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
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
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
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
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
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 YOU GIVE 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
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
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