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Big Oil’s Slick No-bid Contracts Will Keep us Mired in Iraq

June 20th, 2008 - by admin

Cynthia Tucker . Atlanta Journal-Constitution & Andrew W. Kramer / The New York Times – 2008-06-20 23:06:26


Big Oil’s Slick No-bid Contracts Will Keep us Mired in Iraq
Cynthia Tucker . Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA (June 22, 2008) — Didn’t you just know this was coming?

A consortium of Western oil companies — the very definition of Big Oil — is on the verge of receiving no-bid contracts in Iraq, giving them access to one of the most sought-after prizes in the petroleum industry, according to The New York Times. Can it be mere coincidence that the leading companies in the deal — ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Total — are the very same companies that Saddam Hussein threw out when he nationalized the Iraqi oil industry more than three decades ago?

The American public has been reassured, repeatedly, that petroleum had absolutely nothing to do with the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq. President Bush, the oilman from Texas, has scoffed at the idea. So has Vice President Dick Cheney.

When I raised the specter of “petroleum wars” in a column dated Sept. 9, 2002, just as Bush was selling the idea that Saddam posed an imminent threat, I was assailed by critics, who called me “naive,” among other choice descriptives. While I never believed that oil was the only reason for toppling Saddam, my critics weren’t willing to concede petroleum played any role. (“The Bush administration is saturated with oil industry bigwigs. … Their natural mindset is to assume that oil must be consumed ever more abundantly, even if that means going to war to preserve access to the supply,” I wrote.)

Yet despite the vociferous denials, the four original partners of the Iraq Petroleum Co. (a misnomer, since all the companies are multinationals based in the U.S. or Western Europe) are about to receive contracts that allow them to service the fields in the country with the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves. According to The New York Times, these are service contracts — paying the companies for their work — instead of the more lucrative licenses for oil deposits. But the contracts will give the global oil giants a leg up on more lucrative deals later on.

“It’s been a long road, but the oil companies seem set to get much of what they have been seeking,” said James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum. “The Iraqi public is overwhelmingly opposed to this privatization of Iraqi oil, just like they are overwhelmingly opposed to the so-called security pact with the U.S.”

Not that the opinions of Iraqis matter to everybody. There is a rather significant segment of Americans who believe that we have a God-given right to take what we want (though they’d never be so forthright in saying so). The United States is the world’s remaining superpower; we have the biggest, baddest military. A belief in American exceptionalism leads some of us to think that we should stand astride the globe.

Writing in the London Review of Books in October 2007, American journalist Jim Holt observed that “the US may be ‘stuck’ exactly where Bush et al want it to be,” in a country with as much as 300 billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves.

“Among the winners: oil-services companies like Halliburton; the oil companies themselves (the profits will be unimaginable …); US voters, who will be guaranteed price stability at the gas pump (which sometimes seems to be all they care about),” Holt wrote.

And even those Americans who recoil from the notion that “might makes right” would be hard-pressed to object to a deal that allows Big Oil to extract more petroleum from Iraq’s rich fields. After all, gas is $4 a gallon. Aren’t we salvaging some good out of a rotten war if access to Iraqi oil drives down the price?

Perhaps. But that’s not the only cost. To protect those oil fields, the U.S. would have to station troops in Iraq indefinitely. That may explain why Bush has been so determined to work out a deal for more or less permanent military bases before he leaves office.

The war in Iraq has already lasted longer than U.S. involvement in World War II, and the projected cost is around a trillion dollars. That doesn’t count the human toll — more than 4,000 U.S. troops dead and tens of thousands maimed and shattered, physically or mentally. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and millions displaced.

The U.S. government could have spent $500 billion on an Apollo mission-like search for alternative energy and still had about $500 billion to hand to Americans as gasoline subsidies. And we would have been well on the way toward freeing ourselves from the troubled Middle East.

Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor. Her column appears Sundays and Wednesdays.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back
Andrew W. Kramer / The New York Times

BAGHDAD (June 19, 2008) — Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.

The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.

The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.

There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract. The Bush administration has said that the war was necessary to combat terrorism. It is not clear what role the United States played in awarding the contracts; there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.

Sensitive to the appearance that they were profiting from the war and already under pressure because of record high oil prices, senior officials of two of the companies, speaking only on the condition that they not be identified, said they were helping Iraq rebuild its decrepit oil industry.

For an industry being frozen out of new ventures in the world’s dominant oil-producing countries, from Russia to Venezuela, Iraq offers a rare and prized opportunity.

While enriched by $140 per barrel oil, the oil majors are also struggling to replace their reserves as ever more of the world’s oil patch becomes off limits. Governments in countries like Bolivia and Venezuela are nationalizing their oil industries or seeking a larger share of the record profits for their national budgets. Russia and Kazakhstan have forced the major companies to renegotiate contracts.

The Iraqi government’s stated goal in inviting back the major companies is to increase oil production by half a million barrels per day by attracting modern technology and expertise to oil fields now desperately short of both. The revenue would be used for reconstruction, although the Iraqi government has had trouble spending the oil revenues it now has, in part because of bureaucratic inefficiency.

For the American government, increasing output in Iraq, as elsewhere, serves the foreign policy goal of increasing oil production globally to alleviate the exceptionally tight supply that is a cause of soaring prices.

The Iraqi Oil Ministry, through a spokesman, said the no-bid contracts were a stop-gap measure to bring modern skills into the fields while the oil law was pending in Parliament.

It said the companies had been chosen because they had been advising the ministry without charge for two years before being awarded the contracts, and because these companies had the needed technology.

A Shell spokeswoman hinted at the kind of work the companies might be engaged in. “We can confirm that we have submitted a conceptual proposal to the Iraqi authorities to minimize current and future gas flaring in the south through gas gathering and utilization,” said the spokeswoman, Marnie Funk. “The contents of the proposal are confidential.”

While small, the deals hold great promise for the companies.

“The bigger prize everybody is waiting for is development of the giant new fields,” Leila Benali, an authority on Middle East oil at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said in a telephone interview from the firm’s Paris office. The current contracts, she said, are a “foothold” in Iraq for companies striving for these longer-term deals.

Any Western oil official who comes to Iraq would require heavy security, exposing the companies to all the same logistical nightmares that have hampered previous attempts, often undertaken at huge cost, to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure.

And work in the deserts and swamps that contain much of Iraq’s oil reserves would be virtually impossible unless carried out solely by Iraqi subcontractors, who would likely be threatened by insurgents for cooperating with Western companies.

Yet at today’s oil prices, there is no shortage of companies coveting a contract in Iraq. It is not only one of the few countries where oil reserves are up for grabs, but also one of the few that is viewed within the industry as having considerable potential to rapidly increase production.

David Fyfe, a Middle East analyst at the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based group that monitors oil production for the developed countries, said he believed that Iraq’s output could increase to about 3 million barrels a day from its current 2.5 million, though it would probably take longer than the six months the Oil Ministry estimated.

Mr. Fyfe’s organization estimated that repair work on existing fields could bring Iraq’s output up to roughly four million barrels per day within several years. After new fields are tapped, Iraq is expected to reach a plateau of about six million barrels per day, Mr. Fyfe said, which could suppress current world oil prices.

The contracts, the two oil company officials said, are a continuation of work the companies had been conducting here to assist the Oil Ministry under two-year-old memorandums of understanding. The companies provided free advice and training to the Iraqis. This relationship with the ministry, said company officials and an American diplomat, was a reason the contracts were not opened to competitive bidding.

A total of 46 companies, including the leading oil companies of China, India and Russia, had memorandums of understanding with the Oil Ministry, yet were not awarded contracts.

The no-bid deals are structured as service contracts. The companies will be paid for their work, rather than offered a license to the oil deposits. As such, they do not require the passage of an oil law setting out terms for competitive bidding. The legislation has been stalled by disputes among Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties over revenue sharing and other conditions.

The first oil contracts for the majors in Iraq are exceptional for the oil industry.

They include a provision that could allow the companies to reap large profits at today’s prices: the ministry and companies are negotiating payment in oil rather than cash.

“These are not actually service contracts,” Ms. Benali said. “They were designed to circumvent the legislative stalemate” and bring Western companies with experience managing large projects into Iraq before the passage of the oil law.

A clause in the draft contracts would allow the companies to match bids from competing companies to retain the work once it is opened to bidding, according to the Iraq country manager for a major oil company who did not consent to be cited publicly discussing the terms.

Assem Jihad, the Oil Ministry spokesman, said the ministry chose companies it was comfortable working with under the charitable memorandum of understanding agreements, and for their technical prowess. “Because of that, they got the priority,” he said.

In all cases but one, the same company that had provided free advice to the ministry for work on a specific field was offered the technical support contract for that field, one of the companies’ officials said.

The exception is the West Qurna field in southern Iraq, outside Basra. There, the Russian company Lukoil, which claims a Hussein-era contract for the field, had been providing free training to Iraqi engineers, but a consortium of Chevron and Total, a French company, was offered the contract. A spokesman for Lukoil declined to comment.

Charles Ries, the chief economic official in the American Embassy in Baghdad, described the no-bid contracts as a bridging mechanism to bring modern technology into the fields before the oil law was passed, and as an extension of the earlier work without charge.

To be sure, these are not the first foreign oil contracts in Iraq, and all have proved contentious.

The Kurdistan regional government, which in many respects functions as an independent entity in northern Iraq, has concluded a number of deals. Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, for example, signed a production-sharing agreement with the regional government last fall, though its legality is questioned by the central Iraqi government. The technical support agreements, however, are the first commercial work by the major oil companies in Iraq.

The impact, experts say, could be remarkable increases in Iraqi oil output.

While the current contracts are unrelated to the companies’ previous work in Iraq, in a twist of corporate history for some of the world’s largest companies, all four oil majors that had lost their concessions in Iraq are now back.

But a spokesman for Exxon said the company’s approach to Iraq was no different from its work elsewhere.

“Consistent with our longstanding, global business strategy, ExxonMobil would pursue business opportunities as they arise in Iraq, just as we would in other countries in which we are permitted to operate,” the spokesman, Len D’Eramo, said in an e-mailed statement.

But the company is clearly aware of the history. In an interview with Newsweek last fall, the former chief executive of Exxon, Lee Raymond, praised Iraq’s potential as an oil-producing country and added that Exxon was in a position to know. “There is an enormous amount of oil in Iraq,” Mr. Raymond said. “We were part of the consortium, the four companies that were there when Saddam Hussein threw us out, and we basically had the whole country.”

James Glanz and Jad Mouawad contributed reporting from New York.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Says Exercise by Israel Seemed Directed at Iran

June 20th, 2008 - by admin

Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt / The New York Times – 2008-06-20 22:55:10

WASHINGTON (June 20, 2008) — Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.

The exercise also included Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue downed pilots. The helicopters and refueling tankers flew more than 900 miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, American officials said.

Israeli officials declined to discuss the details of the exercise. A spokesman for the Israeli military would say only that the country’s air force “regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel.”

But the scope of the Israeli exercise virtually guaranteed that it would be noticed by American and other foreign intelligence agencies. A senior Pentagon official who has been briefed on the exercise, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the matter, said the exercise appeared to serve multiple purposes.

One Israeli goal, the Pentagon official said, was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other details of a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear installations and its long-range conventional missiles.

A second, the official said, was to send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter.

“They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know,” the Pentagon official said. “There’s a lot of signaling going on at different levels.”

Several American officials said they did not believe that the Israeli government had concluded that it must attack Iran and did not think that such a strike was imminent.

Shaul Mofaz, a former Israeli defense minister who is now a deputy prime minister, warned in a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot that Israel might have no choice but to attack. “If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack,” Mr. Mofaz said in the interview published on June 6, the day after the unpublicized exercise ended. “Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable.”

But Mr. Mofaz was criticized by other Israeli politicians as seeking to enhance his own standing as questions mount about whether the embattled Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, can hang on to power.

