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INSIDE ANALYSIS FROM THE USA

archived articles       Contact Jason    Jason on the web
Leopold book gets the chop

Halliburton Sold Iranian Oil Company Key Nuclear Reactor Components, Sources Say
Someone Tell Bush That Iraq Wasn’t Responsible for 9/11 Before another War Breaks Ouy
Former Army Sec, Enron VP, Thomas White Wants YOU to Fund His New Energy Project
‘When is Someone Going to Toss Rumsfeld into a Cage?’
Watergate Proves That Even Presidents Will Break Laws To Achieve Goals
Opening ANWR to Development Could Lead to ‘Exxon Valdez’ Type of Disaster, Activist Claims
BP Faces Huge Fines Related To Unreported Oil Spills in Alaska; Is ANWR Next?
An exclusive interview by Andy "Electroboy" Behrman
VP Cheney Helped Cover-Up Pakistani Nuclear Proliferation In '89 So US Could Sell Country Fighter Jets

Jason Leopold cut his journalistic teeth with the LA Times and went on to become a Dow Jones Newswires bureau chief.
more links to Jason Leopold

Direct news input story index

The Second Mystery Around Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, posted on 19 Apr 2014 by the editor
The Climate Is Invading the Earth, posted on 17 Apr 2014 by the editor
Climate or collective change?, posted on 13 Apr 2014 by the editor
Climate Change - for whom the bell tolls, posted on 13 Apr 2014 by the editor
Execution petition bites at Egyptian military dictators, posted on 09 Apr 2014 by the editor
One Nation the U.S. Actually Should Liberate, posted on 09 Apr 2014 by the editor
New global coalition urges governments to keep surveillance technologies in check, posted on 06 Apr 2014 by the editor
Gates Foundation urged to Divest from UK Security Company G4S, posted on 03 Apr 2014 by the editor
A 15-Year Murder Spree, posted on 03 Apr 2014 by the editor
Action call to suspend US military aid to Israel, posted on 02 Apr 2014 by the editor
Nobody safe from climate change - IPCC report, posted on 31 Mar 2014 by the editor
Strokestown National Famine Commemoration programme launched, posted on 30 Mar 2014 by the editor

Direct news input items

The Second Mystery Around Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
19 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - International, Malaysia

By John Chuckman
A second mystery around the disappearance of Flight MH370 has largely gone unnoticed: why hasn’t the United States been in the forefront of providing information about it? The implications of this question are massive.

Read more...
Tags: Flight MH370, John Chuckman, Diego Garcia
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The Climate Is Invading the Earth
17 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - Environment, Opinion

By David Swanson
If an alien invader with a face were attacking the earth, the difficulties that governments have getting populations to support wars on other humans would be multiplied a thousand fold.  The most common response to officials calling some petty foreign despot "a new Hitler" would shift from "yeah, right" to "who cares?" The people of the world would unite in common defense against the hostile alien.

Read more...
Tags: climate change
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Climate or collective change?
13 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - Opinion

Living with the looming effects of climate change is like living in a mountainside home lying directly in the path of thousands of tons of snow on the mountain slopes above.

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Tags: climate change
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Climate Change - for whom the bell tolls
13 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - Environment, International, Ireland

Scientists from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have issued the stark warning that unless rapid and sustained cuts to global carbon emissions are initiated without delay we will inevitably face a future bringing catastrophic climate change that will change civilisation as we know it.

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Tags: climate change, CO2, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN
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Execution petition bites at Egyptian military dictators
09 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - International

A member of the Avaaz.org campaigning team was detained and interrogated by two high ranking Egyptian military officials as he attempted to deliver a million signature-strong petition to Grand Mufti Allam, calling on Egypt to stop the biggest mass execution in Egypt's history.

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Tags: Egypt, Avaaz.org, executions, Grand Mufti Allam
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One Nation the U.S. Actually Should Liberate
09 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - Opinion

By David Swanson
"Secretary Kerry? It's Ukraine on the phone asking about liberation again. Have you been able to get them a reference letter yet from Libya or Iraq or Afghanistan? How about Vietnam? Panama? Grenada? Kosovo maybe? Ukraine says Syria says you have a reference letter in the works from Kosovo. No? Huh. They said they'd accept one from Korea or the Dominican Republic or Iran. No? Guatemala? The Philippines? Cuba? Congo? How about Haiti? They say you promised them a glowing reference from Haiti. Oh. They did? No, I am not laughing, Sir. What about East Timor? Oh? Oh! Sir, you're going to liberate the what out of them? Yes sir, I think you'd better tell them yourself."  Some nations the United States should probably not liberate -- except perhaps the 175 nations which could be liberated from the presence of U.S. soldiers.  But one nation I would make an exception for, and that is the nation of Hawai'i.

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Tags: Hawaii
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New global coalition urges governments to keep surveillance technologies in check
06 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - Human Rights, Internet news, International

A new global coalition of human rights organizations launched in Brussels says world leaders must commit to keeping invasive surveillance systems and technologies out of the hands of dictators and oppressive regimes.

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Tags: CAUSE. surveillance
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Gates Foundation urged to Divest from UK Security Company G4S
03 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - International

With Palestinian Prisoners' Day approaching on 17 April, Addameer and the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) are calling on people of conscience worldwide to take action in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners.

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Tags: Gates Foundation, Palestinian prisoners, Israel
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A 15-Year Murder Spree
03 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - International

By David Swanson
"The notion of a 'humanitarian war' would have rang in the ears of the drafters of the UN Charter as nothing short of Hitlerian, because it was precisely the justification used by Hitler himself for the invasion of Poland just six years earlier." –Michael Mandel 
Fifteen years ago, NATO was bombing Yugoslavia.  This may be difficult for people to grasp who believe the Noah movie is historical fiction, but: What your government told you about the bombing of Kosovo was false. And it matters.

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Tags: Yugoslavia, David Swanson, NATO
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Action call to suspend US military aid to Israel
02 Apr 2014; posted by the editor - Human Rights, International, Middle East, Palestine, Israel

Following the shooting dead of a 14-year-old Palestinian youth by Israeli security forces and Amnesty International's call on the US to suspend all transfers of munitions, weapons and other equipment to Israel, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has launched an online petition to urge the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to hold Israel accountable for misusing U.S. weapons to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians in violation of U.S. laws. 

Read more...
Tags: Yusef a-Shawamreh, Israel Defence Force, gundelia, B'Tselem
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Nobody safe from climate change - IPCC report
31 Mar 2014; posted by the editor - Environment, International

Nobody on the planet will be unaffected by climate change and scientists have warned that it threatens global food stocks and production, will force people from their homes and could lead to war.

Read more...
Tags: IPCC, climate change
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August 7, 2005
Halliburton Sold Iranian Oil Company Key Nuclear Reactor Components, Sources Say

By Jason Leopold
Scandal-plagued Halliburton -- the oil services company once headed by Vice President Cheney -- sold an Iranian oil development company key components for a nuclear reactor, say Halliburton sources with intimate knowledge into both companies’ business dealings.

Halliburton was secretly working at the time with one of Iran’s top nuclear program officials on natural gas related projects and sold the components in April to the official's oil development company, the sources said.

Just last week, a National Security Council report said Iran was a decade away from acquiring a nuclear bomb. That time frame could arguably have been significantly longer if Halliburton, whose miltary unit just reported a 284 percent increase in its second quarter profits due to its Iraq reconstruction contracts, was not actively providing the Iranian government with the means to build a nuclear weapon.

With Iran's new hardline government now firmly in place, Iranian officials have rounded up relatives and close business associates of Iran's former President and defeated mullah presidential candidate Hashemi Rafsanjani, alleging the men were involved in widespread corruption of Iran's oil industry, specifically tied to the country's business dealings with Halliburton.

