From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
“To remove oil stains from your garage floor just sprinkle regular or
clumping cat litter heavily on the stain. Then, take your foot and
really twist the litter into the stain (figure A). For about two
weeks, every time you think about it, come out and twist, adding more litter as needed. Sweep away and then treat with oven cleaner and then rinse with a hose.”
Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force
BY Dana Milbank and Justin Blum / November 16, 2005
A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies
met with Vice President Cheney’s energy task force in 2001 —
something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.
The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.
In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce
committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate “to my knowledge,” and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.
Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that “gave detailed energy policy recommendations” to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP’s chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force’s work; that meeting is not noted in the document.
The task force’s activities attracted complaints from environmentalists, who said they were shut out of the task force
discussions while corporate interests were present. The meetings were held in secret and the White House refused to release a list of participants. The task force was made up primarily of Cabinet-level officials. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club unsuccessfully sued to obtain the records.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who posed the question about the task force, said he will ask the Justice Department today to investigate. “The White House went to great lengths to keep these meetings secret, and now oil executives may be lying to Congress about their role in the Cheney task force,” Lautenberg said.
Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on the document. She said that the courts have upheld “the constitutional right of the president and vice president to obtain information in confidentiality.”
The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are
not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had
protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) not to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making “any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation” to Congress.
Alan Huffman, who was a Conoco manager until the 2002 merger with Phillips, confirmed meeting with the task force staff. “We met in the Executive Office Building, if I remember correctly,” he said.
A spokesman for ConocoPhillips said the chief executive, James J. Mulva, had been unaware that Conoco officials met with task force
staff when he testified at the hearing. The spokesman said that Mulva was chief executive of Phillips in 2001 before the merger and that nobody from Phillips met with the task force.
Exxon spokesman Russ Roberts said the company stood by chief executive Lee R. Raymond’s statement in the hearing. In a brief phone interview, former Exxon vice president James Rouse, the official named in the White House document, denied the meeting took place. “That must be inaccurate and I don’t have any comment beyond that,” said Rouse, now retired.
Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP, declined to comment on the task force meetings. Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for Shell, said she did not know whether Shell officials met with the task force, but they often meet members of the administration. Chevron said its executives did not meet with the task force but confirmed that it sent President Bush recommendations in a letter.
The person familiar with the task force’s work, who requested
anonymity out of concern about retribution, said the document was based on records kept by the Secret Service of people admitted to the White House complex. This person said most meetings were with Andrew Lundquist, the task force’s executive director, and Cheney aide Karen Y. Knutson.
IN FACT CONOCO, ON VALENTINE’S DAY
According to the White House document, Rouse met with task force staff members on Feb. 14, 2001. On March 21, they met with Archie Dunham, who was chairman of Conoco. On April 12, according to the document, task force staff members met with Conoco official Huffman and two officials from the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, Wayne Gibbens and Alby Modiano.
On April 17, task force staff members met with Royal Dutch/Shell
Group’s chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Shell Oil chairman Steven
Miller and two others. On March 22, staff members met with BP regional president Bob Malone, chief economist Peter Davies and company employees Graham Barr and Deb Beaubien.
Toward the end of the hearing, Lautenberg asked the five executives: “Did your company or any representatives of your companies participate in Vice President Cheney’s energy task force in 2001?” When there was no response, Lautenberg added: “The meeting . . . ”
“No,” said Raymond.
“No,” said Chevron Chairman David J. O’Reilly.
“We did not, no,” Mulva said.
“To be honest, I don’t know,” said BP America chief executive Ross
Pillari, who came to the job in August 2001. “I wasn’t here then.”
“But your company was here,” Lautenberg replied.
“Yes,” Pillari said.
Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, who has held his job since
earlier this year, answered last. “Not to my knowledge,” he said.
“In the late spring of 2001, Vice President Cheney held a series of
top secret meetings with the representatives of Exxon-Mobil, Conoco, Shell and BP America for what was later called the Energy Task force. Their job, ostensibly, was to map out America’s Energy future. Since late 2001 several public interest groups, including the very conservative Judicial Watch, sued to have the proceedings of those meetings opened to public scrutiny. In March 2002, the Commerce Department turned over a few documents from the Task-force meetings to Judicial Watch, among which was the map of Iraq’s Oil Fields, dated March 2001 (above) and a list of the existing “Foreign Suitors” for Iraq Oil. Since that time, Cheney’s office has fought fiercely (and so far, successfully), right up to the Supreme Court, to keep the proceeding secret and to keep any of the private industry officials from disclosing any information about the meetings. Since we all now know the Bush administration’s energy policy, there can be only one explanation for the extraordinary efforts Cheney has taken to keep this secret-he was discussing the potential for a takeover of Iraq’s oil with the companies that might manage the resource, even before 9/11 gave him the excuse to do it.
A little context would be helpful. In early 2001, the Saudi’s were growing impatient that the large American Military presence in their land was causing tension from Muslim clerics who joined Bin Laden’s 1996 call for the “infidel to leave the Holy places of Islam”. In late 2001, the Saudi’s prevented the U.S. from using our Saudi Air Base for attacks on Afghanistan. As the New York Times reported, our departure from Saudi Arabia was abrupt.
The Prince Sultan base, which at the height of the war this spring housed 10,000 American troops and 200 planes, has now been supplanted as the Middle East’s main American military air operations center by Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. This last phase of the American departure from the base occurred with almost no fanfare, attracting only minor mention in the Saudi press. “It was as if they were never here,” a senior Saudi official said. “They left very quietly.” Most of the senior policy makers in the Bush administration had as early as January 26, 1998 (while they were still out of power) made explicit their Iraq regime change policy in an extraordinary open letter to President Clinton.
In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
So for Cheney in the spring of 2001, the desired outcome of U.S. control of Iraq was not in doubt. What was of concern as you can see from the “Oil Suitor List” (here and here) was that both China and Russia had signed “production sharing contracts” with the Iraq Oil Ministry to develop most of the major fields. The reason this becomes important now is that with yesterday’s agreement in the Iraqi Parliament over Amnesty and Revenue Sharing, the American Embassy is now pushing hard for an Iraq Oil Law which would open up huge new concessions to the Oil Companies that were part of Cheney’s Task force. This rush for a new law confuses the Iraqis.
And as Tariq Shafiq, one of the three-member team charged with drafting the petroleum law for the Iraq Ministry of Oil suggested at the hearing, because Iraq itself doesn’t need to develop those untapped reserves for another decade, pressure to immediately implement any provision that would open them up for exploration and development “fuels the argument” that the Americans and British “are there for the oil.”
There has been a very informed discussion on these pages recently,
about the role of U.S. Hard Power in a world increasingly dominated by economic and cultural Soft Power moves by our commercial rivals around the globe. If we are to have an honest discussion about imperialism, mercantilism and the role of our government in an everchanging landscape, wouldn’t shining a little sunlight on the discussions of the Cheney Energy Task-force be a place to start?”
IT’S NOT CONSPIRACY IF THEY GAVE A PRESS CONFERENCE
January 26, 1998
The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.
The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished. Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons production. The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam’s secrets. As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.
Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East. It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.
Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.
We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.
Elliott Abrams Richard L. Armitage William J. Bennett
Jeffrey Bergner John Bolton Paula Dobriansky
Francis Fukuyama Robert Kagan Zalmay Khalilzad
William Kristol Richard Perle Peter W. Rodman
Donald Rumsfeld William Schneider, Jr. Vin Weber
Paul Wolfowitz R. James Woolsey Robert B. Zoellick