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July 18, 2003 5:30 AM   Subscribe

Watchdog's Bark Judicial Watch, the group that's been suing for access to Cheney's Energy Task Force notes, finally gets some docs, and guess what? Way back in 2001, Cheney, et al, were looking at maps of Iraqi oil fields. Is this the bookend clue, that coupled with Rumsfields 9/12 comments about going after Iraq, starts to shed real light on the administrations foreign policy objectives?
posted by tellmenow (36 comments total)

 
As I mentioned and linked a few hours ago here. Believe me, I wanted to post it to the front page, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:37 AM on July 18, 2003


stav, I don't think this should be buried in a thread about Iraq intelligence or something. The energy thing, until now, has been a completely separate issue, primarily about Cheney's constant secrecy. I think everyone expected to be corporate collusion, and no non-industry participants, to be the things they were hiding. To me this opens up a whole new set of questions, starting with: Why was Iraq in play from day one of this administration?
posted by tellmenow at 5:42 AM on July 18, 2003


psst..
posted by Space Coyote at 5:48 AM on July 18, 2003


stav, I don't think this should be buried in a thread about Iraq intelligence or something.

I agree, definitely. No doubt someone's going to start complaining about Impeachmentfilter or something and Matt will change the request on the posting page from 'if you're going to make a post related to Iraq and the impending war, please reconsider, as the topic has been discussed previously many times', to 'if you're going to make a prediction about how long the jail terms are going to be for the murderous scum that were until recently the president and his closest advisors, please reconsider,' but in the meantime, let's shine as much light on their lies and greed and the consequences as we can!

On preview, this isn't about Iraq, I don't think, Space Coyote, as much as it is about the Bushites stealing America, and maybe Americans getting one last chance to steal it back.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:53 AM on July 18, 2003


[/clumsily phrased hyperbole]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:55 AM on July 18, 2003


"...but in the meantime, let's shine as much light on their lies and greed and the consequences as we can!

greeeaaaaaaat~
posted by Witty at 5:58 AM on July 18, 2003


I knew that'd annoy you, Witty. But that's not why I said it, honest!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:00 AM on July 18, 2003


Fiat lux.
posted by rushmc at 6:04 AM on July 18, 2003


I'm one of the last people to even approach defending Cheney, but have you guys actually looked at the documents? The list of possible suitors (PDF) for the Iraqi oil fields has a column describing the status of negotiations with corporations/countries. The dates go back as far as 1997. It really looks, to me, like this is simply a review of who's working in/with Iraq. Maybe I read it wrong? Everyone should at least check it out for themselves.

That said, I hope it does turn out to be a smoking gun. :) Dean in 2004!!
posted by mooseindian at 6:05 AM on July 18, 2003


Consider for a moment that any realistic effort to formulate a U.S. energy policy in early 2001 would have included looking at Iraq. Iraq, yes, has a lot of oil, and at the time it was largely kept off the market as a result of U.N. sanctions.

Only an idiot would come up with an energy policy without taking note of this distortion of the market, and that without attempting to understand what would happen if this situation changed. And these people are not idiots, particularly when it comes to the energy business.

The fact that the Task Force was taking Iraq into consideration when formulating an energy policy does not necessarily mean that their energy policy was to invade Iraq. This doesn't make sense on so many levels that I'm not even going to address it.

It seems to me that there are three realistic possibilities here:

1. Cheney & Co. are simply arrogant.

2. Cheney & Co. have something to hide, because they were doing something in their own personal interest. I don't think the documents on the Judicial Watch website necessarily show that, and I don't think this is likely in any case.

3. Cheney & Co. were doing something in the national interest that required secrecy, like plotting the destruction of OPEC.

I would say that #1 and #3 are about equally possible -- or they may both be true. #2 just does not make sense, for the same reason that the general oiiiiilllll bleating doesn't make sense. A constrained supply of oil pushes prices up, which allows the oil companies to increase their margins.
posted by tino at 6:19 AM on July 18, 2003


DailyKos makes the point that Given the Iraq sanctions, those oil wells could not play any role in the formulation of US energy policy.