Israeli officials have told their American counterparts that Mr. Mofaz’s statement does not represent official policy. But American officials were also told that Israel had prepared plans for striking nuclear targets in Iran and could carry them out if needed.

Iran has shown signs that it is taking the Israeli warnings seriously, by beefing up its air defenses in recent weeks, including increasing air patrols. In one instance, Iran scrambled F-4 jets to double-check an Iraqi civilian flight from Baghdad to Tehran.

“They are clearly nervous about this and have their air defense on guard,” a Bush administration official said of the Iranians.

Any Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities would confront a number of challenges. Many American experts say they believe that such an attack could delay but not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Much of the program’s infrastructure is buried under earth and concrete and installed in long tunnels or hallways, making precise targeting difficult. There is also concern that not all of the facilities have been detected. To inflict maximum damage, multiple attacks might be necessary, which many analysts say is beyond Israel’s ability at this time.

But waiting also entails risks for the Israelis. Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed fears that Iran will soon master the technology it needs to produce substantial quantities of highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

Iran is also taking steps to better defend its nuclear facilities. Two sets of advance Russian-made radar systems were recently delivered to Iran. The radar will enhance Iran’s ability to detect planes flying at low altitude.

Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, said in February that Iran was close to acquiring Russian-produced SA-20 surface-to-air missiles. American military officials said that the deployment of such systems would hamper Israel’s attack planning, putting pressure on Israel to act before the missiles are fielded.

For both the United States and Israel, Iran’s nuclear program has been a persistent worry. A National Intelligence Estimate that was issued in December by American intelligence agencies asserted that Iran had suspended work on weapons design in late 2003. The report stated that it was unclear if that work had resumed. It also noted that Iran’s work on uranium enrichment and on missiles, two steps that Iran would need to take to field a nuclear weapon, had continued.

In late May, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran’s suspected work on nuclear matters was a “matter of serious concern” and that the Iranians owed the agency “substantial explanations.”

Over the past three decades, Israel has carried out two unilateral attacks against suspected nuclear sites in the Middle East. In 1981, Israeli jets conducted a raid against Iraq’s nuclear plant at Osirak after concluding that it was part of Saddam Hussein’s program to develop nuclear weapons. In September, Israeli aircraft bombed a structure in Syria that American officials said housed a nuclear reactor built with the aid of North Korea.

The United States protested the Israeli strike against Iraq in 1981, but its comments in recent months have amounted to an implicit endorsement of the Israeli strike in Syria.

Pentagon officials said that Israel’s air forces usually conducted a major early summer training exercise, often flying over the Mediterranean or training ranges in Turkey where they practice bombing runs and aerial refueling. But the exercise this month involved a larger number of aircraft than had been previously observed, and included a lengthy combat rescue mission.

Much of the planning appears to reflect a commitment by Israel’s military leaders to ensure that its armed forces are adequately equipped and trained, an imperative driven home by the difficulties the Israeli military encountered in its Lebanon operation against Hezbollah.

“They rehearse it, rehearse it and rehearse it, so if they actually have to do it, they’re ready,” the Pentagon official said. “They’re not taking any options off the table.”

© 2008 The New York Times

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Iraqi Refugees, America’s Shame

June 20th, 2008 - by admin

Medea Benjamin / Common Dreams – 2008-06-20 22:53:50


(June 20, 2008) — Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf is obviously tired of talking to the stream of well-meaning foreigners who have been traipsing through Syria to learn about the plight of the over one million Iraqi refugees now living here. Humanitarian groups, religious delegations, migration experts. They write reports full of lofty recommendations. So much talk, so little action.

A Syrian nun at the Good Shephard Convent in Damascus, Sister Marie-Claude had work to do attending to the crisis of the day — an Iraqi girl who had been raped in Baghdad, then dumped on the Syrian border and disowned by her family. Reluctantly, she agreed to give me 10 minutes of her time. An hour later, she was still talking about the horrors she has seen.

“It’s shameful, shameful,” she cried, her head in her hands. “What has happened to the Iraqi people is shameful. Girls sold into prostitution, single mothers begging for handouts, men with no jobs, no future, no hope. And the people of the United States, whose government unleashed this disaster of epic proportions, don’t seem to know or care.”

The invasion and the ensuing spiral of violence has led to the most massive displacement in the Middle East since the creation of the state Israel in 1948. Some 1.2 million Iraqis fled to Syria before the Syrian government, its schools and hospitals overwhelmed and local people reeling from soaring rents and food prices, closed its doors in October 2007. The Jordanian government allowed some 500,000 Iraqis to enter the country but has also closed its borders.

Some refugees are wealthy Iraqis who worked with Saddam’s government and cashed out when he was overthrown. They reside in the wealthy sections of Amman, living off their savings. But the vast majority of refugees are middle class and poor Iraqis who fled the post-invasion meltdown. Most are not just fleeing the generalized violence, but experienced personal tragedies at the hands of U.S. soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, sectarian militias, Al-Qaeda fanatics or criminal gangs that thrive on social disintegration.

Layla Atiya is a 50-year-old woman from Baghdad whom I met outside the UN food distribution center in Damascus. She was a Shia who married a Sunni, something very common pre-invasion. They had a large family — eight children — but Layla’s husband worked hard as a mechanic and managed to provide a decent life for his family.

In March 2005, he was kidnapped by Shia militias trying to rid the neighborhood of Sunnis. Ten days later, his body was found dumped in a ditch, riddled with drill holes from torture.

Layla’s face twisted in pain as she recounted receiving his mangled body. “We should have fled right away,” she said, “but I was in shock and didn’t’ know what to do, where to go.” A week later, masked men came and took away her oldest son. Hysterical, she packed up the seven remaining children — ages 2-16 — and fled to Syria.

Layla receives $120 a month from the UN, but it doesn’t even cover her rent. Education is important to her — “We always dreamed of our children going to college,” she told me — but she pulled her children out of school to clean houses and do other menial tasks. Iraqis are not legally allowed to work in Jordan or Syria, so many parents send their children to work at low-paid jobs under the table. “What can I do?,” she asked me. “I can barely feed my children, much less provide them with a decent future. What will become of us?”

Severely traumatized and terrified, most refugees can’t even contemplate going back to Iraq. But they can’t stay in Jordan or Syria either, for they are not allowed to work and have depleted their savings. Bassam Rahem, for example, owned a small car repair shop in Baghdad. A Christian, he was kidnapped by Shia militia and his wife was forced to pay $25,000 for his release. “We came here with our two children and what was left of our life savings-$10,000. Between rent, food, transport and school for our boys, we have nothing left. We have been applying for resettlement in another country — Australia, Canada, the United States, Sweden. But it has been two years now, and we don’t even get replies.”

Most refugees want to resettle in a third country where they will be allowed to work and have a chance to rebuild their lives. Sweden, a country that was against the occupation from the beginning, has been the most generous, taking in more Iraqis than the rest of Europe and the United States combined. The U.S., on the other hand, has been pitiful. “While the UN refugee agency has worked to identify tens of thousands of vulnerable Iraqis for resettlement, the U.S. has been slow to bring these Iraqis to refuge, and has failed to meet even its own modest goals,” said Amelia Templeton, refugee advocate at Human Rights First. The U.S. target for 2008 is 12,000 Iraqis. Even if the goal is met, which is unlikely, it represents a tiny fraction of the millions in need.

Some of the neediest women have turned to prostitution, or worse yet, have sold their daughters into prostitution. The Damascus night club Al Rawabi, with a cover charge of $35 and bottles of liquor going for $100, was packed when I visited on a Friday night. Young Iraqi girls danced suggestively on the stage, the men — mostly Iraqi — eyeing which ones they would like to have sex with. The atmosphere of forced merrymaking — dancing, drinking, smoking hookas — failed to camouflage the collective stupor.

At 4 am, the Iraqi singer they had all been waiting for got on stage. He sang of love and loss, not for a woman but for a country. “What happened to the country we love? What happened to us, a people without a home?,” he wailed. For a moment, the whole room was united — prostitutes and their johns, Muslims and Christians, old and young. They waved their hands in the air, their eyes teary. “What has happened to us, a people without a home?,” they repeated.

Many Iraqis think the United States has been carefully carrying out a diabolical scheme to obliterate their culture, their people, their sense of nationhood. “The U.S. wanted to turn a strong, proud Muslim country into a weak, divided, pitiful territory that could be easil dominated and controlled,” said Faisal Al-Alawi, an Iraqi PhD in history who lives in Syria but refuses to call himself a refugee. “Thanks to the Americans, our modern, secular society has now disintegrated into tribalism, sectarianism, barbarism and fundamentalism, with Sunnis pitted against Shia, Christians against Muslims, Muslims against Muslims. Iraq is no longer even a nation-state.”

Intentionally or not, the U.S. government has brought Iraq to its knees. The best and brightest are gone, and even if the violence quells, most will not return. The education and health care systems that were once the jewels of the Middle East are now in tatters, with most of the academics and doctors murdered or in exile. This fiercely proud people who gave the world its earliest civilizations have be reduced to beggars, waiting on food lines for handouts or selling their bodies to feed their children.

As I was leaving the UN food distribution center in Damascus, Layla Atiya, the widow with seven children, touched my arm. “Can you tell me one thing?,” she pleaded. “Why did America do this to us? What did we do to America to make her hate us so?”

I had no words to answer, only tears.

Medea Benjamin (medea@globalexchange.org) is cofounder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange.

• If you would like to support Iraqi refugees, you can send a donation to the Collateral Repair Project through www.codepinkalert.org.

EAW Editor on Assignment: June 21-July 6

June 20th, 2008 - by admin

– 2008-06-20 22:51:35

EAW’s Web editor will be out of the country for two weeks beginning Saturday, June 21. We will return on July 7. Please celebrate Independence Day by continuing to defend the U.S. Constitution against “all enemies domestic and foreign.”

Ralph Nader on John McCain, Barack Obama and the American People

June 19th, 2008 - by admin

Amy Goodman & Ralph Nader / Democracy Now – 2008-06-19 23:11:37


AMY GOODMAN: As Barack Obama and John McCain trade barbs over issues ranging from Guantanamo and Iraq to Social Security and taxes, there is little in-depth analysis of their policy positions. There’s even less coverage of third party candidates.

Back in February, Ralph Nader announced his third bid for the presidency on Tim Russert’s Meet the Press.

RALPH NADER: [Audio tape]: One feels an obligation, Tim, to try to open the doorways; to try to get better ballot access; to respect dissent in America and the terms of third parties and independent candidates; to recognize historically the great issues have come in our history, against slavery, women rights to vote, and worker and farmer progressives, through little parties that never won any national election. Dissent is the mother of ascent. And in that context, I have decided to run for president.

AMY GOODMAN: Tonight, Ralph Nader is holding a rally here in New York at Symphony Space. He joins us now in Washington, D.C., where actually the private funeral for Tim Russert is being held, as people are gathering at this hour.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Ralph.

RALPH NADER: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. First, your thoughts on Tim Russert. It was on his broadcast, on Meet the Press, in February, on February 24th, that you made your announcement of your presidential bid.

RALPH NADER: Well, the last conversation I had with Tim Russert, maybe a month and a half ago, he told me how much he believed in intellectual tension on his program. He used that phrase, “intellectual tension.” I think that marked his willingness to have, other than the normal redundant Washington politicians on his show, although he had plenty of those, but I think why thousands of people lined up near the Washington Cathedral to pay their respects yesterday is because he had the human touch. He was the busiest mega-journalist in Washington; he ran the Washington office, he was on Meet the Press, he had a book review program on cable, he was on call by MSNBC and NBC all the time. And yet, no Washington journalist of his stature returned more calls to more people. So it wasn’t just an empty PR gesture on his part. I think he really was from South Buffalo.

AMY GOODMAN: You don’t have much access to the corporate media. Why do you think that is?

