Thursday, January 10, 2002

Enrongate will make Whitewater look like a bake sale

Here's some great stuff from today's New York Times story about the political fallout from Enron.
The Justice Department, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission, also learned today that Arthur Andersen, the Enron auditor, had destroyed documents related to the company. The accounting firm said it was also notifying Congressional committees and other agencies investigating the Enron collapse that the documents were missing.

"In recent months, individuals in the firm involved with the Enron engagement disposed of a significant but undetermined number of electronic and paper documents and correspondence relating to the Enron engagement," the firm said in a statment.
Hmmmm...... This is getting good. AND IT'S JUST THE TIP OF THE OIL BERG!
"It's appropriate to take a look at what led to the bankruptcy of Enron," Mr. Fleischer said. He expressed the hope that any Congressional inquiry would be even-handled, not a "partisan, politically charged investigation" of the kind that he said had so soured many Americans on Washington.
Yeah, Ari, like the kind of witchhunt you right-wing nuts went on against Clinton? These Republican pukes make me want to throw up on Rush Limpdick.

Also in the news from CNN:
This comes from CNN...


Explosive New Book Published in France Alleges that U.S. Was in Negotiations
to Do a Deal with Taliban
Aired January 8, 2002 - 07:34   ET

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Time to check in with ambassador-in- residence,
Richard Butler, this morning. An explosive new book published in France
alleges that the United States was in negotiations to do a deal with the
Taliban for an oil pipeline in Afghanistan.

Joining us right now is Richard Butler to shed some light on this new book.
He is the former chief U.N. weapons inspector. He is now on the Council on
Foreign Relations and our own ambassador-in- residence -- good morning.


ZAHN: Boy, if any of these charges are true...


ZAHN: ... this...


ZAHN: ... is really big news.

BUTLER: I agree.

ZAHN: Start off with what your understanding is of what is in this book --
the most explosive charge.

BUTLER: The most explosive charge, Paula, is that the Bush administration --
the present one, just shortly after assuming office slowed down FBI
investigations of al Qaeda and terrorism in Afghanistan in order to do a
deal with the Taliban on oil -- an oil pipeline across Afghanistan.

ZAHN: And this book points out that the FBI's deputy director, John O'Neill,
actually resigned because he felt the U.S. administration was obstructing...

BUTLER: A proper...

ZAHN: ... the prosecution of terrorism.

BUTLER: Yes, yes, a proper intelligence investigation of terrorism. Now, you
said if, and I affirmed that in responding to you. We have to be careful
here. These are allegations. They're worth airing and talking about, because
of their gravity. We don't know if they are correct. But I believe they
should be investigated, because Central Asian oil, as we were discussing
yesterday, is potentially so important. And all prior attempts to have a
pipeline had to be done through Russia. It had to be negotiated with Russia.

Now, if there is to be a pipeline through Afghanistan, obviating the need to
deal with Russia, it would also cost less than half of what a pipeline
through Russia would cost. So financially and politically, there's a big
prize to be had. A pipeline through Afghanistan down to the Pakistan coast
would bring out that Central Asian oil easier and more cheaply.

ZAHN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as you spoke about this yesterday, we almost
immediately got a call from "The New York Times."

BUTLER: Right.

ZAHN: They want you to write an op-ed piece on this over the weekend.

BUTLER: Right, and which I will do.

ZAHN: But let's come back to this whole issue of what John O'Neill, this FBI

BUTLER: Right.

ZAHN: ... apparently told the authors of this book. He is alleging that --
what -- the U.S. government was trying to protect U.S. oil interests? And at
the same time, shut off the investigation of terrorism to allow for that to

BUTLER: That's the allegation that instead of prosecuting properly an
investigation of terrorism, which has its home in Afghanistan as we now
know, or one of its main homes, that was shut down or slowed down in order
to pursue oil interests with the Taliban. The people who we have now bombed
out of existence, and this not many months ago. The book says that the
negotiators said to the Taliban, you have a choice. You have a carpet of
gold, meaning an oil deal, or a carpet of bombs. That's what the book

ZAHN: Well, I know you're going to be doing your own independent homework on


ZAHN: ... to see if you can confirm any of this. Let's move on to the whole
issue of Iraq. The deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, at one time was
considered one of those voices within the administration...


