August 2003: Halliburton Inc.
Fifty-days prior to the collapse of twin towers in New York, Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, told President George W. Bush that Al Qaeda was targeting civilian jetliners for hijacking. In July 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a warning to air carriers of the possibility terrorist groups might conceal explosive devices inside luggage. Can't stretch beyond that, but it was threat enough for Bush to tell Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop using commercial jetliners for travel. On August 16, 2001, a FBI arrest in Minnesota detained a known terrorist in flight training school. What Mubarak had said, [just] didn't make sense at the time, National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice said. It did make sense two hours after World Trade Center Tower 1 fell that the United States damned Osama bin Laden.
The rest of the story unfolds like a well-developed Steven Spielburgh screenplay. The leading characters touchback two prior White House administrations.
The terrorist attacks gave Bush carte blanche to enforce two Executive Orders and the War Powers Act. Under these acts signed following September 11, the president could direct the military in the name of national security, and close off the press from what he and his administration is doing. The War Powers Act involves both the president and Congress. If Congress does not approve an act of war within 60 days, the president must withdrawal troops within 30 days. The Act does not cover CIA covert action, but it [itself] is not an addendum to The Constitution. It hasn't been added, just used. Bush declared a "war on terrorism." Congress has not declared war since the 1940s. However, Congress did authorize Bush to use "appropriate force to respond to the attacks," and clearly states that Iraq could only be attacked if it was involved. Iraq was not involved in September 11.
On November 1, 2001, Bush signed an order overriding the 1978, Presidential Records Act, created after the Nixon-Watergate scandal. Bush's order prevents access to all records, confidential or not, of his and of past presidencies. The only way one can view documents is through consent of both [that] former president and the incumbent president. Twelve days later, Bush signed an order that relieves him of international criminal liability as commander and chief of the armed forces; that no state, territory or foreign court, or international tribunal has the right to question his authority or limits of authority.
President Bush seems to be the most powerful man in the world. He achieved this status faster than Bill Gates, Adolph Hitler, or his father George Bush, Sr., not that there is a personality comparison between any of these men, but they are all recognized in their own right as powerful men of the past century. Bush has now taken over two nations, Afghanistan and Iraq, despite United Nations disapproval. And he, so far, has not carried-out threats to avenge his country from the Gulf War. Even with Bush's power in place, it evades both bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Does killing September 11'ths mastermind, bin Laden, end the story prematurely?
The United States imports 51 percent of its oil. That will rise to 64 percent in 2020. The Caspian Basin is a large, untapped resource of oil and natural gas, boasting 33 times more oil than Alaska. It was only feasible for US-based companies to transport this crude via ship, by building a pipeline to the Indian Ocean, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, rather than a costlier, landlocked line through China, Russia or Iran. UNOCAL, the ninth largest oil company, pursued rights to cross Afghanistan almost a sure-bet with that country's president, Hamid Karzai, a former member of UNOCAL's board of directors. Construction plans were underway for Central Asia Gas Pipeline Consortium (CentGas), under the services of Halliburton, and its CEO, Dick Cheney. Plans were abandoned in 1998 due to Afghanistan's political unrest.
The multi-joint-venture, between UNOCAL, and two former Soviet Republics, would have been profitable, until former President Clinton bombed the region in retaliation for fallen US-embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. UNOCAL funded 40 percent of the project. In 1999, the $2.6 billion Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) planned 935-miles of pipe aligned to the North of Afghanistan, extending from the Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea, in conjunction with Enron Inc., Halliburton, and General Electric Capital Services. Once UNOCAL abandoned Afghanistan plans, Enron pursued the project independently by entertaining Taliban officials in 1999, to negotiate an Afghan-land deal from company headquarters in Sugarland, Texas. This deal wasn't sealed, and details of this meeting were destroyed. Enter, September 11.
Afghanistan is under US-military control as a result of the war on terrorism. ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, and Great Britain's BP, started pumping oil through the CPC on November 28, 2001. ChevronTexaco leads production with 15 percent while ExxonMobil at 7.5 percent. As oil soothed the veins of this pipeline, Bush congratulated US-corporate efforts. He said, "The project advances this [Bush] administration's National Energy Policy by developing a network of Caspian pipelines, which help to diversify US-energy supplies, and enhance energy security."
The pipeline across Afghanistan is born.
Bush named Zalmay Khalilzad to lead a special envoy to Afghanistan to help plan the new Afghan-pipeline. Khalilzad, while consulting for UNOCAL, would know the plans well, and he had been unofficially advising Bush throughout his presidency. Advice has both urged and yet reneged support of the Taliban. He told Bush to provide economic relief to the area in exchange, US-companies, like Enron and Halliburton, could potentially lay pipes. Khalilzad reports to Rice, who served on the board of directors for Chevron as that company's expert on Kazakhstan.
