutt's picture

if you had hired an engineering firm to deal with obvious problem the shipping channel presented, you would have sued them for doing what the ACE did, they screwed up major league, like a doctor not diagnosing an obvious classic case of a well known disease, even after the patient raises concern they have such disease. It like the doctor, says no, I refuse to test you for said disease as I know you don't have, and then patient dies of said disease.

If you look at the technical issues, the shipping channel did just what everyone technical knew it would do, allowing massive flooding if not re-engineered. Dutch et al all deal with this and have much expereince how these channels will behave. ACE was tasked and given enough money to fix this and they did not. The flooding from Katrina that went into shipping channel was not even close to a rare event, it was well within anticipated design life flooding, Kat was not even that big of hurricane, the flooding was not that bad except that the stupid channel made it bad.

Anonymous's picture

FWIW, it is my understanding that all professional engineers bear a personal, perpetual liability for any negligence or malfeasence. Perhaps our burden for Federal retirement costs could be reduced by going after the responsible individuals. Just a thought.

Anonymous's picture

Let's put this to rest....

In many developing countries....there are many people
that build flimsy homes on riverbanks....knowing full well
that one day....their houses WILL BE FLOODED OR LOST....

There is not a single person in New Orleans that is not aware of possible flooding issues....NOT ONE....

If one chooses to live in these areas....thne THEY automatically accept natures risks....VERSUS living SOMEWHERE ELSE....

However let there be no surprise that some SLICK AMBULANCE CHASER THEORY TYPE POPULIST LAWYERS will want a shot at making some $....


Now let's end the Fannie Mae story by this....

The flaw in any loan is "skin in the game"....

The originator has to have skin in the game....and must prove they have the money to do so....and must be marketed for what it is in a factual manner.....such that buyers can properly weigh the risks before participating....

The title of the loan is "just a title"....

Loans must be made illegal that "do not require substantial skin in the game" whose originators cannot prove their participation.....

Then the marketing or securitization of "skin in the game" loans would be ok....as long as the facts about risk are adequately described to the participants....



Bruce Krasting's picture

Good point Anon. All those folks in NOLO could have just moved..... That's silly. Judges decide these matters, and they have.

Sounds like you live in America. You can choose which block to live on or the Town you call home. You can move from State to State. But you can't get the Feds out of your picture.

You could not have moved anwhere and been protected from the trouble these two brought on us. You did not ask for that, but they came into our homes whether we wanted them or not.

Are you telling me you are not a little poorer as a result of the crash of the USS Fannie Mac? We all are.


As for the 'skin in the game', you are spot on.



skippy's picture

Bruce can we dispense with Government agency's / financial's nomenclature and use say...fascist oligarchs .001 oner's and their minions...Just saying.

BTW Brontecapital blog is gone...Biden bite[?] so soon after the wet ink?





Turnstile's picture

Mr. Krasting, it's a bit hard to take you serious when you're drooling on yourself while typing out:

I believe that she might be the first to not only blame the government for the problems at Fannie and Freddie but to make a case that the government might be responsible for some of the consequences. Ms. Singer may be onto something.

I don't want to take anything away from Ms. Singer, but really, the first to warn of Freddie and Fannie, and the consequences of the governments current actions?  There have been warnings since the GSE's first inception and when they were first made into "private" exchange traded companies--and I guarentee that major institutions buying Fredde and Fannie's MBS knew damn well that the US government was going to back them, even though it says right on the prospectus that the US government is not obligated to back them.  That's the hazard of powerful enetities, especially foreign powers, buying securities from any GSE: the inevitable political pressure will be put on to cover these losses.

Again, not to take anything away from Ms. Singer, but in the future, Mr. Krasting, you might do yourself a favor without such overly egregious promotions--or simply ask her on that night on the town in person

moneymutt's picture

the funny thing is we used to complain about the quasi-govt guarantee these "private" GSE had...knowing the moral hazard that created all along...little did we know AIG and GS and BofA and Citigroup also had govt guarantees...they did not even in need the "GSE" for such backing...pathetic.

Bruce Krasting's picture

You guys are tough! I said that she A) Blamed the Government AND 2) SHE LAID OUT A CASE THEY WERE LIABLE.

So it was the lialbility side that I thought was unique. I would not have been able to write about battleships if it were not for her. I owe her for that.

As for that on the town stuff, I'm too shy......

Anonymous's picture

You make good points Mr. Krasting and your observations are well worth the read--I'm not trying to be hard, just I would not like to see readers turned away unnecessarily from your comments. Like most quasi government agencies, there's usually a loop hole for the government to weasel out. If they can and/or have to pay up (i.e. powerful political influence, domestic or foreign) then they will; and if they can't (for whatever reason), then they won't--the FDIC should be viewed in the same light.

