Posted by: kevinfortruth | July 15, 2012

Why do the top guys (only in the U.S.) seldom, if ever, get the ax?

First, I would like to apologize for the gender bias in the heading of the blog.  On the other hand, “top guys” is usually correct 99 percent of the time because CEO’s, CIO’s, CFO’s, CMO’s, CTO’s and COO’s are usually men – men who usually insulate themselves from scrutiny and prosecution.

When these men are hired from outside or promoted within, they usually promote or import their friends to insure they are well insulated, from inside and outside threats.

The difference in how these executives are insulated in the U.S. versus other parts of the free world, i.e., Europe, South America, and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, et al), is that in these other parts of the world citizens stand up to corrupt or incompetent executives instead of cowering to them.

Oh, before I forget, this blog is not just about American executives in the corporate world but also in education such as the Penn State Scandal, charitable organizations and our military – no, especially our military.

Let’s start out by going back in time to 1968 during the Vietnam War.  The turning point of public sentiment was the My Lai massacre, where a battalion sized force, Task Force Barker, made up partially of three rifle companies of the American Division, led by LtCol Barker was directed to aggressively wipe out the “enemy” for good.  They were further “instructed” to burn villages, kill livestock, destroy foodstuffs, and to “perhaps” close the wells.  To me, that does not sound like only going after the enemy – it sounds more like killing the sympathizers of the enemy – the village citizens – by destroying the villages and the residents you are indirectly denying the enemy food, shelter, and water.

Several of the soldiers asked specifically if the orders meant killing the villagers and there are many differing accounts of what the senior officers said while preparing the American troops for this huge offensive.

Captain Medina, Lt. Calley’s superior said that any man running should be shot and any woman carrying a gun should be shot as well.  Platoon leaders later said that their orders, as they heard them, were to kill all North Vietnamese, all guerillas, and all “suspects” including women and children and animals and to also pollute the wells.

So, if orders from the very top of the battalion sized offensive included killing women and children, why was ONLY Lt. Calley punished?  He was sentenced by a court martial to life in prison but he only served 3 and one half years to house arrest.  What a gift for someone who did something so terrible.  Please understand that what this battalion and its’ troops did was atrocious – but if so, why was only a mere 2nd Lieutenant prosecuted?  Simple, because he was the lowest commissioned officer in the chain of command who could be punished.  God forbid that his boss, Captain Medina, or one of the many Majors or Colonels got prosecuted.

If a Colonel did get court martialed, what would the punishment be?  Would it be a paid vacation for him and his family to visit Disneyland or Disneyworld?  I am being sarcastic here.

It is estimated that between 350 and 500 innocent Vietnamese civilians – mostly women, children, infants, and the elderly were murdered by “Charlie Company”.  So, based on my estimates, Lt. Calley served a house arrest of one month for every 10 Vietnamese he and his subordinates murdered.

In the U. S. if you murder someone you might spend the rest of your life in prison, which could equate to 40 – 60 years in jail.  In addition, with that sentence, you can bet your bottom dollar you will not be paroled in 3 and one half years.

Lt Calley is just one of many junior officers who have been prosecuted for doing exactly what senior officers ordered them to do.

Things in the military have not changed much – let’s fast forward to the Iraq War and we have similar results – maybe those prosecuted were of higher rank but let’s put it in perspective.

Most people do not know it but the type of torture in Iraq at Abu Ghraib began a year or two earlier in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba at a place fondly referred to as GITMO.

The torture at GITMO was so effective, a General officer was moved from GITMO to Iraq to turn up the heat during interrogations – using whatever means he wanted to implement.  General Miller was no stranger to torture – he took the book on torture with him and quickly had all the guards and military police and contractors trained to do the unthinkable to the prisoners – unthinkable things like putting live electric wires to the testicles of male prisoners, like standing on the chests of senior officers in the Iraq military until their chests caved in – causing excruciating pain while they suffocated to death.

This and more continued for an extended period of time until those famous (or infamous) photos of torture were released to the press.  Our military was not upset with the techniques that were being implemented – they were angered that the photos were made public.  Public sentiment soured of our military because of what they were doing to prisoners and as a result a head or two had to roll.