ZAHN: ... that was pushing for moving beyond Afghanistan. He seemed to back
off a little from that yesterday.


ZAHN: What do you read through the tea leaves here?

BUTLER: A very interesting report that the administration will focus on the
Philippines, Yemen, Somalia as places where there are al Qaeda cells. But
the word Iraq wasn't used by the man who was the chief hawk -- used as a,
you know, as a future target. So what I interpret from that is this: That
very likely our allies have been saying to us, this is too hard. This is
really serious. Be careful. Saddam is essentially contained at the moment.
Don't start, you know, a bigger problem either in the Arab world or in the
coalition by going after him. And Wolfowitz, it seems, has probably accepted

ZAHN: A quick thought on the Israelis intercepting this latest armed
shipment? What that means? You've got to do it in about 15 seconds.

BUTLER: It's extraordinarily serious, because it seems to have been tied to
Yasser Arafat himself. It needs to be further investigated, but you know,
Paula, the potentiality that this could once again prove an impediment to
resume peace negotiations is really quite serious.

ZAHN: Thank you as usual for covering so much territory. Richard Butler, see
you same time, same place tomorrow morning.


ZAHN: We appreciate your insights.
Amazing isn't it? How much do these assholes stink? I know I can't hold my nose much longer. War or no war, it's time to wash these SOBs down with a firehose and the same kind of soap they used on Clinton.

But wait, there's more!

Oil company adviser named US representative to Afghanistan

By Patrick Martin
3 January 2002

President Bush has appointed a former aide to the American oil company Unocal, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to Afghanistan. The nomination was announced December 31, nine days after the US-backed interim government of Hamid Karzai took office in Kabul.

The nomination underscores the real economic and financial interests at stake in the US military intervention in Central Asia. Khalilzad is intimately involved in the long-running US efforts to obtain direct access to the oil and gas resources of the region, largely unexploited but believed to be the second largest in the world after the Persian Gulf.

As an adviser for Unocal, Khalilzad drew up a risk analysis of a proposed gas pipeline from the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. He participated in talks between the oil company and Taliban officials in 1997, which were aimed at implementing a 1995 agreement to build the pipeline across western Afghanistan.

Unocal was the lead company in the formation of the Centgas consortium, whose purpose was to bring to market natural gas from the Dauletabad Field in southeastern Turkmenistan, one of the world’s largest. The $2 billion project involved a 48-inch diameter pipeline from the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border, passing near the cities of Herat and Kandahar, crossing into Pakistan near Quetta and linking with existing pipelines at Multan. An additional $600 million extension to India was also under consideration.

Khalilzad also lobbied publicly for a more sympathetic US government policy towards the Taliban. Four years ago, in an op-ed article in the Washington Post, he defended the Taliban regime against accusations that it was a sponsor of terrorism, writing, “The Taliban does not practice the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran.”

“We should ... be willing to offer recognition and humanitarian assistance and to promote international economic reconstruction,” he declared. “It is time for the United States to reengage” the Afghan regime. This “reengagement” would, of course, have been enormously profitable to Unocal, which was otherwise unable to bring gas and oil to market from landlocked Turkmenistan.

Khalilzad only shifted his position on the Taliban after the Clinton administration fired cruise missiles at targets in Afghanistan in August 1998, claiming that terrorists under the direction of Afghan-based Osama bin Laden were responsible for bombing US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. One day after the attack, Unocal put Centgas on hold. Two months later it abandoned all plans for a trans-Afghan pipeline. The oil interests began to look towards a post-Taliban Afghanistan, and so did their representatives in the US national security establishment.

