Double Standard in the Terror War

When individuals are charged with doing business with enemy states or listed terrorist groups, there are press conferences and press releases, evidence leaks, criminal charges, ruined reputations and more likely than not, jail time. When it happens to a corporation, the penalty turns out to be a slap on the wrist.

Why is it so different for US companies quietly caught trading with the enemy?
...Why are the government's cops so reluctant to tell us about the crooks they've captured? Who ever heard of a shy prosecutor, especially one who can show success in the war against terrorism?

When deranged American citizens are accused of working with terrorist groups like al-Qaida, Attorney General John Ashcroft holds a press conference and the FBI puts a new name and face on its Top 10 Most Wanted List, even though the allegations have not been proved in court. The suspects can languish in jail for months without any formal charges.

And when a Muslim charity is suspected of laundering funds for alleged terror groups, the Treasury Department shuts it down and freezes its assets.

But when multinational corporations like Wal-Mart, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil and Amazon .com agree with government prosecutors that they have violated laws that prohibit doing business with enemy states, the news is buried on an obscure government Web site.
Why the secrecy? Why the protection from the public?
In the past two weeks, the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control has revealed that 57 companies and organizations have been fined more than $1.35 million for civil violations of the sanctions laws.

For the first time, the government will provide weekly updates on the status of its civil cases. But the information provided by the government about these violations is paltry, and unless you've memorized the law, you'll never understand that "EO13121 FT" means an illegal funds transfer to the former Yugoslavia.

The government has provided almost no information about the civil cases except what country the company traded with and what the penalty was. No dates, no details, no way of knowing if the violations were egregious or inadvertent. No way of knowing if the companies sold brass knuckles to the secret police or baby formula to an orphanage. Citigroup was fined for violating laws against financing terrorism. Other corporations have been caught doing business with Iraq, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Sudan. The companies are a diverse group, including The New York Yankees, Walmart, Chevron, Exxon, ESPN and Royal Crown (cola).
Each year, the government investigates thousands of cases of U.S. individuals or companies for alleged violations of the Trading with the Enemy Act and other statutes and executive orders that restrict free trade. Each year, the government imposes millions of dollars in civil penalties and prosecutes 10 or so criminal cases.
Its time the Government stopped shielding corporations who engage in misdeeds related to trade with terrorist countries or organizations. This is conduct that the public has a right to know about and the media has a duty to report. [Thanks to Rich for the link]
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