Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Poetic Justice

May your enemies never discover your Achilles Heel.

The latest (but probably not the last) in a long line of flawed heroes is Eliot Spitzer, former scourge of Wall Street and currently a leading supporter of Hillary Clinton, who has just been caught with his pants down [BBC News, March 12th 2008]. BBC correspondent Laura Trevelyan writes: "New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's fall from grace has all the elements of a Greek tragedy."

Did he engineer his own downfall, or was he lured into a trap by an enemy who knew his weakness? He certainly had plenty of enemies long before this story broke, so there would be no shortage of suspects.

Technology analysts have been pointing out the role of information systems in catching Mr Spitzer. Larry Dignam (Chief Editor of ZDnet) explains How an information system helped nail Eliot Spitzer and a prostitution ring. Jesper Joergensen, who works for a software vendor, sees an opportunity to put in a plug for his own company's event processing products. "If anyone working in a bank's anti-money laundering, compliance or fraud detection unit is reading this", he writes, "go check out [my company's products]. This is the technology you need to automate these compliance requirements." Thank you Jesper, don't call us, we'll call you.

But the other half of the equation is the role of Mr Spitzer in championing these kind of information systems and compliance regimes in the first place. Hoist, as they say, by his own petard.

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