ON SECOND THOUGHT: The relaunched TalkingPointsMemo.com has some fun with Army Secretary Thomas White’s Defense Department bio, at least in its description of the Enron part of his career. Before Enron became synonymous with scandal, the bio read:
“Prior to his appointment as Secretary of the Army, Secretary White served as Vice Chairman of Enron Energy Services, the Enron Corporation subsidiary responsible for providing energy outsource solutions to commercial and industrial customers throughout the United States. Mr. White was responsible for the delivery component of energy management services, which included commodity management; purchasing, maintaining, and operating energy assets; developing and implementing energy information services; capital management; and facilities management.
“Secretary White also served as a member of Enron’s Executive Committee and was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Enron Operations Corporation. He was also responsible for the Enron Engineering and Construction Company, which managed an extensive construction portfolio with domestic and international projects.”
That has now been changed to:
“From 1990 to 2001, Mr. White was employed by Enron Corporation and held various senior executive positions.”
Lest anyone suspect a coverup, how about someone thanking whoever it was who finally edited the bejargoned original? “Energy outsource solutions,” “the delivery component of energy management services,” “implementing energy information services” — how can anyone treat English this way?
FORGET ENRON: Enron’s no longer the only game in town. After a few fits and starts, Global Crossing has broken through. One sign: Salon.com ran a long AP report last Friday that raises many questions about the once high-flying company’s ties to key Washington officials, including top Democrats as well as former Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen and the sainted John McCain. These days one no longer even rolls one’s eyes about McCain: The same day his campaign finance reform baby was delivered to the Senate last week, the AP was reporting that no one else in Congress received more money from Global Crossing than McCain. A $31,000 donation to his presidential campaign from Global Crossing employees was followed that same month by McCain’s intervening, “at the company’s urging,” with the FCC about a project of great interest to GC.
As for DNC wildman Terry McAuliffe, the AP story did note he parlayed a $100,000 investment into $18 million in profits. It probed the matter no further, other than include a response from McAuliffe’s spokeswoman at the DNC. “Terry just invested his money and did nothing else,” she said. To attempt any “political analogy” to Enron, she added, “is just ridiculous.”
But Frank Rich doesn’t think so. In a breakthrough column, he blasts Terry McAuliffe with as much relish as he does Enron and the Republicans. And without realizing it, he rebuts the DNC spokeswoman. McAuliffe a passive investor? On CNN McAuliffe called his humongous profits part of “a great success story.” But Rich, citing a “Wall Street Journal” report, notes that “Global Crossing executives also started unloading shares in 1999 — hauling home $1.3 billion, even more than Ken Lay and company netted when they dumped Enron stock while telling employees to buy.” Did these GC execs know something other GC shareholders didn’t? Did they tell McAuliffe? Here’s where Rich nails McAuliffe: “On Tuesday I asked the Democratic National Committee merely for the dates of the party chief’s Global Crossing sales within 1999. The answer has been silence.”
Wonder who Democrats have lined up to succeed Terry McAuliffe?
NO SO FAST: Reader Al Bullock isn’t holding his breath. In a letter to TAP, he describes a search he did at WashingtonPost.com: “A search of ‘enron’ revealed 212 instances of mention from 2/5/2002 through 2/18/2002. A search of ‘global crossing’ during the same time frame revealed 16 instances of mention and many were one-phrase references. Bernard [Goldberg] could write a series on the Post’s bias.” But before he does, maybe we should check again in two weeks to see if the disparity has become smaller.
BILL COMES DUE: The aforementioned William Cohen’s ties to Global Crossing are the subject of many pointed questions. None of them have yet been posed by the so-called mainstream press. But a letter to TAP from Marsha C. Tucker of Houston, Texas, makes an impressive case indeed:
“Is anybody going to make the connection between Clinton’s Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen, who now serves on the Global Crossing board, and the ‘grease-skidded’ award of a $400 million DOD contract that the Bush Administration canceled due to a faulty bidding process?
“And how, in heaven’s name, does a five-year-old company have the gravitas to qualify for a contract of this magnitude? What did Global Crossing represent about itself in the RFP that was submitted to the DOD? Was there a balance sheet, cash flow statement and P&L? What about disclosure of related party transactions? Who analyzed Global Crossing for the DOD? Who recommended and signed the contract on behalf of the U.S. government? What guarantee was made to the U.S. government in the event of a Global default?
“Did Bill Cohen have contact with the DOD after he became a Global Crossing director? If so, who did he talk to, when did he talk to them and what was the nature of the conversation? What options, etc., did Cohen have has a director?
“And, upon cancellation of the contract what, if any, work had been completed on behalf of the U.S. government? What is the status of that today? Finally, how is it that a Bermuda-chartered company — a foreign entity that pays little or no taxes to the U.S. — qualified for U.S. government work?”
How Bill Cohen might reply is anyone’s guess. If he were Terry McAuliffe he’d no doubt accuse the Houston-based letter writer of trying to divert attention from her hometown’s homegrown Enron scandal.