There were a few enlisted guards who went beyond what was expected and they were prosecuted – they were low ranking military – specialists and a few sergeants – but yet, an officer somehow had to fall on her/his sword to show that we were ashamed of what was being done.

Well they found one – and a pretty high ranking one at that. The Army in its’ bigoted and sexist ways found a woman to blame.  Another thing about her is that she was not an active duty officer – because we all know that the army shelters and protects their senior commissioned active duty officers.

So, to show the Iraqi’s that they were serious about getting to the bottom of the Abu Ghraib scandal they chose to aim high and prosecute a woman, Brigadier General Janis L. Karpinski, an Army Reservist, who was expendable.

True, General Janis Karpinski was technically in charge of Abu Ghraib, but there were sections of it she was not allowed to visit without advance notification and without an escort.  Conveniently, Tiers 1A and 1B housed the high value prisoners and that is where two corporations, Titan Corporation and CACI International, did their interrogations and also participated in the abuse of prisoners.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld personally visited Abu Ghraib and assured everyone that the guilty parties would be prosecuted.  He also stated before his visit to Iraq that all international laws were being followed and that treatment of prisoners conformed to the Geneva Conventions.

You cannot have it both ways, Donald, you cannot say you will prosecute military soldiers who participated in abuse and say out of the other side of your mouth that abuse does not exist. But, Donald Rumsfeld is also known for saying,

“As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

Enough said, right?

As a retired military enlisted person myself, I am ashamed that our senior officers, including General Miller, encouraged the abuse at Abu Ghraib and either gave a wink for approval or off the record ordered the abuse.  There are many young enlisted troops who will do anything they are told or encouraged to do – some will take it to extremes, while others are scared to death to refuse to do what is expected of them, be it illegal or not.  Some officers have almost a cult following by some enlisted troops who will abuse or harm other enlisted soldiers who take exception to illegal orders – and some of the retaliation could include physical attacks and worse yet fratricide, when a U. S. military person is killed by friendly fire – be it intentional or accidental.  Please don’t take the last sentence lightly – all one has to do is read up on the untimely death of Pat Tillman who was killed by “unfriendly” friendly fire in Afghanistan.  It is strongly believed that he was intentionally killed by a trio of highly skilled snipers who recently joined his unit because he was becoming vocal against the war and he was planning on being interviewed by government critic Noam Chomsky when he returned from Combat.  Tillman entered the Army as a citizen hero who volunteered to go to war, but after he became disenchanted with what he “saw” in Afghanistan and Iraq, higher ups in our Department of Defense wanted him silenced.

In my estimation, if the Army and the Pentagon wanted to get to the root of the problem at Abu Ghraib, they should have court martialed General Miller, the person who left GITMO specifically to bring his torture techniques to Abu Ghraib.  Is anyone that naïve to believe that General Miller did all of this on his own or does anyone suspect that the Pentagon and the White House blessed the relocation to implement torture techniques in Iraq that had proved successful at GITMO?

Again, Lt. Calley equates to the young enlisted troops and even General Karpinski and General Miller equates to Captain Medina.

Do you see a trend here of the Army, and the military as a whole, protecting their own senior officers?

Well, time to shift from the military to our educational system – another environment where they protect their own – especially Boards of Trustees – after all, they are mostly white successful males who are senior executives in industry and government who are either appointed or invited to sit on Boards

In the case of Penn State University, I am only referring to those “elite” members who are a subset of the entire board. It is these individuals who go behind closed doors to make decisions.  There are over 30 some odd members of the board, but there are members and there are MEMBERS.  I am mostly talking about those members wearing $300 – $500 designer shoes, $2,000 – $4,000 suits, and shirts and ties that cost more than entire outfits that average Americans wear.

More power to them if they can afford expensive designer clothing but all I want is that when heads roll, using the Sandusky trial as an example, I want all the heads to roll that should roll.

The Penn State Scandal is not much different than the scandals we see in our military except the PSU Board of Trustees did not encourage Jerry Sandusky, but I strongly believe they were involved in the cover-up and, as a result, I feel those Board members who participated in the cover-up should resign as well.

