April 9, 2002:  We now have a new, entirely separate White House bribery scandal in the hopper.  Remember when the GOP tried to stick all kinds of scandal on Clinton and Gore for allegedly taking money from the Chinese?  Well, guess who just got caught taking money from a secret Taiwanese slush fund:  Bush's Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Research, Carl W. Ford Jr., and Bush's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, James Kelly.  Ford raised beaucoup bucks for Bush's campaign, from that source and others.

Enron is a company that based its entire business plan on bribery.  Is it any wonder if it turns out that Ken Lay's favorite politician has also fostered an environment of pervasive bribery?

Arthur Andersen just announced they have to lay off 7,000 workers.  They're still losing business (Walmart just dumped them), and it looks like the investigating committees have found themselves a whistleblower.  But far from "blowing the scandal wide open", as this Chronicle article suggests, it doesn't sound like this guy is going to reveal any hanky panky on the SEC's end.  That is one area that now needs more investigation.

April 4:  Spencer Abraham, the Secretary of Energy, has released 11,000 pages (with at least another 15,000 left unreleased) of documents relating to Dick Cheney's energy policy task force of last spring.  The release was ordered by two federal judges several weeks ago, after many months of administration stalling, in response to lawsuits by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Judicial Watch.  (The latter is considered a conservative organization.)

But guess what -- the documents were heavily censored.  Excuse me, "redacted".  Many consisted of printouts of emails with the entire message blocked out, leaving only the names and the subject line visible.

The funny thing is, that even the uncensored portions completely vindicate the charges made in the lawsuits: that the administration's energy policy was shaped by listening exclusively to energy corporations and campaign donors, with no input at all from environmental groups or those advocating energy conservation.  Abraham has tried to deny it, and claim that the documents support the administration's previous arguments, but they clearly do not.  Given that this much was allowed to come through... what is still being hidden?  What is in there that requires such a peculiar and unprecedented degree of secrecy?  To be sure, the Dubya administration has made a practice of making endless amounts of crap secret that no ordinary administration would keep out of the public eye... stuff that Clinton, for one, would never have gotten away with keeping secret.  But should we presume that all this stuff is censored just out of habit?  I think not.

I can't imagine what logical reason there is for censoring so much sheer quantity.  No one explanation could cover so much.  No national security issue, no "smoking gun", no one issue of any kind.  I can guess of only two theories to explain this.  One is that they just don't think they have to obey the court order, and are just being uncooperative for its own sake, just to be aimlessly obstructive.  (That's not quite so unlikely as it sounds, given that Spencer Abraham was deep inside the "get Clinton at all costs, whether there's any evidence or not" crowd, according to David Brock.)  The other is that there is a "smoking gun" in there, and somebody gave some underling a censorship order -- excuse me, a redaction order -- that cast a wide net so that the underling doing the censoring would not notice the particular items that their bosses really wanted kept out, and investigators would not know where to focus in looking for the hidden bits.

Secretary of the Army Thomas White -- a cum laude graduate of Enron -- just got caught using taxpayer funded military jets for his personal travel.  He used such a jet in order to go to Colorado to close the sale of his house.  It sold for six million dollars, so I think he could afford a plane ticket.  Between this and Enron, White may now be, as one anonymous liberal watchdog puts it, "on the brink of needing to spend more time with his family, if you know what I mean....  although considering the depth and breadth of this administration's corruption, he'll probably get a raise."

In other news, the CEO of Arthur Andersen is stepping down, as penance for his share of the guilt over Enron.  Andersen seems to be trying to regain customer confidence through ever escalating public displays of remorse and contrition.  If only some others would try that approach.

< Previous Next >