Enron one year later

Just over a year ago, Enron, the Houston energy trader, collapsed leaving 14,000 workers jobless, their Enron 401(k) retirement accounts worthless. Enron CEO Ken Lay and other Enron insiders denied Enron employees the right to sell their Enron stock while they sold theirs knowing the bottom would soon fall out. The public also learned of the tight crony relations between Ken Lay and George W. Bush reflected in the fact that at least 30 top Bush administration officials, including Army Sec. Thomas White, were former Enron executives.

Enron was followed by WorldCom, Tyco, Arthur Andersen Accounting and Citibank, the $700 billion bank giant that advised Enron on how to “cook the books” and not get caught.

Enron was the mother of all big business scandals, exposing transnational capitalism as legalized racketeering. Yet what has happened since? Despite halfhearted efforts by the Democrats to make corporate crime an issue in the Nov. 5 election, Bush, Cheney & Co., all closely tied to Enron thievery, buried it under a dungheap of war hysteria and fake patriotism. The AFL-CIO and a few leaders like Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) seized on the Enron scandal, exposing, for example that California ratepayers will pay $30 billion in electricity overcharges because of Enron and its accomplices.

As for Wall Street regulatory agencies, the Securities and Exchange Commission is in disarray with SEC Chair Harvey Pitt forced to resign. Former FBI Director William Webster stepped down as head of the new accounting industry oversight board. It reflects Bush’s plan to bury attempts to curb Enron-style abuses. Bush’s “greed is good” economic policies clear the way for the most rapacious Enron profiteering that is built into the capitalist system. Only a huge labor-led mass movement to end corporate right-wing rule can free us from Enronomics and the mass unemployment, poverty and union busting it breeds.

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Terrorism is not revolutionary

The recent terrorist attacks in Kenya, Indonesia and in Israel are heinous crimes against humanity. Terrorism does not extend democracy, it does not win equality and will not end Israeli military occupation. But terrorism does strengthen the grip of the Bush Administration, reaction, militarism, instability and exploitation.

Colonial and imperial forces have a sordid history of using provocateurs, pinning blame for their acts of terrorism on the democratic, working class and revolutionary movements. In apartheid South Africa, the racist forces branded the African National Congress (ANC) as a “terrorist” organization because the ANC had an armed wing. Bush, too demagogically equates all forms of armed struggle with “terrorism.” But the right of oppressed and enslaved people to engage in self defense and armed struggle is undeniable. Yet the ANC rejected terrorism which targets innocent non-combatants. The ANC along with the trade unions and the South African Communist Party utilized mass strikes, boycotts and international solidarity as their main weapons to defeat racist apartheid and win a democratic South Africa.

U.S. Government agencies and corporations covertly sponsor extremist groupings and terrorist networks to further their undemocratic self-interests. The CIA along with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) built the camps which trained bin Laden and Al Qaeda agents in their war against a democratic Afghanistan.

Terrorism and war feed each other. White House spokesperson Ari Fleisher recently justified terrorist assassinations as “cheaper than war.” The CIA used an unmanned drone plane in Yemen to blow up a “terrorist suspect” and his companions as they rode in a car.

The answer to terrorism is not war and repression but rather international cooperation and criminal investigation, obeying international law and upholding democracy An informed and politically mobilized population is also part of fighting both terrorism and war. The International Criminal Court is the forum to bring to justice, not only the perpetrators of Sept. 11, but all perpetrators and supporters of terrorism and other crimes against humanity.

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