We’re learning more interesting facts about Fatherland Security Secretary designee Bernie Kerik, aren’t we? First we found out he fathered and then abandoned a child in Korea. Next, we hear he lied in his autobiography about the events that lead to his expulsion from Saudi Arabia.
Now today it is reported that he made $5.85 million last month by exercising stock options in torture device manufacturer Taser International, a company that intends to do more business with Fatherland Security and on who’s board of directors Kerik continues to serve.
Bernard Kerik, President Bush’s choice to run the Homeland Security Department, made $6.2 million by exercising stock options he received from a company that sold stun guns to the department — and seeks more business with it.
Taser International was one of many companies that received consulting advice from Kerik after he left his job as New York City police commissioner in 2001, when he was earning $150,500 a year. Kerik remains on Taser’s board of directors, although the company and the White House said he planned to sever the relationship.
Taser International President Tom Smith, in an interview, said the company has sold Homeland Security between 300 and 500 Taser guns, which fire an electrical charge that disables a person. He said the cost was about $1,000 each, including holsters, batteries and cartridges.
“We’re obviously hoping for further expansion,” Smith said. “I don’t see how it’s going to be a conflict because he will be retiring from the board. I’m sure we’re going to get questions, but I don’t expect we’ll get preferential treatment.”
Taser’s chief executive officer, Patrick Smith, said Kerik has been a speaker for Taser at law enforcement conferences, presented checks on behalf of the company to families of fallen police officers and advised Taser on making sales presentations to police chiefs.
According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission by the Scottsdale, Ariz., company, Kerik exercised his options and sold stock in November 2003 for $913,500. He made another sale last month for $5.85 million, for a total of $6.76 million, benefiting from a huge increase in the value of Taser stock during the period when he held the options.
The SEC records show that Kerik’s price for the options — counting both sales — was $567,838, giving him a profit of $6.2 million.
Think my characterization of Taser International as a “torture device manufacturer” is a bit harsh?
Four members of a U.S. special forces unit assigned to hunt down former senior government officials in Iraq received administrative sanctions this summer for abusing prisoners with Taser guns, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
The sanctions, a previously undisclosed facet of the mistreatment of Iraqi detainees during the U.S. occupation, were not described by Pentagon officials. But they said the punishments did not include criminal penalties.
Asked at a news conference whether the inappropriate use of Taser guns, which fire an electrically charged projectile into the skin, was tantamount to torture, spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said, “I have nothing to say on that. I just don’t know.”
The defense officials also said the complaints were forwarded to the Army’s criminal investigation division, but they could not explain why no criminal charges were filed.
Amrit Singh, an ACLU lawyer, said, “It sounds like torture to us, but even if it isn’t, it is unlawful.”
In all, Di Rita said, the special forces unit in question has issued 10 letters of reprimand for detainee abuse.