February 12, 2002 – A day which would sound all-too familiar for the months and years ahead. A heightened state of alert, based on information received from inmates at Guantanamo of a pending Terrorist attack “somewhere”. No specifics – a few likely suspects and a lot of paranoia. States were asking just how much higher was this threat level supposed to go – and will this become a daily occurrence? Only Capitol Hill knew and they were busy wrestling with a financial scandal which would become another all-too-familiar story in the months and years ahead.
Enron, a failed financial institution, propped up by smokescreens and sleights-of-hand, ultimately collapsing in flaming wreckage, taking with it hopes and dreams and people who wanted the fast-track to the American dream.
Former Chairman and CEO of Enron Kenneth Lay, came to Capitol Hill to testify over his role in the fiasco. Smiling smugly and feigning concern, Lay invoked the Fifth Amendment “upon advice of counsel” – much to his ersatz regret. Amidst a Tsunami of Crocodile tears and faux contrition, Lay sat and listened to limp blasts from Senators, denouncing him – labeling him a Confidence Man, a Carnival Barker, a Cheat and Fraud. Cold comfort to the people he cheated – the employees he left hanging, the wreckage left smoldering for someone else to clean up.
Enron would ultimately become the symbol for all things Greed and for all Greed failed. It wouldn’t be the last time – it wasn’t the first time. But Enron was, for now, the biggest scandal to hit in a long time, if ever. Little did anyone know at the time just how flimsy all these economic machinations would be. That would come a few years and many broken dreams later.
And that’s just a little of what happened, this February 12, 2002 – as reported by National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.