Liasion to Islamic guerrillas

Born in Mazar-e Sharif in 1951, Khalilzad hails from the old ruling elite of Afghanistan. His father was an aide to King Zahir Shah, who ruled the country until 1973. Khalilzad was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, an intellectual center for the American right-wing, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Khalilzad became an American citizen, while serving as a key link between US imperialism and the Islamic fundamentalist mujahedin fighting the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul—the milieu out of which both the Taliban and bin Laden’s Al Qaeda group arose. He was a special adviser to the State Department during the Reagan administration, lobbying successfully for accelerated US military aid to the mujahedin, including hand-held Stinger anti-aircraft missiles which played a key role in the war. He later became undersecretary of defense in the administration of Bush’s father, during the US war against Iraq, then went to the Rand Corporation, a top US military think tank.

After Bush was installed as president by a 5-4 vote of the US Supreme Court, Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Defense Department and advised incoming Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Significantly, however, he was not named to a subcabinet position, which would have required Senate confirmation and might have provoked uncomfortable questions about his role as an oil company adviser in Central Asia and intermediary with the Taliban. Instead, he was named to the National Security Council, where no confirmation vote was needed.

At the NSC Khalilzad reports to Condoleeza Rice, the national security adviser, who also served as an oil company consultant on Central Asia. After serving in the first Bush administration from 1989 to 1992, Rice was placed on the board of directors of Chevron Corporation and served as its principal expert on Kazakhstan, where Chevron holds the largest concession of any of the international oil companies. The oil industry connections of Bush and Cheney are well known, but little has been said in the media about the prominent role being played in Afghan policy by officials who advised the oil industry on Central Asia.

One of the few commentaries in the America media about this aspect of the US military campaign appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle last September 26. Staff writer Frank Viviano observed: “The hidden stakes in the war against terrorism can be summed up in a single word: oil. The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world’s principal energy sources in the 21st century.... It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America’s Chevron, Exxon, and Arco; France’s TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region.”

Silence in the media

This reality is well understood in official Washington, but the most important corporate-controlled media outlets—the television networks and major national daily newspapers—have maintained silence that amounts to deliberate, politically motivated self-censorship.

The sole recent exception is an article which appeared December 15 in the New York Times business section, headlined, “As the War Shifts Alliances, Oil Deals Follow.” The Times reported, “The State Department is exploring the potential for post-Taliban energy projects in the region, which has more than 6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and almost 40 percent of its gas reserves.”

The Times noted that during a visit in early December to Kazakhstan, “Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said he was ‘particularly impressed’ with the money that American oil companies were investing there. He estimated that $200 billion could flow into Kazakhstan during the next 5 to 10 years.”

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham also pushed US oil investments in the region during a November visit to Russia, on which he was accompanied by David J. O’Reilly, chairman of ChevronTexaco.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has also played a role in the ongoing oil pipeline maneuvers. During a December 14 visit to Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, he assured officials of the oil-rich Caspian state that the administration would lift sanctions imposed in 1992 in the wake of the conflict with Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both Azerbaijan and Armenia have aligned themselves with the US military thrust into Central Asia, offering the Pentagon transit rights and use of airfields. Rumsfeld’s visit and his conciliatory remarks were the reward. Rumsfeld told President Haydar Aliyev that the administration had reached agreement with congressional leaders to waive the sanctions.

On November 28 the White House released a statement hailing the official opening of the first new pipeline by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, a joint venture of Russia, Kazakhstan, Oman, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil and several other oil companies. The pipeline connects the huge Tengiz oilfield in northwestern Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, where tankers are loaded for the world market. US companies put up $1 billion of the $2.65 billion construction cost.

The Bush statement declared, “The CPC project also advances my Administration’s National Energy Policy by developing a network of multiple Caspian pipelines that also includes the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Supsa, and Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipelines and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline.”

There was little US press coverage of this announcement. Nor did the media refer to the fact that the pipeline consortium involved in the Baku-Ceyhan plan, led by the British oil company BP, is represented by the law firm of Baker & Botts. The principal attorney at this firm is James Baker III, secretary of state under Bush’s father and chief spokesman for the 2000 Bush campaign during its successful effort to shut down the Florida vote recount.
I can't wait to watch these guys try to work their way out of this one. The walls are going to fall from all sides! Spread the word, since the right-wing owned media won't!

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