On July 27, one of Iran's many state countrolled news agencies, FARS, an 'information' arm of the Islamic judiciary, announced the arrest of several of the executives of the Oriental Oil Kish Company, which is owned by Rafsanjani's children and other relatives.

"They were brought up on charges of economic corruption," according to a report posted on the Iran Press News website. “Following the necessary investigations by the judiciary's bailiffs, with warrants from the public prosecutor's office (mainly mullahs who only dole out Islamic jurisprudence), the case of economic corruption and malfeasance, certain of the authorities of Oriental Kish Oil Company have been arrested and under questioning. The head of the board of directors was also among those detained.”

Now comes word that Halliburton, which has a long history of flouting U.S. law by conducting business with countries the Bush administration said has ties to terrorism, was working with Cyrus Nasseri, vice chairman of the board of directors of Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies, on oil and natural gas development projects in Tehran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team and has been negotiating Iran's nuclear development issues with the European Union and at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Nasseri, a senior Iranian diplomat negotiating with Europe over Iran's controversial nuclear program is at the heart of deals with U.S. energy companies to develop the country's oil industry,” the Financial Times reported.

“A reliable source stated that, given the parameters, the close-knit cooperation and association of one of the key members of the regime's nuclear negotiation team with Halliburton can be an alarm bell which will necessarily instigate the dynamics of the members of the regimes' negotiating committee,” according to the Iran Press News story.

Oriental Oil Kish is registerd in the United Kingdom and Dubai.

Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran’s nuclear secrets and accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton, Iranian government officials said. During the first round of interrogations in the judiciary, a huge network of oil mafia has been exposed, according to the IPS report.

It’s unclear whether Halliburton was privy to information regarding Iran’s nuclear activites. Halliburton sources said the company sold centrifuges and detonators to be used specifically for a nuclear reactor and oil and natural gas drilling parts for well projects to Oriental Oil Kish.

A company spokesperson did not return numerous calls for comment. A White House spokesperson also did not return calls for comment.

In 1991, Halliburton sold Libya, another country that sponsors terrorism, nuclear detonator devices. The company paid more than $3 million in fines for violating a U.S. trade embargo that President Reagan imposed in 1986 because of Libya's ties to terrorist activities.

Oriental Oil Kish dealings with Halliburton became public knowledge in January when the company announced that it had subcontracted parts of the South Pars natural gas drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton that is registered in the Cayman Islands.

Following the announcement, Halliburton said the South Pars gas field project in Tehran would be its last project in Iran. The BBC reported that Halliburton, which took in $30-$40 million from its Iranian operations in 2003, "was winding down its work due to a poor business environment."

Halliburton, under mounting pressure from lawmakers in Washington, D.C., pulled out of its deal with Nasseri's company in May, but has done extensive work on other areas of the Iranian gas project and was still acting in an advisory capacity to Nasseri's company, two people who have knowledge of Halliburton's work in Iran said.

In an attempt to curtail other U.S. companies from engaging in business dealings with rogue nations, the Senate approved legislation July 26 that would penalize companies that continue to skirt U.S. law by setting up offshore subsidiaries as a way to legally conduct business in Libya, Iran and Syria, and avoid U.S. sanctions under International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is part of the Senate Defense Authorization bill.

“It prevents U.S. corporations from creating a shell company somewhere else in order to do business with rogue, terror-sponsoring nations such as Syria and Iran,” Collins said in a statement.

"The bottom line is that if a U.S. company is evading sanctions to do business with one of these countries, they are helping to prop up countries that support terrorism -- most often aimed against America," she said.

The law currently doesn’t prohibit foreign subsidiaries from conducting business with rogue nations provided that the subsidiaries are truly independent of the parent company.

But Halliburton’s Cayman Island subsidiary never did fit that description.

Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company and in possible violation of U.S. sanctions.

According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, “Halliburton Products & Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is non-American. But, like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.”

Moreover, mail sent to the company’s offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded to the company’s Dallas headquarters.

Not surprisingly, in a letter drafted by trade groups representing corporate executives vehemently objected to the amendment saying it would lead to further hatred and perhaps incite terrorist attacks on the United States and “greatly strain relations with the United States’ primary trading partners.”

“Extraterritorial measures irritate relations with the very nations the United States must secure cooperation from to promote multilateral strategies to fight terrorism and to address other areas of mutual concern,” said a letter signed by the Coalition for Employment through Exports, Emergency Coalition for American Trade, National Foreign Trade Council, USA Engage, U.S. Council on International Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Foreign governments view U.S. efforts to dictate their foreign and commercial policy as violations of sovereignty, often leading them to adopt retaliatory measures more at odds with U.S. goals.”

Still, Collins’ amendment has some holes. As Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney pointed out in a July 25 story, “the Collins amendment would seek to penalize individuals or entities who evade IEEPA sanctions -- if they are "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."

“This is merely a restatement of existing regulations," Gaffney said.

"The problem with this formulation is that, in the process of purportedly closing one loophole, it would appear to create new ones. As Sen. Collins told the Senate: "Some truly independent foreign subsidiaries are incorporated under the laws of the country in which they do business and are subject to that country's laws, to that legal jurisdiction. There is a great deal of difference between a corporation set up in a day, without any real employees or assets, and one that has been in existence for many years and that gets purchased, in part, by a U.S. firm."

"It is a safe bet that every foreign subsidiary of a U.S. company doing business with terrorist states will claim it is one of the ones Sen. Collins would allow to continue enriching our enemies, not one prohibited from doing so,” Gaffney said.

Going a step further, Dow Jones Newswires reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sent letters in June to energy corporations demanding that the companies disclose in their security filings any business dealings with terrorist supporting nations.

“The letters have been sent by the SEC's Office of Global Security Risk, a special division that monitors companies with operations in Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions, which were created by the U.S. Congress in 2004,” Dow Jones reported.

The move comes as investors have become increasingly concerned that they may be unwillingly supporting terrorist activity. In the case of Halliburton, the New York City Comptroller's office threatened in March 2003 to pull its $23 million investment in the company if Halliburton continued to conduct business with Iran.

The SEC letters are aimed at forcing corporations to disclose their profits from business dealings rogue nations. Oil companies, such as Devon Energy Corp., ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp., that currently conduct business with countries that sponsor terrorism, have not disclosed the profits received from terrorist countries in their most recent quarterly reports because the companies don’t consider the earnings “material.”

Devon Energy was until recently conducting business in Syria. The company just sold its stake in an oil field there. ConocoPhillips has a service contract with the Syrian Petroleum Co. that expires on Dec. 31.

Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in the spring of 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold's website at www.jasonleopold.com for updates.

 

 

June 21, 2005
Someone Tell Bush That Iraq Wasn’t Responsible for 9/11 Before another War Breaks Out

By Jason Leopold
“We went to war because we were attacked,” President Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address.

Yeah, by al-Qaeda not Iraq.

For President Bush to say publicly that the United States attacked Iraq because of 9/11 is not only an outright lie but it’s a disservice to the 1,700 men and women that died in combat in Iraq and thousands of other soldiers who were maimed believing they were fighting a war predicated on finding weapons of mass destruction. There have been no less than half-a-dozen federal probes into 9/11 all of which have concluded that there wasn’t a link between the al-Qaeda terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and Saddam Hussein’s regime.

But Bush is desperate. His ratings have slipped below 50 percent. The public is growing tired of the Iraq war. Republicans in Congress fear that a further decline in the president’s poll numbers could hurt their chances of being reelected next year. What to do? Once again, get the public to believe Iraq was responsible for 9/11 and that the war was justified. In other words, lie.

