Teriq Aziz--Where Are You? And Why?
Questions for Prosecutors and Judges
Cory Kemp, the African-American city treasurer of Philadelphia, was convicted earlier this month of mail fraud, wire fraud, extortion, making false statements to a bank, money laundering and filing a false tax return.
The trial had been highly contentious and the outcome questionable. A 57-year-old woman--after two months of jury service and 10 days of deliberations--was removed by the judge. "I find that she is biased against the government," the judge said. "She is biased against FBI agents." An alternate juror was substituted, and the jury was ordered to begin again from square one.
Defense attorneys believe that grounds for appeal may well exist.
Kemp was a local boy with no international connections, no way of having secreted tens of millions in offshore bank accounts or buried trunks filled with unmarked, non-sequential hundred dollar bills in the Amazon jungle. How could Kemp possibly fly the coop?
Yet, on the day he was sentenced, Kemp, 34, was instantly clapped in handcuffs and carted off to begin serving his 10-year hitch in the hoosegow.
Was this fair treatment?
Teriq Aziz, where are you?
Does anyone think about Teriq Aziz any more--Saddam Hussein's foreign minister and later deputy prime minister--the eight of spades on the 55 Most-Wanted deck of cards? Aziz was 66 at the time of the second Gulf War, the only Christian in Saddam's inner circle. With his thatch of white hair, goggle-like horn-rimmed glasses and de rigueur macho mustache, Aziz was the most cosmopolitan and recognizable of Hussein's thugs. He spoke English, wore tailored suits when he was representing Iraq in his jaunts to world capitals, and the BBC profile of Aziz reported that those who knew him said he was calm, articulate and suave.
Aziz told Britain's ITV, "Do you expect me, after all my history as a militant and as one of the Iraqi leaders, to go to an American prison -- to go to Guantanamo? I would rather die."
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.
My question to prosecutors and judges: Why are Kozlowski, Rigas and Ebbers--filthy rich white guys convicted of swindling billions of dollars, destroying the lives of thousands and facing the probability of dying in jail--walking around as free men when Cory Kemp--a stony broke African-American kid guilty of stealing chump change (relatively speaking)--was thrown into the slammer?
Some recent high-profile fugitives
Osama Bin Laden, perhaps the most famous and wanted man in history. Despite the best efforts of the intelligence and military of the entire free world--and with a bounty of $25 million on his head--at this writing, he remains at large.
Abu Al-Zarqawi, also with a $25 million reward being offered, is still at large and creating mayhem in post-war Iraq.
Robert Vesco, 69, was accused of embezzling $20 million and fled to Costa Rica where he donated $2.1 million to the President Jose Figueres, who signed a law giving the financier asylum. In 1978 Figueres was out and the "Vesco Law" repealed. Vesco, a narcotics addict, fled to Cuba where, after being convicted of drug dealing, is in a Cuban jail.
Marc Rich was charged in 1983 with illegal oil deals with Iran during the hostage crisis, more than 50 counts of tax fraud and evading nearly $50 million in federal taxes. He has been living in Switzerland for more than 20 years. Presumably Rich could return to the United States having been giving an 11th-hour presidential pardon by a departing Bill Clinton, much to the outrage of just about everybody. Not outraged was Rich's wife, Denise, who donated $450,000 to the Clinton library, $70,000 to Hillary Clinton's senatorial campaign and another half million to other Democratic causes.
Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, murdered his children's nanny and assaulted his wife in London on the night of Nov. 7, 1974, and disappeared without a trace. Many believe Lord "Lucky" Lucan is still alive.
John List murdered his wife, three children and mother in November 1971 in his mansion on 431 Hillside Ave., Westfield, N.J., and disappeared. In 1989 forensic sculptor Frank Bender created a bust of what he believed List would look like 18 years later. It was shown on John Walsh's "America's Most Wanted," and List was identified, captured and sentenced to life in prison.
Ronald Biggs, famous for his participation in the 1963 "Great Train Robbery" in the U.K., escaped from prison after serving 15 months of a 30-year sentence and fled to Australia and then Brazil where he lived for 35 years. After suffering two strokes and being partially paralyzed, Biggs returned to the U.K. in May 2001, was arrested at the airport and is back in prison for life.