RALPH NADER: Well, I think the blackout has been exceptional in the last three, four months. Stephanopoulos was heard to say that the Tim Russert show was about the most publicity I would get for the whole campaign. And, of course, he hasn’t had me on, and Wolf Blitzer hasn’t had me on, and Bob Schieffer hasn’t had me on. It’s rather sad to see, because they get higher ratings, there’s more excitement-Tim Russert said he heard from people all over the world after my announcement on his show. And the networks, of course, have almost blacked out all third party independent candidates, except maybe Ron Paul.

Why is it? Well, if you look at our website, votenader.org, you’ll see why: because we have a shift of power agenda. We want to galvanize the citizenry. We want to get them involved in shaping the campaign in city after city by getting citizen coalitions together to invite these candidates as they go through the city to their own auditoriums to respond to their own agendas. And when we talk about aggressive crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse, that’s on our table; it’s not on McCain/Obama’s table, not on the corporate media’s table to discuss, although the corporate media reports it every day.

We have a security speculation tax. $500 trillion in security derivatives are going to be traded this year. A tiny tax on those transactions would relieve the federal income tax up $100,000 on American workers. We have solar energy, instead of nuclear power. We have single-payer health insurance, which replaces the health insurance moguls and their enormous administrative and bureaucratic waste and their denial of doctor discretion and their “pay or die” policies in America, unlike all Western democracies.

So, you can see in many ways that we favor workers, and we favor consumers, and we favor small taxpayers, we favor the environment to the expense of corporate power. I mean, the issue here is centralized corporate power. And that’s why day after day, whether through demonstrations in front of toady government agencies and trade associations in Washington to campaigning with people and their controversies for justice all over the country, we have made our website, votenader.org, a very vivid, vivacious website for people who want to volunteer, who want to get engaged, who want to contribute money to our campaign. We take no commercial money or PACs, so we rely on individuals.

So, to sum it up, really, our campaign is to subordinate corporate power to the sovereignty of the people. Why is that a radical notion? Doesn’t the Constitution start with “We the people”?

And speaking of the Constitution, we are strongly for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. It’s never too late for impeachment or demanding a resignation, the way Nixon and Agnew had to resign, or after they leave office as fugitives from justice on January 21st, to invoke appropriate law to prosecute Bush and Cheney for their recidivist, criminal and anti-constitutional behavior day after day, from the criminal war in Iraq to systemic torture, to imprisoning people without charges, to wiretapping them without judicial approval, and to have signing statements that the American Bar Association has condemned, where Bush says, “I’ll sign these laws, 800 of them, but I’ll decide whether I’m going to obey them or not.”

I think Chuck Hagel put it all in one sum statement, Amy, when he said a few weeks ago-he’s a Republican from Nebraska, Senator Chuck Hagel-he said, quote, “We tried a monarchy once. It didn’t work,” end-quote.

AMY GOODMAN: What do think of Chuck Hagel as a vice-presidential running mate-yes, the Republican senator-for Barack Obama, one of the names that’s being bandied about?

RALPH NADER: Well, he thinks for himself. And that’s about the best you can expect of a politician these days. Senator Jim Webb, Senator Chuck Hagel, they think for themselves. They’re not robotic minds. They’re not completely monetized minds. And they’re Vietnam veterans. So, in today’s politics, that puts them forward.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, on his first day as the Democrats’ presumptive nominee, Barack Obama traveled to Washington to address AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This is some of what he had to say.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: [Audio tape]: Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state-the Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper, but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.

AMY GOODMAN: Obama later appeared to backtrack on his comments about the future status of Jerusalem as capital in a follow-up interview on CNN. He said it would be up to the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. Ralph Nader?

RALPH NADER: Well, I think Barack Obama is in training to become panderer-in-chief. That was really a disgraceful speech. It didn’t further the peace process, the two-state solution favored by a majority of Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, a majority of Israeli and Palestinian people. He basically sided with the militaristic approach to occupying, repressing, colonizing, destroying the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. He hasn’t even spoken out against the international crime of the blockade of Gaza, one-and-a-half million people, from medicine or drinking water, fuel, electricity, food — lots of silent fatalities in Gaza because of that.

Barack Obama really now has to be examined very carefully. He has worn out the word “change.” We now want to know what change is involved. And it’s quite clear that he is a corporate candidate from A to Z. In his voting record, he voted against reform of the Mining Act of 1872, which gives away our hard rock minerals. He voted for a terrible class-action restriction law that the corporations wanted him to vote for.

He, in many ways, has disappointed people who had greater hopes for him. He’s voted for reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. He refuses to even discuss-he’s vigorously against impeachment of Bush and Cheney. He won’t even support his colleague Senator Russ Feingold motion to censure the Bush administration for systemic repeated illegal wiretaps. He — you know, he’s letting the corporate-dominated city of Washington, the corporations who actually rule us now in Washington, determine his agenda. And that does not augur well.

He’s just appointed economic advisers right out of the Robert Rubin school of Citigroup and the University of Chicago. His Middle East advisers involve people who actually helped write his AIPAC speech. You know, it’s a sad thing to see, because he knows better, but he’s suppressing himself repeatedly until he becomes a different person, should he be elected president.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate, longtime consumer advocate. He has announced in the last months his third bid for the presidency. We’ll be back with him in a minute.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Ralph Nader, Independent presidential candidate, holding a rally this evening at Symphony Space in New York. Ralph Nader, when we interviewed you when you set up your exploratory committee, you said that you would need, to run-you’d like to raise $10 million to have a viable campaign. How is your fundraising going? Have you reached that goal?

RALPH NADER: Well, with matching funds, we’re moving in on $2 million, but the Federal Election Commission still doesn’t have a quorum. But we hope to pick up-more and more people now are contributing. We’ve gotten some major contributions from former Hillary Clinton supporters who are turned off the process. And more and more people are coming in at lower denominations-$10, $20, $50, $100-from around the country.

And we’re looking for fundraisers. We’re looking for people to help us with media outreach, looking for computer experts. We want fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds to help us on YouTube with our effort to get the sixteen-year-old vote, which will help mature politically our teenagers who are often too wedded to video screens.

We’re trying to propose dramatic innovations, like votepact.org is proposing, to get over this problem where disenchanted Democrats vote for the Democrats because they can’t abide the Republicans, and disenchanted Republicans vote for the Republicans because they can’t abide the Democrats. And what Vote Pact does is it gives people-for example, a disenchanted Republican and a disenchanted Democrat get together, and they say, “Let’s vote for the Nader-Gonzalez ticket.” And that way, a third party has a chance, because we all know that if we don’t break up the two-party elected dictatorship, the duopoly, with instant run-off voting or public financing or ballot access reform, or binding none of the above, all of these can only be done through legislation by the two-parties who don’t want to change the system. So we’ve got to take it into our own hands.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, I wanted to play for you two clips, one of Barack Obama and one of McCain. This is Barack Obama speaking about Iran.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: [Audio tape]: We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything.

AMY GOODMAN: On the campaign trail, John McCain accused Obama of being naive on Iran.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN [Audio tape]: My friends, they are developing nuclear weapons. Also what is totally unsatisfactory is that the Iranians are making, are manufacturing and shipping into Iraq the most lethal explosive devices that are killing young Americans. That’s not acceptable. And Senator Obama wants to sit down without any precondition across the table and negotiate with this individual. My friends, that’s not right, and that’s naive. And that shows a lack of experience and a lack of judgment.

AMY GOODMAN: McCain’s position and then your assessment of Obama?

RALPH NADER: Well, it recalls Michael Abramowitz in the Washington Post in March and New York Times reporters a few weeks later saying that if Obama or Clinton were elected president, the foreign and military policy would not be much different than the foreign and military policy of George Bush in his second term. And that illustrates that. The military-industrial complex and the politicians like Obama and McCain who support it-$700 billion, over half of the federal government’s operating expenditure now is the military budget-are desperately looking for enemies, desperately exaggerating enemies.

Iran has not invaded anybody in 250 years. Yet it’s obviously frightened. It’s surrounded by the US military west, south, east. It’s been labeled “Axis of Evil” by Bush, who invaded Iraq after he labeled them “Axis of Evil.” We have Special Forces, according to Sy Hersh, that go in and out of Iran. What are they going to do? They talk very belligerently nationally, but they’re really scared. I mean, we supported Saddam Hussein, logistically and with materiel, in invading Iran, which took a half a million Iranian lives. They remember the shooting down of their civilian airliner years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me ask you something, Ralph Nader. Who do you think would be more likely to bomb Iran, to attack Iran, or have a surrogate do it: John McCain or Barack Obama?

RALPH NADER: I don’t know. I would like to say that McCain would be more likely. Bush is more likely, before he leaves office. The point is that we are exaggerating that threat instead of using diplomacy, number one. Number two: Iran does not have nuclear weapons; they’re nowhere near nuclear weapons, according to intelligence estimates. Number three: Israel has 250 nuclear weapons. Does Iran really want to commit suicide? And number four: two major national security experts in Israel have been reported as saying Iran is not a problem. So why are we beating the drums, and why is Obama falling for this kind of trap?

And that’s a — you know, Matt Gonzalez, my running mate, wrote a 3,000-word evaluation of Obama, basically saying “count me out,” meaning him from supporting Obama. It’s on our website, votenader.org. B

ut all this, Amy, reflects the non-engagement of the American people. What’s left for the American people to decide? They have to take the reins of their government. They have to become more engaged in this campaign. They have to demand that these candidates come to their cities and towns and listen to them and answer their questions, instead of these slick journeys that these campaigns involve with their advance people and their slogans through one town and state after the other.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about Matt Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive’s piece that he wrote that’s called “Don’t Worry About Nader.” He said, “Hardly any of the tiny few who may vote for Nader would otherwise go to the Democrats in the fall, anyway. They’d vote for Cynthia McKinney or some other third party candidate, or they would write someone in, or they wouldn’t vote for anyone for president. Still, Nader serves as a reminder that the Democrats don’t automatically own the votes of those who disagree with the Republican agenda, and that Barack Obama is not as progressive as many of his supporters would hope.” That was Matt Rothschild, who was your co-treasurer, supported you in 2000 in your bid against Al Gore.

RALPH NADER: And worked in our office as a newly minted graduate from Harvard. I think that’s ungracious of him. I think he should look at our website and see what the polls are showing. The most recent Associated Press poll has Nader-Gonzalez at six percent, without any national coverage, against McCain and Obama.

But I think his dilemma is what votepact.org is trying to resolve. I think he supports our agenda, but he goes for the least worst. And he’s very critical of the Democrats, but obviously he dislikes the Republicans more. This is a trap that millions of liberals and progressives have fallen into. That is, by going for the least worst, namely the Democratic nominee, they don’t make any demands on the Democratic nominee, because they’re so freaked out of the possibility the Republican may win; therefore, they’re not pulling Obama in the area of peace and justice and a carbon tax and-see?

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me ask you something. Are you, Ralph Nader, freaked out at the possibility that a Republican would win?

RALPH NADER: Oh, yes, I am. And my critique of John McCain, as it was of George W. Bush, will be far more detailed and more excoriating and more grounded than the Democrats are willing to advance themselves. And so, you know, I said to Kerry, “Look at the critique that I’m making of Bush in 2004.” And he didn’t look very hard. He blurred his positions with Gore-with, rather, Bush, and therefore lost more votes than he should have, because he didn’t have a bright line on things like anti-corporate welfare, a crackdown on corporate crime against pensions and workers, etc., strong consumer protection, a carbon tax, etc.

