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What Geithner knows now just as important

January 12, 2010 - Mike Maneval

Officials at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in a series of e-mails, mulled how to defer public inquiry into details of the American International Group bailout. reports that the White House and congressional Democratic leaders are standing by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, who was at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before joining the Obama administration. James Rowley and Edwin Chen, writing for the financial news Web site, detail White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' observations that Geithner recused himself from matters pertaining to AIG.

But does America need a treasury secretary who recuses himself, or who stands up for public transparency? Geithner's past employer is hardly the only obstacle to transparency.

A Securities and Exchange Commission decision from May 2009 seals portions of information dealing with how AIG's federal bailout siphoned tens of billions to other international banking interests like Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank, according to Reuters reporter Mattew Goldstein. The documents will remain bound in confidentiality until November 2018.

Goldstein's report also notes that in a typical year, the SEC receives 1,500 such requests from financial entities and, in 95 percent of cases, grants them.

Is Geithner the kind of treasury secretary capable of grabbing at the slipping-away mandate for transparency voters gave Washington in November, 2008? Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, reports, says he wants Geithner to explain what he knew at the time about the  Federal Reserve Bank of New York's advice not to disclose information. I'd also like to know if he favors disclosure and oversight now, and what he'll do to improve it.


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