Drilling and Killing,
excerpted from the book
The Exception to the Rulers
Exposing Oily Politicians,
War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them
by Amy Goodman with David
This is a well-oiled propaganda machine that is repackaging government
spin and passing it off as journalism.
The Bush team has invoked a basic principle of propaganda: Control
the images and you control the people... The lesson had been learned
from Vietnam - a lesson in manipulation. In Iraq, there would
be no daily television images of the human toll of war. The government
and the media would portray a clean war, a war nearly devoid of
Those who do not remember the past are condemned t repeat it.
If we learn anything from September 11 and the wars on Iraq and
Afghanistan, it should be that there will be a price to pay every
time our government backs thugs and torturers abroad-or becomes
one of them.
Kissinger once commented that he saw no reason why Chile go Marxist"
simply because "its people are " should be allowed to
Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive
"Pinochet murdered more than 3,100
Chileans, disappeared 1,100, and tortured and jailed thousands
more. He closed the Chilean Congress, banned political parties,
censored the press and took over the universities. Through decree,
the barrel of the gun and the touch of the electrode, he imposed
a seventeen-year dictatorship that became synonymous with human
rights abuses at home and terrorist atrocities abroad ."
Between 1975 and 1983, the Argentine military killed 30,000 of
its own people. In October 1976, then Secretary of State Henry
Kissinger told an Argentine Navy admiral, "The quicker you
succeed, the better."
September 11 Around the World
September 11 has now become synonymous
with the tragic events of 2001. But for others around the world,
this date evokes different images and memories of terror:
September 11, 1973, Chile. President Salvador
Allende, democratically elected leader of Chile, died in a CIA-backed
September 11, 1977, South Africa. Anti-apartheid
leader Stephen Biko, unconscious on the floor of a police van
after being beaten by police, was driven 1,000 kilometers to Pretoria,
where he would die the following day.
September 11, 1990, Guatemala. Guatemalan
anthropologist Myrna Mack was murdered by U.S.-backed military.
September 9-13, 1971, New York. The Attica
prison uprising occurred, in which New York state troopers killed
thirty-nine men and wounded eighty-eight others.
"What is most important to the history
of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?
Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and
the end of the cold war?"
Brzezinski got his answer on 9/11.
On December is, 2002, Democracy Now! ... interviewed Andreas Zurnach,
a Geneva-based UN corespondent with the German daily newspaper
Die Tageszeitung. Zurnach had obtained portions of Iraq's report
to the United Nations detailing its weapons programs. What Zurnach
had was a collector's item: He had the parts of Iraq's 12,000-page
report that the United States had redacted.
You might think the United States deemed
this material dangerous because it could be misused by terrorists.
Try again: The material was dangerous because if it got out, it
would expose corporate and official complicity in arming Iraq,
which might dampen global enthusiasm for war.
The portions of the UN report censored
by the United States identified at least twenty-four U.S. corporations
that helped Iraq build its pre-Gulf War weapons programs and rockets.
The list includes
Eastman Kodak (rocket)
Hewlett-Packard (nuclear, rocket, conventional)
Honeywell (rocket, conventional)
International Computer Systems (nuclear, rocket, conventional)
Sperry Corp. (rocket, conventional)
Tektronix (rocket, nuclear)
Unisys (nuclear, conventional)
Die Tageszeitung also reported that the
U.S. Department of Energy delivered essential nonfissile parts
for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program in the 1980s. The Reagan
and Bush I administrations also authorized sales of deadly chemical
and biological agents to Iraq, including anthrax and bubonic plague.
You would think that Andreas Zurnach's investigative expose would
be major news here, right? Wrong. "This knowledge about our
responsibility or co-responsibility for the problem now called
Saddam Hussein has been suppressed, has been wiped out of our
memory," says Zurnach. "The big papers [in the United
States] were not interested at all. The European papers, the British,
the Scandinavian, the French papers, the Italian, Japanese, Brazilian
- they were all on the telephone with me asking for information
and doing huge stories. There was silence on this side of the
The blueprint for what has happened since 9/11 was drawn up years
earlier, by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a
think tank formed in 1997 "to promote American global leadership."
