Monday, October 18


Via Smirking Chimp, "A Republican businessman vilifies George Bush."

Be warned. This sounds like a tinfoil-hat story, but it's only the conclusions that are in question -- the facts are documented. It reminds me a little of the Robert Redford film Three Days of the Condor, in which a CIA officer (Cliff Robertson) tells Redford at the end, "When the oil is running low, Americans won't ask us how we've done it; they'll just want us to go out and get it for them." (He must have been a Bushie.)

Schwarz' signature revelation is the story of what happened to an obscure Argentinean company, the Bridas Corporation--and how that might explain 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

There is $7.34 trillion worth of petroleum and another $3 trillion of natural gas in the Caspian Basin. A pipeline across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India could bring it to market. (Included in this "market" are a number of gas-fired power plants in Pakistan, owned by US corporations, and, at the time, an Enron project in Dabhol, India.)

In 1995 the Bridas Corporation was negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan to build the pipeline. The U.S. Government and the Unocal Corporation were pressing the Taliban fiercely to decline. In January of 1996, however, Bridas signed the contract to proceed: it now controlled the flow of Caspian riches.
Fast forward to1998. The Project for a New American Century is staffed by a group of "neoconservatives," starkly rightwing political thinkers and activists. It is committed to maintaining the military and economic supremacy in the world accorded the United States by the collapse of the Soviet Union. On January 26, 1998, the PNAC sent a letter to President Clinton urging the removal of Saddam Hussein by military means, if necessary. Should he remain in power, much would be put at hazard, including "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil." Signing the letter were Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, Zalmay Khalilzad, John Bolton, Richard Armitage, and Elliott Abrams.

Fast forward now to 2000, an election year. Eleven members of the PNAC would assume prominent roles in the upcoming administration of George W. Bush: the signers of the 1998 letter to Clinton, plus Richard Cheney, Douglas Feith, and Lewis Libby. In September the PNAC made public another document, a 90-page report entitled, "Rebuilding America's Defenses." The new document advocated pre-emptive war--something never done in the history of the nation--but it realized how sharp a departure this would be. The "transformation" would be long and difficult, in the absence of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor." President Bush, early in his Administration, formally adopted the concept when he signed and issued the National Security Strategy document.

One more fast forward: to January of 2001. The Bush Administration has taken office, and the linkages with the oil industry are intimate, historic, and huge. The president and vice president are just the openers: eight cabinet members and the National Security Advisor were drafted directly from the oil industry, and so were 32 other officials, in the Departments of Defense, State, Energy, Agriculture, Interior, and the Office of Management and Budget.

Vice President Dick Cheney convenes his supersecret "Energy Task Force." Its membership and deliberations remain deliberately obscured, but Schwarz is certain the forced removal of the Taliban and the Bridas Corporation was discussed. The citizen group Judicial Watch did force the release of a few documents, however, with a lawsuit. Prominent among them is a map of the Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, tanker terminals, and oil exploration blocks: the Cheney Task Force had more than a passing interest in Iraqi oil, as well.

From Paul O'Neill and others we know the new Bush people, from their first days in office, intended to invade Iraq. Less well known was the covert planning, undertaken in the spring of 2001, for an attack on Afghanistan. The State Department gained the concurrence of both India and Pakistan for the attack, but as late as August 2, U.S. negotiators were still asking the Taliban to rescind the pipeline contract with the Bridas Corporation. The negotiations were fruitless.

On August 6, 2001, President Bush ignored the CIA's warning of a terrorist attack contained in the "Presidential Daily Briefing," and 36 days later the World Trade Center was rubble. Was this the "catastrophic and catalyzing event" the Project for a New American Century anticipated, and was the Bush Administration in any way involved?

