Wednesday, December 3, 2008

January of 2001: Cheney's Task Force

One week after he took office, George W. Bush appointed Dick Cheney to be the head of a new Energy Task Force. Since this is pretty much the first thing he did after taking off his inaugural dancing shoes, it's probably fair to say it was the number one goal of his administration. Most of what happened in Cheney's Task Force has been concealed from public scrutiny by a variety of methods used by Bush and Cheney to hide the truth from the public. For example, they have claimed that almost everything either one of them did during their 8 years in control is classified, top secret, or privileged, so nobody can ever know the truth. Since they have packed the Supreme Court with ideologues and fanatics, it may be difficult to find the truth before they succeed in either destroying evidence or burying it.

It has been well reported that Cheney met mostly with oil industry CEOs in his "Task Force." Cheney has refused to disclose to the public, to the citizens of this country, anything that was discussed, hiding the truth under bizarre claims of privilege and secrecy. Why can't we know what went on in the Task Force meetings between Cheney and the oil companies? Why is it the CEOs of the oil companies get to learn everything, but the public is kept in the dark?

What's the secret? Let's assume, for example, that a nation's energy task force would begin by projecting future needs, looking at resources, gathering information about alternative energy sources and energy-savings ideas, then putting together a blueprint for the future. So what's so secretive about that?

Some have concluded that all this secrecy was just to cover up the fact that Bush and Cheney were first and foremost representing the oil industry, and they planned to eliminate all environmental and other restrictions that would prevent their oil friends from drilling anywhere they wanted anytime they wanted, environment be damned. Okay, maybe. But that's not really a secret -- that's part of the Republican Platform, to destroy the earth and everything on it.

Another possibility is that Bush and Cheney already had a "new" energy policy by the time of the inauguration, which was simply to invade Iraq and steal its oil. Was that the real purpose of these spring of 2001 meetings, the Cheney-Oil company meetings which took place long before the 9/11 attacks gave them an excuse to start a war of aggression against Iraq?

A group called Judicial Watch, not a liberal organization, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get copies of the documents from Cheney's Task Force meetings. Cheney and Bush refused to produce anything, and litigation was pursued, with the court eventually allowing Cheney and Bush to keep everything secret from the public.

The Commerce Department did produce the documents that they had delivered to Cheney for use in his Task Force, documents Cheney had requested: maps of the Iraq oil fields. As well as oil fields in some other countries in the region. Once you get to the Judicial Watch website, click on the link there for the Iraq oil map -- it's pretty bizarre how they had it all marked up. Was that the path for the troops, the tanks, the bombs, or some new oil pipelines? Or none of the above. And then click on the link of "Foreign Suitors for Iraq Oil Fields As Of March 5, 2001." A list of every foreign country that had made offers to Iraq, status of the negotiations, what was being discussed. What could possibly be the reason for this other than to fortify the decision that the U.S. better go in and grab the oil quickly before some other country negotiates a contract to buy it.

So the question is this: if Cheney was heading an Energy Task Force to create a "new" energy policy for the U.S., and was meeting with the heads of the U.S. oil companies for that purpose, then why is it that he was using maps of Iraq's oil fields in his meetings? Why was he so worried about the exact precise status as of March 5, 2001, of all countries in negotiations with Iraq to buy its oil? Why was that such a concern? Was there an understanding that the U.S. would have to find some excuse to attack Iraq before another (big) country signed contracts for the oil? What exactly did Cheney discuss with his oil corporation friends? Where the most oil is inside Iraq, how long would it take the U.S. oil corporations to build or renovate facilities and start sucking the oil out of that country? Where should the U.S. be careful not to bomb when we attack? Or did they discuss how much money the oil corporations would give to Republicans if Bush and Cheney sent the U.S. military in to occupy Iraq, and let the U.S. oil companies go in to steal its oil? Anyone talk about kick-backs in those meetings? Any deals along those lines? Why all the secrecy?

The right-wingers that Republicans have put onto our Supreme Court in large part have backed up Cheney and Bush in their claims that the public has no right to know what they have done. Which really means we should give a serious look to available methods to removing a Supreme Court Justice. For bias (against the public) and stupidity.

The public has every right to know what any politician has done in our name. Neither the President nor Vice President, nor any other politician, has any right to act independent of the authority we give to them. We only authorize them to act in a legal manner. If they have abused their office, if they have conspired to commit crimes, if they have committed crimes, possibly mass murder, there is no court in the world that would allow them to hide the truth based on some nonsensical claim that "It's a secret."

Within minutes of the plane striking the World Trade Center, the insiders in the Bush administration were insisting that we must attack Iraq (regardless of whether Iraq had anything to do with the attacks, which it didn't). It almost sounds like they had it planned already.

If we are to continue to be a nation of laws, we must enforce our laws against the rich and powerful. It doesn't take make courage (or compassion) to pick up a derelict from a subway grate and throw him into a drunk tank. Sometimes our leaders are called upon to exhibit courage, to do what is right, to stand up against powerful forces and speak the truth. Somebody needs to stand up for the people. They cannot allow Bush and Cheney to leave office and live out their lives without being held accountable -- brought to account for their actions -- before the U.S. public and before the world. When Bush took office as President, he was constitutionally required to give the following oath, under penalty of perjury: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Is that just a joke too?

If Cheney and Bush conspired to start a war against Iraq on false grounds, and the Cheney Task Force includes communications about that subject matter, then everything -- all papers, documents, communications -- relating to that Task Force and its meetings should not be subject to any claim of privilege, since they may contain evidence of planned criminal activity. At a minimum, full disclosure should be compelled and the evidence weighed by an impartial tribunal to determine whether there is evidence of criminal intent and conspiracy.

We need independent prosecutors, truth commissions, and public hearings.

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