"Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged
in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." - Samuel
Some time just before January 7th, 2001, an asteroid capable
of pulverizing a good-sized nation flashed through the void,
close to Earth. Had it struck our planet, the impact would
have had global consequences. The energy of the strike would
have been equivalent to the explosion of a number of large
atomic weapons. From the media perspective, it would have
been the biggest story since the extinction of the dinosaurs.
At some point in the next six months, a small, darkened corner
of George W. Bush's consciousness will wish the thing had
hit us. The apocalypse he and his fundamentalist buddies have
been waiting for would have been at hand, and a number of
potentially calamitous questions about to be put to his administration
would have been avoided.
Sadly for him, the planet spins on. Beneath the unpierced
stratosphere, the electronic beams of news agencies like CNN
and the Associated Press have begun to spread like a widow's
web from city to city and house to house. Carried on this
invisible wind are rumors of doom, negligence and greed. Each
and every one of these rumors lead inexorably back to 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue, which will soon be issuing significant
numbers of visitor passes to lawyers if the pattern holds
Whichever part of the nation that never heard of the energy
giant Enron Corporation has recently been introduced to the
company in odious context. The story thus far is nothing less
than astounding: Enron, a company valued in the billions on
Wall Street, suddenly filed for the largest bankruptcy claim
in the history of the known universe. 4,000 employees were
abruptly shown the door after having been barred from dumping
the company stock, meant to fund their retirement, while it
was worth something. Meanwhile, Enron executives in the know
were able to dump the stock, back when it was the gold standard
on the Street, for a cool $1 billion.
Apparently, Enron was ailing for quite a long time. The aforementioned
executives were able to maintain the mirage of financial viability
by stuffing the debt into what are called 'off-balance-sheet
partnerships.' In essence, each of the executives built personal
banking bunkers and hid what has been revealed to be staggering
Enron debts within them, keeping fact that the company was
hemorrhaging money off the publicly displayed balance sheets.
This maintained the company's credit rating, and allowed it
to continue doing business.
This went on for four years, which means several things.
It means most of the Enron executives were aware of and/or
actively participating in this highly criminal and irresponsible
activity. It means the stockholders, including 4,000 loyal
Enron employees, were lied to. It probably means that the
executives knew the stock value was doomed when they bailed
out and cashed in several months ago. It means they let their
employees lose the retirement funds they believed were growing
within their Enron stock portfolios. It means a lot of people
got screwed by a pack of sharp operators who didn't give a
damn about anyone but themselves.
All this could simply be chalked up as yet another story
of corporate greed run amok, until the umbilical political
and financial connections
between Bush and Enron are illuminated. Enron's capo,
Kenneth Lay, was perhaps the best financial friend George
W. Bush has ever known. Lay and a number of Enron employees
essentially bankrolled Bush's 2000 Presidential campaign,
going so far as to lend Bush an Enron corporate jet for trips
between whistle stops. Before Bush got White House stars in
his eyes, he worked very closely with Enron on energy policy
This close connection led to the Bush administration's hiring
of a number of influential individuals within Enron's orbit
for important government positions:
- Thomas E. White, Bush's Secretary of the Army, was once
Vice-Chairman of Enron Energy Service, and held millions in
- Presidential Advisor Karl Rove owned as much as $250,000
in Enron stock;
- Economic adviser Larry Lindsay leapt straight from Enron
to his current White House job;
- Federal Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick did the
- SEC Chairman Harvey Pitts was hand-picked by Kenneth Lay
for the position, due to his notorious aversion to governmental
regulation of any kind.
There are some thirty one Bush administration officials who
had a line
item for Enron in their stock portfolio, including Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It is fair to say that the woebegone
corporation held, and continues to hold, enormous influence
over the day-to-day machinations of Federal government policy.
One wonders if Bush's recent gutting
of the Clean Air Act, a decision designed to improve the
fortunes of companies like Enron, was the brainchild of people
with deep connections to the energy industry.
The trail of influence left by Enron leads also to the scabrous
heart ventricles of Vice President Dick Cheney, who admitted
recently to six
separate meetings with Enron executives while formulating
the Bush administration's energy policy. Cheney, a former
executive of the Halliburton Petroleum interest, was in charge
of creating this policy. For reasons soon to be exposed by
subpoena, Cheney refused to detail the specifics of the creation
of this policy, which included the multiple Enron meetings.