Its founders are a who's who of the neoconservative movement,
which seamlessly morphed into the top officialdom of the Bush
11 administration: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice
President Dick Cheney, Cheney's chief of staff L. Scooter Libby,
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Policy Board
member Richard Perle, and National Security Council staff member
(and convicted liar) Elliot Abrams, among others.
The PNAC members had a reputation around
Washington, explained Ray McGovern, a retired CIA analyst with
twenty-seven years' experience. A former intelligence briefer
for Vice President George Bush, McGovern observed, "When
we saw these people coming back in town, all of us said . . .
'Oh my God, the crazies are back.'" McGovern said their wild-eyed
geopolitical schemes would typically go "right into the circular
In September 2000, PNAC issued a report
that called upon the United States to dominate global resources
... The key to realizing this was "some catastrophic and
catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbor."
As investigative reporter John 'Pilger
has written, "[PNAC] recommended an increase in arms-spending
by $48 billion so that Washington could 'fight and win multiple,
simultaneous major theatre wars.' This has happened. It said the
United States should develop 'bunker-buster' nuclear weapons and
make 'star wars' a national priority. This is happening. It said
that, in the event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target.
And so it is.""
Weapons of mass destruction and Iraq itself
were mere pretexts for larger schemes. According to PNAC: "While
the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification,
the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf
transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
"Since September, America has established
bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels,
especially central Asia. The Unocal oil company is to build a
pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has scrapped the Kyoto Protocol
on greenhouse gas emissions, the war crimes provisions of the
International Criminal Court, and the anti-ballistic missile treaty."
And that's just the start. "[T]he Bush regime is developing
new weapons of mass destruction that undermine international treaties
on biological and chemical warfare "
As General Wesley Clark notes in his book Winning Modern Wars:
Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire, he was informed privately
by a top Pentagon colleague that the war on terror was part of
"a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total
of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon,
Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan." Clark, a former NATO Supreme
Allied Commander, recounted, "I left the Pentagon that afternoon
Michael Meacher, Tony Blair's environmental minister 1997-2003
The "global war on terrorism has
the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for
a wholly different agenda - the U.S. goal of world hegemony, built
around securing by force command over the oil supplies required
to drive the whole project."
The feeding frenzy began the morning of 9/11. As my neighbors
and coworkers were choking on the debris of the World Trade Center,
a windfall awaited a powerful group gathered at the Ritz Carlton
hotel in Washington, D.C. The secretive Carlyle Group was holding
its annual investors' conference. The private investment company,
named for the swank Manhattan hotel where the group was formed
in 1987, has tentacles in both the Washington power elite and
the Saudi ruling class. In town for the meetings was former President
George H. W. Bush, then a senior adviser to Carlyle. He was joined
by a cast of characters who have been fixtures in Bush regimes
over the years.
There was Reagan's former secretary of
defense Frank Carlucci, then head of the Carlyle Group. James
Baker III, secretary of state under Bush Sr.-better known as the
choreographer of Bush Jr.'s theft of the 2000 election-was also
there in his capacity as Carlyle's senior counsel. But it wasn't
just Bush's inner circle gathering that day. They were joined
by a man by the name of Shafiq bin Laden, brother of Osama bin
Laden. It wasn't the first time a bin Laden had worked with Washington's
power elite, and this particular bin Laden was a longtime friend
and benefactor of the Bush clan. Bush Sr. left the meetings early,
but the rest of the men were just finishing breakfast when Shafiq's
brother's plot culminated in airplanes slamming into the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon.
A bizarre coincidence? No, the meeting
was just business as usual for the Bushes, whose family fortunes
have been greased by Saudi oil money for decades. That helps explain
why, when the United States grounded all aircraft on that terrible
day, one exception was made: Top White House officials authorized
planes to pick up 140 Saudis, including two dozen members of the
bin Laden family, from ten cities and spirit them back to Saudi
Arabia. Dale Watson, the former head of counterterrorism at the
FBI, conceded in Vanity Fair that the departing Saudis "were
not subject to serious interviews or interrogations. "
Tom Kinton, director of aviation at Boston's
Logan Airport, was incredulous, according to Vanity Fair. With
the airport still closed and reeling from the 9/11 attacks, Kinton
received the order to allow the bin Ladens to fly. "We were
in the midst of the worst terrorist act in history and here we
were seeing an evacuation of the bin Ladens!" he exclaimed.
