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Lay Convicted--Greg Palast

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Lay Convicted, Bush Walks
                           (and Ahnold Gets Lay'd)
Special For Truthout
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
by Greg Palast
Don't kid yourself. If you think the conviction of Ken Lay 
means that George Bush is serious about going after 
corporate bad guys, think
First, Lay got away with
                           murder -- or at least grand larceny Li
Like Al Capone convicted of failing to file his taxes, Ken Lay, though 
found guilty of stock fraud, is totally off the hook for his 
BIG crime: taking down California
                           and Texas consummers for 
billions through fraud on the power markets. 
Lay, co-convict Jeff Skilling
                           and Enron did not act alone. They 
connived with half a dozen other power companies and a dozen 
investment banks to manipulate both the stock market and the 
electricity market. And
                           though their co-conspirators have 
now paid $3 billion to
                           settle civil claims, the executives
                           these other corporations and banks get a walk on 
criminal charges. 
Furthermore, to protect our President's boardroom
from any further discomforts, the Bush Justice Department, just 
days ago, indicted Milberg, Weiss, the law firm that nailed 
Enron's finance industry partners-in-crime. The timing of the 
bust of this, the top corporation-battling law firm, smacks
                           political prosecution -- and a signal to Big 
Business that it's business as usual. 
Lay and Skilling have
                           to pay up their ill-gotten gains 
to Enron's stockholders,
                           but what about the $9-plus billion 
owe electricity consumers? 
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Bush's electricity
                           have slapped Enron and its gang of power
                           pirates on 
the wrist. Could that have
                           something to do with the fact 
that Ken Lay, in secret chats with Dick Cheney, selected 
the Commission's chairmen? 
Team Bush had to throw the public a bone --
                           so they threw us 
Lay and Skilling
                           -- for the crime, note, not of ripping off 
the public, but ripping off stockholders, the owner class. 
This limited conviction, and the announcement
                           of only one more 
indictment -- of the crime-busters at Milberg-Weiss -- is Team 
Bush's "all clear!" signal for the sharks to jump back into the 
power pool. 
That leaves one question:
                           if Bush's Justice Department let 
Ken and company
                           keep the California loot, what about that state's 
own government?  If you want to know how Californian's $9 billion 
went bye-bye, read on
[From Armed Madhouse ,
                           Greg Palast's new book out 06-06-06.  Order it 
now at]
Peninsula Hotel, Beverly Hills. May 17, 2001. The Financial Criminal of 
the twentieth century, not long out of prison,
                           meets with the Financial 
Criminal of the twenty-first century who feared he 
may also have to do hard time. These two, bond-market 
manipulator Mike Millikin and Ken Lay, not-yet-indicted 
Chairman of Enron Corporation, were joined by a 
selected group of movers
                           and shakers -- and one movie star. 
Arnold Schwarzenegger had been to such private parties before. 
As a young immigrant without a nickel to his name, he put on
                           displays of his musculature for guests
                           of his promoter. 
As with those early closed
                           gatherings, I don't know all that 
went on at the Peninsula Hotel meet, though I understand 
Ahnold,_ this time, did not have to strip down to his 
Speedos. Nevertheless, the moral undressing was just as 
lascivious, f you read through the 34 page fax that arrived at our office.  
Lay, who convened the hugger-mugger, was in a bit of trouble. Enron and 
the small oligopoly of
                           other companies that ruled California's
electricity system had been caught jacking up the price of power and gas by 
fraud, conspiracy and
                           manipulation. A billion here, a billion there, and 
pretty soon it was real money - $6.3 billion in suspect windfalls in 
just six months, May through
                           December 2000, for a half-dozen electricity 
buccaneers, at least $9 billion for the year. Their skim would 
have been higher but the tricksters thought they were limited 
by the number of igits the state's power-buying computers 
could read.  When Ken met Arnold in the hotel room, the 
games were far from
                           over. For example , in June 2003, Reliant
                           of Houston simply turned off several power plants, 
and when California cities faced going dark, 
the company sold them a pittance of kilowatts for 
more than gold, making several million in minutes. 
Power-market shenanigans
                           were nothing new in 2000. What was new 
was the response of Governor Gray Davis. A normally quiet, 
if not dull, man, this Governor had the temerity to call the energy 
sellers "pirates_" -- in
                           public! -- and, even more radically, 
he asked them to give back all the ill-gotten loot, the entire $9 billion. 
The state filed a regulatory complaint with the federal 
The Peninsula Hotel get-together
                           was all about how to "settle" the 
legal actions in such a way that Enron and friends could get the 
state to accept dog food instead of dollars. Davis seemed 
unlikely to see things Ken's way. Life
                           would be so much 
better if California had a governor like the muscle guy in 
the Speedos. 
And so it came to pass
                           that, in 2003, quiet Gray Davis, who 
had the cojones to stand up to the electricity barons, was 
thrown out of office by the voters and replaced by the 
tinker-toy tough guy. The Governator_ performed as desired. 
Soon after Schwarzenegger took over from Davis, he signed 
off on a series of deals
                           with Reliant, Williams Company, 
Dynegy, Entergy
                           and the other power pirates for ten to twenty 
cents on the dollar, less than you'd tip the waitress. 
Enron paid just about nothing. 

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