I mean, here’s an example. Gore just endorsed Obama. Gore is vigorously for a carbon tax, against his cap and trade manipulation. Is he going the pull Obama toward a carbon tax, or is he going to say, “Oh, Obama is not as bad as McCain. We’ve got to support Obama critically.” The corporations are pulling Obama every day, every day, twenty-four/seven, in their direction. If all these liberal groups with all their single issues are not pulling in the other direction, where do you think the Democratic Party and the nominee is going to go? Even if they’re elected, they won’t have any mandate. And we have to become very rigorous here. And I hope Matt Rothschild writes another editorial that reflects his intellect, rather than his desperation.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, you said in 2000 it doesn’t really matter whether Gore or Bush is president. Do you feel that way today?

RALPH NADER: I didn’t say that. I said the similarities between Bush and Gore tower over the dwindling real differences that they’re willing to argue over. And, of course, my focus is not on some of the single issues. Obviously, Gore is better on Social Security, better on Medicare, better on gay, lesbian rights. Obviously in those areas, the Democrats have a much clearer position, better position, than the corporate Republicans. But in the gross area of corporate power and domination of every agency and department in our government, from the Department of Defense and Department of Labor, the Democrats are moving in the direction of the Republicans. It’s quite clear in terms of their voting record.

There are exceptions, like Henry Waxman and Ted Kennedy, Ed Markey. But for the most part, these parties have moved very heavily into the grip, the iron grip of corporate power, corporate money, corporate ultimatums on globalization, for example, and above all, the distortion of the federal budget in the direction of corporate contracts, subsidies, handouts, giveaways, and the swelling of this enormous, corrupt, wasteful military budget that’s draining money.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, let me ask you a question. For those who want to vote for Barack Obama but are very discouraged about the lack of a strong stance that he has taken or laying out his position, for example, on withdrawal from Iraq, what do you think they should do?

RALPH NADER: Just what votepact.org-they get together with a disenchanted Republican. So you have a disenchanted Democrat who feels he has to vote or she has to vote for the Democrats, because they don’t want Republican. You get a disenchanted Republican friend or neighbor who feels that they have to vote for Republicans; they don’t want to vote for the Democrats. And they both say they’re going to vote for Nader-Gonzalez.

There is a self-initiating process here that’s personal and political that people can do all over the country. Nobody can stop them. And we all know that every day at work, in neighborhoods and at play, the Republicans and Democrats, disenchanted with their parties, are meeting, and all they have to do-and they can actually vote absentee over-you know, while they’re having coffee, they can fill out the absentee so they can see that they’re being valid in their promises, and vote for Nader-Gonzalez.

AMY GOODMAN: Your assessment of McCain and Obama’s plan to combat the global food crisis? And what is yours?

RALPH NADER: Well, I would stop subsidizing corn ethanol, for one, which takes away millions of acres from wheat and barley and other edibles, soy. Obama is for subsidizing corn ethanol. Actually, McCain was fairly critical of it. I don’t know what his latest position is.

Number two, we’ve got to straighten out our food export situation. We import far too much food from China, which is contaminated. We’ve got to have much more food grown close to markets. For example, Massachusetts used to grow 80 percent of its tomatoes in 1948. Now, it imports 80 percent of its tomatoes from California, Mexico. There’s no reason for that. There’s plenty of land for vegetable growing, fruit growing near the metropolitan markets.

And above all, we’ve got to have a foreign policy that makes us into a humanitarian superpower, that is, more agricultural cooperatives overseas, showing with our technology, appropriate technology, how to greatly increase crops and preservation of crops. 30 percent of food grown in the third world is lost due to rodents, fungus and insects. And we have a lot of knowledge on how to store food and preserve it so it isn’t lost and so people don’t starve and children don’t have distended bellies because of gross undernourishment. It’s an absolute crime against humanity.

AMY GOODMAN: The Iraq war-your assessment of the Iraq war, from McCain’s comment, we’ll be there for a hundred years, Barack Obama not clear exactly how withdrawal would happen? And what would you do?

RALPH NADER: Six-month corporate and military withdrawal from Iraq, during which we negotiate with the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis for modest autonomy, which they worked out in the 1950s before the dictators took over. Under a unified Iraq, continue humanitarian aid, some peacekeepers from nearby Islamic countries, and UN-sponsored elections. That’s the way you knock the bottom out of the insurgency.

That’s the way you get the authority figures, the tribal leaders and the religious leaders and others, who still have authority over millions of Iraqis, to get together, because the alternative is constant bloodshed and civil strife. So you give them a stake by using the only chip we have, which is to give back Iraq to the Iraqis, including their oil. Now that-otherwise, it’s constant, constant strife.

You saw that huge explosion in Iraq, in Baghdad, yesterday. The Pentagon doesn’t count Iraqi civilian tolls. They don’t even count officially US injuries unless they occur right in the middle of combat. So US injuries are triple what their official figure is. And all the press, including the liberal press and the indie press, still uses that figure of some 32,000 injured soldiers, when it’s triple that. I don’t understand why they follow that kind of Pentagon line. So that’s the way to deal with it.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, the issue of global warming?

RALPH NADER: Global warming, solar power. Solar power is the closest thing to a universal solvent that we have. Wind power, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, passive solar architecture, other forms-biofuels that are not corn ethanol-that’s the way to go. We’ve got to have a national mission of converting our economy and be an example for the world in solar energy. It’s four billion years of supply, Amy. And it’s decentralized, it’s environmentally benign, it makes us energy independent, and it replaces the Exxon Mobil-Peabody Coal-uranium complex. That’s what we’ve got to go for economic, political, health and safety, environmental reasons.

AMY GOODMAN: The meteorologists talking “extreme weather,” those two words, but not “global warming”?

RALPH NADER: Yes. Well, you know, the connection will be made more and more between extreme weather that’s occurring all over the world, the increase in water vapor, the effect of that. It’s amazing how some people who doubt global warming, I guess like Rush Limbaugh, want to wait until the ocean has overcome our literal landscapes, and I don’t know what more evidence they’re going to require. We’re having a lot of material on our votenader.org coming up on that subject, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, healthcare-the difference between you, Obama and McCain, and Obama and McCain, on healthcare?

RALPH NADER: As clear as could be. McCain and Obama have these cockamamie schemes that do not replace the health insurance companies. When Medicare came for the elderly in the mid-’60s, Medicare replaced the health insurance companies. We have a “pay or die” situation, which is disgraceful in this country. Whether for drugs or for healthcare, physicians have their hands tied, nurses have their hands tied.

As the California Nurses Association has so trumpeted, and so specifically, a single-payer system, which is full government insurance with free choice of doctor and hospital; with a reduction of these corporate bureaucratic costs, about $350 billion; with the replacement, because it’s only one single payer, of all these computerized billing frauds and abuses that are now about $220 billion-sources for all these figures-all that can be changed by single payer.

18,000 people, according to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, Amy, die every year in this country, because they cannot afford health insurance. Nobody dies in Canada, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, the UK, because they can’t afford health insurance. This is a disgrace. And we must get rid of this inefficient, swollen, redundant, corrupt, “pay or die” so-called healthcare system and focus more on prevention and more on nutrition and more on exercise, but also more on letting doctors be doctors under quality control systems, not have their hands controlled by commercial clerks.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, we’re going to have to leave it there. You’ll be here in New York tonight, Symphony Space, 7:00-


AMY GOODMAN: — for a rally. We will cover that. Thanks for joining us, independent presidential candidate, longtime consumer advocate and corporate critic.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Law School Dean Calls Conference to Plan Bush War Crimes Prosecution

June 19th, 2008 - by admin

Debra Cassens Weiss / ABA Journal – 2008-06-19 23:10:33


Day of Action Against Bush’s War Crimes
Thursday, June 26 — John Yoo Testifies in Congress
Join a “National Day of Action Against Bush’s War Crimes”

The message is:
NO to torture!

In major urban areas, people in orange jumpsuits, and including someone on a box in the Abu Ghraib costume, will gather inside/outside transportation hubs like Grand Central or Union Station, either at noon or 5pm, and “freeze” for 5 minutes. We’ll send you a flyer to hand out. Or freeway bannering where people mainly move by car. See the March 19 Union Station action against the war for inspiration. Let’s give people a way to make their protest visible.

Law School Dean Calls Conference
To Plan Bush War Crimes Prosecution

Debra Cassens Weiss / ABA Journal

(June 17, 2008) — The dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is planning a September conference to map out war crimes prosecutions, and the targets are President Bush and other administration officials.

The dean, Lawrence Velvel, says in a statement that “plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth.”

Other possible defendants, he said, include federal judges and John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who wrote one of the so-called torture memos.

“We must insist on appropriate punishments,” he continued, “including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war criminals in the 1940s.”

Velvel elaborates in an introduction to a series of articles published in The Long Term View (PDF). He writes “there is no question” that Bush and other officials are guilty of the federal crime of conspiracy to commit torture.

He also criticizes Justice Department officials for their legal memos. “The DOJ lawyers who wrote the corrupt legal memos giving attempted cover to Bush’s actions have been rewarded by federal judgeships, cabinet positions, and high falutin’ professorships,” he writes. Yoo is a professor at the University of California-Berkeley law school, while another former Justice Department official who signed a Yoo memo, Jay Bybee, is a judge on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Velvel tears into President Bush as well, writing: “The man ultimately responsible for the torture had a unique preparation and persona for the presidency: he is a former drunk, was a serial failure in business who had to repeatedly be bailed out by daddy’s friends and wanna-be-friends, was unable to speak articulately despite the finest education(s) that money and influence can buy, has a dislike of reading, so that 100-page memos have to be boiled down to one page for him, is heedless of facts and evidence, and appears not even to know the meaning of truth.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial published today stands in stark contrast to Velvel’s criticism. It assails House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers for issuing subpoenas seeking information about the possible torture of Sept. 11 suspects. The editorial mentions the testimony of British professor Philippe Sands, who also contends U.S. officials are guilty of war crimes.

“Nearly seven years after 9/11, the U.S. homeland hasn’t been struck again and American civil liberties remain intact,” the newspaper writes. “So how does Congress say ‘thank you’? By trying to ruin the men who in good faith set the legal rules that have kept us safe.”

A hat tip to Legal Blog Watch.

• More articles archived at FireJohnYoo.org

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

War Crimes Trials for Bush & The Torture Gambit

June 19th, 2008 - by admin

Debra Sweet / The World Can’t Wait ¶ The Wall Street Journal – 2008-06-19 23:07:52


War Crimes Trials for Bush”
Debra Sweet / The World Can’t Wait

(June 19, 2008) — There are some rather extraordinary developments rapidly unfolding in Washington on one of those crimes that will forever be connected to the Bush regime: torture. More and more is coming out! Those of us determined to stop this need to perk up, pay attention, and make the most of this moment.

Lest you think I only read pieces that bolster what I already know, see The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial Tuesday, “The Torture Gambit”. [See article below] I think they are telling us something by their protesting too much!

Last week, the Supreme Court gave the Bush regime a third defeat in their attempt to deny Guantanamo detainees access to US courts. The Center for Consitutional Rights and others defending the detainees called it a surprising victory. As I’ve noted previously, the Mukasey Justice Department had to drop charges against one of the Guantanamo detainees they had before the Military Tribunal for trial, because the proceedings would certainly have revealed he was tortured.

Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights released a stunning series of reports called “Broken Laws, Broken Lives” detailing the medical effects of so-called “Enhanced Interrogation” techniques planned in the White House.

Most extraordinary is that the preface to the reports is written by Maj. General Antionio Taguba who led the US Army’s official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, and was later fired by Donald Rumsfeld. Taguba says, “There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”

Scott Horton, in his blog “No Comment” tackles the question: Could officials of the Bush Administration face war crimes charges? “In The New Republic, I examine that question and note that, far from this being an outlandish suggestion, criminal cases are in fact being prepared. Which is why the Bush Administration torture-team members need to think twice before boarding an airplane that will take them beyond the sheltering confines of the United States.”

Philippe Sands, author of Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values was interviewed today on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air.

