Saturday, February 16, 2002

Practically on the eve of testifying in the Enron debacle, while his lawyers were negotiating the terms of his testimony, former Enron Vice Chairman Cliff Baxter kills himself. Here's a guy who: 1) was an avid yachtsman and was looking forward to the delivery of his new boat; 2) got out of Enron before the shit hit the fan with $35 million; 3) lived in a luxurious house with his wife and children; 4) before he left Enron was on record as complaining about the corruption there and easily could have been depicted as a valiant whistleblower in any testimony he might give; 5) as a practical matter would almost certainly have suffered no punishment for the Enron mess, and would have kept all his money; 6) was talking to his friends in the few days before he died about hiring a bodyguard, as if he felt he needed one (hardly a suicidal thought!); 7) had an autopsy confirming his suicide in almost record-breaking time by a medical examiner with a - ahem - 'history' (and why is it that whenever these types of deaths are investigated the coroner always has a - ahem - 'history'); 8) had a police investigation of his death where the police immediately lied twice, both about who found him (they didn't) and whether he was alive when found (he was, and they said he wasn't), immediately rushed to judgment that the case was a suicide, and apparently tried to have the matter concluded with no autopsy; 9) was about to testify on the Enron matter and was in a position to really make things difficult for a lot of guilty people. The post-war United States has a splendid history of political 'suicides', including Forrestal, Ferrie, Casolaro, Wilcher and Hatfield. In any society, there are always a very small number of people with information they are about to reveal which would compromise the existing power structure. Why is it that in the United States all these people commit suicide? As is pointed out by Hopsicker, if John Dean had 'killed himself' prior to testifying, there wouldn't have been any Watergate scandal (and John Dean is still causing trouble!). We dishonour the memory of these victims of political assassination if we fail to see that people with important secrets they are researching or about to reveal would not commit suicide. These are the last people who would kill themselves.