Teriq Aziz--Where Are You? And Why?
When Iraq fell to the coalition forces, many assumed that Aziz would have hotfooted it out of the Middle East on a private jet, taking his family and trunks full of U.S. dollars with him, roaming the world like such high-profile fugitives as Osama Bin Laden, Lord Lucan, Marc Rich, Robert Vesco and Roman Polanski.
It was not to be. After negotiating with allied forces for guarantees of safety for his family, Aziz surrendered in April 2003 and has been all but forgotten. Instead, media attention has focused on the turmoil in Iraq and the upcoming trial of Saddam Hussein.
Has the Teriq Aziz story been lost on America's great corporate criminals--Dennis Kozlowski, John Rigas and Bernard Ebbers--that once jailed, you are out of sight, out of mind and few people care?
Jail means a solitary life in a cell with a hard mattress, a sink, a commode, occasional showers, an hour of exercise, institutional food, endless reruns of "I Love Lucy," and occasional visits from your family (if they remember)--forever until you die.
John Rigas, 80, founder of Adelphia, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on June 20 and has been ordered to surrender to the court Sept. 19.
Bernard Ebbers, 63, former CEO of WorldCom, was sentenced to 25 years and must begin serving his time Oct. 12.
Dennis Kozlowski, 58, former CEO of Tyco, was convicted on 22 counts of conspiracy, grand larceny, falsifying business records and securities fraud on June 17. He faces up to 25 years and is awaiting sentencing.
Kenneth Lay, 62, former CEO of Enron is next on the government's hit list. He can hardly feel sanguine about his future in light of recent events in the lives of Ebbers, Rigas and Kozlowski.
I turn 70 in three weeks. Were I sentenced to 25 years in prison, would I meekly surrender to the authorities on the appointed day in order to spend the rest of my life in prison? I pray that is a decision I never have to make.