Soundtrack of our (flyout) lives


Having survived the OCI juggernaut more or less intact, the average 2L can safely place the heady, angst-drenched on-campus interview process behind himself and look forward to the heady, angst-drenched Flyout Week process. A RECORD columnist who truly cares about his readers would be remiss not to offer suggestions on how to ease the travel tension. Two-Ls, assuming you are not flying on the satellite-TV-at-every-seat JetBlue, you are going to need some entertainment for your week of flight delays, runway waits, and non-movie flights. Thus, it is with quiet modesty in my taste in music that I offer to you My Essential Flyout Week Travel Mix CD.

[I offer these with apologies to Fenno, who will surely be disappointed by a version of “Interview Aspirations’” that suffers from a glaring lack of smitin’ and throat-steppin.’]

“Take the Money and Run” (Steve Miller Band): With Arthur Andersen dead and buried, WorldCom and Enron on life support and Martha Stewart Omnivision desperately seeking some legal antibiotics, corporate law enforcement is surely on the minds of some civic-minded HLSers. For those hearty Eliot Spitzer idealists, I recommend this Steve Miller classic about the pursuit of criminals and restitution for their ill-gotten gains. Essential Lyric: “Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas / You know he knows just exactly what the facts is / He ain’t gonna let those two escape justice / He makes his livin’ off of the people’s taxes.” See also, “I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)” (The Clash).

“All About the Benjamins (Rock Remix)” (Puff Daddy et al.): It’s no secret that, each year, more than a couple of aimless HLS kids head south to New York for no better reason than the promise of $2,403 a week for a summer and God-knows-how-much after that. To them, there is something quietly reassuring in this ode to Mr. Franklin. Essential Lyric: “Now… what y’all wanna do? / Wanna be ballers? Shot-callers? / Brawlers – who be dippin’ in the Benz wit’ the spoilers / On the low from the Jake in the Taurus?” But see “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” (Notorious B.I.G.) (“It’s like the more money we come across / The more problems we see.”).

“The Godfather Waltz”: A common criticism of HLS students is that they leave law school having forgotten what brought them to law school in the first place. For those of you who are still working out your Tom Hagen issues, I recommend this one-way ticket to your roots, consigliere. See also, “Woke Up This Morning (Sopranos Theme)”, “Law & Order (Main Title Theme)”.

“Get Together” (The Youngbloods): While some of us feel naturally drawn to litigation practice, I am not one to thrust my own preferences upon members of my audience that are drawn to less confrontational pursuits. For them, may I suggest something a little bit mellow? It is noticeably easier to “Get To Yes” when you’ve got the appropriate soundtrack playing in the mediation room. Essential Lyric: “Come on people now / Smile on your brother / Everybody get together / Try to love one another right now.” For full retro effect, light up some incense and vote McGovern. Litigation types might not go for this one, but that’s why Limp Bizkit still sells records.

“Guerrilla Radio” (Rage Against the Machine): The law market might be tight this year, but there’s always room for a couple of extra entrants into the lucrative field of “Activist Lawyer for a Controversial Political Cause.” Whether you aspire to be The Go-To Guy for Arrested WTO Protestors, or even In House Counsel for a Patch of Threatened Redwood Trees Somewhere Near Portland, you need a soundtrack worthy of your cause. Rage Against the Machine (or its newest incarnation, Civilian, featuring Chris Cornell, ex-Soundgarden) is a safe bet for a charming, if edgy, protest chant. Essential Lyric: “The fistagons / Bullets and bombs / Who stuff the banks / Who staff the party ranks / More for Gore or the son of a drug lord / None of the above fuck it cut the cord.” Those who would like to stick it to The Man/The System/Big Brother but who don’t feel quite as militant are welcome to strike back in their own little ways and start small, by springing street crime perps through the tried-and-true search-and-seizure violation allegation. See, e.g, “New York City Cops” (The Strokes) (“New York City cops / New York City cops / New York City cops / They ain’t too smart”).

Only for the Eye Candy


Abandon, the much-hyped directorial debut of Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan, promises to be a twisty thriller, but instead disappoints as a flaccid and predictable detective story redeemed only by its liberal serving of eye candy (Katie Holmes for the boys; Benjamin Bratt and Charlie Hunnam for the gals) and its many unintentionally humorous episodes.

The film opens with Detective Wade Handler (Bratt) being assigned to reinvestigate the disappearance two years earlier of Embry Langan, the orphan-heir to a vast fortune and a troubled drama student-cum-opera composer at an unnamed elite northeastern university (Harvard in the original script). Embry has long been presumed dead, and Handler’s assignment is motivated by a request from the trustees of Embry’s estate for a formal declaration that he is deceased so that they can administer probate and send his files off to storage.

In his preliminary research for the case, Handler discovers that the gorgeous Katie Burke (Holmes) was Embry’s girlfriend at the time of his disappearance, and he conveniently decides that she will be the focus of his investigation.

Katie is now a senior at the college, and when Handler finds her she is rapidly crumbling under the multiple pressures of preparing for her final exams, trying to finish her thesis and participating in a competitive job interviewing process. The last thing she needs is some cop on her case, probing her about the disappearance of Embry — her first love — whose cruel ‘abandonment’ of her two years before has clearly scarred her.

Through a series of flashbacks, we are introduced to Embry (Hunnam) who Gaghan clearly intended to be a compelling and sexy artiste. Unfortunately, on-screen, Embry comes across as a self-obsessed, pretentious little creep, which makes the beautiful and talented Katie’s enduring fascination with him utterly unconvincing. It so happens that Embry disappeared the night his avant garde opera, ‘Trip Hop Inferno,” debuted to a sycophantic audience in the basement of the university’s old, gothic theatre (Gagham’s rather unimaginative answer to the standard haunted house).

With Detective Handler on the case, things begin to go further awry for Katie. One of her best male friends mysteriously disappears, and she begins to catch fleeting glimpses of what she thinks is Embry outside her classroom and behind the stacks in the library. Is she losing her marbles, or has Embry really returned to campus?

Against this background, Handler is charged with finding out whether Embry’s disappearance was a theatrical stunt staged by the attention-craving Embry for its shock value, or whether there is indeed a more sinister explanation, such as suicide or homicide. As Handler gets closer to understanding what happened to Embry, he also (surprise, surprise) gets closer to Katie.

The film is doomed from the start, due to a plot riddled with so many holes that it never gains the integrity of a serious thriller. It is also undermined by the gratuitous shots of Holmes in various states of undress, and the plain silly shots of Katie willingly disappearing into the now abandoned theatre by herself in the middle of the night to try and confront Embry, even though she is supposedly terrified of him.

Similarly, the character development is superficial and formulaic. Katie — a sweet little virginal ingénue in the flashbacks who is easily seduced by the forceful Embry — is now shown to be wounded and insecure as a result of his abandonment of her (which recalls her childhood abandonment by her father). Yet this insecurity is at odds with Katie’s depiction in other scenes as a confident and sassy young woman who is comfortable enough to cuss in a job interview with the venerated McKinsey & Company and to effortlessly seduce her boss.

