- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2002

Arthur Andersen more culpable than Enron

Bruce Bartlett is right. Arthur Andersen is more culpable than Enron ("Back to business basics," Commentary, Feb. 20). And Congress is making a mistake in concentrating so much of its energy and wrath on the Enron officials who brought the company down. Many of those officials are undoubtedly scoundrels and deserve to be prosecuted. Scoundrels are a dime a dozen, however.

As long as there is money to be made by stealing, chiseling and cheating, someone will do it. What protects us from anarchy and keeps the system going are the various institutions we have developed to keep the crooks and fast-buck artists from stealing too much. And of all those institutions, none is more important than certified public accounting.

We, the public, depend on CPAs to keep businesses reasonably honest when they issue the financial statements that we rely on to make investment decisions. If we cannot rely on the accuracy of the information businesses put out, our system is doomed.

That is why it is so disturbing to learn that Arthur Andersen apparently helped the scoundrels at Enron cook the books. It is tantamount to learning that the police have been helping bank robbers.

Arthur Andersen claims that Enron officials lied to them. But if that is true, why did Arthur Andersen shred so many Enron documents that presumably would have proved they were mislead? And how is it possible that a big, sophisticated accounting firm was so easily deceived?

If we find as I think we will that there is something rotten at Arthur Andersen, and possibly in the entire accounting profession, it is essential that those responsible are punished as an example to other CPAs. The system must be changed so that this does not happen again.



EU 'likes like'

In Janusz Bugajski's Feb. 20 Op-Ed piece "European axis of naivete," he states of the European Union, "In fact, its short-sighted policies are lending support to the pro-Yugoslav coalition in Montenegro which is socialist, statist, anti-reformist and anti-American."

Mr. Bugajski has identified the obvious reasons why the Yugoslav "federal" state is the darling of the Brussels bureaucrats: Like likes like. If asked, the Japanese bureaucracy would also oppose a Montenegro plebiscite, as they would one for, say, Okinawa.


Sealy, Texas

Inaction against Castro has consequences

Six years ago today, four good men were murdered by agents of the Castro regime as they flew over the Florida Straits trying to save the lives of fleeing Cuban rafters. Yet the men who pulled the trigger and the dictator who set the conspiracy in motion live on in impunity.

The premeditated murder of U.S. citizens by a foreign state in 1996, and the failure of the previous administration to seek justice in a timely manner, encouraged others, such as Osama bin Laden, to believe that they could murder Americans without having to pay a price.

As another year passes, justice has yet to be done for Armando Alejandre Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Pena, Pablo Morales and their families. Sadly, due to past inaction, more than 3,000 families now need justice for their loved ones, as well.



More worthy American role models than Franklin, Grant

Thanks to Mona Charen for skewering the fuzzy thinking of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh ("Roots of treachery," Commentary, Feb. 18). What kind of perverted mind would turn against America by reading "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," of all things.

But the counterexamples Miss Charen offers of Americans worthy of emulation are puzzling, to say the least. Ulysses S. Grant? Benjamin Franklin? Aren't there more obviously appropriate candidates?

Grant presided over what was, by consensus, the most corrupt administration in U.S. history. Even his military "success" was little more than a callous willingness to endure and inflict casualties.

Franklin had his great moments, but neither his private life nor his private opinions will bear too much scrutiny. As Lord Acton insightfully remarked of him, he was the only "foolish man" at the Constitutional Convention.

Miss Charen's column appeared on the day we celebrate the birth of perhaps the greatest of Americans, George Washington. Wouldn't "the father of his country" be the most appropriate model to inspire the youth of America?



Columnist insensitive to 'horrible violence' against animals

John McCaslin's summary of last weekend's National Student Animal Rights Conference grossly mischaracterizes the animal rights movement (Inside the Beltway, Feb. 19).

We all recognize the importance of teaching our children compassion, mercy and empathy. Those virtues should be applied to everyone, human or not. However, as is evidenced by factory farms, slaughterhouses, circuses, fur farms and other places of animal exploitation, animal abuse is a standard part of American culture.

Given the rise in violence among our nation's youth, we should be grateful that some students are deciding to choose compassion rather than buying into the horrible violence and bloodshed in which most of us are all too willing to participate.



Compassion Over Killing

Takoma Park

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