'SIC Report' Tag Archive

Aug 27 2011

Disciples of Milton Friedman


The following chapter is from ‘Bankastræti Núll’, the latest book by poet and author Einar Már Guðmundsson, translated and originally published in The Reykjavík Grapevine, parallel to an introduction to Einar by Alda Kravec. The introduction says that the book “opens with the narrator’s lament: the current political situation has stifled his ability to write poems to his lover. Although he foresees a future where “reality wakes up” and poets can once again sing the praises of love and nature, the resounding sound of social injustice presently overwhelms him and beckons him to first engage in the struggle against the free reign of the stock exchange, privatisation and greed.”

It is written somewhere that all cats are grey in the dark, but here in Iceland, official reports are all black, no matter how bright it is outside. Alþingi’s Investigative Commission’s Report is black. The Central Bank’s Report on the status of household debt is black. And the government and International Monetary Fund’s Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies is also black, dark as a coal mine, and sure enough, it was drafted in April, the cruellest month. It is a reminder of the misery that the IMF has presided over in countries all over the world, and directly refutes the notion that the IMF plans to apply different methods than those it has adhered to until now.

In Greece, the public has risen up against the Fund’s plans, but here the labour movement and employers get into bed with it and are almost more devout than the Pope in getting investors to come here with their baggage of offshore profits and dummy corporations. In one district, where neo-liberals have sold everything and there is nothing left to mortgage except the harbour, efforts are being made to set a precedent by selling natural resources through a shelf company just so politicians can save face after having handed over the entire district to their associates and relatives on a silver platter. Read More

Jun 23 2011
1 Comment

The Reykjavík One: The Trials and Tribulations of Geir H. Haarde


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson
Originally published in The Reykjavík Grapevine

A little more than a year ago, several Icelandic bankers were arrested and kept in custody in relation to the Special Prosecutor’s investigation into the 2008 economic collapse, its antecedents and causes. Appearing in political TV talk show Silfur Egils shortly afterwards, French-Norwegian magistrate Eva Joly, who at that time served as the Prosecutor’s special assistant, talked about how society does not expect—and has problems to deal with—politically and economically powerful people being arrested, interrogated and possibly sentenced.

Eva Joly was right. And the reason? Habit. Whether a journalist, police officer, lawyer, judge or a powerless citizen, in a civilised society based on dualistic ideas of good and evil, one is most likely unable to recognise well-dressed and eloquent people—with possessions and power in their pockets—as anything other than good. During the interview, Eva compared those people with drug users and dealers that are brought to court, who generally are immediately seen by society as criminals deserving to face “justice”. Another rightful comparison would be political dissidents. Read More

Jan 28 2011
2 Comments

The Decade of Failure


Magnús Sveinn Helgason
The Reykjavík Grapevine
January 2011

While history—meaning: ‘the past’—does not change, history—meaning: ‘the narration of past events’—does in fact change. This is because we view history through the lens of the present. As events unfold, the meaning and significance of the past changes. And because our view of the past changes we constantly need to change our history textbooks.

So, it is pretty hard to predict how any event, let alone a whole decade, will be remembered. Because we do not know what the future holds, or what academic fads will reign among future historians, it is exceedingly difficult to say with any certainty how future historians will judge this first decade of the 21st century. Still, even if we lack the necessary hindsight of history, we can make some pretty good educated guesses. Read More

Jun 29 2010
3 Comments

A Spade is a Spade, Repression is Repression


Ólafur Páll Sigurdsson

Environmental network Saving Iceland declares full solidarity with the Reykjavik Nine defendants (RVK9), who face between one and sixteen years in prison for exercising their democratic right to peacefully protest against a disgraced parliament, on 8 December 2008.

These nine people have been picked out of the thousands whose protests brought down the previous government, whose corruption and ineptitude was responsible for the historical crisis Icelandic society is still being torn up by. This same government has now been confirmed by the Special Investigation Committee report (SIC – an apt acronym) as instrumental in the abuse that lead to the complete crash of the Icelandic economy; and as a major force in the severe corruption, democracy deficit and ethical crisis which have since emerged as the underlying reasons for the total failure of Icelandic democracy.

Criminalizing political opponents, even those who use non-violent civil disobedience, is an old diversion tactic used by states worldwide. This act of political repression is in glaring contradiction to the sanctimonious declarations of ‘shouldering responsibility’ and ‘taking heed of lessons’ paid by the parties responsible for the crisis. Icelanders should take seriously the systematic abuse of power which has been uncovered in the Icelandic establishment. Read More

Jun 09 2010
1 Comment

The Impact of Heavy Industry Whitewashed – The Report of the Special Investigation Commission


Wilderness under attackThis article originally appeared in the June issue of the independent newsmagasine Róstur.

The Whitewash report, or “Investigative report of the Special Investigation Commission”  made by the Special Investigation Comission (SIC) on orders from Alþingi (The Icelandic Parliament) under the pretence of investigating “the prelude to and cause of the crash of the Icelandic banks and related events”, which also is the subtitle of the report, has been disected by the media and heavily discussed on public forums for the last couple of months. The major medias and other groups of interest have been busy covering it chapter by chapter, drawing out the main conclusions of each part into few sentances to make it easily accessable to their readers. But not all of the chapters are getting equal coverage. Most of the focus has been on selected chapters relating to indictable actions and negligence on behalf of government and bank officials in the run-up to the collapse, the processes of the privatisation policy, especially towards the banks, and the loan books and other financial documentation revealed by the report. In that way, the major medias and other public opinionmakers are, like always, backing up the authorities in their defence of the current political system. All coverage about the report is directed towards these few selected parts, scapegoating a few people from the pre-crash financial sector along with expendable and retired politicians to spare the rest. This has resulted in a black-out of all discussion about the most important and revealing parts of the report, namely the parts about the economic impact of the industrialisation policy. Read More