My final gripe is that Gaghan lets numerous wallpaper episodes — students getting drunk at student parties, students tripping and smoking weed — stretch on for too long which further delays the progress towards the film’s predictable dénouement.

However, despite these many flaws, Abandon could still be a good pick for a first date movie. Depending on your preference, either Bratt or Holmes will surely stir your pulse, and there are enough faults to trawl through at a post-movie dinner if faced with an uncomfortable lull in the conversation.

To see where Abandon is playing check out our Movie Listings Channel.

Inman Square’s taste of Morocco


It’s Saturday night, and you need to eat. While you would like to avoid having to take out a loan in order to pay for dinner, at the same time you do not want your dining experience to open with your waiter writing his name in crayon on your paper tablecloth. Furthermore, while you could never imagine venturing to that strange and distant land across the river (I think they call it “Boston”), you are tired of frequenting the Harvard Square standbys. If ever you find yourself in such a predicament, I suggest you direct your stomach and your date towards one of Inman Square’s newer additions – Argana.

Argana, a tiny new restaurant serving “a unique blend of Moroccan Mediterranean cuisine,” is hard to miss. Its bright orange façade calls out (loudly) to the Cambridge Street passersby, which I count as an attribute from a marketing standpoint given that, depending upon how much one has had to drink, oftentimes on a Saturday night the typical HLS student responds best/only to loud colors and sounds.

If getting liquored up is in fact your primary goal for the evening, Argana will not disappoint. The bar is creatively adorned with a variety of mosaics and clay pots that make for excellent conversation pieces (read: terrible pick-up lines). More importantly, Argana boasts a short and yet unique cocktail list (all $8) for those willing to venture beyond the beer/gin-and-tonic paradigm. I had the pleasure of sampling the coffee-bean garnished “Marakkech Express,” a tasty combination of Stoli Vanil, Khalua, Tia Maria and fresh espresso. Other noteworthy concoctions include the “Harissa-Tini” (cucumber vodka w/ a hint of chili-infused Noilly Prat) and the “Arabian Nights” (Myers Dark Rum shaken with mango syrup and Chambord with a float of Limonaya Vodka).

Despite Argana’s somewhat overbearing façade, the restaurant’s cuisine is rather reserved (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Take, for instance, the lamb boureck appetizer ($7), a beautiful presentation of filo pastry triangles stacked ever-so-carefully upon a bed of ground lamb, pears and almonds. Although no bold flavors seemed to stand out, the ingredients of the dish were each fresh and delicious. For those who like to share, my server recommended the mazza ($10), a plentiful assortment of Mediterranean goodies, including hummus, olives, Zaalouk and grilled Argan oil pita points.

In the entrée category, Argana seems (rightfully) proud of its “Tangines.” “Tangines” refers to a Moroccan style of cooking, in which meats, fruit and vegetables are slowly cooked over charcoals and presented in a giant conical earthenware vessel. Sounds scary, tastes very good. Among the Tangines prepared are vegetable, lamb, quail, Cornish hen and salmon (ranging from $15 to $18). I opted for the Salmon Tangine ($17), a flavorful cut of Charmoula marinated salmon bathed in a stew of carrots, green peppers, olives and preserved lemon.

Beyond its world of Tangines, Argana also offers a respectable assortment of couscous entrees and an interesting-sounding duck a la Marocaine ($19) – duck fillet served on Casablanca-style couscous with fresh mangos in a port wine prune sauce. Anyone looking to dine in a Moroccan/Mediterranean restaurant while avoiding Moroccan/Mediterranean food (Why would anyone do this?) will be happy to know that Argana provides a number of “comfort” foods (e.g., the angel hair seafood pasta and mushroom raviolis). Somewhere between comfort and adventure you’ll find the berber pizza ($8), a grilled pita topped with mushrooms, olives, tomatoes and goat cheese.

Argana’s dessert menu consists of a few jewels amidst a handful of commoners. While it’s hard to go wrong (in any restaurant) with the crème brulee ($7), mint sorbet ($6) or chocolate fondue for two ($14), I suggest taking a chance on one of the more creative offerings. The M’Halbi ($7) proved a surprisingly tasty blend of mint and orange blossom water. On a return visit, I will make it a point to try the crepes berberes ($7), a serving of berber pancakes topped with orange honey and sultanas sauce. Not to be forgotten are Argana’s after-dinner coffee drinks (all $7.95), which include the “Cafeè Diablo” (cognac, Grand Marnier and Sambuca) and the “Mocha Berry (chambord, cocoa, coffee and cream).

So it’s Saturday night and you need to eat. Skip past the Mexican place, the pizza place, the other pizza place with good beer and the brewhouse, and instead take a walk (or a $5 cab ride if you’re lazy) to Argana, where you’ll find a hip little restaurant that is sure to please both stomach and pocketbook.

War on terror exiles 3L


To the Editors: I was partly amused and partly saddened by the first sentence of last week’s article War on terror exiles 3L. The sentence reads as follows: “The sprawling American anti-terrorism campaign finally reached Harvard Law School when 3L Ahmed el-Gaili was prevented from returning to the United States to finish law school.” Actually, the campaign reached the Law School quite a bit earlier.

The “sprawling American anti-terrorism campaign” first reached Harvard Law School last fall, when the Harvard International Office first warned foreign students that if they traveled outside the U.S. they would face substantial delays and uncertainty in obtaining visas through U.S. Consulates abroad and during the reentry process. It continued to reach us when one S.J.D. student from the Middle East (who has been at Harvard for six years) went to a three-day conference in Europe last spring and ended up being unable to return to the U.S. for two months for visa reasons; when another S.J.D. student from the Middle East (who has been at Harvard for seven years) has not risked going home to visit his family out of fear that he would be denied a reentry visa; when two other S.J.D. students from the Middle East have been unable to return to Harvard this fall after going home for the summer because they have not been granted visas more than three months after their original visa interviews; and when three LL.M. students (one of whom attended college in the U.S.) have had to defer the start of their studies for a year for the same reason. Not to mention the fact that numerous staff members in the Graduate Program, the Registrar’s office, the Dean of Students office, and other offices have been working for months to put mechanisms in place to comply with the new Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) mandated by the INS.

International students at Harvard – particularly those who previously have not spent much time in the U.S. – frequently comment on their U.S. colleagues’ myopia towards the rest of the world. The Record’s coverage of world events and attention towards international students has occasionally given me cause for optimism. Last week’s article was not one of those occasions.

Very truly yours,

Gail J. HupperAssistant Dean for the GraduateProgram and International Legal Studies Harvard Law School

(I am putting a hard copy version of this letter in Jonas Blank’s Hark box as well)

Five students who made a difference


Another class, another year. Sometimes the massive human churn of graduates out of Harvard Law School seems as regular and inexorable as the rotation of the earth. Each year, students leave this school to find their futures; each year, students become what many would only dare dream, be they firm lawyers, clerks or public servants. As such, the goals of a professional school are decidedly different from those of an undergraduate college — the curriculum is more rigorous and focused, and the emphasis is even more on results.

But for many, HLS is something more than a training ground. Our school is blessed by its size, something that gives it an incredibly wide range of opportunities to take advantage of and groups to call home.