A month after the terror attacks, the Carlyle Group took its subsidiary,
United Defense, public. It noted in its financial filings that
"the Bush administration's recently published Quadrennial
Defense Review calls for ... increasing investment ... to enable
U.S. military forces to more effectively counter emerging threats."
Translation: We just got check-writing
privileges at the U.S. Treasury.
Carlyle netted profits of $237 million
in that one day, making three times as much on paper. The old
adage has never been truer: It pays to have friends in high places.
Stroking the Saudis
The Bush family has had a long and mutually
profitable connection with the corrupt Saudi oil dictatorship.
Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the United States, has been
an honored guest both at the Bush I summer home in Kennebunkport,
Maine, and at Bush 11's getaway in Crawford, Texas (hence his
nickname, "Bandar Bush"). Bandar expressed his gratitude
to Bush I by donating $1 million to the Bush Presidential Library
in Texas. And Bandar's prodding prompted Saudi King Fahd to send
another $1 million to Barbara Bush's campaign against illiteracy.
Saudi Prince al-Walid contributed half
a million petrodollars to help launch the George Herbert Walker
Bush Scholarship Fund at Phillips Academy, the alma mater of both
Bush presidents. The depth of these connections was highlighted
when the former president visited the Saudis to "discuss
U.S.-Saudi business relations" with Crown Prince Abdullah
during his son's 2000 presidential campaign.
And then there is the bin Laden problem.
The bin Laden family, a key Carlyle investor, stood to make millions
of dollars from the war on terror-a war that has as its chief
villain a member of their own family. The bin Ladens withdrew
from the Carlyle Group in late October 200 1, but it's not just
the bin Laden family proper that was problematic for the Bushes.
It turns out that Prince Bandar's wife, Princess Haifa, had made
charitable contributions that may have helped finance two of the
It would be reasonable to think that U.S.
investigators would have great interest in getting to the bottom
of all these possible Saudi terror connections. But in mid-2003,
the Bush administration withheld 28 pages relating to Saudi Arabia's
role in the attacks from the 800-page final report of the congressional
President Bush justified this action by
saying that revealing the contents of the missing pages "would
show people how we collect information and on whom we're collecting
information, which would be harmful on the war against terror."
Or might it just be harmful to Bush's
family and friends? As Julian Borger wrote in The Guardian, "The
reason pages about the Saudi link to the hijackers (15 out of
19 of whom were Saudi nationals) are blanked out, while Al Qaeda's
questionable ties to Iraq and Iran are taken to the UN, is an
old but crucial story." The U.S. -Saudi connection "is
the mutual dependency of two wealthy junkies dragging each other
ever deeper into squalor. The U.S. is addicted to cheap oil, and
shows no inclination to wean itself off it. Washington officialdom
is hooked on the easy money Riyadh offers in the world of consultancies
and think tanks when they retire. The Saudi royal family, meanwhile,
has its own addictions. It depends on the U.S. arms industry,
of which it is the biggest foreign customer.
Brian Whitaker, The Guardian
For centuries, pillage by invading armies
- was a normal part of warfare.... Nowadays, at least in more
civilized countries, we do not let armies rampage for booty. We
leave the pillaging to men in suits, and we don't call it pillaging
anymore. We call it economic development.
The Defense Policy Board, an internal Pentagon think tank, provided
a chorus of support for the invasion, with its members appearing
regularly on television to make the case. And who could blame
them? Their members stood to profit handsomely from the war. Members
of the Defense Policy Board include Newt Gingrich, Ken Adelman
(who promised that the war would be a "cakewalk), Richard
Perle, Dan Quayle, and Bechtel senior vice president General Jack
Sheehan. As the Center for Public Integrity reported, nine of
the thirty Defense Policy Board members have ties to companies
that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2002.
In an administration that has taken a
pledge of allegiance to enrich its billionaire buddies, one crony
capitalist trumps them all: Vice President Dick Cheney.
Cheney, secretary of defense under Bush
1, spent his years in the wilderness as CEO of Halliburton, one
of the world's largest oil services and defense contractors. In
September 2003, Cheney boldly declared on Meet the Press, "I
have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't
had now for over three years .