With Saturday’s radio address, Bush has publicly admitted that his rationale for launching a preemptive strike against Iraq was strictly personal. More than that, though, it proves what we, the dissenters, have said all along: the war was about regime change, nothing more.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the so-called threat from Iraq’s non-existent WMD’s was just an excuse—a smokescreen this administration used as a way to skirt international laws and to sell the war to a gullible media and a misinformed public—the president’s cabinet used so they could execute a decades-old plan cooked up by hardcore Neocons to spread democracy throughout the Middle East by conquering “rogue” nations such as Iraq like some modern day Roman Empire. They call it Pax Americana, Latin for “American Peace.”

“This war… is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman… carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were,” said an editorial in the Sept. 29, 2002 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of the only mainstream newspapers to sound an early alarm, exposing the Neocons’ secret plan for world domination.

The truth is, however, that President Bush had set the stage for war with Iraq as soon as he was sworn into office. Richard Clarke, Bush’s former counterterrorism specialist wrote in his book, “Against All Enemies,” that the Bush administration was obsessed with Iraq before 9/11. Even Paul O’Neill, the former Treasury Secretary, made claims similar to Clarke’s in his book, “The Price of Loyalty.” The White House responded to those allegations by calling both men liars and disgruntled public officials but there’s no denying that Clarke and O’Neill were on the money.

Foreign Affairs magazine titled Campaign 2000 -- Promoting the National Interest promoting regime change in Iraq.

“ As history marches toward markets and democracy, some states have been left by the side of the road. Iraq is the prototype. Saddam Hussein's regime is isolated, his conventional military power has been severely weakened, his people live in poverty and terror, and he has no useful place in international politics. He is therefore determined to develop WMD. Nothing will change until Saddam is gone, so the United States must mobilize whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition, to remove him. These regimes are living on borrowed time, so there need be no sense of panic about them."

She echoed that line in August 2000, during an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations saying Iraq posed the gravest threat to the US and the world.

“ The containment of Iraq should be aimed ultimately at regime change because as long as Saddam is there no one in the region is safe -- most especially his own people,” she said during the Aug. 9, 2000 interview. “If Saddam gives you a reason to use force against him, then use decisive force, not just a pinprick.”

The question of whether the Bush administration targeted Iraq prior to 9/11 has long been the center of heated debate between Democrats and Republicans. The Bush administration says Iraq was not in its crosshairs prior to 9/11. But former White House officials, such as Clarke and O’Neill, claim the administration was searching for reasons to attack Iraq as soon as Bush took office in January 2001.

New York Times, “Iraq Is Focal Point as Bush Meets with Joint Chiefs,” is proof.

“George W. Bush, the nation's commander in chief to be, went to the Pentagon today for a top-secret session with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review hot spots around the world where he might have to send American forces into harm's way,” reads the lead paragraph of the Times article.

Bush was joined at the Pentagon meeting by Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The Times reported that, "about half of the 75-minute meeting … focused on a discussion about Iraq and the Persian Gulf, two participants said. Iraq was the first topic briefed because 'it's the most visible and most risky area' Mr. Bush will confront after he takes office, one senior officer said."

"Iraqi policy is very much on his mind," one senior Pentagon official told the Times.

"Saddam was clearly a discussion point."


Former Army Sec, Enron VP, Thomas White Wants YOU to Fund His New Energy Project
By Jason Leopold
Beware. This could be your tax dollars at work.

The federal government may guarantee hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to help a former energy executive who publicly admitted he had no idea that the division he once ran cooked its books and who is now trying to secure funding for a new energy company he started with three ex-colleagues.

Yes, Thomas White, the former vice chairman of Enron Energy Services and one-time Secretary of the Army, who testified before the U.S. Senate more than two years ago that he was clueless about the tactics the employees who worked for him used to manipulate electricity prices in the California power market in addition to the massive losses EES—under his leadership—hid in an effort to keep its parent company, Enron Corp, temporarily afloat, is back in the energy business and this time he’s looking for a handout.

(Full disclosure: I spent a year investigating White and wrote a lengthy news story in August 2002 that tied Thomas White to the fraud at Enron, specifically that he was aware the division he ran was hiding losses and that he instructed an underling to cover up losses from a particular energy contract. The story, published by Salon.com, was removed two months after it was posted because a single email I obtained proving the allegations was called into question by right-wing journalists and the White House. I was discredited and falsely accused of plagiarism by Salon. To this day, not one reporter has ever followed up on the story or has proved that the email wasn’t authentic, despite the fact that two years after the story was first published the allegations, detailed in a federal indictment against former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling, proved to be true.)

The federal energy bill that’s currently making the rounds through the Senate contains a provision that provides federal loan guarantees for "a project to produce energy from coal …mined in the western United States… and offers the potential to sequester carbon dioxide emissions and … shall be located in a western State at an altitude greater than 4,000 feet,” the energy bill states.

According to the watchdog group Public Citizen, White and his business partners are trying to secure funding for a project to produce energy from coal in Wyoming, specifically, “a $2.8 billion coal gasificationproject in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The coal will be supplied from Arch Coal mines neighboring the power facility; it will stuff carbon dioxideemissions into oil wells; and the facility will be located in a westernstate (Wyoming) at an altitude above 4,000 feet.”

The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that "Rocky Mountain lawmakers have been eager to help demonstrate that new technologies used with Eastern coal sources can be employed in the West as well, despite the high altitudes and their coal's high moisture and low energy content."

White's new project calls for using "western coal to produce ultra-clean diesel fuel and naptha, while also generating 1,000 megawatts of electric power," the Chronicle reported

But when contacted about the possibility of funding an energy project run by a person such as White, whose business acumen is questionable at best, an aide to Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colorado, who was responsible for drafting the language in the energy bill, became alarmed and claimed the text in the energy bill was written specifically to fund an energy project proposed to lawmakers by executives with Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy and PacifiCorp in Portland and, possibly, a third unnamed company. Salazar wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the proposal because he said it hasn’t been publicly announced by the companies.

Yet Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum said in an interview that the language in the energy bill is “very broadly written and could very well accommodate other energy proposals” including Thomas White’s new project.

Slocum said he is concerned because he has heard that White has been actively lobbying lawmakers to try and get loan guarantees for his new energy venture.

Senator “Salazar and the energy committee is saying that the language that’s written in the bill is not intended to fund White’s project but White’s company does qualify because of the way the bill is written.”

It’s been two years since Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld fired Thomas White. Since then, White has kept himself busy writing a book, preparing his $15 million Florida masnsion for sale, and quietly getting back into the field that made him a very rich and reviled man.

White’s new endeavor, DKRW Energy (whose symbol has an eerie resemblance to Enron’s crooked E), is a company specializing in "green"energy started in 2000 by three other former Enron executives: Robert C. Kelly, formerly the chairman and chief executive of Enron Renewable Energy, Jon C. Doyle, who worked at Enron in an executive capacity under Kelly and H. David Ramm, who used to be president and CEO of Enron Wind and was a co-managing director of Enron Renewable Energy, according to the bio’s on the company’s website. White joined DKRW last year. The company, formerly known as DKR Development, changed its name to DKRW after White promised his partners that his connections to Washington, D.C. lawmakers would help the company secure federal funding for various renewable energy projects, according to two people who are close to White.

Interestingly, though, there’s not a single reference to White’s tenure at Enron on his bio. Instead, White’s bio states that he “has 11 years experience in energy markets.”

So what’s he hiding?

Maybe it’s the fact that the division he once ran, EES, turned out to be largely responsible for the massive losses that contributed heavily to Enron’s bankruptcy; or that under his leadership the same division was responsible for jacking up electricity prices in California and creating artificial electricity shortages that resulted in widespread blackouts. Maybe it’s the dozens of calls he made to his former Enron colleagues, a month after 9/11, while he was serving as Army Secretary, to get the inside scoop on what was going on at the company right before he sold his stock.