I watched an interview of key members of PSU’s Board of Trustees where several of them admitted that they could have done more, they could have asked more questions and as a result Jerry Sandusky could have been stopped in his tracks and prosecuted earlier.

When asked if they should resign, several of the PSU Board members said “no” because they needed continuity to implement the changes they were considering.

I could see Curley, Schultz, or even Spanier taking the same position – wanting to keep their jobs so they can implement changes to prevent anything like this from happening again.

I believe that Freeh probably did a pretty good job in researching and interviewing in an attempt to get to the bottom of who knew what and who participated in the alleged cover-up but I cannot understand why he did not demand subpoena power to interview people critical in the investigation.

Also, why doesn’t Freeh provide a list of those individuals who refused to be interviewed?  Why doesn’t Free provide a detailed list of everyone he interviewed?

What U. S. Senators and U. S. Representatives were on the list to be interviewed?  What Pennsylvania State Senators and Representatives were on the list and which were interviewed?  What Governors and ex-Governors were on the list and again, did they consent to being interviewed?  What Pennsylvania Attorney’s General were on the list?

Until those names are revealed, I consider Freeh’s report no better than a potential whitewashing of a scandal supported by a Board of Trustees who was in charge when the scandal took place.

The Board was supposed to be in charge of the chicken coup, yet they were also in charge of how the scandal was to be investigated.

The Board has said that it could have done more, so why don’t some of them resign immediately?

So, do Curley, Schultz, and Joe Paterno represent Lt. Calley and the Board represents Captain Medina?

I am sure the PSU Board of Trustees is collectively tickled pink that deceased football coach JoePa is taking the bulk of the heat.

True, JoePa, is a football icon, just like Bear Bryant of Alabama and Shug Jordan of Auburn, but in the grand scheme of things, Joe worked for the two stooges, Curley and Moe (Schultz) and they all worked for the 3rd stooge, President Spanier?  Some people feel that JoePa really ran the University and the other three caved to his demands.  I do not share those sentiments.  True, JoePa had a lot of clout, but when a criminal child molestation case is involved I do not believe everyone would cave to demands attributed to JoePa.

JoePa might have wanted to protect Sandusky, but it would have been best for the University, collectively, to deal with the scandal as soon as possible, because a cover-up would only add to lawsuits.

PSU could have easily thrown Sandusky under the bus early on – exactly where he should have been thrown, and even though PSU might have been sued, it would have been for significantly lower amounts because there would not have been a cover-up.

I believe many want JoePa’s statue torn down in disgrace just like our U.S. Military torn down Saddam’s statue in Iraq, but the situation is significantly different.

There is so much more to come out in the Sandusky/PSU scandal.  After all, there is Grand Jury testimony and even future Grand Jury testimony.  In addition, there might be additional trials and possibly Curley and Schultz might decide to let the world know who on the PSU Board of Trustees might have been involved in the cover-up.

I believe there is enough blame to go around and I do not believe all the guilty parties have been identified as of yet, so hold off on destroying one man’s entire career – even though it appears he was involved in a cover-up, let’s not make him the most guilty party in all of this.  I am not justifying JoePa’s involvement in the cover-up but he did, after all, have a long, long relationship with Sandusky and I could see JoePa doubting the accusations against Sandusky – but even after saying that, at some point, if JoePa realized that Sandusky was guilty, I believe he should have turned against Sandusky. On a side note, did Sandusky have something on JoePa to warrant his allegiance?  Maybe.

If we have at least 3 men of higher rank in management at PSU than JoePA and if they all caved to him, in my estimation, they should be punished more than JoePA.

Another important factor is that these four men were all in management at PSU, but President Spanier was not only the highest person in management at PSU, as President, he also wore an additional hat on the Board of Trustees.  That additional fact is why I cannot accept that the Board did not know about the scandal.  I do not believe that Spanier would have kept Sandusky’s illegal activity and the cover-up from the Board of Trustees.

