A few hours into the six-hour plus hearing, Brad Sherman, a Democratic Representative from the overall pro-innovation California, took the stage. In an unprecedented turn of events, Sherman claimed that while Facebook is truly innovating with its Libra blockchain, innovation as a concept and trend isn’t good per se. (What?)
On Wednesday, Libra was the primary topic of discussion for the House Committee on Financial Services. Unsurprisingly, there was a multitude of U.S. politicians that expressed disdain towards the corporate cryptocurrency project. One specific comment stood out though, for both the Bitcoin community and those watching eagerly from the sidelines.
The Californian representative noted that the “most innovative thing that happened this century” was when Osama Bin Laden masterminded the horrid 9/11 attacks on American soil, crashing a multitude of planes into key landmarks and places of business. What followed this attack was a war on terror, during which the U.S. was mandated to step up in terms of its technology and weaponry. In that sense, the 9/11 attacks were “innovative”.
Nuances of this analogy aside, Sherman went on to quip that Libra “may do more to endanger America than even 9/11.” Shocker, right?
He backs this statement by noting that cryptocurrencies are a fan favorite of terrorists, so to speak, presumably thinking of the reports on the purported use of Bitcoin by the Islamic State. What he is suggesting that if there is another terrorist attack on American soil, it may just be funded by digital assets, which in his mind includes Libra despite its differences from the decentralized cryptocurrencies that readers of this publication know and love.
Even if crypto-related terrorism isn’t a threat, Sherman goes on to note that Libra, which he hilariously dubbed “Zuck Bucks” for some inexplicable reason, is likely to see use by “drug dealers, tax evaders, and sanctions evaders.”
The Californian Representative then went on a tirade about how David Marcus, the head of Blockchain at Facebook, was the only one in the hot seat, remarking that “Zuck” should be grilled. Sherman roared:
“But someone with an understanding of the politics of this country needs to explain to Mr. Zuckerberg that if cryptocurrency is used to finance the next horrific terrorist attack against Americans, a hundred lawyers standing in a row, charging $2,000 an hour are not gonna protect his rear end from the wrath of the American people.”
He joins Mark Cuban, the “Shark Tank” star; Donald Trump, the president of the United States; and Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell as prominent skeptics of the Silicon Valley-backed coin.
Not All Doom and Gloom
It is important to note that Wednesday’s impassioned hearing wasn’t all doom and gloom for Libra, and thus the rest of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
One notable highlight was when Meltem Demirors of Coinshares broke down Bitcoin for the Congress committee, specifically touching on how it is different than Libra and how it actually operates. She received some tacit support from two or three Congressmen, one of which somewhat lauded Bitcoin as an “unstoppable force” in an earlier CNBC interview.