Mission Accomplished: Western Oil Companies Set To Return To Iraq
Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.
Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.
The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.
The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.
Weapons of mass destruction? Complicity in the attacks of 9/11? Central front in the Global War on Terror? Or just the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production?
Oh well, what’s the difference? Or, as Andrew Kramer puts it:
There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract.
Yeah, that’s it. There was suspicion. But there’s no suspicion anymore, right?
Well, it doesn’t matter. Or it soon won’t.
While small, the deals hold great promise for the companies.
“The bigger prize everybody is waiting for is development of the giant new fields,” Leila Benali, an authority on Middle East oil at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said in a telephone interview from the firm’s Paris office. The current contracts, she said, are a “foothold” in Iraq for companies striving for these longer-term deals.
And so it goes. Business is business, and oil is oil, and we have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.
It’s not that you’ll believe anything; it’s just that your neighbors do.
[i]n a twist of corporate history for some of the world’s largest companies, all four oil majors that had lost their concessions in Iraq are now back.
In an interview with Newsweek last fall, the former chief executive of Exxon, Lee Raymond, praised Iraq’s potential as an oil-producing country and added that Exxon was in a position to know. “There is an enormous amount of oil in Iraq,” Mr. Raymond said. “We were part of the consortium, the four companies that were there when Saddam Hussein threw us out, and we basically had the whole country.”
They’ll have the whole country again, from the look of things. No matter how many Americans — and no matter how many Iraqis — have to die.
Mission Almost Accomplished: Immunity For Telecoms Is On The Way
Immunity is on the way for our spying-without-a-warrant telecoms, as Eric Lichtblau reports in the New York Times:
After months of wrangling, Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress struck a deal on Thursday to overhaul the rules on the government’s wiretapping powers and provide what amounts to legal immunity to the phone companies that took part in President Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The deal, expanding the government’s powers in some key respects, would allow intelligence officials to use broad warrants to eavesdrop on foreign targets and conduct emergency wiretaps without court orders on American targets for a week if it is determined important national security information would be lost otherwise. If approved, as appears likely, it would be the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years.
The agreement would settle one of the thorniest issues in dispute by providing immunity to the phone companies in the Sept. 11 program as long as a federal district court determines that they received legitimate requests from the government directing their participation in the warrantless wiretapping operation.
With some AT&T and other telecommunications companies now facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”
“The lawsuits will be dismissed,” Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican in the House, predicted with confidence.
Somehow we won’t be surprised. Even the supposedly liberal NYT can’t help piling on:
The proposal — particularly the immunity provision — represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute. “I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Christopher Bond, the Missouri Republican who led the negotiations.
The White House immediately endorsed the proposal, which is likely to be voted on in the House on Friday and in the Senate next week.
While passage seems almost certain in Congress, the plan will nonetheless face opposition from lawmakers on both political wings, with some conservatives asserting that it includes too many checks on government surveillance powers and liberals asserting that it gives legal sanction to a wiretapping program that they contend was illegal in the first place.
It WAS illegal in the first place. And worse than that: The system it was designed to replace was illegal too!
FISA was established to circumvent the Fourth Amendment. The new law is designed to take out the few teeth that remain in FISA. And the passage seems almost certain in Congress, which once again is preparing to give the White House even more than it ever expected to get — all of which is blatantly illegal.
But the law doesn’t matter anymore, and neither does the truth. Not to the White House, and not to the New York Times.
You probably noticed that long ago … but everybody needs a reminder now and again.
House Passes War Bill: $162B More For The Destruction Of Iraq And Afghanistan
The House of Representatives [sic] has passed a bill which would fund the continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan well beyond the twice-unelected president’s scheduled date of departure. And that’s the good news.
Republicans […] applauded the passage of another war funding bill without a deadline for troop withdrawals, something Pelosi and many Democrats had sought [sic] since early last year.
“The measure provides this critical funding without bogging it down with politically motivated surrender language,” Boehner said.
“Politically motivated surrender language”! These monsters are so transparent, they’d make me laugh if their actions weren’t so deplorable. But that’s the good news.
And now the bad news: the Democrats are calling it a victory!
Included in the bill that funds continued war without a deadline, are three provisions which president Bush has already threatened to veto. With apparent support for an override in Congress, the House has “stood up” to the president on those points.
“He is reversing three distinct veto threats and signing them into law. If that ain’t a victory, I don’t know what is,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus [photo].
Bush can reverse any of those clauses with signing statements, so what difference does it make to him?
The bottom line: the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives [sic] and therefore the national purse-strings, have chosen to spend another $162 billion — $540 per person — over the next year, to keep killing people you’ve never met, in wars of aggression in foreign countries, which are being fought on false pretexts. And
“If that ain’t a victory, I don’t know what is,”
according to the so-called leader of the so-called opposition party.
Nothing in my lifetime, and probably nothing in American history, has shown as clearly as the so-called Global War On Terror just how easily corruptible and utterly corrupt the American political system is.
But even having seen it — even seeing it more clearly every day — we continue to drift along, sliding ever closer to the edge of a horrible abyss.
What’s another $162 billion? How many more innocent people will that kill? Enough?
No! It’s never enough! Next year they’ll need more, and they’ll need even more than they needed this year. And even if we’ve got a Democratic president, even if we’ve got a solidly Democratic Congress, will they dare to vote against it?
You must be joking.
This is the same Rahm Emanuel who denied funding and national exposure to any Democrat who was fortunate enough to win a primary but not smart enough to toe the party line. So Bob Bowman (who supports 9/11 truth) and Clint Curtis (who supports electoral integrity) were on their own for the general election, while Cynthia McKinney (who supports both) was torpedoed in the primary.
And he’s running the national Democratic caucus.
All we can do at this point is drop to our knees and beg for mercy.