President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye.
Five bucks says Halliburton is the first to get a free pass. I'm sure there will be some patriotic anti-terrorist reason for doing this. There has to be, since we have a tough talking wartime president in office who wouldn't dream of doing anything that wasn't in the best interest of each and every citizen, providing they make at least $250k/year, vote Republican, and are in a traditional marriage consisting of one man and one woman...
Why was the SEC created? To police corporations for fraud and abuses of the market. Laws and agencies like the SEC are created as a result of need, and if we needed the SEC before you can bet that we need it now. Can you imagine if the NSA had given Enron a free pass because as an energy company their business was a matter of national security? How much longer might they have dragged out their soul sucking demise and how many more lives would have been ruined by an even larger implosion?
In 2003 Dick Cheney stated on NBC that he had severed all ties with Halliburton, and this claim was refuted in a report by the Congressional Research Service. Would it have been possible to determine that our vice president was still in the pocket of Halliburton if they had their SEC requirements lifted? How will we know when, where and by whom our politicians have been bought if those companied get a free pass by one of Bush's henchmen?
While the article above only describes the power to exempt from SEC requirements, it makes a chilling proclimation in the beginning: "President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security" I wonder what else is contained within that 'broad authority'. What other gotchas are waiting around the corner? Will protestors be declared "political combatants" and have their rights stripped?
The world changes in lots of little steps. Even technological changes take time to spread and be adopted. Our government changes in the same way. Large radical changes are resisted, while the small nips and cuts go largely unnoticed. If we ever did get a political party in power that cared for the people, it would take several terms of office just to find all the points of corruption that have been slipped into various bills, laws, and presidential orders. A frequent theme in science fiction is a world where corporations rule and the government has a token presence. Looks like the future is just around the corner.