Afghanistan was first targeted for a pipeline during the 1980s, when the CIA funneled $3.5 billion through Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence agency to arm and train Islamic extremists called Freedom Fighters in order to fight the Soviets, who were there for the same reason. Once the Soviets withdrew, the fighters remained and fought for political control. The Taliban emerged and took control instituting a repressive Islamic dictatorship. A second group left the region to form Al Qaeda, which explains why the Taliban did [in fact] offer to hand over bin Laden to a neutral nation after that attacks in the USA. If the Bush administration had agreed to the Taliban terms, there would have been no reason to invade Afghanistan to "find" bin Laden.
Iraq holds the world's second largest oil supply behind Saudi Arabia, and sits on a substantial natural gas field. Saddam Hussein had switched trading Iraq’s petro-dollars for EUROs. US-companies did not have direct access to Iraq prior to takeover in March 2003, and yet the US was purchasing Iraqi oil through Russia, Malaysia, France, or China at a premium price. Pre-US invasion, Iraq was negotiating plans to open its reserves to Turkey and all of Europe.
The Bush administration steadfast in claims to free the Iraqi and Afghan residents from brutal leadership, appear to be humanitarians in the US-press. Current estimates on the takeover of Iraq and Afghanistan put the cost to military lives at 75,000 during the next 20 years. Ironic that these two countries hold enough access for two generations' worth of gas guzzling oil.
Unlike the days following September 11, the United States politically isolated itself from longtime allies, and even Iraq's enemies wanted UN-policy enforced, not US-policy. The Bush administration assumed Hussein could do "something" against the US, but is knowledge enough to invade a country? Knowing hijackers were going to board commercial airlines was not enough of "something" to increase security measures on July 22, 2001, after Mubarak's warning to Bush. It was enough of a threat for Bush to protect his own.
Was the USA under threat in year 2000? Interviews of Bush and Cheney prior to the election could easily apply their quotes to our news today. During the 2000 campaign, a key strategy Bush argued was the lack of military "readiness." Cheney argued that Al Gore's confidence in our military was "hogwash," and our lack of preparation sent a dangerous message to enemies overseas. As then Governor Bush said, "The USA needs to redefine how war is fought and won, and redefine how peace is kept."
We were not under attack that year, in fact, the state of the economy and the presidential election were the big stories, not terrorism. However, homeland security was in the plans of the Bush-Cheney ticket. As Bush's running mate, Cheney told PBS's Frontline, we must think about how an adversary might attack us. It wouldn't be a traditional attack from enemy territory, he said, it could be a weapon of mass destruction brought into the USA. An alarming comment coming from a CEO during peacetime, but not alarming to their plans.
Some corporations financially backed the Bush-Cheney claim that our country lacked military muscle. Bush didn't need to spend personal cash on his campaign. Corporate financiers gave him $25 million, with another $10 million in [still] undisclosed contributions. Andersen Worldwide (now Accenture), Enron, KPMG LLP, Bank of America, Pricewaterhouse Coopers topped Bush's list for alms. Enron, of course is now defunct even though it gave Bush $2.4 million.
Ties between Enron and the Bush family extend back two presidencies. Enron gained a hefty oil-services contract from Kuwait after that country's liberation from Iraq in 1991, under Bush, Sr. Former President Clinton supported Enron, when he threatened to withdraw US-foreign aid from Mozambique in 1995, if that country chose not to award its natural gas pipeline contract to Enron. While governor of Texas, Bush accepted Enron's contribution as his top campaign financier, perhaps because at that time the senior Bush's former cabinet members, James Baker and Robert Mosbacher had joined the energy giant’s board.
Enron was able to lobby itself a grandfather clause to avoid shoring-up plants for the Clean Air Act. A sweet sports deal for the Houston Astros gave Enron a baseball field in name, with a $200 million exclusive contract to supply power. Both stadium and power costs would be at taxpayers' expense. In 1999, Governor Bush deregulated the Texas utility markets as the California-Enron crisis was in full swing. Taxpayers in both states paid.
Enron closed, all evidence shredded, one executive, John Baxter, dead, are dramatic actions, even if there was something to hide. It remains curious though, how such a large company would simply vanish. Enron purchased land in the Alaskan wildlife area, prior to the Bush administration's plan to drill – the land now awaits auction. They secured similar land-deals in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. They were active participants in Cheney's Energy Task Force, but the White House refuses to hand-over documents related to this activity, which prompted the General Accounting Office (GAO) to sue the White House for the first time ever, in order to gain access to documents.