It’s hard to say. Neither White nor anyone at DKRW responded to numerous calls for comment about the suspicious omission of his former employer from his bio. But this isn’t the first time White’s tried to erase the past. When White was tapped by President Bush in May 2001 to serve as Secretary of the Army his bio, posted on the Pentagon’s website, was virtually wiped clean of any reference to Enron. White also co-authored a book with new business partner Kelly on postwar planning in Iraq, in which his author bio listed his two year stint as Army Secretary but failed to mention that he spent 10 years at Enron.

If White and his partners are going to be the recipients of federal loan guarantees then taxpayers have the right to know that the money is going to a corporate con man who and that they may be on the hook for repaying the government hundreds of millions of dollars in loans if White falls asleep on the job again which he claimed was the case with Enron.

To be fair, Kelly, Ramm and Doyle left Enron well before the company’s bankruptcy and fraudulent activities became public. However, during Ramm and Kelly’s tenure running the unit Enron Wind and Enron Renewable, the division allegedly defrauded the federal government, according to federal investigators.

A few months after Enron bought Portland General Electric in February 1997, Enron's three wind farms - Zond Windsystems, Victory Garden and Sky River - applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for recertification as qualifying facilities. To qualify, the farms had to be independently owned, according to a 1978 federal law.

Under that law, intended to lessen dependence on foreign oil by cutting demand for traditional fossil fuels, FERC designates which facilities qualify and oversees the rates that the producers charge buyers.

Each wind farm promised FERC that Enron would transfer ownership to partnerships that would not be affiliated with Enron. In June of 1997, FERC recertified the wind farms as qualified to sell wholesale electricity to U.S. utilities having been under the impression that Enron transferred its ownership stake in them.

However, civil and criminal lawsuits filed against Enron former Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, the mastermind behind the company’s schemes, in federal court in Houston alleged he and other Enron executives created special partnerships to hide the company's stake in the three wind farms.

“Fastow, and one of his subordinates, Michael Kopper, created "Friends of Enron" partnerships to enable Enron to maintain control over the wind farms after having ostensibly sold them to supposedly independent "Special Purpose Entities," according to an Oct. 28, 2002 report in bizjournals.com.

“The Securities & Exchange Commission has alleged that Fastow and Kopper created off-balance-sheet partnerships to disguise Enron's interest in the wind farms so that they could continue to receive beneficial regulatory treatment while secretly remaining under Enron's control.”

Kelly and Hamm were never named in the government’s investigation of Enron nor is there any evidence that either of them knew about or took part in Fastow’s schemes involving the wind farms.

But White, on the other hand, is another story. The federal government’s indictment against Enron’s Jeff Skilling lays out in detail that the division White ran was nothing but a house of cards, its energy contracts a sham, and that company executives misled investors about the unit’s true financial condition. And while White testified that he stood behind the company’s energy contracts, was unaware of the malfeasance that went on at Enron, that he was totally in the dark about the shenanigans at EES, a former employee is on the record saying that White knew otherwise.

In the Enron documentary, “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” an ex-EES is employee recalls asking White how EES is going to make up for massive losses the division suffered during a particular quarter.

“One word,” the employee said he recalled White telling him and a few other people. “California.”

Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in early 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold’s website at www.jasonleopold.com for updates.

 

June 10, 2005
‘When is Someone Going to Toss Rumsfeld into a Cage?’
By Jason Leopold
If you want to ensure that the media doesn’t cover an important political story, send out a press release on a Friday, preferably at the end of the day. By the time reporters return on Monday, the story will be old news and will either be buried deep within a newspaper or not covered at all.

That’s what the Pentagon brass is praying for.

At the end of the day Friday, the Pentagon confirmed a pattern of widespread abuse of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, by military personnel dating back two and a half years. Releasing the report when most beat reporters have left for the weekend was a calculated move by White House and Pentagon spin doctors to control media coverage of the explosive report.

Where’s the outrage?

Last month, Bush and his cronies publicly stated that a 10 sentence item in Newsweek detailing that a prison guard flushed a Quran down a toilet sparked an uprising in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia that led to more than a dozen deaths, was flat out wrong. Bush’s mouthpiece, Scott McClellan, hammered away during his daily White House briefings, calling into question the veracity of the story, until Newsweek caved and retracted the item. The magazine’s editor claimed the source who tipped the publication to the news recanted.

But even though more evidence turned up of defacing the Quran, White House and Pentagon senior officials issued warnings to curious reporters who dared to follow up on the Newsweek story. A frightened press corps cowered and the story died.

Then Bush took a trip to Greece May 24 to talk about Social Security and offered up this doozy that explained why he says what he says, damn the facts.

“See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda," Bush said.

Fast forward to the real truth. Friday, June 03, 4:40 p.m. The Pentagon identified more than a half-dozen cases where guards at Guantanamo Bay defaced the Quran, including scribbling obscenities inside one detainee’s holy book, urinating on another, kicking one and tossing water balloons in the direction of others to cite just a few examples.

To understand why defacing the Quran is such a serious matter it’s important to know that for Muslims the Quran is considered to be the literal word of God.

"Muslims believe the entire Quran is the word of God verbatim as dictated by the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad," said Jamal Badawi, Islamic scholar at St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in a June 2 interview with Knight Ridder News Service. "Muslims believe the Quran has been preserved exactly as it was given to the prophet, so that gives it special status."

Not one senior official in the Bush administration has ever lost his or her job or been held responsible for the widespread mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as well as the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where detainees were beaten, stripped and led around on leashes. Instead, what the public is being fed is a line of BS that the ill-treatment of prisoners is an isolated case involving just a handful of soldiers. Sadly, a majority of Americans are eating that up.

The Bush administration is putting innocent American lives, here and on the frontline of the war in Iraq, in harms way for its constant refusal to hold people like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his most senior staff accountable for allowing the total breakdown of military prison operations at Guantanamo and in Iraq.

And let’s not forget that in late 2002 Rumsfeld disregarded the advice of his military commanders and ordered military officials to rewrite all of their war plans to capitalize on precision weapons, better intelligence and speedier deployment during the buildup to the war in Iraq. That war plan, which Rumsfeld helped shape, has failed and has led to deep divisions between military commanders and the defense secretary, according to several published news reports.

Despite Rumsfeld’s recent denials that he did not override requests by military brass to deploy more ground troops in Iraq, he told the Times last year that the cornerstone of the war plan against Iraq was to use fewer ground troops, a move that caused concern among seasoned military officers who said that in order to assure a victory in Iraq there would have to be 200,000 more ground troops deployed than what Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz had recommended to President Bush, the New York Times reported in its Oct. 13, 2002 edition.

These officers said they viewed Rumsfeld's approach as injecting too much risk into war planning and have said it could result in U.S. casualties that might be prevented by amassing larger forces. And so it has.

This latest news about abuse at Guantanamo Bay is just another example in the never ending saga of mistreatment of prisoners that has been reported by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross. Which begs another question: when is someone going to toss Rumsfeld into a cage?

Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in early 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold’s website at www.jasonleopold.com for updates.

 

June 10, 2005
Watergate Proves That Even Presidents Will Break Laws To Achieve Goals
By Jason Leopold
Tuesday’s revelation that W. Mark Felt, the former number two man at the FBI, was the anonymous source known as Deep Throat, who helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein unravel the Watergate scandal in the pages of the Washington Post 30 years ago should be seen as an important reminder that even the leader of the free world can be devious, corrupt and dishonest.

Some things never change.

The parallels between the Bush and Nixon administrations are eerily familiar. Both bullied the press, were/are highly secretive, obsessed over leaks, engage(d) in massive cover-ups and quickly branded aides as disloyal if they dared to raise questions about the President’s policies.

