Cheney's Task Force, Banned Weapons and Record Oil Profits

The following post was written by Tom Philpott in the comments of the RL article on Banned Iraqi Weapons being Shuttled to Syria. He raises some excellent points that should be highlighted and addressed by the Reformed Leftists who also post here.

From the above-linked article:

James Inhofe, R-Okla., recently said, " ... This old argument of weapons of mass destruction, which has always been a phony argument from the beginning, now that we have information that's been testified ... in closed session, by this Gen. Sadas [sic] – all kinds of evidence as to the individuals who transported the weapons out of Iraq into Syria."

What in the world is this supposed to mean? In what sense was WMD a "phony argument"? Who used it to justify war in the first place? The evidence comes from an Iraqi general serving at the pleasure of the US occupation, filtered through a sub-literate GOP congressman? And what precisely is this "all kinds of evidence"?

Here's something to chew on. In 2001, prior to Sept. 11, Cheney convened an Energy Task Force with the express purpose of making energy policy for the US. It was composed (evidently) solely of big-time energy execs (including pre-disgrace "Kenny Boy" Lay). At that meeting the men looked at maps of Iraq--divided not according to political boundaries, but rather by oil-production centers. I'm fully prepared to believe other explanations than that Cheney was planning, pre-9/11, to invade Iraq. All the VP has to do is release minutes--something he has refused to do despite persistent pressure. Why? Why do citizens not have the right to review the policy proceedings of our elected leaders? What is he hiding, and under what principle is he hiding it? How do you guys justify his refusal to reveal the energy task-force proceedings. Is energy policy, like monetary policy in our system, somehow to take place away from the public gaze? As i've asked before, *these* are the guys who have elected themselves to go around imposing democracy at the barrel of a gun?

Let's start with a little openness at home.

Let's also discuss how instability in Iraq affects world oil prices. Let's talk about record profits for oil conglomerates. Let's talk about how the invasion of Afghanistan affected the natural gas pipeline deal that Clinton failed to close. The people in that meeting with Cheney have been the beneficiaries of the Bush administration's imperial excursions.

I repeat Tom's question: How do you guys justify his refusal to reveal the energy task-force proceedings? Especially when ordered to do so by the GAO?? This was the first sign that the Bush regime had no regard for legal procedure or for the other branches of government.

What say ye?


Paul Hue said...

Nadir: I understand two logical reasons to not release transcripts of a meeting comprising elected officials and private business leaders:

1) They were plotting activities that are illegal and/or unsavory.


2) The condition of the meeting as advertised to participants was that they would be free to express themselves off-the-record, so as to promote free "brain-storming" discussion; lifting that condition after the fact would undermine future efforts to conduct such a meeting.

Thus I suppose that this discussion distills to the question: Should we permit public officials to participate in, or lead, off-the-record meetings?

Subsequent questions include:

How can an "open" and "transparent" government have such meetings?


How can an "effective" government *NOT* have such meetings?

Paul Hue said...

Y'all business-haters see the most sinister implications in even the most innocuous facts; such as: a meeting of US officials and oil executives showing Iraq divided according to oil geographical demarkations rather than political boundries. How could a dicussion of oil in Iraq *NOT* include such a map?

For three summers I worked for a US oil company, as an engineering intern. We had Texas maps like that all over our office. None of them involved plots to overtake Texas and steal its oil.

Paul Hue said...

"Let's talk about record profits for oil conglomerates."

Let's! Thank god for profits! They permit humans to aquire the goods and services that they need. In a free market, such as the US, they translate into increased wealth for millions of people, mostly people of modest means.

Please described any sinister aspects to the record petro profits. Have profit *margins* increased? Or merely units sold and/or prices?

The answer, of course, is that units sold and prices have increased. The biggest reasons for these increases is that millions of Chinese and Indians now live productive lives of self-sufficiency, living off of wage income rather than western relief dolars. Would you rather pay a few dimes more per gallon of petro so that millions of formerly starving people can pay for their own food, cloths, shelter, and trasnportation via their own labor? Or would you rather they return to depending on your private cotributions to UNICEF, or donations of your tax dollars as "foriegn aid"?

Nadir said...

The courts have subpoenaed the minutes of that meeting, but Cheney refuses to give them up. Isn't that illegal? Shouldn't the vice-president have to obey the law?

Paul Hue said...

I certainly support the three branches checking each other. I don't know if this is illegal. I don't even know if it should be illegal. The branches checking each other does not -- and should not -- mean any absolute power of one over the other.

You and Tom seem certain that govt officials should never have off-the-record meetings; I am uncertain if I agree. I *am* certain that such meetings do not neccessarily indicate illegal or unsavory conduct, though of course such conduct would require such meetings. But maximally effective operations of any enterprise surely does as well.

You might be able to convince me that a judge should have access to these records. But it's pretty hard to take you and Tom seriously on such matters since it seems that you guys oppose everything that Bush does no matter what.

sixstringslinger said...

Were Clinton's (I know Nadir, I know, you hate Clinton too) energy policy meetings subpeoned by the GAO? I don't know the answer to that questions, but I'd be very, very surpised if they were.

Cheney gave his reason, which Paul referred to and I agree with Paul's assessment. How can you expect attendees at a policy meeting to bring off-the-record ideas to the table if there is the chance they will be made public at some point?

That's how brainstorming sessions work.

Tom Philpott said...

But the Energy Task Force was charged with making national energy policy; it wasn't a mere "brainstorming session." Don't you guys want to know what went on?