Sands, an international lawyer, accuses former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of condoning sensory deprivation and humiliation during interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. And he has a huge amount of evidence about the interrogation methods used. He is another who makes a compelling case for war crimes prosecutions.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is holdling hearings this week onhow these interrogation methods were adopted in 2002. Spencer Ackerman writes in The Washington Independent, “Tuesday the Senate Armed Services Committee answered those questions. In a marathon hearing spanning eight hours and three separate panels, the committee revealed, in painstaking detail, how senior Pentagon officials transformed a program for Special Forces troops to resist torture — known as Survival Evasion Resistance Escape, or SERE — into a blueprint for torturing terrorism detainees.”

Democracy Now reports today, “The Senate investigation confirmed the Pentagon sought the help of military psychologists as early as 2002 to devise so-called aggressive interrogation techniques. Dr. Steven Reisner is a psychoanalyst and a leading critic of the American Psychological Association’s policy governing the role of psychologists in interrogations. He is running for president of the APA and has received more nominating votes than any other candidate.” Listen to Dr. Reisner.

56 members of Congress wrote Mukasey this week asking for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the torture, saying “This information indicates that the Bush administration may have systematically implemented, from the top down, detainee interrogation policies that constitute torture or otherwise violate the law,”

And, at the top, a President who says he approved the interrogations. “WE DO NOT TORTURE” is one of his biggest lies.

Last night, David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.org interviewed me on The People Speak Radio. You can listen here. Thanks for the kind comments, Mom and Dad!

Debra Sweet is the director of The World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime

The Torture Gambit
Wall Street Journal Editorial

NEW YORK (June 17, 2008) — Nearly seven years after 9/11, the U.S. homeland hasn’t been struck again and American civil liberties remain intact. So how does Congress say “thank you”? By trying to ruin the men who in good faith set the legal rules that have kept us safe.

That’s the political story unfolding in Washington, as Democrats fire up their latest round of “torture” hearings. Prevented from trying to impeach President Bush by cooler heads, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers has resorted to issuing subpoenas to assail current and former officials for allowing aggressive interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other murderers. About 60 Democrats, including Mr. Conyers, are demanding that Attorney General Michael Mukasey appoint a “special prosecutor” to investigate.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s Captain Ahab — Michigan’s Carl Levin — will rage at a hearing today against former Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes. Mr. Haynes has felt obliged to retain an attorney, though on the evidence his only offense was following President Bush’s directive to prevent another terror attack. Democrats are spinning darkly that Mr. Haynes, former Justice official John Yoo (who has an op-ed nearby), Vice Presidential aide David Addington and others could be legally liable for “waterboarding” and other interrogation techniques.

Mr. Conyers recently went so far as to showcase Philippe Sands, a British professor who suggested that U.S. officials are guilty of “war crimes” and should be subject to international arrest. Mr. Conyers applauded Mr. Sands’s assertions — which amounts to a Member of Congress goading foreigners to arrest American officials if they dare to set foot on foreign soil.

The political motive here is transparent, if deeply cynical. Having failed to force a withdrawal from Iraq and with Iraq now turning into a success, Democrats need a different line of attack to please their antiwar supporters. The “torture narrative” has become a left-wing favorite, playing into the MoveOn.org-New York Times fantasies that Dick Cheney has been running a conspiracy to hijack the Constitution.

Impeaching President Bush is too politically risky, so the next best thing is to attack his aides by throwing around loose and unsubstantiated charges of criminal behavior. Even better, if Europeans can be encouraged to file charges against Republican officials, Democrats don’t have to take any overt responsibility for whatever might happen. Call it political outsourcing.

The interrogations were lawful in any case, undertaken on the basis of legal memos produced by the Justice Department in the aftermath of 9/11. The intelligence committees in both the House and Senate have been briefed on the specific contents of those memos, including the legal rationale for using harsh interrogation techniques in certain circumstances, as well as the techniques that were in fact used.

Seven years later, Democrats claim to be especially offended by “waterboarding,” which the CIA says was done to only three of the worst al Qaeda suspects. But both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller knew all about waterboarding at the time, and didn’t object. Democrats have every right to outlaw specific interrogation methods, but they continue to refuse to do so lest they be held accountable after a future terrorist attack. It’s so much easier to denounce “torture” in general.

In a message to CIA employees earlier this year, CIA Director Michael Hayden wrote that “The agency’s decision to employ waterboarding in the wake of 9/11 was not only lawful, it reflected the circumstances of the time. In reply to a question at the [February 2008] Senate hearing, I said: ‘Very critical to those circumstances was the belief that additional catastrophic attacks against the homeland were imminent. In addition to that, my agency and our community writ large had limited knowledge about al Qaeda and its workings. Those two realities have changed.'”

On other occasions, General Hayden has said that information gathered from aggressive interrogations has saved American lives. His two immediate CIA predecessors have said the same thing. Mr. Levin, who used to sit on the Intelligence Committee, hasn’t leaked any of that secret testimony.

Instead, in an election year and with political hindsight, anti-antiterror Democrats want to criminalize these policies. Their goal is to so tar anyone associated with those policies that no American official would dare to do anything similar ever again. In addition to smearing these loyal public servants, Democrats want to change U.S. interrogation policy without having to take responsibility for passing a law to do it.

When the threat seemed imminent after 9/11, Democrats were only too happy to keep quiet and let the Bush Administration and CIA do whatever it took to prevent another attack. But in the seemingly safer present, they want to subject every one of those decisions to the political retribution of MoveOn.org. If this is how Democrats intend to govern if they run the entire government next year, we are in for a very rough ride.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US General Accuses Bush Administration of War Crimes

June 19th, 2008 - by admin

Matt Renner and Maya Schenwar / t r u t h o u t – 2008-06-19 23:05:06


(18 June 2008) — Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (now retired) served as the deputy commanding general for support for the Third Army for ten months in Kuwait during the early days of the Iraq occupation. In a statement released today, he bluntly accuses the Bush administration of war crimes and lays down a challenge for prosecution.

In 2004, Taguba released a classified report detailing abuses committed at Abu Ghraib Prison. The “Taguba Report” (executive summary) urged Pentagon officials to follow up on its findings by enforcing adherence to the Geneva Conventions in interrogations.

Taguba retired in January 2007, later alleging that Pentagon officials had ordered him to retire for being “overzealous” in his criticisms of the military.

In light of ongoing Congressional investigations into so-called harsh interrogation techniques, and on the heels of Congressman Dennis Kucinich recently issuing articles of impeachment accusing President Bush of, among other offenses, authorizing torture, we present Taguba’s latest statement for your consideration.

The full Physicians for Human Rights report outlining the medical evidence of torture perpetrated by the United States can be read at their website.

Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives
Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)

Maj. Gen. Taguba led the US Army’s official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and testified before Congress on his findings in May 2004.

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted – both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

The former detainees in this report – each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life – require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.

But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.

And so do the American people.
Matt Renner is an editor and Washington reporter for Truthout. Maya Schenwar is an editor and reporter for Truthout.

COMMENTS: This is a moderated forum. It may take a little while for comments to go live.

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 14:07 — David L DeGeorge Sr (not verified)
Why I would voite for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney The President and Vice President have acted with unprecedented abandon for the U. S. Constitution and the basic principles of International Law by provoking and executing an attack on the sovereign nation of Iraq without due cause. The resulting loss of lives, torture and maiming of innocent civilians constitute unjustifiable violation of the Geneva Convention and human rights. Using unsubstantiated premises of weapons of mass destruction, connection to known terrorists groups, and other unsubstantiated imminent dangers to the U. S. and/or U. S. interests,and ignoring all reports to the contrary, carried out a campaign of death and destruction throughout Iraq. If this does not constitute a basis for articles of impeachment, then we shall likely never find a more egregious reason for impeachment of any person under the U. S. Constitution, and we shall have failed in our responsibility, as a people, to uphold the virtues that our forefathers long ago established for our government.
These indictments (all

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 13:58 — Lionel (not verified)
These indictments (all true!) are only the tip of the iceberg, the main mass of which is the treasonous betrayal of America after the 911 attacks on the part of the Bush Administration. The professional suicide commando attack on that date was a carefully coordinated military operation with plenty personnel supporting it. Some of the self confessed operatives were Omar al Bayoumi, Osama Basnan, and Haifa Bandar. There were, of course, many others; all of whom were allowed to leave the country unmolested. Most left quickly, but the above persons (search those names) left only when they felt like it. In the case of Bandar, who gave the terrorists $120,000.00 in financial support, she stayed in the US for years after the fact. Not only that, but as the wife of the Saudi ambassador, she was present at many a White House function during that time!
They Live, We sleep “They

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 13:50 — Radline9 (not verified)
They Live, We sleep “They use their tongues to deceive. The venom of snakes is under their lips. Their mouths are full of bitterness and curses and in their paths nothing but ruin and misery and the fear of God is not before their eyes! They have taken the hearts and minds of our leaders. They have recruited the rich and the powerful and they have blinded us to the truth. Our human spirit is corrupted! Why do we worship greed!? Because outside the limit of our sight, feeding off us; perched on top of us from birth to death are our owners, our owners, they have us, they control us, they are our masters! Wake up! They are all about you, all around you!” From the blind street preacher in “They Live” by John Carpenter

Dont impeach… Send ALL to
Thu, 06/19/2008 – 13:50 — TS (not verified)

Dont impeach… Send ALL to The Hague. We will see if the press will cover that event. TS
Thank you General Taguba for

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 13:41 — Michael (not verified)
Thank you General Taguba for standing on principle. You are one voice that critically matters in what has happened these past 7 years. And there are other voices of integrity that have yet to speak out. Word to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
My letter to Pelosi, copied

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 12:18 — Timothy Meadows (not verified)
My letter to Pelosi, copied to Conyers, Kucinich, Clinton, Obama, Wexler and my local rep’s: Antonio Taguba wrote yesterday “After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.” War crimes, Ms. Pelosi. And it appears to me that you are an accessory to these crimes by blocking the criminal investigation and impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Do the right thing, at long last, and let history judge that you FINALLY acted responsibly. You are making me ashamed to be a Democrat.

I also shall NOT vote for

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 12:15 — Anonymous (not verified)
I also shall NOT vote for any one who doesn’t suppost Kucinich. This is past a joke – it is a national tragedy. I often wondered how hundreds of thusands of German citizens stood by while Hitler constructed his hekk on earth. Now I know.
Bush. Cheney, and Rumsfeld

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 09:57 — Anonymous (not verified)
Bush. Cheney, and Rumsfeld must be accountable. Either impeached now or brought totrial after the election. And McCain (“McBush”) must not be allowed to run Bush’s third term.
Bush/Cheney’s intent is now