These arguments aside, if we were to make the government liable, then again, we run into the issue of what role does due diligence play in the investors role? What about the disclaimer on the offering prospectus that says that these MBS are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States?

The US government (whatever that may be) may be liable for specific actions, butI'm not convinced that the government could be held responsible for investors making a willing purchase of securities, regardless of the policies of the government and/or Freddie and Fannie--that's the responsibility of the investor to perform due diligence on the investing environment they are entering. Taking the government is liable down another avenue: could I hold the government liable for money I lost on short selling if they bailed out a company and in consequence raised their stock price?

Let's say we do make the US government liable, then who pays? The government? But what's the government? It's nothing more than abstract concept, so you can't make a concept pay out; and so here we face the dilemma of the consequence falling on the tax payer; so are we basically saying the tax payer is liable for Freddie and Fannie? After all, if the consequence on the sentence falls on them, then is it not them that we ultimately holding accountable?

So who's "they" when we speak of the government? Of course these legalistic and moral questions have constantly burdened the minds of philosophers of law, and there will probably never be an adequate answer presented, or a workable one without it immediately breaking down due to the unbridgeable gap between theory and practice. We can possibly link liability conceptually but the problem we run into is: the stronger we link causation the weaker (i.e. more abstract and general) the concept becomes; and vice versa: the stronger (i.e. more particular and narrow) we make the concept, the weaker the casual link becomes.

I would agree that one should not pass up the rare opportunity to interject battleships into a topic, if possible.

Turnstile's picture

Sorry, Mr. Krasting, the above post should have been issued in my username; a mistakingly replyied without logging in.

Atoyota's picture

OK, most of those people foreclosed upon either knew they couldn't pay or were buying as an investment to flip in a short period of time, left holding the bag or 'hot potato'.

Are these the plaintiffs?

Next the Federal government is essentially "we the people", so if a lawsuit were to succeed it would be we the people paying the claim. Unless you can lay blame on the individual decision makers here I see this as an act of screwing oneself. (haven't we been through enough?)

I think the only people to benefit on this would be the lawyers, and I'd hate to recite all the bad lawyer jokes I know.


moneymutt's picture

 atoyota you say "...most of those people foreclosed upon either knew they couldn't pay or were buying as an investment to flip in a short period of time, left holding the bag or 'hot potato'."

Have you read the stats on these things, most people were buying a house they could afford according to the bank, or refi-ing a house that they said they should because the money was so cheap, many people that lost their houses, lost their houses due to slimy mortgage fraud that took the trusting homeowners for all they could through outrageous fees, exploding interest rates that were not declared. Many are simply losing their houses due to bad economy, and even while getting an affordable house and paying down principle with fixed rate mortgage, the 30-50 drop in prices had wiped out equity, so when jobless for a year, they can't sell house, can't make payments...lose house. Many people lose houses after getting sick hurt.

There are lots of reasons for foreclosures, not just individuals that over reached.

If house prices were run-up by policies by others that knew better, they should hold as much responsibility as individual, schmucks working for a living and just doing what all the smart guys are telling them to do.

I go with Andrew Jackson on this:

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.

Atoyota's picture

This is the bottom line, no need to go any further with this.

Next the Federal government is essentially "we the people", so if a lawsuit were to succeed it would be we the people paying the claim. Unless you can lay blame on the individual decision makers here I see this as an act of screwing oneself. (haven't we been through enough?)

This is a lose lose proposition, the only winners would be the lawyers.

Anonymouse's picture

+100.  It's one thing for a small group of people to recover from the government (even if a bogus claim).  It's completely another for a large group to do so.  At best, as Atoyota says, it would enrich the lawyers.

More likely, it would end up in a wholescale redistribution of wealth.  After all, the poor were hardest hit, right?

Gwaihir's picture

So the Bismarck is the visualization of the USS Fannie Mac? Interesting...


Bruce Krasting's picture

A once mighty warship that was sunk at a huge cost of life?  Seems fitting to me. I loved the photo, and came up with a way to use it........

mikla's picture

Very good article, and really great perspective.  Love the photo too.

A parallel metaphor with the warship is that you need to power off the engines while you are miles off shore, because its mass will drive it into the harbor without power.  So it is with F&F -- what mass, what mess.

It's a little sad, really ... the US culture has evolved into, "Something bad happened to me, so now I'm gonna get rich!"  While I understand the tragedies, and the fact that the lawyers will skim the greatest wealth (and the "victims" may not themselves be "made whole"), the reality exists that the government CANNOT be a backstop to everything.

Does anyone really believe that the government should be repsonsible for everything (e.g., infrastructure, healthcare, economy, etc.), and we can merely sue when we don't get what we want?