On preview. So Tino, maybe Cheney at al we're merely helping the Oil Co's with some corporate strategy work, and using the task force to do competitive analysis?
posted by tellmenow at 6:23 AM on July 18, 2003


("...but in the meantime, let's shine as much light on their lies and greed and the consequences as we can!"

Sorry to comment inthread again and not on-topic, but I should clarify before I get a buttkicking that I don't mean we should necessarily use Metafilter to do this, although it did sound that way. That's not what the 'filter's for, I know.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:30 AM on July 18, 2003


Also, Tino, I think your point that had to look at the market distortion is a very good one. My point is that it appears that pre 9/11 the administration seemed fixated on Iraq. Let's call it "attempting to understand what would happen if this situation changed". Hmmm. Things look pretty good for a lot of the folks on the task force if the situation changed.

I see this not as the only reason for the war, but perhaps one of the early reasons why Iraq suddenly became a much greater focal point than it had been under Clinton. For some reason: But the tone of the reports changed dramatically after George W. Bush became president, with increasingly longer narratives suggesting that Iraq was hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

Why did Iraq become so important to us all of a sudden? The above link also notes "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last week that no significant new evidence about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction had been uncovered during the current administration. Intelligence sources agreed."
posted by tellmenow at 6:33 AM on July 18, 2003


Good postulating, tellmenow.

Does anyone know if in addition to the Iraqi and Saudi maps/info there were similar documents for all other major oil-exporting countries? It seems the lack of examination of any other oil fields by Cheney's task force makes an even stronger case that the Administration was focused heavily on Iraq.
posted by mooseindian at 6:45 AM on July 18, 2003


Does anyone know if in addition to the Iraqi and Saudi maps/info there were similar documents for all other major oil-exporting countries?

Er, second paragraph from the link : "The Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) documents likewise feature a map of each country’s oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker terminals. There are supporting charts with details of the major oil and gas development projects in each country that provide information on the projects, costs, capacity, oil company and status or completion date."
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:49 AM on July 18, 2003


You know, I really hate that self-conscious little "Er" or "Um" people place before claiming someone was at fault. Skip the snide behavior and just make your point.

And ANYWAY, I mentioned the Saudi docs. But there are a hell of a lot of other oil fields in the world. Were they all under review? That's the point I was making.
posted by mooseindian at 6:55 AM on July 18, 2003


But there are a hell of a lot of other oil fields in the world. Were they all under review? That's the point I was making.

Er, in that case, um, never mind, Mr Touchy. My guess, you know, based on the paragraph quoted, is not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:21 AM on July 18, 2003


Great guess. Thanks for playing.
posted by mooseindian at 7:23 AM on July 18, 2003


Oh, sorry. Was that snide?
posted by mooseindian at 7:25 AM on July 18, 2003


To add additional context, please keep in mind the Project for the New American Century when discussing Cheney and Iraq. As discussed on MeFi last year, many of the government's top officials were involved with this group and its report which described regime change in Iraq. Note as well that this report was published pre-GW.

Thus, for example, Cheney exploring and perhaps planning around the oil in Iraq might alone be considered innocent, strategic economic evaluation. But in context, Cheney could not have avoided considering it more seriously as the spoils of an invasion.
posted by VulcanMike at 7:25 AM on July 18, 2003


Oh, sorry. Was that snide?

No, more on the risibly lame side. But thanks for playing.

To add additional context, please keep in mind the Project for the New American Century when discussing Cheney and Iraq.

To add context to the context, the site in question (not actually linked in the post VulcanMike references), is back online, so we can put the tinfoil helmets back in the cupboard, this time at least. Useful info can nonetheless be found inthread.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:35 AM on July 18, 2003


Cheney could not have avoided considering it more seriously as the spoils of an invasion.

Oh yeah, oil production is going just great! If one wanted to increase the oil supply, the quickest way would have been to do a deal with Saddam.

I would concur with Tino's assessment only to add that invasion or no, the Iraqi oil was going to go on the market by 2005: Either Bush would overthrow Saddam, as he had been calling for since he was on the campaign trail, or the sanctions would collapse the rest of the way.

