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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

July 10, 2006

Some think every death MUST be a hit…

Often I take whatever book I am reading and trundle into town; sit at the bar of my local, the Red Dot, read, eat and occasionally chat with other customers. It is a place that is easy, “like Sunday morning” which allows its denizens comfort and space, a sense of community and the forbearance of privacy if desired.

The day Ken Lay, founder and failure of Enron, died was one of those days. His death, according to the autopsy was from coronary heart disease, probably precipitated by the stress he was enduring pre and post trial.

One of my companions was a local artist, a former adjunct professor at several universities, an early inhabitant of Tribeca lofts who moved to Hudson in the post 9/11 era. He said it didn’t surprise him Lay was dead, silenced before he could talk as he was bound to, in attempts to get his sentence reduced. This, after all, was someone fondly called “Kenny Boy” by the sitting President, someone who must have known too much.

My acquaintance leaned into me and whispered, “It was a hit, of course.”

Americans seem prone to a penchant for conspiracy theories. There has been a profitable cottage industry in Presidential assassination since the horrible moment in November of 1963 when John F. Kennedy was killed; escalating and accelerating with the rat a tat follow up deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

Any bad thing births conspiracy theories often held fervently, passionately and absolutely. I have met two of the current crop, the young men who created the internet phenomenon Loose Change 2, which purports that 9/11 was a vast conspiracy including Bin Laden and the current administration. They are intelligent, earnest young men [one who has served three tours in Iraq/Afghanistan] convinced they have found the smoking guns and have outlined their views in a film which has been downloaded something like 4 million plus times.

The City Pages, Minneapolis’ alternative paper, last week had as its cover story the saga of Professor Fetzer, from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, who has become a fixture on the JFK assassination circuit and has recently shifted his attention and speechifying to 9/11 and the death of Minnesota Senator Wellstone, killed several years ago in a plane crash – an event, according to Fitzer, that was a government hit.

Conspiracy theories have become more common than ever before and are, I think, understandable in a world defying logic. The price of oil hit new and dangerous highs as North Korea shot a test missile into the Sea of Japan; deaths continue in Iraq with Iranian pilgrims among the latest victims. The “good guy” image of the U.S. is battered by events in Iraq and, all in all, what with Bird Flu, AIDS, Darfur, oil crunches, 9/11, the Madrid and London train bombings and the rest of the cornucopia of horror romping through our world, it’s not improbable we find comfort in thinking that all this badness is the result of dark and malevolent intelligence, cunningly working to pervert our world.

I cannot deny there are anomalies regarding 9/11 that need investigating and explaining, including the puffs of smoke as the Towers started to fall, pointed out both in Loose Change 2 and in U.S. News and World Report. However, it is amazing to me that in the five years since 9/11 no one of the hundreds, if not thousands, involved in any such conspiracy hasn’t cracked and come forward, pleading guilt and demanding forgiveness. Not to mention, as pointed out by some wags, that if 9/11 was an Administration conspiracy, it was the one thing well handled by an Administration that can’t help bungling anything to which they put their mind.

What is clear to me is that in a world that seems to be madly spinning it is almost logical to declare any unfortunate event, including the death of Ken Lay, the result of dark and sinister forces rather than what it likely was, a man’s heart revolting against the stress of his life. Caution and rationality rather than emotionalism need to meet events of the day.