Including the trial of Sandusky and the Freeh report, we have only been exposed to the tip of the iceberg – 90 percent of it is under water and yet to surface and I believe there will be additional heads that will roll – including a few or more from the Board.  Unfortunately, if the Board feels the long arm of the law closing in, they will quietly resign and move on in lieu of facing any criminal or civil proceedings.  Yes, they will be allowed to simply walk away – avoiding prosecution and lawsuits – after all, just look at how they dress and carry themselves – they deserve immunity.

Okay, enough about our military and our educational system, let’s move to Wall Street as our last topic.

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s chairman Jamie Dimon keeps upping the loss announced from its’ Investment Unit.  Keep in mind that Jamie Dimon had been strongly “encouraging”, if not demanding all units to increase profitability – even if their methods of doing so could be considered risky or even questionable as a minimum.  But when their actions resulted in a major loss to JPMorgan, heads were going to roll – but his surely would not be one of them.  It is now believed that some of the employees in the investment unit hid some of their souring bets in an effort to try to protect their butts.

To me, banks should not be making “bets” – those kinds of activities should be left to Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City.  Pushing the envelope is what got banks in the trouble that resulted in our government having to bail them out.

Ina Drew, a woman, and the former head of the CIO, (Chief Investment Office and not Chief Information Office), retired in 2011 and because she is considered to be responsible for the losses, she is now being encouraged to return two years of her compensation, which amounts to approximately $29 million.  She retired with about $57.5 million in stock, pension and other pay per regulatory filings.

Considering that this huge loss happened on Dimon’s watch, how much of his pay and compensation is he being asked or required to return – or will he be given more pay and bonuses and will some of that come from Ina Drew’s forfeitures?

Professionals under Ina Drew were hiding transactions from her and she might have been twice and thrice removed from their actions, yet she is being held responsible for their actions.

Is Ina Drew being treated like Brig General Janis Karpinski and is Jamie Dimon escaping all responsibility just like General Miller – even though Miller and Dimon strongly encouraged their troops to do risky things?

Is it because it is a man’s world that these two women were the sacrificial lambs?  I think so.

Chris Whalen, senior managing director at Tangent Capital Partners, says that, “Ina Drew is a scapegoat and that Dimon was personally responsible for the shift from hedging to prop trading.” It was not Not Achilles Greekopoulos. Not Ina Drew. Not Mary F-ing Poppins.

On a personal note, years ago I worked as a computer analyst for a large regional banking corporation in their IT department.  A friend of mine, who was a fellow programmer analyst, owned and rented numerous properties.  Like Jamie Dimon’s investment department, this programmer’s rental properties were risky investments and frequently his renters were either late or delinquent paying their rent and on a few occasions one or two of my friend’s check’s bounced.  The bank decided to make an example of this programmer by firing him for being fiscally irresponsible, so I wonder why a programmer would be fired for a relatively few small checks, yet the CEO of one of the world’s largest banking companies is not fired for strongly encouraging, if not mandating, his investment department gamble on their investments, that resulted in losses in excess of almost $6 billion dollars?  Could it be because my friend wore three year old wingtips that had worn heals and holes in the soles and Jamie Dimon has a wardrobe envied by most American’s?

Across the pond, in England, there is another banking scandal.  The Barclay’s CEO, Bob Diamond, not to be confused with JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, resigned and was followed by the COO the next day. Diamond is expected to receive a severance package of $30 million.

So, my question is this:  Why in England can citizens and government involvement in a scandal result in the top two executives in a large bank resigning but in the United States, those at the top are insulated?

Diamond of Barclay’s resigns, yet Dimon of JPMorgan feels he is deserving of staying in charge.  In addition, he is forcing his direct report, Ina Drew pay back almost two years of her salary.

Also, the Board of Trustees of Penn State acknowledge they could have done more and asked more questions but it appears they will escape the long arm of the law or the scrutiny of our government officials?  The President of PSU is fired as well as a few other executives including a football icon, Joe Paterno, but the Board survives intact.  As they used to say on Saturday Night Live, “Isn’t that convenient?”

Also, don’t forget our military where the lowest ranking officer is found guilty, yet the senior officers who ordered the massacres or the abuses walk scot-free.