There are specific people to thank for that. Some students here have done much than simply make it through law school. Their efforts have helped to build something at HLS that did not exist before, helped to turn this Law School from a pre-professional stomping ground into a bona fide community. They gave those of us just exiting the undergraduate experience a few more years to experience a similar sense of community, and all of us reasons to be sorry to be leaving HLS, an always-imperfect, but never uninteresting place.

This place provides myriad ways to make a difference, as these five students show. They have started corporations and led organizations. They have fought for equality, made us laugh, made our quality of life better, and set examples for all of us. They have proven, too, that the people we cherish most are often those whose brilliance extends beyond the classroom. All five have been selected for Dean’s Awards for Community Leaders.

HLS is blessed with a galaxy of stars, far too many to be named, far too many to thank individually. Still, as the days of this year dwindle, the RECORD wanted to commemorate these five 3Ls, who have been some of the brightest stars of all.

T.J. Duane

Perhaps no person was more ubiquitous over the last three years than HL Central founder and 2002 Head Class Marshal Duane, who turned a whim of a personal web site into a prominent non-profit corporation that transformed social life at Harvard Law School. Duane’s single-minded passion for HL Central, and his love for the school, showed everywhere, from his frenetic Admitted Students’ Weekend tours to the organization’s weekly bar reviews. When the first $20 bus ride left Pound Hall for New York City this year, Duane was there to see it off. Whenever there was a problem, whenever there was a gap to fill or a new project to launch, T.J. Duane took charge, even after he relinquished the reins of HL Central last year. He also figured prominently in the Law School Council, Student Activities Council, and the Catholic Law Students’ Association.

“T.J. saw opportunities where most people saw complaints, and he found ways to pursue his visions and get around obstacles people put in his way,” said 2L Naomi Klein, the incoming Executive Director of HL Central. “I don’t think that there is anyone at HLS — in the student body, the faculty or the administration that does not know the name T.J. Duane.”

Today, Duane leaves a much different organization than the one he founded, with broad involvement in community service, the arts and admissions recruiting. But Duane says that for him, HL Central has become about much more.

“I didn’t do these things for any kind of personal recognition,” he said. “The intention wasn’t all about drinking and food and socializing. It was about getting to know your classmates as human beings…. To have people getting along, being positive influences on each other… that’s going to be clutch for developing a stronger society. I always wanted this to be about having a stronger community at Harvard Law School.”

As Head Class Marshal, Duane will be speaking on behalf of his class at commencement. He plans a reflective speech — this is the first class to graduate post-September 11 — but also a positive one that puts a challenge out to his class.

“I feel like this class is one of the most talented classes I’ve seen come through Harvard Law School of the five, six that I’ve seen,” said Duane. “I feel like they can do a lot of really impressive things.”

As for what motivated him to get involved in the first place, Duane’s explanation was simple, “I have a lot of energy, and I do get bored pretty easily.”

Taryn Fielder

In this year’s Parody, “Taryn-It-Up” Fielder was a hard-driving drill sergeant who held a whip — and the presidency of every student organization on campus. Like most of the characters who appear in the yearly production — which Fielder helped direct this year and co-produced last year — the portrayal was a humorously twisted version of the truth. Indeed, Fielder made it seem like it was physically possible to be involved in everything at once. She could be seen on many lunch hours manning the BarBri or Lexis-Nexis tables in the Hark, or spending hundreds of hours in the Ropes-Gray room building sets, rehearsing scenes, or rehearsing lines. What fewer people saw — but no less important — was her work with the Human Rights Journal, Women’s Law Association and Law School Council, as well as countless other organizations. Fielder, as one RECORD staffer noted, “was everywhere.”

Not only was Fielder involved in many places, but she became an engine for growth in every organization she joined.

“Most people know that Taryn’s involved with a ton of campus organizations,” said 3L Mike Ginsberg, a fellow 2002 Class Marshal who co-produced last year’s Parody with Fielder. “But I think what makes Taryn stand out for me is how when she’s leading something, be it the Parody or WLA, she really makes an effort to build a team spirit among the people she’s working with. She sets a terrific tone for the rest of the people involved in the projects she’s leading. She’s a natural leader.”

And unlike her character, Fielder did everything with a smile on her face and a humble shrug of her shoulders. She led by example, and proved that the best kind of leadership is that which puts people first. One look at the 2001 Parody she co-produced — which had one of the production’s most elaborate sets ever, featuring a video screen, fake rockets and multiple moving set pieces — is a testament to both her ambition and her leadership.

When asked what motivated her to get involved on campus, Fielder had a characteristically disarming response: “Well, someone had to keep a fire lit under T.J.’s ass — just kidding. I guess mostly it was wanting to get to know people, to enjoy the full HLS experience…. My greatest motivation was just meeting new people and learning more about all the incredible people I’m lucky enough to call my peers.”

She isn’t all that much like her drill sergeant alter-ego, but Taryn Fielder — using kindness, passion and decency — has been a leader all can look up to.

Mike French

When Mike French got to HLS, his last involvement with student government had been in fifth grade, when he ran on the platform of “crispier French fries” in the cafeteria. His first LSC platform at HLS was “two dryers for every washer.” (The current ratio, he estimates, is 1.8 to 1.)

“It’s the little issues people care about,” said French. “Those are things you appreciate every day.”

When French got here, Hemenway Gymnasium was no small problem. The facility’s weight room consisted of a screened-in cage with a few rusty barbells inside; its cardio training equipment was stocked with ailing machines from the 1970s.

French leaves HLS as outgoing LSC President. He leaves a reformed organization with a stronger institutional memory, greater contact with the average student (French was in charge of implementing the “Sound-Off Board” in the Hark) and, most importantly, at least one major project it can be proud of — a renovated Hemenway.

“I really enjoyed the work,” on Hemenway, French said, which led him to greater involvement in LSC. “I thought, here’s something that really benefits the student body…. I saw LSC as a way to do more things like that.”

The old weight cage is still in Hemenway, for those who want to look — and it pales by contrast to a mirrored room full of brand-new weight machines downstairs, as well as a fully equipped cardio area with state-of-the-art equipment. The facility reflects countless hours of meetings between French and University weightlifting coaches, talks with scores of equipment suppliers, and meetings with deans, which culminated in Dean of the Faculty Robert Clark’s final approval of funding for the renovation.

“Mike has improved the quality of life for the students immeasurably,” said Dean of Students Suzanne Richardson. “He has a personal touch, traveling to various administrators’ offices — mine, Building Services, Registrar’s, and beyond to the University Athletic department.”

French demonstrated the best possibilities of student governments, which are often criticized as inept organizations full of would-be political hacks. To help propel the LSC after his departure, French instituted record keeping systems that will help future leaders follow his and others’ example.

Despite his visible achievements, French said his greatest honor as LSC president came this year, when he and Professor Emeritus Clark Byse visited Appalachian School of Law in Virginia, the site of a recent shooting where the school’s dean — an HLS alumnus — was killed. The pair were sent to convey sympathy and support from the entire HLS community.

“It was a sad trip in general,” French said, “But I was proud to be able to represent Harvard Law.”

