- Rep. Brad Sherman of California on Wednesday compared Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency to 9/11, predicting it would result in more American deaths over time than the 3,000-plus lives that were lost during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
- Sherman says Libra will enable “tax evaders, terrorists, sanctions evaders, and drug dealers” and will make it difficult for the federal government to fund cancer research or prevent Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.
- In a Bloomberg interview on Thursday night, Sherman stood by his remarks and explained further why he thought the toll from Facebook’s Libra “will exceed what was lost on 9/11.”
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At a House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman of California compared Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“Now, we’re told by some that innovation is always good,” he said. “The most innovative thing that happened this century is when Osama bin Laden came up with the innovative idea of flying two aeroplanes into towers. That’s the most consequential innovation, although this may do more to endanger innovation than even that.”
On Thursday, when asked during an interview with Bloomberg about his controversial remarks, Sherman doubled down on his comparison, saying “the number of deaths that will occur in America, if this is successful in playing the role it’s intended, will exceed what was lost on 9/11.”
Here’s what Sherman said on Bloomberg, first talking about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg:
“Look, Zuckerberg is not as evil as Osama bin Laden, because the harm that Zuckerberg will do is a mere unintended byproduct of his effort to make hundreds of millions of dollars more. But the fact is, in creating a tool for drug dealers, that’s going to result in deaths on the streets of America every day. By creating a tool for tax evaders, that’s going to mean the federal government can’t fund cancer research or can’t fund the defence of the United States to the degree that we’d like to. And by providing a method for sanctions evaders, we’re going to make it much more difficult for the federal government to prevent Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.”
Sherman said the key to the United States economy was the government’s ability to control the banking system, but since all Libra transactions would be private, it would offer “financial privacy” to “tax evaders, terrorists, sanctions evaders, and drug dealers.”
At the House hearing on Wednesday, Sherman didn’t ask Facebook’s cryptocurrency chief, David Marcus, any questions about Libra; instead, he spent five straight minutes describing what he saw as the dangers of Libra and how it could be used to finance “the next horrific terrorist attack against Americans.”
The Bloomberg anchor Emily Chang asked Sherman whether he went too far with his comparison to 9/11, but the 64-year-old congressman stood by his statement.
“The number of deaths that will occur in America, if this is successful in playing the role it’s intended, will exceed what was lost on 9/11. The additional heroin deaths, the inability to fund cancer research, the lack of success of our sanctions, will be very important. But it won’t be all of a sudden. It won’t be one big day. I had to be asked by a reporter, ‘Does that make Zuckerberg as evil as Osama bin Laden?’ Clearly not. Bin Laden was trying to cause American deaths – Zuckerberg is just disinterested in whether they occur.”
You can watch Sherman’s entire interview on Bloomberg TV below.
— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) July 19, 2019
For what it’s worth, Sherman isn’t the only politician coming down on Libra.
On Tuesday during a Senate hearing on Libra, Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland compared the Libra Association, the nonprofit that will oversee Libra, to “Spectre,” the evil organisation from the James Bond films. And on Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York pointed out that the financial assets that would set the value for the Libra currency would be “controlled by an undemocratically selected coalition of largely massive corporations” like Facebook, Uber, eBay, Spotify, Visa, and others.
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