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Detain the Accountants
February 5, 2002
by Frank Fuller

Four months into this New World and I'm finally seeing the error of my old ways. I want to apologize to anyone who will listen: I'm sorry I revered civil liberties. I'm sorry I made jokes about "The Ashcroft Hilton" and its staff of personal trainers. (Their motto: "It only hurts if you clam up.")

Sorry, George W., for not understanding the greatness of your vision. (Sorry, too, about those jokes about you calling your dog over - "Here, Kenny Boy. Here, Kenny Boy. Good doggie!" - to reward it with the meaty bone of unregulated markets.) Nothing personal, guys. I'm just trying to make a buck, too.

I'll make up for it now, however, by giving you a great idea, one that will surely seal George's place in history. Round up Arthur Andersen accountants and "detain" them. Send them to the Ashcroft Hilton in Lower Manhattan. Start with a list of about 1,000 of the most dangerous accountants (or 10,000 - you guys would know best) with ties to the Andersen and Enron terrorist suites, tell them you want to question them, and then stick them in jail. It's the only way we will get the truth out of them, and in this New World, isn't that all that matters?

These are tough, brutal people who want to harm us, who hate our way of life, the way we work hard for an honest buck. Did you see them on C-SPAN being grilled by lawmakers at a subcommittee hearing? They didn't even break a sweat under questioning that would have made most good Americans cry for their mothers.

According to them, a rogue accountant in Houston shredded all those documents. (Lots of rogues in this New World, aren't there? Go get 'em, guys!) If that weren't bad enough, they said Enron gave them bad data, which is why years of audits aren't worth the paper they were written on. (Haven't these accountants heard about personal responsibility? If they didn't know, they should have.)

George, you should have mentioned these evildoers in your State of the Union address. Something like: "The axis of accountants, lawyers and CEOs. Never again will they take advantage of our goodness. We'll hunt them down in the darkest offices in the largest buildings in the biggest cities in the world, wherever there is a computer running a spreadsheet."

But you missed your chance. I don't even know if I want to get on a plane knowing accountants might be on it. What mischief are they planning? Where do their loyalties lie? It makes me uncomfortable knowing what they might do, might have done, might be thinking. Their pens are weapons - did security remove all their writing instruments? I doubt it.

A few stories about prisoners in the Ashcroft Hilton are now making the news. Prisoners are held in solitary confinement in windowless cells, often without light for 16-18 hours a day. They don't get to take showers or to exercise regularly. Sure, some mistakes were made, but they are being rectified - that's what makes our country, even in this New World, so great.

One prisoner said he was listed as an Arab in police records and held as a material witness, even though he's an African Catholic with no ties to terrorists. Who can forget the Egyptian student who was said to own a radio so he could communicate with the terrorists to guide them into the World Trade Center? There were reports that he even confessed at one point, but now he's free. It turns out it wasn't his radio and he was just a student staying in a hotel in Lower Manhattan because his school didn't have housing available for him. He wants an apology from the FBI.

So let's put Arthur Andersen and Enron accountants, lawyers, and executives in cells like those; to preserve our way of life, we are going to have to be ruthless. If we run out of space, send them to Guantanamo and let the CIA grill them in the scorching sunlight-accountants like these hate the light of day. Who paid off whom? Who made money? How far into our political system do their fingers reach?

The accountants know. Arthur Andersen has 85,000 employees, and certainly a lot of their former employees, well trained in the Arthur Andersen accounting techniques, now work in other large businesses. This is a worldwide network. We have to find them all, make them talk, and then go after the leaders. If you think these accountants should be treated lightly, ask yourself who is more frightening - and more dangerous - to our way of life: a 25-year-old Arab man or a 45-year-old bookkeeper dressed for success? Only now are we beginning to understand how Evil really works: it starts by taking our own shape.

As you like to say, George, "Let's roll." Let's send the accountants to the Ashcroft Hilton. I'm sorry I didn't understand this sooner and I won't make anymore jokes about it at your expense. I now know it's the only way we'll ever get to the bottom of this and save America. It's the only way we can keep the accountants from winning.

Frank Fuller is a free-lance writer who writes AmBUSHED: America Under Bush at

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