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 09:05 — Anonymous (not verified)
Bush/Cheney’s intent is now blatantly evident. Day by day the overall agenda of the Bush/Cheney administration pictures out with clarity. Beginning in 1992, at the end of the G.H.W. Bush administration, Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, drafted the Defense Planning Guidance Plan (DPG)which, over time through to 1997, and with the a large cadre of prominent members of that administration–names we all know in the present–(William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Jeb Bush, Zalmay Khalilzad, Donald, Fred and Robert Kagan, Mark Lagon, Gary Schmitt, Abram Shulsky and many more, a raft of military officers, and Northrop Grumman Corp and other industrialists,) became the committee creating the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). It was/ is blueprint for what has become the George W. Bush administration. By September of 2000, it became the reformulated RAD (Rebuilding America’s Defenses guidance document for the incoming administration, a declaration of world military supremacy and control, beginning in Iraq–“change of regime.” But, it said, it would be difficult to implement with the public, it “would take another Pearl Harbor. . .” Read on. . .a must—to understand. Fast forward to 2008, by way of 9/11, a tragedy never forensically investigated–a crime scene closed to exposure ( even the two chairs of the 9/11 Commission are calling for a new investigation because of information and material that was withheld from the committee.) . And then there was the manufactured and deceptive intelligence propaganda selling WMD terror( we have just learned about by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report and also McClellan’s book disclosure) and the ‘shock and awe” firebombing to plunge us into an ‘planned’ unnecessary and immoral war. Never mind the hundreds of violations and actions that undermine the Constitution, emasculate the balance of powers foundation of constitutional government, the hundreds of signing agreements and Executive Orders that egregiously reveals Bush’s contempt of the Law and his declaration of his”decider” imperial power, the usurpation of power and presidential privilege, a regime memorialized by its penchant for secrecy, and the largest debt in history–sinking the economy and the value of the dollar. Just go to the current revelations that show the extraordinary permanent building projects all over Iraq, the largest most luxurious embassy in the world at a cost (not yet finished) of over a $billion, 30 bases and pushing for 58 permanent bases in Iraq alone, pushing the a Maliki government for an agreement that grants immunity INDEFINITELY to not only military personnel, but private mercenary and other contractors of whatever nature, grants U.S. control of air space up to 30,000 ft–in other words—all the essentials for a permanent occupation.Bush, at its inception said it would last for generations—how did he know? McCain inadvertently said 100 years. (IT IS THE PLAN) The Iraqi ministers are complaining to the U.S. Congress, “It would impair Iraq sovereignty,” said Ali al Adeeb.They don’t want the occupation to continue. And where is ‘what’s his name. . . oh yes, Osama. . .Bush says now, ‘oh, he’s not important.” He never was. He was a U.S. asset remember–fighting with the CIA and Afghanistan against Russia. Here is the visual—the evidence in black and white–the plan. The War was not about Saddam, or terrorism, or democracy (their sovereignty) it was about expansion of hegemonic control–a permanent foothold in the Middle East—you got it—to protect our interests—black gold–rivers of it running through pipes across the rugged mtns from the Caspian Sea. And the cost–the published amount—$12 billion a month. Upwards of over $2 trillion in the short term—what is long term? And according to the GAO military accounting when first we began supplying money–there was over one $trillion ‘unaccounted for in the Defense Budget. How can you lose a $trillion? Our national debt is now stretching $10 trillion with the economy in peril. The cost in human life—let me count the hundreds of thousands, including over 4000 of our soldiers killed,unnumbered wounded, 25% of our troops returning home with serious mental wounds medicine will not cure, shocking hundreds of soldier- suicides a year, and the maiming continues, estimated 4 million Iraqi exiled—to raise questions of United State’s integrity into the future. Connect the dots, it makes quite a picture of intent, most of which are impeachable offenses. The witnesses are gathering with speed. Add your own to the long list and lets get on with the business of cleansing this government—NOW. Our Washington representatives need to be held accountable for their lack of accountability in doing their job. What vested interest keeps them from keeping their Oaths of Office? And where is this REAL issue of Impeachment and integrity of government talked about in the current campaign? Have you read that McCain is a ‘signatory’ on the PNAC project–which truly makes him a Bush clone; a third term–indeed, but devastatingly so. I don’t know where Obama sits, as a Senator–will he Impeach? Anyone asking THE question? How about rescuing one or two of the other candidates—who WILL talk about the real issues. The Republic hangs by a thread, we are in a Constitutional Crisis —no one seems to hear the alarms clanging. Wake UP America–this is a perfect storm raging!!! The many Rivers are rising?
Thank you, General Taguba.

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 06:06 — Jean Mumma (not verified)
Thank you, General Taguba. I do wish your statement had been published long ago. Regarding impeachment, has everyone considered the fact that Nancy Pelosi would become president if we ridded ourselves of Bush and Cheney via impeachment? Undoubtedly she would be a good choice for the office, but wouldn’t that make the whole procedure impossible?
Impeach the Pair!

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 05:31 — Jay Moor (not verified)
Impeach the Pair!
“This Constitution, and the

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 04:06 — Anonymous (not verified)
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land” “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;……., and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects”
Enough of our citizens have

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 03:57 — Anonymous (not verified)
Enough of our citizens have to unite in this cause to hook the media in and the exposure will lure our elected officials to snag the guilty as a way to cleanse their guilt and complicity… This the th real world citizens.
To know our “national

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 03:37 — Anonymous (not verified)
To know our “national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from [this administration].” To understand that any act against the dignity of a single human being is indeed an act of indignity perpetrated against all humanity. To have men of honor provide testimony unequivocally establishing the record of such acts, and to do nothing! Is to become not only complicit in the crime, but to inherit the mantle of shame and partake of its immorality. Where are the few good men who remember their oath to defend our constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic?
There are many men and

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 03:37 — David H (not verified)
There are many men and women of honor in the military who feel the same way as General Taguba. We must give thanks to him for speaking out in his own name, and in theirs. It is not too much to hope that one day our military leaders will proclaim that torture is incompatible not only with the rule of law and with democracy, but with the highest traditions of military service. Impossible? No: This is exactly what has happened in Chile, although it took some fifteen years after the end of the Pinochet dictatorship. And it appears to be happening in Argentina, another country with a history of “dirty war.” The justification of torture as a means to get information is a lie, but that doesn’t mean torture is ineffective. The real purpose of torture is terror. It’s aim is to break the will not only of the individual who is tortured, but of everyone who fears that they may suffer the same fate. But torture does not only break people’s will: It also produces resistance and hatred and moral revulsion. In the long run we can hope that the moral side wins. Torture also deforms the torturers. Most of the GIs who were put in this position were not sadists or bad people, but they had to become warped in order to carry it out. The process of recovery for a society that has practiced and suffered systematic torture as a policy can take decades. Reports like Gen Taguba’s should be followed by Truth Commissions, to make everything public. If we’re lucky, prosecution may follow. D.
Where are the voices of our

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 03:27 — topview (not verified)
Where are the voices of our elected officials that we duly elected to represent us. They know that Bush and Cheney are going to bomb Iran and/or let Israel do it and then jump in and slaughter thousands of innocent lives again. I know I’m going to vote out my reps if they don’t back Kucinich articles of impeachment. For one, it is there job to uphold the constitution and they are not doing it. So they are just as responsible as the other bastards, especially Pelosi.
I agree with Mr. Spero an

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 03:23 — JackonFire (not verified)
I agree with Mr. Spero an Anon. I must add, however, that there is a deep tendency in the U.S. that has been here for a good long time, only now it is festering. Some call it the “chicken hawk” phenomenon, but it is really a cowardice running from top to bottom in our culture. Our representatives and too many of us are power whores in tough-guy clothing: sissy-bullies. We do not hesitate to kick the defenseless in the teeth when they are down. We kid ourselves that there is something courageous about siding with an illegitimate bully and we flatter ourselves that these monsters, supported by an army of lawyers, need our defense. Bravo Gen. Taguba (ret.), Bravo Dennis Kucinich, and Bravo all real people of real integrity!!
As one who is still proud to

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 03:17 — Carl Forsberg (not verified)
As one who is still proud to be called an American citizen, I appeal to all decent, God fear people in this great country and all members of the Congress and the Senate of the United States Government – to look long and hard at what has become the legacy fear and war crimes brought upon us and the shame that we now must endure because of what this present administration has done in our name. If these crimes of rape and torture and murder are allowed to go unpunished, we will destroy all respect and dignity that this once great nation has held in the eyes of the world. We also will destroy the very meaning of the American Constitution that our Fathers and Forefathers fought and died for. Those who are to blame for the policies that have made these crimes possible must simply be held accountable for their actions. That is what impeachment is all about. And if further charges can be made to acknowledge the wrongs that have been committed, then let it be done. To do nothing in this regard makes us, as ordinary citizen, guilty of complicity in these crimes that have taken place.
This is just the latest

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 03:06 — Anonymous (not verified)
This is just the latest disclosure in a pattern of war crimes, including torture, that leads straight to the door of the Oval Office. It’s like a criminal case where the evidence exists from many irrefutable sources, and it’s all in plain sight. Now what’s needed is a Congress with the spine to uphold the Constitution and impeach or criminally prosecute those who so damaged our country. Belva Ann
And if they can’t be

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 03:05 — Anonymous (not verified)
And if they can’t be impeached before they are out of office, bring criminal charges against themwhen they are out of office. If George Bush retires without facing charges for his crimes, it will prove that this country has two sets of standards of conduct — one for the wealthy and one for the rest of us.
Impeachment is certainly

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:58 — Rob Riley (not verified)
Impeachment is certainly justified. But it’s not going to happen, and indeed it may be better so. Were Bush and Cheney to be impeached, that’s as far as it would go- they’d lose their jobs and nothing more, which is way too lenient. What needs to happen is for them to be tried by an international war-crimes tribunal- after they have left office- and imprisoned like any other murdering thugs.
How do you impeach a

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:55 — J. Magner (not verified)
How do you impeach a President that was never elected? Bush, Cheney,and all complacent members of Congress should be arrested and charged with Treason. Perhaps an international war crimes tribunal should take the matter under consideration as was done with the Nazis and the Bosnians
it is clear to anyone with a

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:54 — Anonymous (not verified)
it is clear to anyone with a brain and a willingness to accept the truth that the bush administration has broken law after law after law. the united states government has lost all legitimacy. the executive branch did so by it’s actions. the legislative branch did so by not holding the executive branch accountable for it’s illegal actions. the judicial branch did so by appointing a president. the following familiar words come to mind: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Nancy what’s stopping you?

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:52 — Nancy Oatway (not verified)
Nancy what’s stopping you? You are not behaving in a manner worthy of the title Speaker of the House. The title was given to you by the people who voted in 2006 and by the USConstitution by not acting getting Congers to bring the Impeachments out of committee you betray both the voters and the law of our land. You behave as if the media and the war profiteers are in charge. Please use your power. Your place in history is waiting. God Bless you and thank you in advance.
I’m so tired of hearing

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:46 — Anonymous (not verified)
I’m so tired of hearing about impeaching the president. Big deal. They’ll still be able to enjoy their sorry lives sitting on a bunch of blood money. Bush and all his cronies/accomplices need to spend the rest of their lives in a maximum security prison. Unless you need to impeach before you can imprison, then fine impeach the bastards.
Impeachment is the way to

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:46 — Bikerdude (not verified)
Impeachment is the way to make this failed administration accountable. I believe it is vitally important for us to preserve our reputation in the world and to send a signal to other politicians that this conduct will not be tolerated by the citizens of the United States.
I agree wholeheartedly

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:45 — windoman (not verified)
I agree wholeheartedly that Bush and Cheney should be impeached and tried for war crimes. I had an opportunity to see the movie”Taxi To the Darkside”. I recommend it to everyone to learn of the atrocities perpetrated by our government in the name of “security”. This war will continue as long as Washington is given the green light by not punishing the real criminals . I also think it unethical that many congressmen and women and others who hold high office are allowed to profit from the war through investments in military contractors.
America is a filthy

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:44 — Anonymous (not verified)
America is a filthy deadbeat. It failed to pay promised reparations to North Vietnam. America is nothing but a bunch of crooks, suckers, and lazy cowards. “Land of the Slaves. Home to the Cowards” It thought it could enjoy a simple lynching and it got a war instead.
thank you for your

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:37 — Anonymous (not verified)
thank you for your courage. Impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. How dare they have committed these atrocities in our country’s good name and gotten away with it. Do they think a flag pin in their lapels will do it?
Express yourself to someone

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:25 — Anonymous (not verified)
Express yourself to someone that can DO SOMETHING about impeaching Bush, Rep. John Conyers. Call his office and tell him that he MUST uphold his oath to protect the Constitution and follow the path towards impeachment. Pelosi, Dean, and Conyers do not have the authority to say that “impeachment is off the table.” It is never, ever, EVER off the table. Here’s Conyers’ contact info. Call his office. Write him a letter and send it in the mail. Tell him in clear terms what you want. Address and phone number… Congressman John Conyers 2426 Rayburn Building Washington, DC 20515 202-225-5126
If the leaders of this