Cheney's statement was false. Halliburton
is paying Cheney roughly $165,000 per year in deferred compensation
through 2005, not to mention his more than $400,000 in stock options.
All of which constitutes a clear financial interest, according
to the Congressional Research Service.
To Cheney, the $60 million in salary that
he drew from Halliburton between 1995 and 2000 was simply fair
compensation for his long hours at the office. When -vice presidential
candidate Joe Lieberman observed during their 2000 debate that
Cheney had done well for himself at Halliburton, Cheney replied,
"I can tell you, Joe, the government had absolutely nothing
to do with it."
Oh, really? As columnist Molly Ivins notes,
"Mr. Cheney led Halliburton into the top ranks of corporate
welfare hogs, benefiting from almost $2 billion in taxpayer-insured
loans from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private
Investment Corp. Mr. Cheney also specialized in getting government
contracts for the firm. During his five years as CEO, Halliburton
got $2.3 billion in contracts, compared with $1.2 billion in the
five years before he took over.
Halliburton, which made campaign contributions
of $708,770 between 1999 and 2002-95 percent went to Republicans-has
been reaping a handsome return on its investment .
Like Bush's patron, Ken Lay at Enron,
Cheney proved better at extracting public money than at accounting
for it. Under his watch, Halliburton inflated profits by $234
million over a four-year period, spawning more than a dozen lawsuits
for the "accounting irregularity. '148 That's a cheery euphemism
for lying and stealing, but if we called it that, you might be
shouting for people like Cheney to be put in jail like other thieves.
Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I have
a problem with lying about $234 million. Remember the Whitewater
scandal? That was the one where Republicans spent $60 million
investigating a real estate scandal in which the Clintons lost
$46,000. The newspapers and right-wing pundits are still flogging
Where's the outrage when it comes to Bush's
Iraq has been Cheney's own personal piggy
bank ever since he led the Pentagon during the Persian Gulf War
in 1991. Following that war, Cheney commissioned Brown & Root,
a Halliburton subsidiary, to study military outsourcing---the
practice of paying private companies to do jobs previously done
by the military. The Pentagon subsequently chose Brown & Root
to implement its own outsourcing plan. Halliburton later hired-who
else?-Dick Cheney to run its affairs and open the spigots for
public money to flow its way.
Cheney's outsourcing brainstorm has been
a windfall for Halliburton and other private companies. It is
estimated that a third of the $4 billion monthly cost of the Iraq
occupation is going to private contractors.
Not that the vice president doesn't have
his scruples. just ask him. Following the 1991 Gulf War, Cheney
railed against those who would profit from dealing with the Iraqi
dictator. And he later told Sam Donaldson, "I had a firm
policy that I wouldn't do anything in Iraq."
Alas, that policy was about as firm as
an oil slick. Under Cheney, Halliburton "held stakes in two
firms that signed contracts to sell more than $73 million in oil
production equipment and spare parts to Iraq," The Washington
Even with its Iraqi windfall, Halliburton
nearly went bankrupt in 2001 because of its fraudulent accounting
practices-and because of Cheney's ill-advised acquisition of Dresser
Industries, which was laden with asbestos liabilities. But as
soon as Dick Cheney got hold of the government purse strings as
vice president, help was on the way. The "war on terror"
has been a cash cow for Halliburton, which quickly became the
single biggest government contractor in Iraq.
Halliburton's whopping tally: more than
$5 billion in contracts from the U.S. government during the war
on Iraq, as of January 2004.
And that's only the beginning. Halliburton
stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars in a no-bid contract
with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rehabilitate Iraq's oil
wells. In March 2003, Halliburton was awarded a no-bid contract
to put out fires at Iraqi oil wells. Contract value: up to $7
Two years earlier, Halliburton had secured
an unprecedented ten-year deal from the Pentagon known as the
Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP)-a contract that
will send Kellogg, Brown & Root anywhere on earth to run military
operations for a profit. Value to date: about $830 million.
Halliburton's bounty has been so big that
in August 2003, even the Bechtel Group-itself no slouch at profiteering
from the war-withdrew from bidding on $1 billion worth of oil
projects in Iraq, complaining that Halliburton had an inside track."