Erin Hoffmann

At 90 years old, the Board of Student Advisers is one of HLS’ oldest organizations. Over its many years, it has had many missions — from running the original moot court program to its current role in teaching First Year Lawyering. But without the leadership effort of BSA President Erin Hoffmann, the transition to FYL — which accompanied HLS’ move to smaller 1L sections — might have been a very, very rough one for the organization.

“For us, it was a really challenging year, because it was the first time that we’ve had full-time people devoted to the program. In addition to bringing in those new people, it meant a real structural change for us at the BSA,” she said.

The old legal writing program had suffered under the weight of massive inconsistency — some faculty members made teaching it a priority, while others ignored it — and general student disaffection. With FYL, HLS sought to standardize the teaching of the legal writing component by adding staff members dedicated to teaching FYL full-time and creating a set curriculum.

The change to FYL and smaller sections could have meant the end of 2Ls teaching legal writing courses, or even conversion of BSA to an all-3L organization. As late as spring of last year, such things were far from decided — along with crucial elements like the program’s basic curriculum. But with Hoffmann at the helm, BSA arrived at a solution that proved better for students — and meant more dedication from BSA. Rather than expand the size of the organization to accommodate the larger number of sections, Hoffmann and others pushed for team-teaching, with FYL classes taught by a 3L and a 2L. That meant that 3Ls, in some cases, would have to teach two sections instead of one. Under Hoffmann’s leadership, the plan worked.

“That was the big innovation that we were able to get the faculty to agree to,” she said, “I think for my class as a whole, it was a real victory for us to feel like we had been able to influence a change and to keep some things that were really valuable to us.” And according to BSA surveys of 1L sections, satisfaction with the legal writing component has been much higher than in the past.

Hoffmann has also been involved in other ways, serving as a senior editor for the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the Law School Council, and the Catholic Law Students’ Association.

Asked why she decided to dedicate so much time to BSA, Hoffmann credited her own BSA instructors: “I had a wonderful experience with my LRA instructor and my A-group adviser first year, and I was convinced from the beginning that BSA was the organization that I wanted to be involved in later. I just think BSA is a neat place to give back, and the students were the constituency I wanted to give back to.”

BSA colleague Ryan McAllister praised Hoffmann, saying: “I hope Erin knows that as she leaves HLS, she has touched many people’s lives in a positive way and that the BSA, FYL and HLS are better institutions because of her actions and leadership. That’s a goal most of us strive for even though we may not always be able to accomplish it.”

Nicole Lawson

One need only look at events on campus over the past few weeks to realize how powerful and effective the Black Law Students’ Association has become. In large part, students have Nicole Lawson to thank for the group’s transformation into one of the predominant voices for minority representation on campus. And that accomplishment is only the beginning of the many things Lawson has done to benefit the Law School community.

“When I came to HLS as a 1L, BLSA instantly became one of my strongest support networks,” Lawson said. “I saw BLSA as an organization with so much potential. Even though I cannot make many complaints, I saw that there was not always widespread involvement in the planning of activities among the membership.”

Lawson dove into the organization, joining as many committees as possible as a 1L and rising to internal vice-president as a 2L, where she made spurring 1L involvement a primary goal. This year, Lawson has stayed true to her mission of encouraging 1Ls, opting to join many different BLSA committees that bring her in contact with new students. Her work on this year’s successful Spring Conference brought high-profile recording artists, as well as the Conference’s first web site.

Though she has not always held the highest-profile positions, Lawson has been a kind of invisible glue — always present, always involved, and always, as she says, refusing to be apathetic.

Though she hesitates to credit herself with their efforts, Lawson says the activism of this year’s 1L BLSA class demonstrates the organization’s improvements.

“I look at all of the wonderful new things that BLSA 1Ls have done this year, including the establishment of B.A.D. (Black American Dialogue), and I am just proud to be leaving the organization better than I found it,” she said. “I seriously doubt that their activism is directly related to me, but I would like to think that I was a part of setting the tone for a BLSA that would encourage them to think outside of the box and help the organization grow.”

Lawson’s influence has not stopped with BLSA. Along with serving as a 3L representative for the American Constitution Society, she serves as primary editor for the Women’s Law Journal. She has also worked to benefit people outside of HLS through the Recording Artists’ Project and the Street Law Program, and worked with the admissions office to organize a minority recrui
tment forum in Atlanta two years ago.

“Nicole has that rare combination of being brilliant, compassionate and creative, and able to effectively interact with a wide range of interests,” said Professor Charles Ogletree, who advises BLSA. “She is one of the most gifted and talented people I know, and I’m so pleased with what she’s done for BLSA.”

University’s role in Harken Energy bailout questioned



Recent news reports, along with a report released by the student watchdog group HarvardWatch, claim to have unrearthed previously undisclosed aspects of the relationship between Harken Energy and Harvard University’s investments. In particular, they have exposed an off-the-books partnership that Harvard set up with Harken during the period 1986 to 1993, when President George W. Bush was a Harken director.

Bush’s dealings as a director of Harken Energy have already been the subject of considerable scrutiny, as questions related to insider trading and dubious accounting have persisted. Specifically, Bush profited in 1990 from a sale of nearly a million dollars of his Harken stock shortly before Harken was forced to make a damaging restatement of its profits. The SEC forced the restatement after the agency uncovered a fraudulent insider sale that had significantly distorted Harken’s financials. Though Bush was never prosecuted for any of this activity, it is notable that this interaction with the SEC took place during the period when Bush’s father was President.

The most recent revelations in this matter have focused upon an aspect of Harvard University’s relationship with Harken. One month after Bush became a director, Harvard agreed to invest at least $20 million in Harken through its subsidiary, Aeneas Venture Corporation. Harvard eventually became Harken’s largest shareholder, controlling roughly 30 percent of Harken’s stock, and placing two representatives on Harken’s board. According to HarvardWatch, Harken was Harvard’s third largest equity holding. In spite of this fact, Harvard did not list Harken among its top equity holdings.

The HarvardWatch report also indicates that, in the years before 1990, Harken was facing both a liquidity crisis and a solvency crisis. In May 1990, in order to prevent Harken from going into bankruptcy, Harvard and another large investor lent Harken $46 million. This move temporarily prevented Harken from becoming insolvent but exacerbated Harken’s liquidity crisis because of increased interest payments.

The result of this move was the continued decline of Harken Energy, and the liquidity crisis the company faced seemed destined to bring about its failure. Harken’s working capital for 1990 was negative $7 million.

In November 1990, Harvard and Harken set up an off-the-books partnership called the Harvard Andarko Partnership (HAP). In that the partnership was owned by and transparent only to insiders, it bore a striking similarity to the partnerships used by Enron that have been most heavily criticized. The Enron partnerships have been strongly criticized by Bush and many others in his administration. White House spokesman Scott McClellan says that the HAP partnership was Harvard’s idea. However, according to board meeting notes recently obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, the creation of the partnership was approved in a motion made by Bush. According to Professor William Black, an expert on financial management and regulation at the University of Texas at Austin, HAP allowed Harken to avoid a liquidity crisis, boost its net worth, and keep many of its problems off of Harken’s books.