The Washington Post, the very paper that is credited with forcing Nixon’s resignation, summed it up perfectly in a Nov. 25, 2003 story on the similarities between the two administrations.

“Bush… structures his White House much as Nixon did. Nixon governed largely with four other men: Henry A. Kissinger, H.R. Haldeman, John D. Ehrlichman and Charles Colson. This is not unlike the "iron triangle" of aides who led Bush's campaign and the handful of underlings now -- Cheney, chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr., national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and communications director Dan Bartlett -- who are in on most top decisions. Nixon essentially ended the tradition of powerful Cabinets in favor of a few powerful White House aides -- a model Bush has followed.”

“The most striking similarity is in the area of secrecy and what Nixon staffers called "managing the news." Nixon created the White House Office of Communications, the office that has become the center of Bush's vaunted "message discipline."

Unfortunately, neither the Washington Post nor any other mainstream newspaper or magazine in this country will ever be credited with exposing another Watergate. For one, mainstream reporters just don’t have the balls to put their careers on the line to sniff around, ask tough questions, and, perhaps, find sources like W. Mark Felt. Not even Woodward has the muckraking qualities of what Woodward used to have. Worse, editors’ at large papers don’t encourage reporters to practice that kind of reporting anymore because they don’t want to rock the boat or risk losing their jobs or be seen as liberal and therefore become the ire of the blogoshpere.

The sad reality these days, however, is that it takes a scandal such as a president receiving oral sex in the Oval Office by an intern to qualify for above the fold headlines and impeachment. Leading the country into a war under false pretenses? Sorry, not juicy enough.

The Downing Street memo that was unearthed by the Times of London last month should have been the smoking gun that finally resulted in Bush being brought up on High Crimes and Misdemeanor charges under the United States Constitution’s impeachment clause. The memo was written a full eight months before the U.S. led invasion in Iraq by Matthew Rycroft, a British national security official, based on notes he took during a July 2002 meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his advisers, including Richard Dearlove, the head of Britain's MI-6 intelligence service who had recently visited the White House to meet with Bush administration officials.

Among other things, the memo said:

· Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The [National Security Council] had no patience with the UN route.... There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action. ...
· It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.

These are some of the public statements about Iraq that President Bush made after Rycroft revealed in the July 2002 memo that Bush wanted to use military force to overthrow Saddam Hussein and that he would say that Iraq had a massive weapons arsenal, was a threat to the U.S. and its neighbors in the Middle East in order to build public support for a case for war:

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
(Radio Address, October 5, 2002)

"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" - his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." (Cincinnati, Ohio Speech, October 7, 2002).

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." (State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003).

Despite the fact that the memo was splashed across the front pages of dozens of international newspapers, it was relegated to the back pages—or not covered at all—in U.S. papers.

The memo's authenticity has never been called into question by either the Bush administration or Tony Blair's office.

"But the potentially explosive revelation has proven to be something of a dud in the United States," the Chicago Tribune said in a May 17 story.

“The White House has denied the premise of the memo, the American media have reacted slowly to it and the public generally seems indifferent to the issue or unwilling to rehash the bitter prewar debate over the reasons for the war,” the Tribune said. “All of this has contributed to something less than a robust discussion of a memo that would seem to bolster the strongest assertions of the war's critics.”

How sad for the more than 1,400 soldiers and the tens of thousands of innocent civilians who died in the Iraq war and the thousands more who will no doubt perish as this bogus and unjust war rages on. How much more evidence do we need to pile on in order for those gutless Democrats and those fanatical Republicans in Congress and the Senate to hold this president accountable for either war crimes or defrauding the United States?

One of the key figures during Watergate made a compelling case a couple of years ago for impeachment if President Bush intentionally misled Congress and the public into backing a war against Iraq.

"To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked," wrote John Dean, President Richard Nixon’s former counsel, in a June 6, 2003 column for findlaw.com. "Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

Dean said that statements made by presidents that pertain to national security issues are supposed to be held to a higher standard of truthfulness.

"A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson’s distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon’s false statements about Watergate forced his resignation."

Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in early 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold’s website at www.jasonleopold.com for updates.

 

June 10, 2005
Opening ANWR to Development Could Lead to ‘Exxon Valdez’ Type of Disaster, Activist Claims
By Jason Leopold
It’s true that thousands of caribou and other types of wildlife will be displaced if Washington D.C. lawmakers pass a measure to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

But there’s an even bigger issue floating under the radar: the very real possibility of an environmental tragedy that could be as catastrophic as the 1989 oil spill caused by the Exxon Valdez oil tanker if swift measures aren’t taken to address severe safety and maintenance issues plaguing drilling operations in nearby Prudhoe Bay—North America’s biggest oil field, 60 miles west of ANWR—and other areas on Alaska’s North Slope.

That’s just one of many alarming claims that employees working for BP, the parent of BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., the Anchorage company that runs the 24-year-old Prudhoe Bay on behalf of Phillips Alaska Inc., Exxon Mobil and other oil companies, have made over the years as a way of drawing attention to the dozens of oil spills—three of which occurred between March and April alone—that could boil over and happen at ANWR if BP continues to neglect safety issues and the area is opened up to further oil and gas exploration.

Now, as President Bush renews his calls for opening up ANWR to development, some of those very same BP employees are blowing the whistle on their company yet again and are turning to the one person who helped them expose oil companies’ cover ups on Alaska’s North Slope.

Chuck Hamel, an Alexandria, Va., oil industry watchdog has been leading the fight for the past 15 years against corporations’ BP, Conoco Phillips and ExxonMobil shoddy crude oil operations in Alaska. The safety and maintenance issues that Hamel and the BP whistleblowers brought to the attention of Congress and the public four years ago were supposed to be addressed by the oil company. Back in the 1980s, Hamel was the first person to expose weak pollution laws at the Valdez tanker port and electrical and maintenance problems with the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Hamel, who is protecting the identities of the current whistleblowers, says not only do oil spills continue on the North Slope because BP neglects to address maintenance issues, but the oil behemoth’s executives routinely lie to Alaskan state representatives and members of the United States Senate and Congress about the steps they’re taking to correct the problems. The company also denies its employees claims of safety issues at its crude oil production facilities on the North Slope.

Hamel, however, has got some damning evidence on BP: photographs showing oil wells spewing a brown substance known as drilling muds, which contain traces of crude oil, on two separate occasions. Hamel says he’s determined to expose BP’s shoddy operations and throw a wrench in President Bush’s plans to open up ANWR to drilling.

“I am going to throw a hiccup into the ANWR legislation,” Hamel said in an interview. “Until these oil companies clean up their act they can’t drill in ANWR because they are spilling oil in the North Slope.” If oil companies continue to fail to address safety problems at the North Slope “they’ll have another Exxon Valdez” type of oil spill on their hands, Hamel said.

On April 15, Hamel sent a letter to Senator Pete Domenici, chairman of the Senate energy and natural resources committee, saying there have been three spills between late March and early April, at a time when BP and two of its drilling contractors are under investigation for charges of failing to report other oil spills in late 2004 and in January of this year.

"You obviously are unaware of the cheating by some producers and drilling companies," Hamel said in the letter to Domenici, an arch proponent of drilling in ANWR. "Your official Senate tour” of Alaska in March “was masked by the orchestrated 'dog and pony show' provided you at the new Alpine Field, away from the real world of the Slope's dangerously unregulated operations."
Domenici’s office said the senator is reviewing Hamel’s letter. In that letter, Hamel also claimed that whistleblowers had told of another cover-up, dating back to 2003, in which Pioneer Natural Resources and its drilling contractor, Nabors Alaska Drilling, allegedly disposed of more than 2,000 gallons of toxic drilling mud and fluids through the ice "to save the cost of proper disposal on shore.”