That inside track has dramatically improved
Halliburton's fortunes. The company turned a $26 million profit
in the second quarter of 2003. This contrasts with a $498 million
loss in the same period a year earlier. From mid-2002 till mid-2003,
while the stock market sank, the value of Halliburton's shares
rose by 50 percent.
The Bush administration has ensured that
Halliburton and its ilk can plunder Iraq with impunity. In May
2003, President Bush signed an executive order that provides oil
industry companies and only oil companies-unprecedented immunity
against contractual disputes or lawsuits resulting from discrimination,
labor law abuses, environmental disasters, and human rights violations.
"In terms of legal liability,"
says Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability
Project, "the executive order cancels the concept of corporate
accountability and abandons the rule of law. It is a blank check
for corporate anarchy, potentially robbing Iraqis of both their
rights and their resources."
All this wasn't enough for the Texas oil
services behemoth. In December 2003, a Pentagon audit revealed
that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root may have
overcharged the Army $61 million for gasoline that it was providing
in Iraq. In the same week that it was revealed that Cheney's old
company was gouging American taxpayers, President Bush announced
that no Iraqi contracts would go to France, Russia, Canada, Germany,
or any other country that opposed the invasion of Iraq-ensuring
that Bush's political contributors could continue to corner the
Defending his decision to maintain Iraq
as an exclusive preserve for U.S.-based multinational corporations,
Bush explained why the victor is entitled to the spoils of war.
"It's very 11 simple , he said. "Our people risked their
lives and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that,
and that's what the U.S. taxpayers expect."
The Cheney Index
* Cheney's 2000 income from Halliburton:
* Number of Halliburton stock options
Cheney still owns: 433,333 Size of his retirement package (not
including the stock options): $20 million
* Increase in government contracts while
Cheney led Halliburton: 91 percent
* Minimum size of "accounting irregularity"
that occurred while Cheney was CEO: $234 million
* Number of the seven official U.S. "state
sponsors of terror" that Halliburton contracted with: three
out of seven (Iran, Iraq, Libya)
* Pages of Energy Plan documents Cheney
refused to give congressional investigators: 13,500
* Amount the energy sector gave to Republican
candidates for 2000 elections: $50 million
* Number of energy corporations identified
that helped Cheney's Energy Task Force shape national energy policy:
Sources: Center for Responsive Politics,
Center for Public Integrity, Moveon.org, U.S. Department of State
[John] Ashcroft warned the Senate Judiciary-Committee on December
"To those who scare peace-loving
people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your
tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity
and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies,
and pause to America's friends."
As the American Civil Liberties Union explains, the USA PATRIOT
* Expands terrorism laws to include "domestic
terrorism," which could subject political organizations to
surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and criminal action for
* Expands the ability of law enforcement
to conduct secret searches, gives them wide powers of phone and
Internet surveillance, and access to highly personal medical,
financial, mental health, and student records with minimal judicial
* Allows FBI agents to investigate American
citizens for criminal matters without probable cause of crime
if they say it is for "intelligence purposes.
* Permits non-citizens to be jailed based
on mere suspicion and to be denied re-admission to the U.S. for
engaging in free speech. Suspects convicted of no crime may be
detained indefinitely in six-month increments without meaningful
The assault on civil liberties doesn't
end with the USA PATRIOT Act. President Bush decided that he can
declare an American citizen an "enemy combatant" who
can be locked up, denied counsel, and tried before a military
tribunal instead of a regular court. The United States can send
these prisoners into a legal netherworld on Guantanamo Bay in
Whose warped vision of America is this?
Asked to explain how the "enemy combatant"
clause works, concerned federal prosecutor confided recently to
my brother: "This means that when we don't have the goods
on someone, we can just export them to a kind of Constitution-free
zone. Then we can do what we like with them. It makes a mockery
of our entire legal system."
Michael Ratner, head of the Center for
Constitutional Rights and an attorney for Guantanamo detainees,
observes, "It is as if Guantanamo is on another planet, a
permanent United States penal colony floating in another world."
... the INS did issue student visas to two ... hijackers - six
months after they died crashing planes into the World Trade Center.