Excellent Instapundit column in USA Today about "Operation Chokepoint," a Department of Justice initiative that seeks to squeeze undesirables via their bank accounts. Writes Glenn Reynolds:
They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney, our moralistic Department of Justice would be trying to shut down porn stars. And they were right: I voted for Romney, and sure enough, the Department of Justice is trying to shut down porn stars. Along with a lot of other, perfectly legal businesses. But I'll bet if Romney were in the White House, there'd be more coverage in the press.
A while back, some adult performers noticed that banks were terminating their accounts. The reason, it turned out, was a Justice Department program called "Operation Choke Point." This program, apparently, seeks to target businesses regarded as undesirable — like porn — by hitting them at a financial "choke point": their bank accounts.
Though the Justice Department can't prosecute people for making porn, because theFirst Amendment prohibits that, and too many people would think of them as blue-nosed morality police, which is politically undesirable, it can use its power to put them out of business extra-legally, by pressuring banks to cut off their accounts. Prosecutors and regulators have a lot of discretion, and the threat to use (or abuse) that discretion in ways that make banks uncomfortable provides a lot of leverage. Sure, banks make money off of the accounts of porn performers (and other targeted businesses), but not enough to make up for the hassle of being targeted for harassment by the feds.
Attorney General Eric Holder sure has a lot of explaining to do about his time in office.