The arrest of two relatively unknown Enron executives this month raises hopes that the investigation is moving forward but also raises questions of whether criminal charges will ever reach the top of the corporate ladder.
Of the 12 criminal charges filed in connection with Enron's demise, only seven have been against Enron insiders and only one of those against a big fish -- the 78-count indictment against former chief financial officer Andrew Fastow.
Sixteen months after the company revealed accounting problems that lead to its downfall, a year after a special grand jury was seated and indicted Enron's accounting firm, the question that's being asked in office chatter and at dinner tables throughout Houston is whether executives such as former Chairman Ken Lay, former CEO Jeff Skilling or others will be charged.
"This is like Chinese water torture," said a lawyer familiar with the investigation. "There are all these threats and muscle-flexing from the government, but then nothing much happens."
The miilitary invasion of the world's second-largest known oil reserves doesn't really cut it as "nothing happening."
Lay, Skilling, and their Enron fraud helped these madmen come to power. Now that Cheney has sealed off the minutes of his six secret Enron meetings, and now that American profiteering has moved on to Iraqi slaughter, the White House is furiously rewriting history in the ugly scrawl of Karl Rove's and Karen Hughes's partisan penmanship.