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FEATURE Let’s Talk Treason How Corporate America Cashed in on Nazi Connections BY ROBERT SHERRILL IBM AND THE HOLOCAUST: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation By Edwin Black Crown 519 pages, $27.50. et John Walker Lindh be a lesson to you: Never Lbetray your country, or even look like you may be trying to betray your country, unless you first become a very powerful corporation, like the International Business Machines Corporation. Oh, you remember John. He’s the young American who, with the sappy wound up carrying a rifle in the ranks of the Taliban. Was he thereby a traitor? The U.S. Constitution says that treason “shall consist only in levying war” against your country or helping your country’s enemies by “giving them aid and comfort.” Aside from marching to the point of fevered exhaustion across the harshest terrain, getting little water and less food, his soldiering consisted mainly of being captured and thrown into an Afghan prison.There is absolutely no evidence he ever fired his rifle at anyone. So much for “levying war” against the United States. And if the Taliban got any “aid and comfort” from him, they must have been extremely hard up. The elder George Bush, perhaps remembering some pretty sappy youngsters in his own family, couldn’t see much evil in John and dismissed him as merely another “misguided Marin County hot-tubber.” But President George W. and his pious , henchmen weren’t going to pass up this opportunity. They couldn’t catch Osama bin Laden. They couldn’t catch Osama’s chief lieutenant, Omar. But by God they’d caught John Walker Lindh and they were going to make the most of him. Attorney General John Ashcroft, nicely ignoring major portions of our history, said, “The United States is a country that cherishes religious tolerance, political democracy, and equality between men and women. By his own account, John Walker Lindh allied himself with terrorists who reject these values.” But that weak stab at creating guilt by association obviously wasn’t going to be enough to put Lindh behind bars, so the Justice Department cooked up ten other charges, most of them mentioning “conspiracy.” If Lindh is convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of three life terms, plus additional 10-year and 30-year terms in prison. He would not be eligible for early release on any of these counts. In other words, he could be punished with a kind of protracted death penalty. Which brings us back to the point we opened with: Why is it that honest-to-God treasonous corporationscorporations that give horrendous aid and comfort to our enemies and significantly help their wars against humanitydon’t face that kind of punishment? Or any punishment at all? Why, in fact, are they allowed to profit from their treason? Afew weeks before the government executed Timothy McVeigh, Fortune Magazine released its annual rankings of the 500 most profitable corporations. ExxonMobil was No. 1, posting its highest-ever revenue of $210 bil $Ai t 40 5 g g *A’ 1.4 la 4., I ei %liaaa Ft= t 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3/29/02