The Supreme Court dismissed the suit. Why would the White House protect Enron? The GAO insists that Enron influenced Cheney's decisions, which would benefit the firm financially. With Executive Order in place, Bush's former spokesperson Ari Fleischer said, the "president would stand for the rights of presidents, and [is entitled] to receive candid advice without it being turned into a news release." Does this mean Enron advised Bush or Cheney on foreign policy, or did they advise on strategy to takeover the Caspian Basin?
With Bush securely in office, campaign contributions from oil giants are still pouring in. Bush has received $195,588,148 as of the reporting cycle ending March 2003. Bush has contributed no money to his own campaign. Top contributors include: El Paso Corp., ChevronTexaco, Koch Industries, and ExxonMobil.
Cheney's history in politics, before running Halliburton stock-up 150 percent, landed him into the world's largest energy services company. After serving as former defense secretary under George Bush, Sr., he accepted the position as CEO of Halliburton. He targeted contracts from the Caspian region, securing investment opportunities between Chevron and the state of Kazakhstan, while he also sat on Kazakhstan's Oil Advisory Board. Cheney doesn't worry about political unrest, you must find the oil, he said.
Under Bush, Sr., Cheney controlled the Washington press-pool, and held tight control over what the press was told. In 1990, Cheney told the press about the invasion of Panama after-the-fact to minimize leaks, he said. During the Gulf War, the press-pool was not activated for five days into the event, and during that war, the press was blocked from information until it appeared that US-troops were on the way to victory. Cheney says, the Gulf War was the best-covered war in history. Even with Iraq’s invasion, the press accompanies US-troops full-time, which means any reporter critical of US efforts in Iraq will be sleeping alongside those s/he critiques.
Cheney denies the White House had explicit information about 2001 terrorist attacks, and explains that opponents of this view should be cautious by making incendiary suggestions. Cheney said, "Such commentary is thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war." He is instrumental in blocking further investigations around September 11, and has resisted Congress on revealing intelligence, as well as documents related to Enron.
The FBI agent tagged with finding terrorists urged his bureau to begin investigating flight schools in the Summer 2001, which lead to the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui on August, 16, said US Senator John McCain. Moussaoui was arrested after flight school instructors told authorities he might be a potential hijacker. The CIA told the White House in August, unaware of Moussaoui's arrest, that bin Laden's operatives were planning imminent terrorist attacks against the United States and possibly hijacking civilian planes, McCain said, which corroborates Mubarak's statements, not Cheney's.
While serving the board at Chevron, and provost at Stanford University, Rice has said that the United States shouldn't be in the practice of policing the world, but she supported that the USA must be prepared to police the world as it is the only nation able to do so. Her critics claim she favors lower EPA emissions. Her ties with Chevron christened her name on one of its tankers, but was renamed by the company to avoid conflict of interest.
Rice directed Chevron's board while it invested in the Caspian Basin, the company became the largest member of the CPC with a 45 percent interest. Meanwhile, a continent away -- Chevron was fighting human-rights violation charges in Nigeria for brutalizing a local community acting in protest to their presence. Chevron and other oil companies were sued for polluting the Nigerian Delta, and with illegally supplying the Nigerian government with helicopters and weapons to fight against and kill civilian protesters. In 1998, after religious-group shareholders demanded Chevron disclose details of the lawsuit on the company's annual report, the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Chevron to leave all references to the suit off its proxy statement.
In 2000, Chevron agreed to pay $7 million in fines to cleanup waters off Santa Monica, Calif., after they violated the Clean Air Act. Now, Chevron is working to rebuild villages around its Nigerian plants, and is responsible for building schools and residential homes. However, they lobbied to lower federal regulations and standards on fuel supply requirements under Bush's National Energy Plan.
Rice said that oil companies have "addressed environmental concerns, because they are important to US security, giving us [the] ability to explore abroad." Oil companies are good citizens, she said, and we can't live without oil. "We have to have American oil companies doing it."
Military posts setup across Afghanistan fall into the same line as the proposed pipeline, which will lead crude and natural gas to the Indian Ocean. US-occupied Iraq is in turmoil. The United States now attempts to regain the trust and friendship of its allies one-by-one. International banks have now decided they do not want to freeze accounts of US-labeled terrorist organizations.
The US-economic outlook is preparing for a bigger legacy-deficit than the Reagan administration, in a fraction of the time, but not to protect US-soil. The US stockpiles 6,000 nuclear missiles showing a $4 trillion investment since 1945, and 1.4 million military personnel stationed around the world, largely as peace-keepers. The US-arms budget accounts for 40 percent of the world's military spending, and US-use of chemical weapons includes depleted uranium – an agent that now appears in the blood of Afghani and Iraqi citizens.
With a constant rise in US-casualties across both Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House remains steadfast in its declaration of world peace and the end to terrorism. Without additional attacks on US-soil, the White House could say they've licked the enemy.