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:23 — Michael Butler (not verified)
If the leaders of this administration are not brought to account we Americans will suffer. Not only throughout the rest of the world but also internally will our reputation be tarnished. We will never know peace until justice has been heard.
We must go beyond

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:22 — Hollis Wood (not verified)
We must go beyond impeachment to prosecution and conviction. In some countries these crimes would merit public execution. I agree that members of Congress and the Senate are remaining silent because they perceive that they too can be condemned as complicit, much as the high Nazi leadership went along for the ride; to enrich themselves, and grab as much power as they could. It’s simply inexcusable.I commend the courageous Kucinich and Conyers (and Cynthia McKinney, who was forced out.). Too bad there aren’t more like them. The problem is, that as soon as Bush leaves office, and becomes liable to prosecution, he’s going to make a run for the big rancho he bought last year in Paraguay. We have to get him before he gets away.
It’s all OK. Bush and Cheney

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:15 — Anonymous (not verified)
It’s all OK. Bush and Cheney wear flag pins. Isn’t that enough?
How did the American

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:08 — George Flynn (not verified)
How did the American people ever elect the affable ass, George Bush? He is the surrogate for Dick Cheney, who is the surrogate for Halliburton. What ever the status of Cheney’s “blind trust,” what is the value of his holdings now compared with they value when he first took office. And what about that energy conference attended by high-level, but unnamed, oil experts, including the fabled Ken “Kenny-boy” Lay? I hope we can someday close t his grim chapter of American history, but it won’t be in my lifetime. –George
This country MUSTrecognize

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:08 — Anonymous (not verified)
This country MUSTrecognize and apologize for allowing the leaders of our Nation to perpetrate illegal offenses against so many innocent people. We must pay for all the damage that we have to done to all parties, so that we can begin again, rememberingthe intention that was set by our Forefathers not that long ago. The cost of using 9/11 as the reason we were justified in satisfying “revenge” will throw many generations to come into slavery. Ours included. War must NEVER be an option. IMPEACH THE PERPETRAYORS!
The whole country is

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 02:06 — Anonymous (not verified)
The whole country is dishonored by these socalled leaders. What is worse is the silence of our lawmakers and the population at large. Shame on them and us.
great. but like so many

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 01:55 — Anonymous (not verified)
great. but like so many other dedicated servants of the system, why did it take so long for these comments? doesnt anyone have any backbone?
It is testimony like this

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 01:40 — Anonymousdeathbymagoomba (not verified)
It is testimony like this that will eventually bring down forever the fascist thinking that has allowed the bush regime such abused power. I KNOW that the madmen of this regime WILL NOT relinquish their grab peacefully. JUST LIKE the fall of the Soviet bloc in ’91, the pigs will pursue power to the very END. It is all they can grasp, and they laugh at the rest of us who still have minds and hearts. These communists were undone by their own military! YES, I have COMPLETE TRUST in OUR military forces. I KNOW how hard they work, and the sacrifices they make. THEY will decide in the end. These are our sons and daughters speaking. It will not be long at all before the entrenched PIGS of our nation attempt to ruin all. Their demand to KILL their loving parents will be met with some dischord and disbelief by our conscripted young, but the comprehension WILL come thru. YES, the cannons will be turned around, and the hideous war pigs removed. The people who are willing to fight for freedom may or may not have much to lose, BUT they experience FIRST HAND what it means to have NO FREEDOM. I KNOW from the bottom of my soul, that THEY WILL DO THE RIGHT THING, regardless of their supposed leadership! THANK YOU General Tabuga, and THANK YOU every one of you who serves and wants to serve our country. I KNOW that you CAN have a good life here, and are NOT ALONE in our democracy! TRUTH OUT.
Unless I am missing a hugh

Thu, 06/19/2008 – 01:40 — Anonymous (not verified)
Unless I am missing a hugh part of this story all we have here is an unsubstanciated headline. I would be among the first to want to see the current administration impeaches and prosecuted for high crimes, but the article seems to fall short of substance—did i miss the meat and potatoes of this article

I commend General Taguba for
Thu, 06/19/2008 – 00:59 — David Spero (not verified)
I commend General Taguba for his words and courage in speaking them. But I ask: where are all the other voices that should be accompanying his? Where the hell is Diane Feinstein, whose husband has made a killing (excuse the pun) on this war, and Hillary Clinton, who still wants to “bomb Iran off the face of the planet?” I think we need a giant tribunal where EVERY member in our Senate and Congress is held to account for remaining deliberately silent while Bush performed war crimes against human beings. Why is the General not receiving rallying support from all levels of the military, from Congresspersons and Senators? The reality is that many of our government leaders are anti-Arab, anti-Islamic bigots who could care less about the lives of U.S. soldiers and/or those that are being tortured, raped and massacred by U.S. soldiers.

George W. Bush and Richard
Thu, 06/19/2008 – 00:55 — Anonymous (not verified)
George W. Bush and Richard Cheney Must be IMPEACHED. The Kucinich resolution for Impeachment must be brought out of committee by Mr. Conyers and brought to the floor of the House of Representatives immediately. If this is not done, the United States of America will be permanently diminished and ultimately destroyed as a Democracy

Secret History Of The War Over Oil In Iraq

June 19th, 2008 - by admin

Greg Palast for TomPaine.com/OurFuture.org – 2008-06-19 00:24:59


Secret History Of The War Over Oil In Iraq

(May 22, 2008) — I can’t make this up: In a hotel room in Brussels, the chief executives of the world’s top oil companies unrolled a huge map of the Middle East, drew a fat, red line around Iraq and signed their names to it.

The map, the red line, the secret signatures. It explains this war. It explains this week’s rocketing of the price of oil to $134 a barrel.

It happened on July 31, 1928, but the bill came due now.
Barack Obama knows this. Or, just as important, those crafting his policies seem to know this. Same for Hillary Clinton’s team. There could be no more vital difference between the Republican and Democratic candidacies. And you won’t learn a thing about it on the news from the Fox-holes.
Let me explain.

In 1928, oil company chieftains (from Anglo-Persian Oil, now British Petroleum, from Standard Oil, now Exxon, and their Continental counterparts) were faced with a crisis: falling prices due to rising supplies of oil; the same crisis faced by their successors during the Clinton years, when oil traded at $22 a barrel.

The solution then, as now: stop the flow of oil, squeeze the market, raise the price. The method: put a red line around Iraq and declare that virtually all the oil under its sands would remain there, untapped. Their plan: choke supply, raise prices rise, boost profits. That was the program for 1928. For 2003. For 2008.

Again and again, year after year, the world price of oil has been boosted artificially by keeping a tight limit on Iraq’s oil output. Methods varied. The 1928 “Redline” agreement held, in various forms, for over three decades. It was replaced in 1959 by quotas imposed by President Eisenhower. Then Saudi Arabia and OPEC kept Iraq, capable of producing over 6 million barrels a day, capped at half that, given an export quota equal to Iran’s lower output.

In 1991, output was again limited, this time by a new red line: B-52 bombings by Bush Senior’s air force. Then came the Oil Embargo followed by the “Food for Oil” program. Not much food for them, not much oil for us.

In 2002, after Bush Junior took power, the top ten oil companies took in a nice $31 billion in profits. But then, a miracle fell from the sky. Or, more precisely, the 101st Airborne landed. Bush declared, “Bring’m on!” and, as the dogs of war chewed up the world’s second largest source of oil, crude doubled in two years to an astonishing $40 a barrel and those same oil companies saw their profits triple to $87 billion.

In response, Senators Obama and Clinton propose something wrongly called a “windfall” profits tax on oil. But oil industry profits didn’t blow in on a breeze. It is war, not wind, that fills their coffers. The beastly leap in prices is nothing but war profiteering, hiking prices to take cruel advantage of oil fields shut by bullets and blood.

I wish to hell the Democrats would call their plan what it is: A war profiteering tax. War is profitable business – if you’re an oil man. But somehow, the public pays the price, at the pump and at the funerals, and the oil companies reap the benefits.
Indeed, the recent engorgement in oil prices and profits goes right back to Bush-McCain “surge.”

The Iraq government attack on a Basra militia was really nothing more than Baghdad’s leaping into a gang war over control of Iraq’s Southern oil fields and oil-loading docks. Moqtada al-Sadr’s gangsters and the government-sponsored greedsters of SCIRI (the Supreme Council For Islamic Revolution In Iraq) are battling over an estimated $5 billion a year in oil shipment kickbacks, theft and protection fees.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the surge-backed civil warring has cut Iraq’s exports by up to a million barrels a day. And that translates to slashing OPEC excess crude capacity by nearly half.

Result: ka-BOOM in oil prices and ka-ZOOM in oil profits. For 2007, Exxon recorded the highest annual profit, $40.6 billion, of any enterprise since the building of the pyramids. And that was BEFORE the war surge and price surge to over $100 a barrel.

It’s been a good war for Exxon and friends. Since George Bush began to beat the war-drum for an invasion of Iraq, the value of Exxon’s reserves has risen – are you ready for this? – by $2 trillion.

Obama’s war profiteering tax, or “oil windfall profits” tax, would equal just 20% of the industry’s charges in excess of $80 a barrel. It’s embarrassingly small actually, smaller than every windfall tax charged by every other nation. (Ecuador, for example, captures up to 99% of the higher earnings).

Nevertheless, oilman George W. Bush opposes it as does Bush’s man McCain. Senator McCain admonishes us that the po’ widdle oil companies need more than 80% of their windfall so they can explore for more oil. When pigs fly, Senator. Last year, Exxon spent $36 billion of its $40 billion income on dividends and special payouts to stockholders in tax-free buy-backs. Even the Journal called Exxon’s capital investment spending “stingy.”

At today’s prices Obama’s windfall tax, teeny as it is, would bring in nearly a billion dollars a day for the US Treasury. Clinton’s plan is similar. Yet the press’ entire discussion of gas prices is shifted to whether the government should knock some sales tax pennies off the oil companies’ pillaging at the pump.

More important than even the Democrats’ declaring that oil company profits are undeserved, is their implicit understanding that the profits are the spoils of war. And that’s another reason to tax the oil industry’s ill-gotten gain. Vietnam showed us that foreign wars don’t end when the invader can no longer fight, but when the invasion is no longer profitable.

Greg Palast is the author of, “Trillion Dollar Babies,” on Iraq and oil, published in his New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse.

Palast is currently working with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on investigation the latest attacks on the right to vote in America. Support this effort and receive a signed copy of Armed Madhouse from the author at Palast Investigative Fund.

View Palast’s commentary on oil and war windfalls on Air America Radio’s Palast Report – on YouTube.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

American Occupation at the Pump: Is $250 a Barrel Oil on Its Way?

June 19th, 2008 - by admin

Tom Engelhardt / TomDispatch & AlterNet – 2008-06-19 00:15:54


American Occupation at the Pump:
Is $250 a Barrel Oil on Its Way?

Tom Engelhardt / TomDispatch & AlterNet

(June 16, 2008) — If you thought things were bad, with a barrel of crude oil at $136 and the oil heartlands of our planet verging on chaos, don’t be surprised, but you may still have something to look forward to. Alexei Miller, chairman of Russia’s vast state-owned energy monopoly, Gazprom, just suggested that, within 18 months, that same barrel could be selling for a nifty $250. Put that in your tank and … well, don’t drive it. It will be far too valuable.

Think of Miller’s sobering prediction as, at least in part, a result of the Bush administration’s attempt to “secure” the Middle East and the oil-rich Caspian basin by force in two failing wars (and occupations). Now, imagine for a moment, what his price scenario might be if, as journalist Jim Lobe — never one to leap from rumors to sensational conclusions — recently suggested, forces in the Bush administration (and in Israel) in favor of launching an air campaign against Iran are gaining strength. Just the suggestion sent oil prices soaring. Imagine what an actual air attack might do.

