In 2006, my attention (such as it is) was captured by the story of one David H. Brooks, who hired 50 Cent and Don Henley and Stevie Nicks and Ærosmith to play his daughter’s bat mitzvah with the profits he made from a sweetheart deal selling inadequate supplies of substandard body armor to our sub-minimum-wage soldiers in Iraq. —How inadequate and substandard? Studies demonstrated that 80% of Marine casualties with upper body wounds could have survived with better (or any) armor. —How sweet? When that study was leaked, soldiers who’d scrimped and saved to buy their own superior armor were suddenly ordered to leave it home, to avoid any possible hurt feelings on the part of a certain David H. Brooks.
And then it receded into the mists of who the fuck can possibly do a damn thing about it? —Why, even today, when a progressive regime has finally triumphed over the forces of evil to take both cameras and the White House itself, a two-year investigation by one of our preëminent journalistic organs that demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt the staggering waste and corruption endemic to the shadow cabinets that are tasked with keeping us safe inspires little more than yawns. —How much worse our apathy and despair in the deeps of the Bushian aught-naughts! What chance had any of us then against such a banal kernel of evil as this David H. Brooks?
And so I let it go. What more was there to say?
Several years ago, David H. Brooks, the chief executive and chairman of a body-armor company enriched by United States military contracts, became fixated on the idea of a memory-erasing pill.
It was not just fanciful curiosity. A veterinarian who cared for his stable of racehorses said Mr. Brooks continually talked about the subject, pressing him repeatedly to supply the pill. According to Dr. Seth Fishman, the veterinarian, Mr. Brooks said he had a specific recipient in mind: Dawn Schlegel, the former chief financial officer of the company he led until 2006, DHB Industries.
There is no memory-erasing pill. And so Mr. Brooks sat and listened this year as Ms. Schlegel, her memory apparently intact and keen, spent 23 days testifying against him in a highly unusual trial in United States District Court on Long Island that has been highlighted by sweeping accusations of fraud, insider trading, and company-financed personal extravagance.
DHB, which specialized in making body armor used by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, paid for more than $6 million in personal expenses on behalf of Mr. Brooks, covering items as expensive as luxury cars and as prosaic as party invitations, Ms. Schlegel testified.
Also included were university textbooks for his daughter, pornographic videos for his son, plastic surgery for his wife, a burial plot for his mother, prostitutes for his employees, and, for him, a $100,000 American-flag belt buckle encrusted with rubies, sapphires and diamonds.
And—it isn’t schadenfreude, no; this is something colder, older; a little frightening, really: I went and poured myself a shot of bourbon to dull the edge a bit, but then I went and read it again:
Mr. Brooks, who his lawyers have said is in a “tenuous emotional state,” has watched much of the proceedings with glassy eyes and a nervous demeanor.
They straight up just lost nine billion dollars of our money in saran-wrapped bundles dropped in the dust of Iraq.
They’re coming for Social Security, the one thing the Republicans couldn’t wreck when they were running the show, because we just can’t afford it anymore.
It may not be enough compensation to one day use the last of the money in my pocket to hie myself to some Long Island cemetery, there to spit on the grave of this particular David H. Brooks.
It’ll probably have to do.