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Investigating the Enron Debacle

January 18, 2002

Re "No Special Prosecutor on Enron," Commentary, Jan. 16: Excuse me, Samuel Dash, but the attorney general has recused himself from the case, as well as the U.S. attorney and his staff in Houston. John Ashcroft still heads the Department of Justice, though.

I can't think of a stronger case for an independent counsel than this one.

As for Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's statements (Jan. 14), I can't think of a stronger case for stopping the deregulation of the energy markets. Look at the airlines and the savings and loan debacle. Republicans think a free market is where you can fleece the public but, when your business gets into trouble, ask your buddies in Washington to bail you out (with our money).

I'd still like the FERC to pursue an investigation about how Enron and its cronies manipulated the electricity markets here in California and elsewhere, but that is highly unlikely with Ken Lay's handpicked henchmen on the board. Imagine, an anti-regulation zealot in charge of the regulatory agency!

Jim Pardue

Scotts Valley, Calif.

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The Andersen accounting firm deserves our thanks for firing its lead auditor for Enron ("Andersen Fires Executive Who Oversaw Enron Audit," Jan. 16). By so doing, it has relinquished its power to prevent David Duncan from letting the authorities and, more important, us know just who really authorized the destruction of Enron-related documents, as well as giving us an important part of the inside story relating to this whole malodorous business. Surely, this fired lead auditor would have no reason whatsoever to take the rap for Andersen and Enron's higher-ups.

Horace Gaims

Los Angeles

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Lest we get lost in a quagmire of political bickering and forget to address flaws that made the Enron debacle possible, please remember this: Enron's growth and prosperity happened during the Clinton administration.

Seventy-five percent of the U.S. Senate accepted campaign funds from Enron. California's deregulation passed the state Legislature unanimously. Enron lobbied for favorable tax and regulatory treatment with the Bush administration. Enron was the beneficiary of favorable tax and regulatory treatment during the Clinton administration. In short, there is plenty of mud to be slung at both parties.

But if that fight consumes us, we may miss the opportunity to learn what legal loopholes need closing; what additional transparency in disclosure is required; why Wall Street analysts continued to tout the stock until it fell off the cliff; and what accounting rule changes need to be made to either eliminate or clearly disclose the extent and meaning of "off-balance-sheet" financing.

The political blame game helps no one. Fixing the problems helps us all.

Richard C. Morse

Palos Verdes Estates

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