The money doesn't exist for all this stuff, although yes, a few hundred billion here and there might slosh to some Katrina "victims".

ATG's picture

the kultur of moral hazard will not survive...

Pinkfleud's picture

While I agree with what you said, you have to remember that we're such a nanny state that if the Govt didn't have their fingers in every aspect of our lives they wouldn't be liable cause they wouldn't be involved. If we want to be left alone we as americans have to start doing for our selfs and get the Govt out of our lives.


I know, there is no easter bunny .......

mikla's picture

Agreed, and I'd prefer that ... We can mis-direct our capital better than the government can, and aside from national defense, government really doesn't do anything very well.

delacroix's picture

what makes you think they do national defense well? $600+ billion a year

mikla's picture

what makes you think they do national defense well? $600+ billion a year

A fair point, with my only response, "National defense is expensive and there is no viable alternative."

People can ONLY look to government for something so important that they are willing to waste money and hurt people.  All social programs waste money and hurt people, and I'd prefer they'd be handled by non-government because non-government would waste less money and hurt fewer people.

Pretty much the only exception is national defense because of its nature and scale -- you're wasting money and hurting people to build a $1B airplane, but there's no other way you'd get a $1B airplane.

That analogy doesn't hold for other large economies-of-scale, like national highways or NASA -- it's already shown big stuff like that can be done better and cheaper without the (Federal) government.


Anonymous's picture

Good one Bruce!

This needs to be sent around to all the lawyers and the ACLU, which would start a real shit storm. Think of all the people foreclosed on because the Government acted irresponsibly with this financial mess.

All you have to do is Put Marla's article, next to Tyler's with the lying with the UEI levels and spending, and there is due cause, and an attempt to "cover-up".

ZEROHEDGE is the best site currently with in depth news and information on "just what is happening".

It is some "thinking person's" site for those that are really knowledgeable about the financial situation and the governmental situations, to the "great unwashed" masses.

All these articles are "must reads" and all have been helpful to me to understand just "what the hell is going out there".

Thank you for your contribution Bruce.

Hat's off to ya!

Anonymous's picture

New York Times Takes Aim at Treasury Mortgage Mod Program

While no one has said as much, Home Affordable Modification Program, like the Paulson Hope Alliance Now, looks designed to work very narrowly within existing securitization rules to so as to minimize the odds that any mortgages modifications under the program could be challenged in court. However, the resulting program is an abortion. It gives little in the way of real benefits to borrowers. So called “permanent mods” are in fact only a five year payment reduction, which makes sense only if the borrower believes both his income will improve markedly between now and then (given stagnant worker incomes since 1973 and deflationary pressures, that is unlikely to apply for most people) and that the value of his house will appreciate considerably over that timeframe as well. Of course, Treasury may harbor fantasies like that, which might explain why they thought this dubious program was viable.

January 2, 2010 at 6:50 am

This still seems more optimistic regarding Treasury’s motives than I’m willing to be.

It seems clear that the mod program was never meant to solve the problem, namely to keep people in their homes.

Rather, facing the prospect of more and more people being willing to stand up for themselves and walk away, this program was a scam meant to induce people to keep paying, dangling the fraudulent promise of a permanent mod (which, as this piece demonstrates once again, was always a chimera). Meanwhile Treasury itself wrote into the agreements how once you enter the program you waive all rights to further negotiations or even notifications.

So once they lured somebody in with these lies, the banks could then keep extracting until they foreclosed at a time of their convenience.

Once again we see the joint crime of the banksters and this administration.

In light of that and of everything else, it’s overwhelmingly clear that where it comes to a rogue, criminal system and a rigged, corrupt “legal” system,, there are no longer any “contracts”.

The banks are not citizens. They’re simply gutter criminals, and no reasonable person thinks a contract with a common criminal is binding, morally or legally.

So I’d suggest that decent Americans stop trying to rationally argue with the “sanctity of contracts crowd” and instead demonize and villify them as the scum they are. It’s clear by now that such perps are not willing to be part of the solution, but only to be part of the crime.


suteibu's picture

Professor Oliver Houck of Tulane Law School, "This was our 9/11. There's even more of a rationale here, because the government was largely responsible."


Good Lord.  We can all blame the politicians and the agencies and the banks and anyone else.  The real cause for all of this crap is a piss-poor culture where "class-action" has replaced "acting with class" in the minds of the populace.

Anonymous's picture

...none of this was ever intended to exist under the Constitution, ...remember the Constitution? The basis of the United States.
All of this quagmire is more or less attributable to the central banking philosophy, keynesian monetarist theory, and the resulting house of cards that is built on a fiat currency.
Find a way to take the lawsuits to the real culprits, you know who they are, what you lack is the will to take action.
...thanks for reading.