The terms of HAP seem perplexing when examined from a purely financial standpoint. Harken was allowed to bring to the partnership $20 million in debt and liabilities, plus a group of poorly performing oil-drilling assets valued at $26 million, for a net of $6 million. Harvard alternatively, contributed $64.5 million of its drilling assets, 91 percent of the investment. But in spite of this imbalance, Harvard agreed to accept just 84 percent of the Harken Anadarko Partnership’s earnings. A critical effect of this deal for Harken was that it removed large debts from Harken’s books and placed them in an entity that didn’t publicly disclose the debts.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the sweetheart deal for Harken also helped its cash flow dilemma in that Harvard subsequently pumped $100,000 a month into Harken through management fees and $3 million worth of drilling and servicing fees in the first year. Furthermore, at this point Harvard inexplicably allowed Harken to erase $16.2 million in debt that Harken owed Harvard from a previous venture. Harken was allowed to pay off this note with assets valued at just $14 million. The HarvardWatch report indicates that at this point Harken’s stock rose to unprecedented levels in its history, ultimately reaching an all-time high of $8 in 1991. This price represents a 540% increase from Harken’s stock price at the end of 1990. Rice University accounting expert Dala Bharan has indicated that “It seems to be a simple case of Aeneas bailing out Harken.”

During the period after the organization of HAP, when Harken’s stock price was temporarily inflated, Harvard sold 1.6 million shares of its stock. These sales generated $7.47 million.

Harvard ultimately bought out Harken’s remaining 12 percent stake in the partnership for $2.65 million in cash. This stake had generated $3 million in losses for Harken in 1991. At this point, Harken’s stock began to fall, and it never again recovered. After buying out Harken’s interest in HAP and securing Harken’s release from any liability to HAP’s creditors, Harvard sold HAP in 1993 to Cabot Oil and Gas for $34.5 million. The owners of Cabot Oil and Gas had strong ties to Harvard. Until 1991, a member of the Cabot family, Walter M. Cabot, was President of Harvard Management and its Aeneas investment arm.

There are other notable ties between Harken Energy and Harvard. According to the Wall Street Journal, the person with the most influence over Harvard’s endowment has been Robert G. Stone, Jr., a former senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, and a businessman in the oil industry. Stone oversaw Harvard’s involvement in HAP. He has been a major political contributor to the Bush family since George H.W. Bush’s first presidential election. George W. Bush received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1982.

A number of students at Harvard College and Harvard Law School are calling on the University to disclose all information about Harvard’s dealings with Harken. They are asking for an independent investigation, conducted by a committee of democratically chosen students and alumni, in order to develop proposals to prevent future conflicts of interest and ensure responsible investing. Some students have called for a more open, transparent investment policy. However, University officials have stated that they do not disclose such information.

George Farah, a 1L working to mobilize students to sign a petition containing these demands, said: “President Summers has an obvious conflict of interest. Robert Stone chaired the search committee that chose him as president, and Mr. Stone remains active in University administration.” Farah also pointed out that President Summers has emphasized the importance of transparency in talks he has given around the world.

Clifford Ginn, a 3L (who is also a columnist for The RECORD) is working to organize a student response. Ginn said that he believes the Harken story is symptomatic of a more fundamental problem in Harvard’s management structure. “The Harvard corporation has invested in apartheid in South Africa, employed sweatshop labor to make Harvard apparel, and used the endowment to further political ends, but I doubt it could get away with doing any of those things if Harvard had a more open and democratic governance structure.”

Current and past University officials have refused to comment on the details of the Harvard Andarko Partnership.

War on terror exiles Harvard 3L


The sprawling American anti-terrorism campaign finally reached Harvard Law School when 3L Ahmed el-Gaili was prevented from returning to the United States to finish law school.

After accepting a summer position with Sullivan and Cromwell, el-Gaili decided he would spend the first half of his summer in New York and the second half in London. As a citizen of Sudan, El-Gaili is only eligible for F-1 visas, which require renewal each time the holder leaves the United States. In the past, el-Gaili’s visa had been renewed only a few days after he applied. Recognizing that the summer trip to London would be his first time outside the country since September 11, el-Gaili took extra precautions.

He first took an informal poll of a half-dozen friends with a similarly situated visa profile who had recently passed through the visa renewal process. Most of their visas were renewed within two to three weeks with the longest time elapsed between application and renewal being four weeks. El-Gaili then contacted a visa processing agency in London that he had used many times. The agency offered him estimates that confirmed his friends’ accounts. To be absolutely certain of his timely return, El-Gaili regularly checked the State Department website before his departure, looking for announcements on changes in visa policy. When he left for New York on July 21, a visa policy change had not been posted.

Unfortunately, all of his precautions still weren’t enough.

On July 23 – over a full month before he would need to return to HLS – el-Gaili submitted his visa renewal application to the United States embassy in London, six full weeks before the start of the fall semester. Four weeks later, he received his passport in the mail without a visa. The passport was accompanied by a letter requesting that el-Gaili appear at the agency for an in-person interview on August 29.

“The interview was very friendly and smooth, but I was told that new regulations required that my visa application be sent to D.C. for ‘clearance,'” said El-Gaili.

An official at the agency informed El-Gaili that the process could take an additional six weeks. The beginning of the fall semester was only days away. El-Gaili then worked with Dean of Students Suzanne Richardson to reset his registration deadline.

“The response of the Law school, and namely that of Dean of Students Suzanne Richardson, has been extremely supportive, responsive, and accommodating. I got permission to register as late as September 30,” el-Gaili said.

In early September, it became apparent that El-Gaili could not beat the deadline. He then began hunting for schools in London that would allow him to enroll with only a few weeks notice. Two professors, one from the Kennedy School of Government and William Alford from the Law School, submitted letters of recommendation on el-Gaili’s behalf on short notice. El-Gaili was eventually accepted into the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where he is now enrolled as a full-time student.

The State Department has refused to give specific details regarding its new visa policy. Twenty-six countries are said to be subject to the closer scrutiny, and most of them contain relatively large Arab or Muslim populations.

The Harvard Crimson quoted the agency’s spokesman, Stuart Patt, as saying that a significant backlog has prevented new visa applications from receiving immediate attention.
“Someone could very easily use student status as a means to enter the United States when they have other intentions,” he said. “National security is our number one issue.”

Of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks, one entered the U.S. on a student visa, fifteen entered through tourist visas, and three through business visas.

Reports indicate that students around the world are reconsidering higher education in the United States. International students are beginning to view Australia, England and Canada as more welcoming to foreigners, and thus, better places for international study.

El-Gaili said he believes that the new U.S. visa policy would do little to minimize the threat of terrorism.

“No terrorist will be deterred by this process. The only people deterred are the bright minds that are seeking refuge in this country’s freedom but they will no longer find it. They will simply take their talent and contribute it to more welcoming societies.”

El-Gaili told The Harvard Crimson that although he had planned to work at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York, he is now strongly considering their London office.

“It’s definitely not the same U.S. I came to nine years ago – not the same open, welcoming society, at least to people from my part of the world,” El-Gaili said.

“I am not in class at Harvard today because I am Arab. Secondly, the measures are being applied in such an indiscriminate manner which, far from being just, equates between someone studying at Taliban school and someone studying at Harvard Law School,” he added.