Last week by Shaul Mofaz, an Israeli deputy prime minister, that an attack on Iran is “unavoidable” if that country doesn’t halt its nuclear program — “If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective.” — helped send the price of crude oil soaring.

Garrisoning the Global Gas Station
Challenging the Militarization of U.S. Energy Policy

Michael T. Klare / TomDispatch

American policymakers have long viewed the protection of overseas oil supplies as an essential matter of “national security,” requiring the threat of — and sometimes the use of — military force. This is now an unquestioned part of American foreign policy.

On this basis, the first Bush administration fought a war against Iraq in 1990-1991 and the second Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003. With global oil prices soaring and oil reserves expected to dwindle in the years ahead, military force is sure to be seen by whatever new administration enters Washington in January 2009 as the ultimate guarantor of our well-being in the oil heartlands of the planet. But with the costs of militarized oil operations — in both blood and dollars — rising precipitously isn’t it time to challenge such “wisdom”? Isn’t it time to ask whether the U.S. military has anything reasonable to do with American energy security, and whether a reliance on military force, when it comes to energy policy, is practical, affordable, or justifiable?

How Energy Policy Got Militarized
The association between “energy security” (as it’s now termed) and “national security” was established long ago. President Franklin D. Roosevelt first forged this association way back in 1945, when he pledged to protect the Saudi Arabian royal family in return for privileged American access to Saudi oil. The relationship was given formal expression in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter told Congress that maintaining the uninterrupted flow of Persian Gulf oil was a “vital interest” of the United States, and attempts by hostile nations to cut that flow would be countered “by any means necessary, including military force.”

To implement this “doctrine,” Carter ordered the creation of a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, specifically earmarked for combat operations in the Persian Gulf area. President Ronald Reagan later turned that force into a full-scale regional combat organization, the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM. Every president since Reagan has added to CENTCOM’s responsibilities, endowing it with additional bases, fleets, air squadrons, and other assets. As the country has, more recently, come to rely on oil from the Caspian Sea basin and Africa, U.S. military capabilities are being beefed up in those areas as well.

As a result, the U.S. military has come to serve as a global oil protection service, guarding pipelines, refineries, and loading facilities in the Middle East and elsewhere. According to one estimate, provided by the conservative National Defense Council Foundation, the “protection” of Persian Gulf oil alone costs the U.S. Treasury $138 billion per year — up from $49 billion just before the invasion of Iraq.

For Democrats and Republicans alike, spending such sums to protect foreign oil supplies is now accepted as common wisdom, not worthy of serious discussion or debate. A typical example of this attitude can be found in an “Independent Task Force Report” on the “National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency” released by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in October 2006. Chaired by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and former CIA Director John Deutch, the CFR report concluded that the U.S. military must continue to serve as a global oil protection service for the foreseeable future. “At least for the next two decades, the Persian Gulf will be vital to U.S. interests in reliable oil supplies,” it noted. Accordingly, “the United States should expect and support a strong military posture that permits suitably rapid deployment to the region, if necessary.” Similarly, the report adds, “U.S. naval protection of the sea-lanes that transport oil is of paramount importance.”

The Pentagon as Insecurity Inc.
These views, widely shared, then and now, by senior figures in both major parties, dominate — or, more accurately, blanket — American strategic thinking. And yet the actual utility of military force as a means for ensuring energy security has yet to be demonstrated.

Keep in mind that, despite the deployment of up to 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, Iraq is a country in chaos and the Department of Defense (DoD) has been notoriously unable to prevent the recurring sabotage of oil pipelines and refineries by various insurgent groups and militias, not to mention the systematic looting of government supplies by senior oil officials supposedly loyal to the U.S.-backed central government and often guarded (at great personal risk) by American soldiers.

Five years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq is only producing about 2.5 million barrels of oil per day — about the same amount as in the worst days of Saddam Hussein back in 2001. Moreover, the New York Times reports, “at least one-third, and possibly much more, of the fuel from Iraq’s largest refinery… is [being] diverted to the black market, according to American military officials.” Is this really conducive to American energy security?

The same disappointing results have been noted in other countries where U.S.-backed militaries have attempted to protect vulnerable oil facilities. In Nigeria, for example, increased efforts by American-equipped government forces to crush rebels in the oil-rich Niger Delta region have merely inflamed the insurgency, while actually lowering national oil output. Meanwhile, the Nigerian military, like the Iraqi government (and assorted militias), has been accused of pilfering billions of dollars’ worth of crude oil and selling it on the black market.

In reality, the use of military force to protect foreign oil supplies is likely to create anything but “security.” It can, in fact, trigger violent “blowback” against the United States. For example, the decision by the senior President Bush to maintain an enormous, permanent U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia following Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait is now widely viewed as a major source of virulent anti-Americanism in the Kingdom, and became a prime recruiting tool for Osama bin Laden in the months leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks.

“For over seven years,” bin Laden proclaimed in 1998, “the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight neighboring Muslim peoples.” To repel this assault on the Muslin world, he thundered, it was “an individual duty for every Muslim” to “kill the Americans” and drive their armies “out of all the lands of Islam.”

As if to confirm the veracity of bin Laden’s analysis of U.S. intentions, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld flew to Saudi Arabia on April 30, 2003 to announce that the American bases there would no longer be needed due to the successful invasion of Iraq, then barely one month old. “It is now a safer region because of the change of regime in Iraq,” Rumsfeld declared. ”The aircraft and those involved will now be able to leave.”

Even as he was speaking in Riyadh, however, a dangerous new case of blowback had erupted in Iraq: Upon their entry into Baghdad, U.S. forces seized and guarded the Oil Ministry headquarters while allowing schools, hospitals, and museums to be looted with impunity. Most Iraqis have since come to regard this decision, which insured that the rest of the city would be looted, as the ultimate expression of the Bush administration’s main motive for invading their country. They have viewed repeated White House claims of a commitment to human rights and democracy there as mere fig leaves that barely covered the urge to plunder Iraq’s oil. Nothing American officials have done since has succeeded in erasing this powerful impression, which continues to drive calls for an American withdrawal.

And these are but a few examples of the losses to American national security produced by a thoroughly militarized approach to energy security. Yet the premises of such a global policy continue to go unquestioned, even as American policymakers persist in relying on military force as their ultimate response to threats to the safe production and transportation of oil. In a kind of energy “Catch-22,” the continual militarizing of energy policy only multiplies the threats that call such militarization into being.

If anything, this spiral of militarized insecurity is worsening. Take the expanded U.S. military presence in Africa — one of the few areas in the world expected to experience an increase in oil output in the years ahead.

This year, the Pentagon will activate the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), its first new overseas combat command since Reagan created CENTCOM a quarter century ago. Although Department of Defense officials are loathe to publicly acknowledge any direct relationship between AFRICOM’s formation and a growing U.S. reliance on that continent’s oil, they are less inhibited in private briefings. At a February 19th meeting at the National Defense University, for example, AFRICOM Deputy Commander Vice-Admiral Robert Moeller indicated that “oil disruption” in Nigeria and West Africa would constitute one of the primary challenges facing the new organization.

AFRICOM and similar extensions of the Carter Doctrine into new oil-producing regions are only likely to provoke fresh outbreaks of blowback, while bundling tens of billions of extra dollars every year into an already bloated Pentagon budget. Sooner or later, if U.S. policy doesn’t change, this price will be certain to include as well the loss of American lives, as more and more soldiers are exposed to hostile fire or explosives while protecting vulnerable oil installations in areas torn by ethnic, religious, and sectarian strife.

Why pay such a price? Given the all-but-unavoidable evidence of just how ineffective military force has been when it comes to protecting oil supplies, isn’t it time to rethink Washington’s reigning assumptions regarding the relationship between energy security and national security? After all, other than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who would claim that, more than five years after the invasion of Iraq, either the United States or its supply of oil is actually safer?

Creating Real Energy Security
The reality of America’s increasing reliance on foreign oil only strengthens the conviction in Washington that military force and energy security are inseparable twins. With nearly two-thirds of the country’s daily oil intake imported — and that percentage still going up — it’s hard not to notice that significant amounts of our oil now come from conflict-prone areas of the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. So long as this is the case, U.S. policymakers will instinctively look to the military to ensure the safe delivery of crude oil. It evidently matters little that the use of military force, especially in the Middle East, has surely made the energy situation less stable and less dependable, while fueling anti-Americanism.

This is, of course, not the definition of “energy security,” but its opposite. A viable long-term approach to actual energy security would not favor one particular source of energy — in this case, oil — above all others, or regularly expose American soldiers to a heightened risk of harm and American taxpayers to a heightened risk of bankruptcy. Rather, an American energy policy that made sense would embrace a holistic approach to energy procurement, weighing the relative merits of all potential sources of energy.

It would naturally favor the development of domestic, renewable sources of energy that do not degrade the environment or imperil other national interests. At the same time, it would favor a thoroughgoing program of energy conservation of a sort notably absent these last two decades — one that would help cut reliance on foreign energy sources in the near future and slow the atmospheric buildup of climate-altering greenhouse gases.

Petroleum would continue to play a significant role in any such approach. Oil retains considerable appeal as a source of transportation energy (especially for aircraft) and as a feedstock for many chemical products. But given the right investment and research policies — and the will to apply something other than force to energy supply issues — oil’s historic role as the world’s paramount fuel could relatively quickly draw to a close.

It would be especially important that American policymakers not prolong this role artificially by, as has been the case for decades, subsidizing major U.S. oil firms or, more recently, spending $138 billion a year on the protection of foreign oil deliveries. These funds would instead be redirected to the promotion of energy efficiency and especially the development of domestic sources of energy.

Some policymakers who agree on the need to develop alternatives to imported energy insist that such an approach should begin with oil extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and other protected wilderness areas. Even while acknowledging that such drilling would not substantially reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, they nevertheless insist that it’s essential to make every conceivable effort to substitute domestic oil supplies for imports in the nation’s total energy supply. But this argument ignores the fact that oil’s day is drawing to a close, and that any effort to prolong its duration only complicates the inevitable transition to a post-petroleum economy.

A far more fruitful approach, better designed to promote American self-sufficiency and technological vigor in the intensely competitive world of the mid-21st century, would emphasize the use of domestic ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills to maximize the potential of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, and wave power.

The same skills should also be applied to developing methods for producing ethanol from non-food plant matter (“cellulosic ethanol”), for using coal without releasing carbon into the atmosphere (via “carbon capture and storage,” or CCS), for miniaturizing hydrogen fuel cells, and for massively increasing the energy efficiency of vehicles, buildings, and industrial processes.

All of these energy systems show great promise, and so should be accorded the increased support and investment they will need to move from the marginal role they now play to a dominant role in American energy generation. At this point, it is not possible to determine precisely which of them (or which combination among them) will be best positioned to transition from small to large-scale commercial development. As a result, all of them should be initially given enough support to test their capacity to make this move.

In applying this general rule, however, priority clearly should be given to new forms of transportation fuel. It is here that oil has long been king, and here that oil’s decline will be most harshly felt. It is thanks to this that calls for military intervention to secure additional supplies of crude are only likely to grow. So emphasis should be given to the rapid development of biofuels, coal-to-liquid fuels (with the carbon extracted via CCS), hydrogen, or battery power, and other innovative means of fueling vehicles. At the same time, it’s obvious that putting some of our military budget into funding a massive increase in public transit would be the height of national sanity.

An approach of this sort would enhance American national security on multiple levels. It would increase the reliable supply of fuels, promote economic growth at home (rather than sending a veritable flood of dollars into the coffers of unreliable petro-regimes abroad), and diminish the risk of recurring U.S. involvement in foreign oil wars. No other approach — certainly not the present traditional, unquestioned, unchallenged reliance on military force — can make this claim. It’s well past time to stop garrisoning the global gas station.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author of several books on energy politics, including Resource Wars (2001), Blood and Oil (2004), and, most recently, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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