Mike was always the hard charger, the sparkplug of his 77th-floor accounting office. He was the one who insisted that everyone stay at their desks on that fatal morning, wryly telling his frightened staff, "This is not gonna turn into one of those 20-minute coffee breaks, people" before he went back to work delicately balancing the books of Enron.
Speed Funds Terror
(AP, the eXile) WASHINGTON -- The DEA, whose clout has fallen enormously with the War on Terror last year, announced early this week that it had cracked a major United States methamphetamine ring, some of whose proceeds might be diverted to Middle Eastern terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.
The link was made when authorities arrested four Middle Eastern men on charges of smuggling perhaps millions of dollars worth of chemical pseudoephedrine from Canada into the US. Profits were then traced to Middle East bank accounts suspected of being tied to Hezbollah and other groups, though not al Qaeda.
Analysts within the drug consumption world however remained highly skeptical.
For one, they point out that only 4 of the 136 people arrested as part of Operation Mountain Express were of Arabic descent, a proportion that would roughly correspond to the percentage of America as a whole. Moreover, the Middle Eastern men were only one link in a much larger meth production web that is "as American as Harley Davidson," according to the eXile.
"There is no more quintessentially patriotic, red, white and blue drug than meth," said analyst David Amzalak of the Jawbone Institute. "It's as American as apple pie." Indeed, meth has been the drug of choice for the white underclass and rural white America for decades, while more cosmopolitan middle and upper-middle class Americans have traditionally scorned it for imported drugs.
Middle Eastern terrorists long ago developed production and distribution networks for such lucrative locally-produced drugs as hashish and heroin. The drugs are grown primarily in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Lebanon, and shipped through well-worn networks.
The idea that Middle Eastern terrorists would divert resources into penetrating an extremely dangerous business, the US meth market, which already has its own violent barons who control a network of speed labs throughout the American market, seems patently absurd.
"It's not like ragheads don't stick out in post-9/11 America," said Amzalak. "They'd REALLY stick out in the meth world."
Indeed, most drug consumer analysts agree that the reason the DEA linked the meth ring to Middle East terrorists was that the agency has been marginalized since the beginning of the War on Terror.
"The only way they'll get resources is to attach themselves to the War on Terror in any specious way they can," said Hans Tuisosopa, analyst. "This was going too far though in its credulity."
Indeed, many organizations have been using the War on Terror either as an excuse for failures or as a pretext to advance their own interests.
Recently, Exxon-Mobil asked the State Department to nullify a case brought against it in the United States by human rights groups who accuse Exxon of supporting death squads to protect its profitable oil and gas fields in the restive Indonesian island of Aceh. Exxon claimed that if they were to lose the case, that it would hinder America's war effort, and therefore the state should intervene to delay or cancel the case altogether.
He raised his head in annoyance as a great collapsing roar consumed his office -- and then all vanished in smoke and darkness.
When Mike awoke, he found himself in Enron's offices in Texas, listening to a briefing by a terrified accountant. "They've got us!" moaned the craven paper-pusher. "There's nothing we can do!"