[After this article was published El-Gaili informed The RECORD that on October 21st he received notice that his visa would finally be approved.  He hopes to rejoin his class at the Law School in January. Eds.]

HLS sees rise in Native Am. admits


NALSA pumpkin sale.
Members of the Native American Law Students Association.

Among the other accomplishments of this year’s ALLsa diversity celebration was the general awareness it provided, especially to 1L students, of the presence of a Native American organization at the Law School. Many students admitted they had never heard of the Native American Law Students Association, or NALSA, until they met with its representatives and ate its food at the diversity event.

Tessa Platt, Carrie Lyons and Wenona Benally are all 1L students who identify themselves as Native American. They come from different parts of the country and are descended from diverse tribes, but together represent the Native American voice among entering law students at HLS. The admittance of these three students represents a significant step forward in Native American enrollment — there were no Native American students in the last year’s 1L class.

“Native Americans are often a forgotten minority,” said Platt, a native of Oregon and a participant last year in the Fulbright Student Program. She is a registered Creek (Muscogee) and a Cherokee.

“[My] Cherokee ancestors were so ashamed of their heritage that they did not register with the tribe,” she said. She argues that the unique experience of Native Americans in dealing with such racism makes them even more valuable in an academic setting. “Because they did not always appear so physically different,” Platt contends, “Native Americans, when faced with intense racism, could assimilate into the population at large.” Platt said she hopes that Native American students can share this distinctive view of racism with other students at the Law School.

Platt came to HLS because of its prestige, academic reputation and low-income protection plan. Although she was pleased overall with the admissions process, Platt hopes in the future that funds can be set aside to specifically fly out Native American students and waive their application fees. She also thinks that a class in Federal Indian Law might attract more Native American students.

Lyons also thinks that HLS should offer application fee waivers and scholarships tailored specifically to Native American students. A 1992 graduate of the University of Oklahoma and a registered Cherokee, Lyons said she is hopeful that she and others can contribute to a general awareness of Native American history among law students. “I have been surprised to learn that people do not know about the Trail of Tears or other events in Native American history,” she said, “and our presence at HLS can help to educate other students about Native American history.”

Lyons said she has been encouraged by the reception she has received thus far from both students and professors. “The interest that students and professors have expressed in Native American issues has made my short time at HLS better,” Lyons said.

Lyons noted that she received special encouragement to apply to HLS. “I felt appreciated when I received an email from former NALSA member Gavin Clarkson and from Allan Ray, an HLS administrator, encouraging me to attend HLS,” she said.

Benally takes a different approach to encouraging Native American students to attend the Law School. An Arizona resident and a member of the Navajo tribe, Benally said she is not convinced that fee waivers would necessarily attract more Native American students. Instead, she cites the lack of a visible Native American community as one of the reasons she hesitated to attend HLS. “For me, it was a huge decision in deciding whether or not to attend Harvard,” Benally admits. “It wasn’t until Native American alumni and representatives from the Harvard University Native American Program contacted me and reassured me that there are activities tailored to Native Americans that I decided to attend.” Benally thinks the best way to encourage Native American students to apply is for the Law School to attend Native American events throughout the country.

Benally has remained active with Native American issues. After graduating from Arizona State in 2000, she worked for the last year-and-a-half at the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona doing research on health care and cultural resources for nineteen Native American tribes in her state.

Director of Admissions Todd Morton says that while HLS does not target any ethnic group specifically, it does work to increase diverse enrollment with broad recruitment strategies. Morton says fly outs for admitted student days and fee waivers are based solely on financial need, thus benefiting Native Americans and other students alike. “If you have a limited amount of funds one way to approach these issues is to reserve the money for the people who need it most,” he said.

Morton asserts that the best way to get Native American students to accept admission is to show them the resources available at the Law School. “Getting a student on campus is a positive thing,” he said.

But Gavin Clarkson ‘02, the former president of NALSA, says that more should be done to specifically increase Native American enrollment. “Harvard University as an institution has in its charter an obligation to educate the American Indians,” he said. “That obligation should be sufficient to prompt a higher level of recruiting and admissions effort directed at potential Native American applicants.”

Clarkson, who currently attends Harvard Business School, says fee waivers and flyout programs should be available to Native Americans without determining financial need. He says HLS should aim to recruit eight to sixteen Native American students per year.

1L Experience: A pesky sore throat


Last week, I ventured into the basement of Pound in search of a cure for a pesky sore throat I must’ve caught, perhaps from one of my classmates who’s always opening his mouth and spreading germs (along with words upon words of self-indulgence) throughout the classroom. So I went to the Law School’s Health Center. There, they told me I had a “sore throat” (that’s the medical term for a sore throat), and that I should “try my best to stay healthy.” Very practical advice.

The nurse gave me a sheet with some tips for dealing with my malady. There was a list that began with the instruction, “Call your doctor right away if any problems develop, including the following…” (Already a problem: There was no doctor. Only a nurse.) But anyway, call your doctor if: “you are worse in any way.” In any way? Does having fallen behind on my reading count? How about having found out I didn’t win any Westlaw Rewards points this week? That could mean I am theoretically worse in some way, if I had any idea what my Westlaw Rewards points were good for.

Other reasons to call your doctor: “Confusion, drowsiness, or loss of memory.” Sounds like what happens when I get called on in class. “Trouble walking or controlling arms and legs.” Yes, that does sound like a pretty ominous development from a sore throat. “Drooling.” Huh? “Anything else that worries you.” Again, the open-ended problem. I’m worried about this war with Iraq. Is that a good reason to call my doctor?

After reading the helpful sheet, I figured it would be a good idea to check over the restrictions in the health care plan, just in case “try[ing] my best to stay healthy” didn’t end up working out for me. A few observations we all ought to be aware of about our health coverage (these are real):

Because it’s not a dental plan, injuries to teeth are only covered when not due to a “biting or chewing” incident. So if we fall on our heads and break a tooth, great, we’re covered. But if we bite into a rock masquerading as a chicken nugget in the Hark, no such luck.

Not covered: voluntary sterilization, tattoo removal, and “repetitive procedures (such as injection of varicose veins or hemorrhoids).” How about subciting? That’s a repetitive procedure. And they say “voluntary sterilization” as if there’s another variety. Not a pleasant thought.

“The removal of wisdom teeth is covered only if the teeth are impacted in the bone.” Exciting to think about.

Ambulance rides are only covered for certain “participating ambulance services.” Because when you need an ambulance, of course you’re always going to be the one calling. I suppose one of those “medic alert” bracelets would come in handy in a case like this — “If I am injured and require an ambulance, please use one of the following companies: Hospital Express, Bleed-n-Go Ambulance Service, Hit-n-Run Emergency, Bob’s “Stretch-er” Limousines or No-Frills Emergency Room Wheelbarrows, Inc. Do not under any circumstances allow me to be placed in a Roger’s Ambulance and Dog Catcher vehicle — it is not covered by my insurance.” That would be quite a large medic alert bracelet, I suppose.

The plan excludes coverage for “treatment for obesity… except as required by applicable law.” Hmm. I guess we’ll learn about those laws in our “Obesity Law” class next semester, taught by the guy who plans the menus at the Hark.

