Friday, September 14, 2007

No need to "apeel", Chiquita -- it's just fine!

A popular myth in this country is that we have equal justice for all. Another popular myth is that if you support terrorists you will go to jail for a long time, and that George Bush personally will bring the full weight of law against any violators. After all, the only reason he draws breath is to win the war on terror. Hell, that's why we torture people, isn't it?

Well, those myths just took a kick in the balls. Equal justice, even for those who acknowledge they have supported terrorism, ain't equal for the big boys.

Back in March, I posted at length about Carl Lindner, and among other things mentioned that his former company had agreed to pay a $25 million fine for paying $1.7 million in "protection money" to a terrorist group in Colombia. Here's the link. The salient portion of that post is below.

Now to the law-breaking-Chiquita just this week agreed to pay a $25 million fine
to the U.S. government because they paid millions of dollars to terrorist groups
in Colombia between 1997 and 2004 as bribes so that Chiquitas business interests
in that country would not suffer from the political turmoil rampant at the time.
Payment of the bribes was approved at the highest levels of Chiquita, and
included $1.7 million to a group called AUC, a left-wing group, and a similar
amount to FARC, a right-wing paramilitary group. Both groups had been designated
as terrorist organizations by the U.S. well before the bribe payments ceased.

According to a 9/12/07 article, here, in the Wall Street Journal online edition, the Department of Justice has confirmed that they will not seek terror-related charges against the former Chiquita officials responsible for approving the money to the terrorists.

"The United States gave serious consideration to bringing additional
charges in this matter," prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in
the sentencing memo. "In the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion, the
United States has decided not to do so." Prosecutors said Chiquita, through its
post-plea cooperation, "provided critical evidence and information that the U.S.
considered in making this determination.

So there you go, folks. Osama binLadens driver is tortured for years at Guantanamo Bay for earning a living as a taxi driver, but the highly placed executives at a major U.S. corporation who paid terrorists in order to enhance their profits are totally off the hook. There's a shining example of fighting terrorism if there ever was one.

This also points up one of the problems with corporations as persons in a legal sense. The government is able to claim that justice has been served because the legal person will pay a big fine, but as is most often the case the human persons, the actual criminals, escape prosecution. That is twisted, and a gross perversion of what justice should be.

Do you think that an average guy would get this kind of break?

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