Either way, anyone doing energy policy had to think about that factor, especially if you are the sort of energy policy thinker who is only interested in fossil fuels.
posted by ednopantz at 8:27 AM on July 18, 2003


Either Bush would overthrow Saddam, as he had been calling for since he was on the campaign trail,

Who's the "revisionist historian?"
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:40 AM on July 18, 2003


My take on this is that Judicial Watch sent out this press release and these specific documents as a strategic move in their fight against Cheney to get the whole story on the energy task force.

I think they are trying to make Cheney look as bad as possible by implying that the energy task force was plotting the division of spoils after the planned takeover of Iraq, hoping that this then forces Cheney to come clean on what actually was discussed and planned at the meetings, while he denies it had anything to do with pre-planning a war in Iraq.
posted by pitchblende at 8:55 AM on July 18, 2003


Who's the "revisionist historian?"

(Much Googling later)

Bush campaign challenges Democrats on Iraq
posted by ednopantz at 9:00 AM on July 18, 2003


two words:

Peak Oil

Related stuff mentioned here, here and here
posted by samelborp at 9:20 AM on July 18, 2003


Just a note, in case you miss the obvious first link from the Peak Oil site, here's the link to the Michael Klare's paper The Bush/Cheney Energy Strategy: Implications for U.S Foreign and Military Policy (warning: links to a MS Word file)
posted by samelborp at 9:35 AM on July 18, 2003


Metafilter: No doubt someone's going to start complaining

Sorry . . . tho this is the first time I've ever made a tagline comment.
posted by Fezboy! at 9:44 AM on July 18, 2003


From the conclusion of samelborp's linked document:

...What we have, therefore, is a two-pronged strategy that effectively governs U.S. policy toward much of the world. One arm of this strategy is aimed at securing more oil from the rest of the world; the other is aimed at enhancing America’s capacity to intervene in exactly such locales. And while these two objectives have arisen from different sets of concerns, one energy-driven and the other security-driven, they have merged into a single, integrated design for American world dominance in the 21st Century. And it is this combination of strategies, more than anything else, that will govern America’s international behavior in the decades ahead.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:50 AM on July 18, 2003


The irony here is tremendous. Cheney fought to keep these documents secret -- thus helping to create the impression that there was something important in them that the administration didn't want the public to know.

They finally begin to come out, just as the administration's rationales for the Iraq war are being questioned. Whether you believe there's a connection or not, you must admit it's the recipe for a PR nightmare.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:05 AM on July 18, 2003


Yes it is...
posted by Windopaene at 10:27 AM on July 18, 2003


This quote from Bush's SOTU was cited by the Dean article elsewhere on the front page, and I added it on that thread, but I'm also adding it here, because it continues to grow in irony: "Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide."

OK, now I'm done.
posted by soyjoy at 10:44 AM on July 18, 2003


ed-
Yeah, we all know that Richard Perle has had a hard-on for Hussein for years. Try looking past the headline. Bush campaigned on an anti-nation-building, isolationist FP platform. That some reporter put a misleading headline on a Richard Perle quote is hardly impressive. In fact, isn't that the exact definition of American journalism right now?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:02 AM on July 18, 2003


On a related note, the bigger bombshell that should be a FPP was just released by the Washington Post.

Bush administration, CIA had copies of forged uranium documents three months before State of the Union address!
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:15 AM on July 18, 2003


There's another possibility regarding these documents - rather than formulating strategies to get access to Iraqi oil fields, it's possible that Cheney and friends were really figuring out how to hose and/or circumvent Iraq's oil production, either to maintain higher crude oil prices or to boost the competitive edge for American oil companies who desparately wanted access to unexploited off-shore oil reserves and ANWR.

The war explanation remains, sadly, increasingly probably, but the use the government to boost our buddies' competitive edge is also a good candidate.
posted by hank_14 at 12:19 PM on July 18, 2003


He was actually campaiging both for getting rid of Saddam and for a "humble" foreign policy, whatever that meant. No question that many of his advisers wanted the former and some the latter. A two faced candidate, shocking.

Either way, if I were an oilman put in charge of energy policy early in 2001, I would run with the assumption that the sanctions weren't going to last forever and that Iraqi oil was going to hit the market and therefore a worthy subject for study, along with Saudi, UAE, etc.
posted by ednopantz at 2:43 PM on July 18, 2003


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