Actually, the menus at the Hark aren’t so terrible. But something that was disturbing — the other week I was getting lunch and decided to get a bottle of Tropicana grapefruit juice. Opened it up, took a sip. Tasted fine. Then I noticed the date on the bottle — “Jan 19 02.” Uh, that was almost 10 months ago. Freaked me out. I threw it away. I guess I was wrong to go against the Nantucket Nectars monopoly, and that was my punishment.

I’d never seen Nantucket Nectars in cans before coming here. Or in vending machines. Or coming out of water fountains. Or the sinks in the bathroom. Or my shower. Or in the swimming pool at the Mac. Half and half. Half lemonade, half chlorine. It’s delicious. And it would kill all those germs that caused my sore throat (see, it all comes back full circle). But at least the health center didn’t just offer me a band-aid like they gave to the girl in line ahead of me. She had a headache.

Letter: The dangers of moral simplification


I agree with Alex Gordon’s Oct. 20 op-ed: German Minister of Justice Herta Daubler-Gmelin’s comment, that “Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems…[a tactic] Hitler also used” is clearly an outrageous sign of an irrational misconception of history. She should have her thoughts examined and brought into line, and Mr. Gordon is perfectly justified in dictating which lines of reasoning she should be permitted in order to keep her job. After all, our country having saved Germany, Europe, and the free world two or three times now, we American Harvard Law Students have unchallengeable moral authority to dictate which individuals may serve in foreign governments.

It doesn’t take a Harvard Law degree to point out the distinctions between Bush and Hitler, let alone a history lesson about how America saved Europe, or a morality lesson in pure evil. In the early phases of his reign of terror, Hitler rounded up minorities without justification, denying them any pretense of justice and moving them into isolated camps. Bush has done no such thing. Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia in a purely aggressive action to ensure “living space” for Germans. The British acquiescence in that endeavor was a result of cowardice. Tony Blair’s acquiescence to the looming U.S. actions against Iraq is really about “ensuring peace in our time” this time. That is courage.

Perhaps Daubler-Gmelin really implied that she considers Bush to be evil, and used the term “Hitler” as a synonym. Should she really resign for stating such an opinion? If “Hitler” and “evil” are synonymous, why would applying one term to Bush be outrageous, where the other would not be? More importantly, what entitles American leaders to make judgments as to whether world leaders are good or evil, and why is that entitlement denied to Germans? I am certain that Gordon would permit Daubler-Gmelin to disagree with U.S. policy on Iraq, so long as she does so politely and refrains from moral absolutes our own leaders ply so thoughtlessly for electoral advantage.

I’ve no reason to defend Daubler-Gmelin’s statement. I’ve never met her, never even heard her name before this incident, and I’m quite unlikely to ever get a job offer from her. For these reasons, as well as the fact that I’m not German, I don’t think I’m qualified to determine whether she should lose her job over one statement possibly taken out of context, particularly on the basis of a single New York Times article. I hope that it isn’t unpatriotic or anti-Semitic, in effect if not intent, to assert that public speakers should have wide latitude to speak their minds, and should be replaced by democratic forces rather than the moral assertions of outsiders.

If Gordon is really opposed to America-bashing by Europeans, perhaps he should reconsider his own instincts towards moral simplification, an instinct shared by far too many politicians and citizens in America and, unfortunately, at this institution. Excessive moral simplification, drawing sharp lines of “us versus them,” grossly inflating a sense of outrage, ignoring serious domestic inequities to pursue global visions — these are also classic tactics, ones that Hitler used. And I don’t intend to resign from anything for pointing that out. Good or evil, it’s the simple truth.

— Donovan Rinker-Morris, 2L

RECORD Editorial: Shame, outrage, and the Harken bailout


Depending on who you ask, Harvard Law School either runs rampant with outrage or apathy. We have seen many bursts of popular activism in recent months, from students’ protest of last year’s racial incidents to the powerful recent rally against “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Students on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict have rallied to their causes, and conservative students continue to bring their own brand of activism to bear through speakers, editorials and organizing.

But some of the same people voicing their outrage against racial and sexual discrimination find time for interviews with law firms who routinely defend corporate clients in despicable cases, such as those of Arthur Andersen and WorldCom.

The latest revelations about Harvard University’s role in bailing out Harken Energy elucidate this conflict all too clearly. Liberals and conservatives alike on this campus are all too ready to oppose whomever they deem to be this week’s “evil-doers.” Yet many of these students — and apparently, their University — support corporations whose crimes, whose absolute moral culpability, cannot be debated. Harvard professors and administrators inveigh against the Bush administration even as the University has, apparently, contributed to the President and his friends’ failing corporate enterprises, at great financial cost.

If the HarvardWatch allegations are true — and nobody in the administration will deny them — then students must demand that Harvard University make drastic, radical and immediate changes to its mode of governance.

We are students at this University, yet this scandal shows all too clearly how powerless we are to affect the way it operates. The institution we are all so eager to put front-and-center on our resumes, it turns out, has apparently now made us complicit in something bigger and not necessarily benevolent.

Whether HarvardWatch’s allegations are true or not, the administration is clearly guilty of stonewalling its students. Not a single University administrator has fully explained the University’s role in the Harken situation to The RECORD or The Harvard Crimson. The University either has something to hide, or it is exercising a revolting degree of arrogance that any living person affiliated with this supposedly “liberal” institution should be ashamed of. The administration should be capable of making its case for why more transparency in governance would not be beneficial. If it is not, then transparency should be inevitable.

Although as yet the Law School’s own finances are not directly implicated in HarvardWatch’s allegations (the HLS endowment, as that of all graduate schools, is independent of the University’s), the Law School is hardly removed from the greater goings-on at the University. All HLS representatives and graduates at all levels of the University hierarchy should immediately demand a full explanation of the University’s role in the Harken bailout, including, but not limited to, a basic explanation of why the University apparently made such a financially risky deal with a company that presented numerous conflicts of interest.

As HLS students throw on their pin-striped suits and stride off to Charles Hotel interview rooms, they should think about the firms they are choosing and the clients those firms are willing to work for. They should, at least, ask if they are willing to be part of what appears to have gone on here. We should all ask ourselves if we want our names attached, not only to the name of this University, but potentially to future scandals that may look a lot like this one.

The details of the Harken bailout are far from complete. But if what has appeared to happen did, HLS students, administrators and alumni should lead the way in finding out what happened, and being sure this never happens again.

“Harken” University’s unethical investments


In the last week, articles in twenty news outlets and a report released by the student organization HarvardWatch have detailed how Harvard University bailed out Harken Energy through a series of questionable transactions in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the period when George W. Bush was a director of the company. These revelations demonstrate a need for disclosure, investigation, and reform.

In 1986, Harken Energy bought Bush’s failing oil company and made him a director and “consultant.” One month later, Harvard began investing heavily in Harken, ultimately becoming its largest shareholder and placing two directors on Harken’s seven-member board. Harvard’s directors held positions on the boards of entities managing Harvard’s endowment, and each held 10,000 shares in Harken, in clear violation of conflict of interest standards for nonprofits. Robert Stone, a member of the Harvard Corporation (Harvard’s executive governing board), was a prime mover in getting the University invested in Harken, and has longstanding ties to the Bushes. The other Corporation members at the time made virtually all their political contributions to Republicans.

