No Foul Play

In a very quick turnaround, a Colorado coroner pronounced yesterday that Enron founder Kenneth L. Lay died of coronary artery disease and that the 64-year-old had suffered a previous heart attack.

I doubt this will put all the conspiracy theories -- yes, they started the minute his death was announced -- to bed.

It's not hard to diagnose severe arterial blockage. It can be done on the living with EKGs, angiograms and CT scans to check for arterial plaque..

Lay was 64, had blocked arteries, had suffered a heart attack and was under extraordinary stress. He was a prime candidate for what happened to him. And I won't even go into the Houston diet.

Still, almost as soon as news of his death came out, the conspiracy theories started flying:

* He killed himself because he couldn't face prison.

* He was killed by someone (from disgruntled former Enron shareholders to anyone else you could think of).

* He faked his death and he's sipping mojitos in Buenos Aires.

Of course, all of these require some form of cover-up or exotic mixture of pharmaceuticals and poisons that would puzzle Miss Marple. ("It was Col. Mustard with a gas pipe in the study!") And if you believe in the whole Bush-Enron-Halliburton power troika, any cover-up is possible.

But 14th-century Franciscan logician Occam got it right when he wrote: "Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity." In today's language: "The simplest explanation is usually the best one."

Many will remain unconvinced. When you point out to the conspiracy-minded that Lay had an autopsy, they'd likely respond with: "Oh, yeah? JFK had an autopsy, too."

Listen to my interview on Washington Post Radio about Lay's death.

By Frank Ahrens |  July 6, 2006; 9:47 AM ET  | Category:  Dispatches
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If Kenneth Lay is dead, then where is a picture of his body?

Don't YOU think something isn't right in the picture offered? Doesn't ONE newcaster think it's awfully CONVENIENT that he can't be charged anymore, and that his family will KEEP the entire fortune embezzled from honest working people?

How hard do you REALLY think it is to fake a death, and to pay a very few people off to make it stick? Especially since the perpetrators can count the media's unwavering support to propogate the party line and suppress dissident opinion.

And I'd appreciate it if YOU didn't demean those of us who know we are being lied to by referring to us as silly characters in board games. It is a classic suppression technique that discredits your profession and inhibits open and honest discussion.

Posted by: John Dobbs | July 10, 2006 09:38 AM

Mr. Dobbs' cynicism about Mr. Lay's death is understandable. The automatic acceptance without any critical judgment by the media and/or trivialization of skepticism is, unfortunately, typical of our time in history.

The authorities in Colorado with an ounce of political sensibility should understand that their word is not enough to satisfy those who feel cheated by the announcement of his death. I would accept as proxy the assurance of the prosecutors that he is dead. Otherwise, it will remain open to speculation.

Posted by: Mark Benson | July 13, 2006 11:41 AM

It's the family and close friends who are left to grieve and question how it could have happened. Although after reading today's story about Lay's humanitarian, christian, loving side that doesn't seem to match the person who undoubtedly knew the wrong he had inflicted, Lay never, truly felt responsible for what he did nor apologized with remorse. It's as if he had nothing to do with it.

Was he so far removed that the employees who worked for Enron loyally all those years were not as valued as his own family? Or the thousands of investors that were suckered into believing Enron was in solid footing when Lay himself sold his stock in secret?

Going to church and with supposedly solid, religious values does not automatically equate to a moral and ethical person.

Ken Lay may not have been a "bad" person but he behaved like one in his last 5 years without showing any remorse. Sure he looked beaten but he was better off than millions of people in this country now.

You don't need a gun to kill a person. It could be done with wiping out a person's entire savings or dissolving one's job without any warning. For the younger employees, there may be choices but if you were 50, 55 or 60+, try to find a new job with the prospect that you'll need to work until you are past the age of 70 because you have no retirement? Ken Lay saw to that.

Ken Lay deserved the sentence he received. The shame of it is that his family received the same sentence, and for that, I'm sorry. However, I sincerely hope his family doesn't gloss over the damage and harm he inflicted, while trying to remember him as they knew him before his "bad" behavior and judgement. I would hope that his family re-direct their anger and resolve never to allow what Ken Lay was convicted for.

Ken Lay will never again have to experience his wrongdoing but his family will have the remembrance and pain for the rest of their lives.

Posted by: Lydia Negron | July 13, 2006 03:10 PM

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