Roman Polanski, the Polish Oscar-winning film director recently sued Vanity Fair magazine for libel and won £50,000. What made the case unusual was that the trial was held in London but Polanski testified and kept track of the proceedings via closed circuit TV from Paris. He was fearful of going to England because he could have been extradited to the United States where he is wanted for sentencing after being convicted for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
How easy is it to become a fugitive?
Apparently very easy. Enter "Most Wanted" into Google, and you will find many lists of people who have dropped out of sight and are being sought by various state and federal authorities.
For a criminal who has stashed a few million outside the United States, life on the lam is presumably far more pleasant than life in the can.
The starting place is the Internet.
Web Sites Related to Today's Edition
McNabb Associates, PC
"How you can get a New Identity fast, safe and easy!"
For another idea on obtaining a new identity, rent "Dark Passage" with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
How to Fake a Passport
is an exhaustive 5,000-word New York Times magazine article by Jeff Goodell.
of all sizes and at all costs can be found on the Internet.
are available for round-trip or one-way flight pretty much to anywhere in the world.
Letters to the Editor
In response to "Catching up With Colin Powell," which was published on July 21, 2005:
Thanks so much for sharing from Colin Powell's speech. Colin is a hero of mine as well. When Powell made the decision to not run for the presidency it was a major disappointment to me. This country desperately needs him. A restoration of credibility and respect to the highest office of the land is essential to our future. Powell is the man that would and could accomplish that.
--David Ramey, Coldwater Creek
Great article on General Powell. I too have read his book and find him to be one of America's most trusted and honest leaders.
-- Stephen E. Veto, Barton-Cotton Inc.
Thanks for your wonderful profile of a great American, Colin Powell. In the Army, I would have followed him anywhere. But, regarding Iraq, he knew better, yet he did not "put his stars on the table" and resign as secretary of state. Had he done so, his legacy would be unblemished. General Harold K. Johnson, a brave and honorable warrior, is said to have regretted until the end of his days that he did not, as Army chief of staff in 1967, put his stars on Lyndon Johnson's desk and walk out over Vietnam. As a Vietnam veteran whose son recently got back from a tour in Iraq with the 1/120 Infantry, I'm really pissed that "...the band played on." General Powell knew better, but went along. He knew better. Sometimes, things just don't look better in the morning.
In response to "Making E-correspondence and Web Sites Readable," which was published on July 12, 2005:
Tom Girgash, the gentleman who mentioned the Tachistoscope was right. My father taught rapid reading in the schools in the Chicago area and to business and industry (including Santa Fe railroad, as I recall). He (and Evelyn Wood) got their graduate training at the University of Iowa, and I assume this was the genesis of the machine.
Essentially it was just a roll film/slide projector with an auto advance and shutter over the lens that could limit the viewing area and flash an image on a movie screen for a specific period of time. The students were trained to take in more information in larger and larger areas in shorter times. The results were faster reading with increased comprehension.
Obviously, the ad agencies used these same techniques, but with slightly different goals.
-- Richard Lundquist, Executive Producer, Innovators World Television, InnovatorsWorld.com
In response to "The Train(ing) Wreck of American Business," which was published on June 28,2005:
When I became president of a retail and mail order company in 1974, the turnover of personnel was 300 percent. That means the entire retail force -- part-timers, full-time sales, assistant managers and managers -- was turning over three times a year! Take away the office staff, and it was 400 percent!!
We immediately designed a move-up "track' with an incentive program that hadn't existed before, and by the end of the first year, turnover had dropped to less than 100 percent.
In the second year, we installed an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and a college tuition reimbursement plan since most of our personnel were very young, and we were in a youth-oriented business. At the end of the second year, our turnover was less than 30 percent, an unheard of achievement for a youth-culture retail segment.
Along the way, we developed suggestion programs, birthday cards and gift certificates for all employees, and more. By the way, at the end of the second year, we were continually adding highly qualified names to our hiring waiting list, just waiting for new stores to open so they could "get on the ladder."
We also paid for in-house seminars for everyone, not just sales folks. For clerks, for department managers and assistant managers, for HR, warehousing, merchandising, everything. We sent qualifying salespeople on overseas merchandise inspection trips and to trade shows. We sent (or had brought in) everyone we could think of to specialty trade shows in their areas of responsibility, and encouraged them to share with colleagues.
In short, we invested large amounts of money and management resources in the acquisition, development and motivation of human capital, the most productive capital of all.
In five years we became the No. 1 independent retailer in our category in the U.S.
-- Barry Dennis, Netweb/Omni