Until our country collectively, including the private and the public sectors decide to go up the ladder just one wrung and hold the next higher person responsible for deaths, abuses, rapes, child molestations, and fiscal irresponsibility, things will remain status quo – corruption will remain insulated at the top and those protected individuals will volunteer some lowly underlings to take the fall.

One closing note – I am not suggesting that in all cases we just go up one rung of the ladder in an effort to clean house – I am perfectly content if we go up several rungs, right to the top at times, if the result will be a more moral America.








  1. We did a lot of things wrong in the Vietnam War Kevin. I see your point with this Kevin but I disagree with you on one thing. I don’t have a problem with General Miller abusing these prisoners it has saved a lot of lives if I recalled.
    I don’t have a problem with them doing water boarding to these jerks that think that American’s are no good people. We need to protect the United States from these people that want to hurt us.

    I agree with you I wish that Freeh could had interviewed the Board of Trustees. If I recall I saw where there’s another Grand Jury looking into these people at PSU and I hope that if there is a Grand Jury looking into this again I hope that they will call on the Board of Trustees and charge them also with some kind of crime.

    I agree with you I think the CEO of JPMORGAN should resign from his job. The other problem I have is when these banks lose money these CEO’s and upper managers still get there bounces. Well I don’t have a problem with them making their base salary even if it is a couple of million dollars.

    The problem I have is if they lose money why in the hell do they still get there 30 million dollar bounces when they really lost that kind of money. These Board of Directors for these companies need to rewrite the contracts for the CEO’s for their company.

    • Hi Amiee; The only thing I disagree with in your comments is that we say we set the example and we do not violate the law and the Geneva Conventions – so if that is the case, we should not waterboard or put live electric wires to the testicles of prisoners in custody. We released over 80 percent of the people at Gitmo because we rounded them up in cities and towns in Afghanistan and Iraq without having any idea of their guilt – then we found out the majority of them were innocent of any crimes. We get pissed if the enemy even photographs one of our soldiers when captured – why the double standards? Some of these innocent prisoners, after being released from Gitmo, became terrorists and I can see why. If you treat someone like a dog, when you let them go, they will learn to bite.

      Also, standing on a Iraqi General’s chest in prison until his chest caves in and he suffocates to death is animalistic and any soldier or CIA or contractor that did that should have it done to him. We are making enemies in the world and it will come back to haunt us. We sent our troops into wars that were based on fabricated evidence and thousands of them died for OIL.

      Even now, we have our soldiers dying because of IED explosives in the roads and they were put there by people who lost their women and children to our senseless drone attacks. We go after a bad guy or two and instead of getting them, we bomb dozens or more women, children, infants, and elderly – some say that doesn’t matter – but they are people living in small towns and villiages just like your parents, your brother, and your friends. They speak a different language, worship a different God, and dress differently, but they matter – and for us Americans to write them off as collateral damage shows that we are not truly Christians at all – we are all God’s people, so why do we kill others like we are at a carnival or a circus and we are shooting at ducks?

      Another thing Amiee, it is easy to blow off poor Afghan women and children and the elderly who are killed by our drone attacks because they were simply in the wrong place and the wrong time or we had bad intelligence or they were just caught in the middle or they deserved to die because they were in the company of terrorists.

      It is also easy to write them off because they worship another God, read another “Bible” or dress differently or speak another language, but these women are somebody’s sister, mother, aunt, or daughter and the kids are someone’s children and the elders are grandparents.

      What would happen if the local police in your parent’s home town were tracking down a murderer and they thought he was in your parent’s house and they called in a drone attack – and your parents were killed but the police later found out the murderer was really three doors down?

      Would you still have that, “Oh, well, we were just protecting our citizens?”

      The problem with your comments about torture at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib is that at any point in time the government could take you or me or a friend just because someone said that one of us was a bad guy – and then we would be waterboarded or we would be sleep deprived or defacated on – and you know what? After a lot of torture, we would admit to anything they asked us. Yes, we would say we did terrible things just to have the torture stop.

Comments appreciated

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