Hamel has had his share of detractors, notably BP and several Alaskan state officials, who said he’s a conspiracy theorist, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

But Hamel was vindicated in March when Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed Hamel’s claims of major spills in December 2004 and July 2003 at the oil well owned by BP and operated by its drilling contractor, Nabors, on the North Slope, which the company never reported as required by state law.

Hamel filed a formal complaint in January with the EPA, claiming he had pictures showing a gusher spewing a brown substance. An investigation by Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation determined that as much as 294 gallons of drilling mud was spilled when gas was sucked into wells, causing sprays of drilling muds and oil that shot up as high as 85 feet into the air.

Because both spills exceeded 55 gallons, BP and Nabors were obligated under a 2003 compliance agreement that BP signed with Alaska to immediately report the spills. That didn't occur, said Leslie Pearson, the agency's spill prevention and emergency response manager.
BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said the company did report the spills after learning about it and said the spill wasn’t that big of a deal.

"In this case, the drilling rig operators did not feel this type of event qualified for reporting," Beaudo told the Anchorage Daily News in March. "Obviously the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation felt otherwise and that's what they're saying as a result of their investigation. It's a matter of interpretation."

Beaudo said the agency’s findings are in line with BP's own investigation that the spills did not cause any harm to the environment, aside from some speckles on the snow.

But what’s troubling to Hamel is that Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation has let BP off with a slap on the wrist. The agency is not penalizing BP; rather it said that it will ensure that the company reports other spills in a timely manner.

That plays into Hamel’s other theory: that the state of Alaska is in cahoots with the oil industry and routinely fails to enforce laws that would hold those companies liable for violating environmental regulations.

Safety Issues and Poor Maintenance at North Slope Oil Facilities Ongoing For Years

In April of 2001, whistleblowers informed Hamel and Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who at the time was touring the Prudhoe Bay oil fields that the safety valves at Prudhoe Bay, which kick in the event of a pipeline rupture, failed to close. Secondary valves that connect the oil platforms with processing plants also failed to close. And because the technology at Prudhoe Bay would be duplicated at ANWR that means that the potential for a massive explosion and huge spills are very real.

"A major spill or fire at one of our [processing centers] will exit the piping at high pressure, and leave a half-mile-wide oil slick on the white snow all the way" to the wildlife refuge, Hamel said at the time in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

That type of catastrophic scenario was wiped out of everyone’s minds after 9/11 happened.

But then in March of 2002, a BP whistleblower brought up the very same issues and went public with his claims of maintenance backlogs and employee shortages at Prudhoe Bay that he said could worsen spills on the North Slope, particularly if ANWR is opened up to exploration.

The whistleblower, Robert Brian, who worked as an instrument technician at Prudhoe Bay for 22 years, had a lengthy meeting with aides to Senators Jospeh Lieberman and Bob Graham, both Democrats, to discuss his claims.

At the time, Brian said he supported opening up ANWR to oil exploration but said BP has imperiled that goal because it is ''putting Prudhoe workers and the environment at risk.”

''We are trying to change that so we don't have a catastrophe that ends up on CNN and stops us from getting into ANWR,'' according to a March 13, 2002 report in the Anchorage Daily News.

In 2001, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission found high failure rates on some Prudhoe wellhead safety valves. The company was put on federal criminal probation after one of its contractors dumped thousands of gallons of toxic material underground at BP's Endicott oil field in the 1990s. BP pleaded guilty to the charges in 2000 and paid a $6.5 million fine, and agreed to set up a nationwide environmental management program that has cost more than $20 million.

But Hamel and the whistleblowers, including Brian, said BP continued to violate environmental rules and then attempted to cover it up.

A BP spokesman said those claims “are an outright lie.”

Still, despite the charges leveled against BP by the whistleblowers, which were aired as early as April 2001, the Senate never held hearings on the safety issues that over the years have caused dozens of oil spills at oil production facilities on the North Slope. Drilling in ANWR and President Bush’s energy bill took a backseat following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing war in Iraq. Now, with gasoline prices soaring and Bush’s claims that drilling in ANWR would reduce this country’s dependence on foreign oil lawmakers are being urged to once again investigate the issue and hold hearings before approving any legislation that would open up ANWR to development.

BP has long been criticized for poorly managing the North Slope’s aging pipelines, safety valves and other critical components of its oil production infrastructure. The company has in the past made minor improvements to its valves and fire detection systems and hired additional employees but has dropped the ball and neglected to maintain a level of safety at its facilities on the North Slope, Hamel said.

"Contrary to what President Bush has been saying, the current BP Prudhoe Bay operations -- particularly the dysfunctional safety valves -- are deeply flawed and place the environment, the safety of the operations staff and the integrity of the facility at risk. The president should delay legislation calling for drilling at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Hamel told the Wall Street Journal.

Jason Leopold’s controversial memoir, Off the Record was days away from being printed when his publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, abruptly canceled the book in February after receiving a complaint from an attorney representing Steve Maviglio, the former press secretary to California Gov. Gray Davis, over the way he was portrayed in the publisher’s press release about the book. Visit Leopold’s website at www.jasonleopold.com

 

June 10, 2005
BP Faces Huge Fines Related To Unreported Oil Spills in Alaska; Is ANWR Next?
By Jason Leopold
While the hacks working for mainstream news organizations were busy chasing the story about the Runaway Bride late last month, a real scandal was just beginning to unfold as Congress inched closer to approving a controversial measure to open up a couple thousand acres of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.

It was then, unbeknownst to the federal lawmakers who debated the merits of drilling in ANWR, that the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation started to lay the groundwork to pursue civil charges against UK oil and gas behemoth BP and the corporation’s drilling contractor for failing to report massive oil spills at its Prudhoe Bay operation, just 60 miles west from the pristine wilderness area that would be ravaged by the very same company in its bid to drill for oil should ANWR truly be opened to further development.

BP has racked up some hefty fines over the years due to a number of mishaps at its Prudhoe Bay operations. In 2001, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission found high failure rates on some Prudhoe wellhead safety valves. The company was put on federal criminal probation after one of its contractors dumped thousands of gallons of toxic material underground at BP's Endicott oil field in the 1990s. BP pleaded guilty to the charges in 2000 and paid a $6.5 million fine, and agreed to set up a nationwide environmental management program that has cost more than $20 million.

The latest charges against BP stem from claims made recently by BP whistleblowers who exposed their company’s severe safety and maintenance problems that have caused at least a half-dozen oil spills at Prudhoe Bay—North America’s biggest oil field—and other areas on Alaska’s North Slope, which the whistleblowers say could boil over and spread to ANWR if the area is opened up to further oil and gas exploration.

Despite those dire warnings, neither Congress nor the Senate plans to investigate the whistleblowers claims or plan to hold hearings about drilling in ANWR, according to aides for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Even more troubling is the fact that the federal Environmental Protection Agency still refuses to investigate the whistleblowers claims of frequent oil spills and BP’s alleged attempts to cover it up.

No one at the EPA returned calls for comment.

Chuck Hamel, a highly regarded activist who is credited with exposing dozens of oil spills and the subsequent cover-ups related to BP’s shoddy operations at Prudhoe Bay, sent a letter to Domenici April 15 saying the senator was duped by oil executives and state officials during a recent visit to Alaska’s North Slope.

" You obviously are unaware of the cheating by some producers and drilling companies," Hamel said in the letter to Domenici, an arch proponent of drilling in ANWR. "Your official Senate tour” of Alaska in March “was masked by the orchestrated 'dog and pony show' provided you at the new Alpine Field, away from the real world of the Slope's dangerously unregulated operations."