The General Accounting Office was preparing to sue Cheney
to reveal this information when the September 11th attacks
took place. Those subpoenas may be dusted off and mailed
within a month. In the meantime, the Justice Department
is preparing a criminal
investigation into the collapse of Enron. The Democratically-controlled
Senate is planning hearings on the matter as well. Columnist
Robert Scheer has referred to the Bush administration's involvement
in the Enron debacle as "Whitewater
in spades." One wonders if "Watergate" would be a more
Bush's own dealings within the energy industry carry a disturbingly
familiar echo to the Enron situation: once upon a time,
he was a high-ranking officer of a petroleum interest called
Harken Oil. On June 22, 1990, Bush sold his Harken stock and
made $848,560, earning him a 200% profit. One week later,
Harken announced a $23.2 million loss in quarterly earnings
and its stock dropped sharply, losing 60 percent of its value
over the next six months. Bush made a bundle while the other
investors lost millions. Harken was Enron in miniature, and
might have served as a warning to the American people if the
press had chosen to pay any attention to it during the 2000
There is a school of thought, espoused primarily by Republicans,
that any investigation into potentially dishonorable or illegal
actions by the Bush administration is tantamount to treason.
We are at war, undeclared though it may be, and Bush must
be free to prosecute this war vigorously, so as to defend
our freedom and bring the murderers of American civilians
to justice. If reports recently aired
on CNN have any credence, however, Bush and his people
may well have to answer for actions that make the Enron catastrophe
look like a jaywalking offense, actions that led directly
to the incredible carnage in New York and Washington, D.C.
In 1998, during the Clinton administration, the U.S.-based
energy concern Unocal canceled
plans to exploit massive natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan.
They had planned to run a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan,
where the natural gas could have been processed for Asian
and Western energy markets. The idea was scuttled after Clinton
ordered the cruise missile bombing of Afghanistan in response
to a terrorist attack upon U.S. embassies in Africa which
were planned and executed by Osama bin Laden. The pipeline
would have had to pass through Afghanistan, and Unocal was
given the message in Technicolor by Clinton's people that
Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was not to be given any sort
of financial boon.
Apparently, the Bush administration found no moral dilemma
in dealing with the Taliban to get to the gas. Immediately
upon their arrival in Washington, a vigorous
courtship of the Taliban was undertaken by Bush's people.
In fact, if former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler is
to be believed, the Bush administration had a vested interest
in strengthening and stabilizing the Taliban regime, because
a stable regime would compel investors to revive the Turkmenistan
natural gas pipeline deal. The Taliban, demon of the moment,
was the Bush administration's idea of a 'stable' government.
Stable enough, anyway, to see the pipeline through.
The connections between Bush and the Taliban became so close
that the Taliban went so far as to hire an expert on U.S.
public relations named Laila Helms, so as to smooth the way
between the two regimes. Meetings between the two nations
continued at a high level, the last of which occurred in August,
scant weeks before the September 11th attacks. All of these
actions were taken to exploit the vast energy reserves in
Turkmenistan for the benefit of American energy corporations.
The cozy relationship between Bush and the Taliban frustrated
the investigative efforts of former Deputy Director of the
FBI John O'Neill. O'Neill was the FBI's
chief bin Laden hunter, in charge of the investigations
into the bin Laden-connected bombings of the World Trade Center
in 1993, the destruction of an American troop barracks in
Saudi Arabia in 1996, the African embassy bombings in 1998,
and the attack upon the U.S.S. Cole in 2000.
O'Neill quit the FBI in protest two weeks before the destruction
of the World Trade Center towers. He did so because his investigation
was hindered by the Bush administration's connections to the
Taliban, and by the interests of American petroleum companies.
O'Neill was quoted in this book as stating, "The main obstacles
to investigating Islamic terrorism were U.S. oil corporate
interests, and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it." After
leaving the FBI, O'Neill took a position as head of security
for the World Trade Center. He died on September 11th, 2001,
trying to save people trapped by the attack, when the towers
came down on top of him. The irony in this, simply, is horrifying.
In essence, the Federal agent who knew more about bin Laden
than any living American was kept from investigating terrorist
threats against this country. He was hindered because the
Bush administration was desperate to cultivate the favor of
the Taliban, who held terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden
in great esteem, so as to gain access to lucrative natural
gas deposits in Turkmenistan.
If these allegations prove true, Bush and his friends allowed
this affinity to hamstring investigations that could have
thwarted bin Laden's September plans. If these allegations
prove true, everything since September 11th has been a massive
cover-up operation in which American soldiers and thousands
of Afghan civilians have died. If these allegations prove
true, the Bush administration has the blood of thousands of
American civilians on its hands.
If these allegations carry even the faintest whiff of credibility,
George W. Bush and members of his administration stand in
taint of high treason and murder.
On November 7th, 2000, a clear majority of Americans came
to the conclusion that George W. Bush was unfit to govern
this nation. For a variety of dark and controversial reasons,
that conclusion was thrown over. Sometime soon, if the media's
electronic web continues to carry these sordid stories of
corruption, greed and death, the American people will come
to fully understand the consequences of that failed election.
It is one thing to coddle and court a corrupt energy company
for political and financial gain. It is quite another to coddle
and court a murderous terrorist-supporting regime, hindering
anti-terrorism investigations in the process, for the purpose
of exploiting valuable natural resources. The former cost
a number of people their retirement funds. The latter has
cost thousands of people their lives. One is criminal. The
other is abominable. George W. Bush is deeply implicated in
both. There will be hell to pay.