[FoRK] Why so secretive?

Contempt for Meatheads jbone at place.org
Fri Apr 2 13:35:59 PST 2004

 From the conspiracy theory department in the war room;  click through 
for source links.


Why so secretive?

On April 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case 
known as Cheney vs. U.S. District Court, involving the secrecy of the 
vice president's task force that brought together government officials 
with energy industry representatives to craft the nation's energy 
policy in 2001. Cheney has fought the release of his task force-related 
documents all the way to the high court. (Follow the trail of legal 
briefs here.) But why so secretive? Is this just part of an 
administration secrecy fetish, or is there something really damaging in 
those papers? Say, revelations about a link between military plans in 
Iraq and the task force's mission of increasing sources of foreign oil 
for the United States?

For a glimpse of what might be in those sealed energy task force 
documents, let's revisit Jane Mayer's New Yorker piece on Cheney from 
last month. This explosive excerpt didn't get too much press elsewhere, 
but it could, in the end, be what this task force legal drama is all 
about. "For months there has been a debate in Washington about when the 
Bush Administration decided to go to war against Saddam. In Ron 
Suskind's recent book 'The Price of Loyalty,' former Treasury Secretary 
Paul O'Neill charges that Cheney agitated for U.S. intervention well 
before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Additional evidence 
that Cheney played an early planning role is contained in a previously 
undisclosed National Security Council document, dated February 3, 2001. 
The top-secret document, written by a high-level N.S.C. official, 
concerned Cheney's newly formed Energy Task Force. It directed the 
N.S.C. staff to coöperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it 
considered the 'melding' of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: 
'the review of operational policies towards rogue states,' such as 
Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and 
gas fields.'"

"A source who worked at the N.S.C. at the time doubted that there were 
links between Cheney's Energy Task Force and the overthrow of Saddam. 
But Mark Medish, who served as senior director for Russian, Ukrainian, 
and Eurasian affairs at the N.S.C. during the Clinton Administration, 
told me that he regards the document as potentially 'huge.' He said, 
'People think Cheney's Energy Task Force has been secretive about 
domestic issues,' referring to the fact that the Vice-President has 
been unwilling to reveal information about private task-force meetings 
that took place in 2001, when information was being gathered to help 
develop President Bush's energy policy. 'But if this little group was 
discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the 
context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney 
and laying grand, global plans.'"

In a January 2004 piece in Foreign Policy in Focus, Hampshire College 
professor Michael Klare wrote that the very goal of Cheney's energy 
plan was to find external sources of oil for the United States. And the 
Persian Gulf was an obvious oil-rich target, one the United States has 
long used military force to protect. By pursuing foreign oil there and 
elsewhere, the United States will inevitably find its energy and 
military policies colliding, Klare notes, although Cheney's energy 
report did not acknowledge this. Klare added: "However, the architects 
of the Bush-Cheney policy know that ensuring access to some oil sources 
may prove impossible without the use of military force … Whether or not 
the administration consciously linked energy with his security policy, 
Bush undeniably prioritized the enhancement of U.S. power projection as 
he endorsed increased dependence on oil from unstable areas."

If Cheney's task force records are ultimately unsealed -- despite the 
vote of Cheney's hunting buddy Justice Antonin Scalia -- we may get 
crucial insight into this question: Whether energy policy and military 
policy toward Iraq were inextricably connected from the early days of 
the Bush administration, long before 9/11 and long before we were told 
the Iraq war was about WMDs.

-- Geraldine Sealey

[12:24 PST, April 2, 2004] 

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