Alaska environmental officials are expected to meet with BP Alaska’s top brass sometime this month to discuss either levying a hefty fine on BP or forcing the company to make changes to its internal regulations because BP and its drilling contractor Nabors Alaska Drilling failed to immediately report oil spills in July 2003 and December 2004.
BP operates the 24 year-old Prudhoe Bay oil field on behalf of ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil and is responsible for maintaining the safety and maintenance of the drilling operations on the North Slope.

Hamel filed a formal complaint in January with the EPA, claiming he had pictures showing a gusher spewing a brown substance in July 2003 and December 2004. An investigation by Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation determined that as much as 294 gallons of drilling mud, a substance that contains traces of crude oil, was spilled on two separate occasions when gas was sucked into wells, causing sprays of drilling muds and oil that shot up as high as 85 feet into the air.

Because both spills exceeded 55 gallons, BP and Nabors were obligated under a 2003 compliance agreement that BP signed with Alaska to immediately report the spills. But they didn't, said Leslie Pearson, the agency's spill prevention and emergency response manager.

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said the spill wasn’t that big of a deal.

" In this case, the drilling rig operators did not feel this type of event qualified for reporting," Beaudo told the Anchorage Daily News in March. Beaudo said BP's own investigation indicated that the spills did not cause any harm to the environment, aside from some specks on the snow.

President Bush has said that the oil and gas industry can open up ANWR without damaging the environment or displacing wildlife. But the native Gwich'in Nation, whose 7,000 members have lived in Alaska for more than 20,000 years, say President Bush is wrong.

"Existing oil development has displaced caribou, polluted the air and water and created havoc with the traditional lifestyles of the people,"said Jonathon Solomon, chairman of the Gwich'in Steering Committee, in a May 7 interview with the Financial Times. "No one can tell us that opening the Arctic Refuge to development can be done in an environmentally sensitive way with a small footprint. It cannot be done.”

Jason Leopold's explosive memoir, Off the Record, was days away from being printed when his publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, abruptly canceled the book after receiving a complaint from an attorney representing Steve Maviglio, the former press secretary to California Gov. Gray Davis, over the way he was portrayed in the publisher's press release about the book. Leopold has since signed with a new publisher who will publish his memoir in early 2006 under a new title: NEWS JUNKIE. Visit Leopold's website at www.jasonleopold.com.

Leopold book gets the chop
Jason has now signed up with a new publisher, Process Books/Feral House, who also published published Jerry Stahl's book "Permanent Midnight".

Jason’s book has also been retitled News Junkie: A Media-Centric Memoir and publications is planned for early 2006, just as the Enron trial against Lay and Skilling is scheduled to start. For background on the previous publisher’s handling of the book read below.

 

New corporate scandal book maddens the machine as publisher pulls the plug
Thursday, March 10, 2005 11:50 PM
by Keith Harris

“Reporter’s error in ‘hatchet job piece’ confirms analysis in withdrawn book that most well known journalists are lazy”

A book that lays bare the backbones of its author's journey through crime, drug addiction, power politics in the newsroom and government and corporate scandal has brought its author head on against the very power politics about which he wrote.

Former LA Times reporter and Dow Jones bureau chief Jason Leopold said he was extremely disappointed when legal threats by a former California Governor’s spokesman rattled his publishers into pulling the plug on his new book, Off The Record, just days before it was due to go into print.
more

 

February 24, 2005
California Democratic spokesman cites legal action over tell-all book

Steve MaviglioJason Leopold
Steve Maviglio, far left, unhappy about his portrayal in Leopold’s forthcoming book, has threatened legal action if the book is published without changes to content.
Photo: Bill Forman

California Democratic Press Secretary Steve Maviglio has threatened legal action if Jason Leopold’s forthcoming book is published without changes to its content, which Maviglio claims is defamatory to his character.

Maviglio, who also serves as deputy chief of staff for Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, is unhappy that the book, Off the Record, a political tell-all tome by former Dow Jones reporter Jason Leopold, opens with a less-than-flattering portrayal of himself during his time as press secretary for Gray Davis. On January 27, Maviglio’s lawyer sent a letter to Leopold’s publisher, objecting to “defamatory statements” in advance materials promoting the book, a move that now appears to be delaying the book’s launch.

Maviglio’s primary concerns relate to the book’s opening chapter, in which Leopold recounts how he used their friendship to obtain “off the record” information and then went to press with it. Leopold writes that he tricked the press secretary into admitting his investment in energy stocks at a time when the Davis administration was negotiating long-term contracts to solve California’s energy crisis.

Leopold then describes an elaborate ruse by which he was able to use politicians, media outlets and the Internet in order to break the story, while still insisting to Maviglio that he hadn’t leaked it. Leopold claims he went to Davis’ Republican opponents, encouraging one to pass along the information to the Los Angeles Times and another to The Sacramento Bee. When Maviglio started getting calls, and it became clear the story was guaranteed to break in the morning papers, Leopold was able to beat them to the “scoop” by putting it on the Dow Jones wire service the evening before.

The Maviglio story touched off considerable controversy as the mainstream press--fueled by Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones’ demands that Maviglio step down--rushed to judgment on what they saw as an apparent conflict of interest. On August 1, 2001, just days after Leopold’s story hit the wires, The Sacramento Bee furthered the debate with three separate items: A news article, headlined “Maviglio says he won’t quit post,” reported that the Davis spokesman “acknowledged this week that he bought 300 shares of Calpine Corp. stock in June” and pointed out how, just a week earlier, the governor had fired five state power purchasers for owning the same stock. Elsewhere in the same edition, Maviglio was cited as the latest apparent transgression in both a Dan Walters column and a separate editorial called “Davis’ ethical mess.” Other publications pointed out that Maviglio also owned stock in Enron, a company whose role in gaming the California energy market was only beginning to emerge. (Note: A subsequent article by Leopold breaking the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s meeting with Enron chief Ken Lay, along with a follow-up, were published in SN&R.)

“I was concerned about the perception, but he [Leopold] says I was concerned about breaking the law,” Maviglio told SN&R in regard to the “confidential” conversation recounted in Off the Record. “My Enron investment was made five years before I started working for Gray Davis. So, I obviously wasn’t concerned about breaking the law. It’s all publicly reported. I bought that in ’96.” (As for his Calpine stock, Maviglio apparently was considered too far removed from the negotiating process for it to be an impropriety.)

Tyler M. Paetkau, Mavigio's attorney, said in a letter to Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Leopold’s publisher,“ that Mr. Maviglio never discussed with Mr. Leopold any alleged use of alleged 'inside information,’ and/or that he 'might have broken’ any law or regulation whatsoever.” The attorney said that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigated the charges and found no violations of law.

According to NewsReview.com, Off the Record is “more an account of Leopold’s early legal troubles, drug addiction, firings and bipolar disorder than it is about Schwarzenegger, Lay or Maviglio--ends up being a critique of the reporter’s own behavior as well as the politicians he has covered”.

Originally scheduled for publication on March 1, Off the Record is still listed on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble’s Web site and other sites, but the publication date has been pushed back until at least April.

Maviglio threatens that he ‘won’t hesitate to take further action’ should Leopold and his publisher fail to address his concerns.

“There are some things in the book that need correction,” Maviglio is reported as saying, “and I’m taking appropriate legal action to make sure they are.”
Original item can be read at http://www.newsreview.com/issues/sacto/2005-02-24/news.asp



Off the Record:
An Investigative Journalist's Inside View of Dirty Politics, High Finance, and Corporate Scandal
By Jason Leopold, former Dow Jones news wire bureau chief

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Off the Record is the story of the cutthroat worlds of journalism, politics, and high finance told by Jason Leopold, who survived a life of drug abuse and petty crime and went on to become one of the most highly regarded investigative reporters of the last few years, uncovering some of the biggest scandals of corporate America, the office of the governor of California, the Enron scandal and even the White House.