The Internet is full of assertions that it was. Websites, books, and DVD's abound, making their cases--some alarming, others hyperbolic, conspiratorial, or looney. Michael Ruppert 's book Crossing the Rubicon is alarming. Ruppert lays the blame for 9/11 directly at the feet of Vice President Cheney, and his argument was worthy enough to stimulate an invitation from the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco--hardly on the lunatic fringe--to present it in person. Speaking on August 31, 2004, Ruppert did so. Attorney Stanley Hilton, on the other hand, claims George Bush personally signed the order authorizing the attacks of 9/11, and he intends to prove it in a court of law. Mr. Hilton was chief of staff for Senator Robert Dole, which is a decent enough credential to keep him out of the looney bin, but his assertion does give pause to reasonable people.

The reasonable people of New York City, however, are evenly split: a Zogby International poll in late August found 49.3% of those interviewed believed the Bush Administration had foreknowledge of the attacks on the Trade Towers and "consciously failed" to act.

To Karl Schwarz' credit, he chooses only to establish the dots of fact, leaving it to others to connect them and find culpability. But his dots show the Bush Administration was fully aware of the Bridas contract and its threat to the domestic oil industry.

Anyone past middle school can understand how desperately the Bush Administration needed a credible excuse to proceed with its planned attack on Afghanistan. To suggest 9/11 was engineered is risky, but to consider it an unrelated coincidence is asking a great deal. Can anyone be that lucky? There is, of course, a middle ground between engineering and random good fortune: the Bush Administration might in fact have known about the impending disaster but chose, as half of the New Yorkers believe, to do nothing.

On October 7, 2001 the attack on Afghanistan--planned long before 9/11--was undertaken. On December 31, Hamid Karzai is appointed by the Bush Administration to be interim president of Afghanistan, and much has been made of his former service to the Unocal Corporation, as a consultant on the Trans Afghanistan pipeline.

With the Taliban deposed, the Bridas Corporation's contract to build the pipeline was now in play, and on February 8, 2002 its fate was sealed. Presidents Karzai of Afghanistan and Musharraf of Pakistan agreed to a new plan for a pipeline, and by the end of the year a project known as the Central Asia Pipeline was born. The Bridas contract was, in Karl Schwarz' words, breached by US military force.

On February 23, 2003 the Bush Administration agreed to finance the Central Asia Pipeline and protect it with US troops, stationed at permanent bases in the region.
The $10 trillion of hydrocarbon fluids in the Caspian Basin are now firmly controlled by US oil companies, including BP/Amoco, Chevron-Texaco, Amerada Hess, Devon Energy, and Remington/Western Resources. (These companies also have in common a law firm to represent them: Baker Botts of Houston, Texas. The senior partner in the firm is James Baker, the engineer of George Bush's selection as President by the Supreme Court, and former Secretary of State in the first Bush Administration. Baker Botts has been retained also by Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia. Prince Aziz has been accused of complicity in 9/11--and sued--by the families of World Trade Center victims, and Baker Botts is defending him.)

In Afghanistan, neither the Bridas Corporation--nor Osama bin Laden--has been seen or heard of since.

Does the Afghanistan episode demonstrate the influence of the oil industry in the administration of George W. Bush? Does it explain what happened next?

With "Mission Accomplished" in Afghanistan, the doctrine of pre-emptive war can now be applied elsewhere.

President Bush spoke repeatedly of an al Qaida-Iraqi linkage, deliberately and successfully (and we know now falsely) persuading the American public Saddam Hussein was an accessory to 9/11. Chemical weapons, biological weapons, soon-to-be nuclear weapons. Months and months of lies and deception at home, of arm twisting abroad and at the United Nations. And then came the "pre-emptive" invasion.

Now that the lies of the Bush Administration have been exposed, we are told the Iraqi adventure was undertaken to bring freedom and democracy to that tragic region of the world. Liberation to the Iraqis, however, looks more like occupation. And the construction, once more, of permanent military bases in Iraq provides ample reason to feel that way.

US military might has now cordoned off, during the Bush Administration, both the $10 trillion in Caspian Basin resources and the world's second largest pool of petroleum in Iraq. This is a fact, one of Karl Schwarz' dots. Is it truly just a collateral result, a mere by-product of bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East?

Ask who benefits from the fact. Ask who bears the costs. And ask how it happened. Karl Schwarz can answer all three questions, with names, dates, and places. He will let you connect his dots.


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