In 1986, liquidity and solvency crises were driving Harken toward bankruptcy. Harken attempted a phony asset sale (the “Aloha” transaction reported in the press), but the SEC caught them. In May 1990, Harvard and another large shareholder lent Harken $46 million to keep the company afloat. This did not address the company’s liquidity problems, however, and Harken soon defaulted on its loan covenant with one of its two main banks. On Bush’s motion, the board voted unanimously to negotiate an off-the-books “joint venture,” between Harken and Harvard, similar to the partnerships Enron used to hide its true financial status from investors and creditors.

In November 1990, Harken and Harvard created the Harvard Anadarko Partnership (HAP). Harvard contributed $64.5 million, 91 percent of the investment, but accepted just 84 percent of HAP’s earnings. Harken contributed $6 million — assets valued at $26 million plus $20 million of debt and liabilities. Transparent only to Harken insiders, HAP deceptively brightened Harken’s balance sheet. Harken concealed $20 million in debt and liabilities, creating an appearance of solvency. By taking a diminished share of HAP’s earnings, paying Harken fees to run HAP, paying most of HAP’s operating expenses, and paying interest on debts that Harken had contributed to HAP, Harvard both funneled revenues to Harken and reduced Harken’s yearly expenses. By effectively transferring millions of dollars to Harken, Harvard addressed the company’s liquidity crisis.

Not surprisingly, HAP’s creation inflated Harken’s stock price, which rose to an all-time high. Harvard took advantage of this opportunity to sell $7.47 million in stock. Harvard later bought out Harken’s share at a generous price, and then sold HAP’s assets to Cabot Oil and Gas for $34.5 million, half of what Harvard and Harken had collectively invested initially. (The Cabot family has played a central role in managing Harvard’s finances for decades.)

While HAP appears to have followed accounting rules, the combination of the partnership’s creation and the stock sales raises serious questions about market manipulation. Given Harken’s flirtation with bankruptcy, the transfer of assets to a partnership controlled by its largest shareholder might raise issues of fraudulent conveyances or voidable preferences. We cannot know the answers without access to the HAP’s business records, and Harvard refuses to disclose any information about its dealings with Harken.

The possibility that Harvard broke the law, while troubling, is not really the heart of the matter. Even if Harvard did not violate the law, its willingness to throw good money after bad violates standards for nonprofit investors. Harvard’s investment in the HAP was at least twice the size of its original stake in Harken, and its loans to Harken also nearly doubled that stake. Harken was among the worst-performing companies in a high-risk industry. Harvard’s pumping of money into an already anomalous (if not bizarre) investment seems difficult to explain, and the Harvard Corporation owes us all an explanation.

Students are rightly calling for full disclosure, an independent investigation, and a public meeting with the Harvard Corporation, as well as development of an open investment policy and a more transparent and democratically accountable university governance structure. Whether Harvard’s bailout of Harken was politically motivated, or had some other reason behind it, President Summers is absolutely right when he talks about the central importance of transparency in financial transactions and corporate governance. The Harken transactions, the University’s investments in apartheid South Africa, and Harvard’s use of sweatshop labor to make its apparel can only happen in a culture of secrecy, a culture incompatible with the University’s professed commitment to accountability, honesty, integrity and democratic values.

Taking aim at moral relativism


The Washington metropolitan area, my once and future home, is under siege. Hopefully the murderer(s) wreaking havoc in the region will be dead or in custody by the time this goes to print. Given the resources devoted to this investigation, it seems likely that whoever is responsible will be apprehended soon. In the meantime, those not grieving the loss of loved ones are living in terror of innocuous everyday activities such as pumping gas and going to school.

The media, when not antagonizing Chief Moose and risking innocent lives by releasing information detrimental to an effective investigation, have largely settled on the theory that the killer is a conservative white male with a McVeigh-esque antipathy toward America. While this theory is entirely plausible, there are numerous other possibilities, perhaps the most chilling of which is that the murders and attempted murders are a diversionary tactic to keep area law enforcement occupied while some larger scheme is executed. In any scenario, however, the killer is a seriously flawed human being. There is no question that whoever is shooting these people is somehow broken and thus lacks or chooses to ignore the basic moral sense and compassion for others that proper human beings possess. The truth of this assumption will inevitably be proven with the killer’s capture. At that point consensus will evaporate.

Right now everyone is hoping for a quick resolution of the matter. However, should the killer be brought in alive, within a day the familiar whining voices will attempt to turn the situation on its head. We saw it on September 12, especially around Cambridge: The sickness and hatred of an individual or a small group are suddenly held up as examples of the evil America has wrought. Somehow we are supposed to feel guilty and responsible. The failings of a man who takes his pleasure in killing innocents somehow become our fault. Unless, of course, the killer does turn out to be a white neo-Nazi or something similar, in which case his failings will be identified as my fault. In any case, people will seek to externalize the killer’s problem rather than condemn him.

The moral idiocy of our society is not a new thing. While September 12 may stand out as the most outrageous instance of moral depravity and the inability of elitist intellectuals to tell right from wrong, the problem can be traced back at least to the mid-century American Stalinists and those who worked to stop them. While demagoguery plagued the argument, there is simply no doubt that one side was right and the other wrong. Yet Whittaker Chambers is still excoriated as a stooge for tyrants while Alger Hiss is venerated as a martyr. Hiss’s defenders fail to mention that he was incontrovertibly in league with a regime that happily slaughtered twenty million of its own citizens and consigned surviving dissidents to the icy embrace of the Gulag archipelago. That doesn’t even begin to address what the Soviets did to Czechoslovakia and other countries under their “protection.” It’s similar to the silence of the Fidel-chic crowd on the subject of Cubans forced at gunpoint to walk through minefields or any of the other known brutalities of that dictatorial state.

W.H. Auden predicted this decay in For the Time Being, where he wrote that “Knowledge will degenerate into a riot of subjective visions and justice will be replaced by pity as the cardinal human virtue.” Too many Americans have abandoned a commitment to justice qua justice and turned to pity as their guiding light. In some circles it is provincial and uncool to condemn what is wrong: The only condemnation is reserved for those with the gall to condemn wrongdoers.

This backward thinking is ridiculous: It is certifiably true that it is right to condemn what is wrong. Compassion is good, but it is not compassionate to exonerate the guilty by blaming the innocent. Such thinking is both stupid and evil. When nineteen men choose to take several thousand lives through craven acts of terror, we should hate them for it and exact righteous vengeance on those who helped them do it while taking every necessary step to prevent related evils.

Similarly, when the sniper is caught, we need to remember that he has wilfully and deliberately extinguished at least nine lives and deserves to be punished. The sniper chose to do what he did. He was not driven to it by America, or capitalism, or anything else. We must make him accept responsibility for his actions, except in the unlikely event (given the methodical nature of the killings) that the sniper is exonerated by meeting our rigorous test of insanity. Shifting the blame to others does not justify this man’s murderous behavior, but it does highlight the moral bankruptcy into which America has descended.