During his tenure at the Los Angeles Times and the Dow Jones Newswires, and as a guest reporter on CNBC, Leopold was one of the first reporters to break stories on the California energy crisis and on Enron Corporation's now-infamous phony trading floor. During this time, Leopold lived a double life, exposing high-rolling hucksters and self-righteous politicians in his investigative pieces while hiding the secrets of his own felonious past, terrified that he would be discovered.

Finally, as Leopold closed in on his biggest story to date--one that would implicate a Bush administration member--he found himself surrounded by angry colleagues and pilloried by the press secretary of the president of the United States in an attempt to end his journalism career. Off the Record is the story of how it all happened. And for the journalist, it is a reminder of the vital importance of nurturing good sources. It is scheduled to be published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

About The Author
Jason Leopold is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. He has worked for the Los Angeles Times and has been a frequent guest on CNBC; his articles have appeared in The Nation, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and other publications. Leopold currently writes about politics online for publications such as Utne Reader, Alternet, and CounterPunch. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.

Table of Contents for
Off the Record: An Investigative Journalist's Inside View of Dirty Politics, High Finance, and Corporate Scandal

          o 1 The Insider
          o 2 The Scoop
          o 3 Been Caught Stealing
          o 4 The Times They Are A Changin'
          o 5 The Score
          o 6 Blacklisted: Part I
          o 7 Back In the Highlife Again
          o 8 White Lies
          o 9 Blacklisted: Part II
          o Epilogue



VP Cheney Helped Cover-Up Pakistani Nuclear Proliferation In '89 So US Could Sell Country Fighter Jets
By Jason Leopold
When news was uncovered last month of Pakistan’s clandestine program involving its top nuclear scientist selling rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea blueprints for building an atomic bomb, the world’s leaders waited with baited breath to see what type of punishment President Bush would bestow upon Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharaff.

Bush has, after all, spent his entire term in office talking tough about countries and dictators that conceal weapons of mass destruction and even tougher on individuals who supply rogue nations and terrorists with the means to build WMDs. For all intents and purposes, Pakistan and Musharraf fit that description.

Remember, Bush accused Iraq of harbouring a cache of WMDs, which was the primary reason the United States launched a preemptive strike there a year ago, and also claimed that Iraq may have given its WMDs to al-Qaeda terrorists and/or Syria, weapons that, Bush said, could be used to attack the U.S.

Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and top members of the administration reacted with shock when they found out that Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist, spent the past 15 years selling outlaw nations nuclear technology and equipment. So it was sort of a surprise when Bush, upon finding out about Khan’s proliferation of nuclear technology, let Pakistan off with a slap on the wrist. But it was all an act. In fact, it was actually a cover-up designed to shield Cheney because he knew about the proliferation for more than a decade and did nothing to stop it.

Like the terrorist attacks on 9-11, the Bush administration had mountains of evidence on Pakistan’s sales of nuclear technology and equipment to nations vilified by the U.S.—nations that are considered much more of a threat than Iraq—but turned a blind eye to the threat and allowed it to happen.

In 1989, the year Khan first started selling nuclear secrets on the black-market; Richard Barlow, a young intelligence analyst working for the Pentagon prepared a shocking report for Cheney, who was then working as Secretary of Defence under the first President Bush administration: Pakistan built an atomic bomb and was selling its nuclear equipment to countries the U.S. said was sponsoring terrorism.

But Barlow’s findings, as reported in a January 2002 story in the magazine Mother Jones, were “politically inconvenient.”

“A finding that Pakistan possessed a nuclear bomb would have triggered a congressionally mandated cutoff of aid to the country, a key ally in the CIA's efforts to support Afghan rebels fighting a pro-Soviet government. It also would have killed a $1.4-billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad,” Mother Jones reported.

Ironically, Pakistan, critics say, was let off the hook last month so the U.S. could use its borders to hunt for al-Qaeda leader and 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Cheney dismissed Barlow’s report because he desperately wanted to sell Pakistan the F-16 fighter planes. Several months later, a Pentagon official was told by Cheney to downplay Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities when he testified on the threat before Congress. Barlow complained to his bosses at the Pentagon and was fired.

“Three years later, in 1992, a high-ranking Pakistani official admitted that the country had developed the ability to assemble a nuclear weapon by 1987,” Mother Jones reported. “In 1998, Islamabad detonated its first bomb.”

During the time that Barlow prepared his report on Pakistan, Bryan Siebert an Energy Department analyst, was looking into Saddam Hussein's nuclear program in Iraq. Siebert concluded that "Iraq has a major effort under way to produce nuclear weapons," and said that the National Security Council should investigate his findings. But the Bush administration--which had been supporting Iraq as a counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran--ignored the report, the magazine reported.

"This was not a failure of intelligence," Barlow told Mother Jones. "The intelligence was in the system."

Cheney went to great lengths to cover-up Pakistan’s nuclear weaponry. In a New Yorker article published on March 29, 1993, http://www.newyorker.com/archive/content/?040119fr_archive02, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh quoted Barlow as saying that some high-ranking members inside the CIA and the Pentagon lied to Congress about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal so as not to sacrifice the sale of the F-16 fighter planes to Islamabad, which was secretly equipped to deliver nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities and the had become so grave by the spring of 1990 that then CIA deputy director Richard Kerr said the Pakistani nuclear threat was worse than the Cuban Missile crisis in the 1

“It was the most dangerous nuclear situation we have ever faced since I’ve been in the U.S. government,” Kerr said in an interview with Hersh. “It may be as close as we’ve come to a nuclear exchange. It was far more frightening than the Cuban missile crisis.”

Presently, Kerr is leading the CIA’s review of prewar intelligence into the Iraqi threat cited by Bush.

Still, in l989 Cheney and others in the Pentagon and the CIA continued to hide the reality of Pakistan’s nuclear threat from members of Congress. Hersh explained in his lengthy New Yorker article that reasons behind the cover-up “revolves around the fact… that the Reagan Administration had dramatically aided Pakistan in its pursuit of the bomb.”

“President Reagan and his national-security aides saw the generals who ran Pakistan as loyal allies in the American proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan: driving the Russians out of Afghanistan was considered far more important than nagging Pakistan about its building of bombs. The Reagan Administration did more than forgo nagging, however; it looked the other way throughout the mid-nineteen-eighties as Pakistan assembled its nuclear arsenal with the aid of many millions of dollars’ worth of restricted, high-tech materials bought inside the United States. Such purchases have always been illegal, but Congress made breaking the law more costly in 1985, when it passed the Solarz Amend

“The government’s ability to keep the Pakistani nuclear-arms purchases in America secret is the more remarkable because (since 1989) the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defence Department (under Cheney) have been struggling with an internal account of illegal Pakistani procurement activities, given by a former C.I.A. intelligence officer named Richard M. Barlow,” Hersh reported. “Barlow… was dismayed to learn, at first hand, that State Department and agency officials were engaged in what he concluded was a pattern of lying to and misleading Congress about Pakistan’s nuclear-purchasing activities.”

The description by Hersh of what took place in mid-1990 is eerily reminiscent of what’s taking place today in terms of the current Bush administration’s foreign policy objectives and its

Hersh interviewed scores of intelligence and administration officials for his March 1993 New Yorker story and many of those individuals confirmed Barlow’s claims that Pakistani nuclear purchases was deliberately withheld from Congress by Cheney and other officials, for fear of provoking a cutoff in military and economic aid that would adversely affect the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan.

It seems that today, Cheney is advising President Bush to deal with Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation much in the same way he did more than a decade ago. Give the country a pass, lie to the public about the seriousness of the matter and tell Pakistan you'll turn the other cheek if the country agrees to allow U.S. troops to use its borders to hunt for Bin Laden before the November election.

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