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Friday, September 29, 2006

Feuding Allies and Rising Taliban

[Editor's Note: I'm changing the blog's methodology to provide more support to previous comments. The statements I routinely make are not available in the Mainstream Media, nor do they rely on conglomerate-controlled news divisions. I am able to stay ahead of the news cycle by receiving my news unfiltered from global sources, rather than wait for the far lamer, sanitized version of events that emerges later in the MSM in the US. Also, with topics in my blog devoted to breaking news, it's necessary to reference subsequent articles that support my conclusions as they come out. I pride myself on my ability to predict the news, and want to prove I am correct when my prescient positions are subsequently vindicated.]

In my Sept. 18 post, "The Terror War's Ugly, Slow Death in the Steamy Jungles of Realpolitik," I make the following statement:

"Bush's War on Terror has been checked by a potent combination of limitations. For the first time in the President's reign, the Administration has been put in a position where policy must be changed in order to work."

I believe I'm on target with this opinion. I will prove the validity of my earlier positions as they emerge in the media.

"The Terror War's Ugly, Slow Death..." focused on the following areas:
-Geneva/Legal -Military -Geopolitics -Legislative Politics -Image

In each of these areas, the goals of Bush's foreign policy embodied in the War on Terror have become unachievable. It's my intention to provide new and additional sources of evidence to support the positions I've previously taken on these various functional deficiencies.

Bush faces major Image problems in his foreign policy positions where Pakistan and Afghanistan are concerned.

Pakistan was in the news as Prime Minister Musharraf visited the US, alongside the impotentee derisively called "The Mayor of Kabul", Hamed Karzai.

The image of solidarity, two allies in the War on Terror locked hand-to-hand alongside Bush would seem to have worked on the Image level, a sort of Begin/Sadat/Carter Camp David achievement. Yet working insidiously beneath the storyline was a real life feud between the two leaders. I was surprised to see the MSM devote some coverage to the scope of the problem.

Today, Friday the 29th, Fox's Martha Weaver interviewed Martin Smith, a Frontline producer who has made a documentary "Rise of the Taliban" to be shown October 3rd.

During the interview, Smith talked about the difficulties of penetrating the tribal lands where bin Laden apparently has been sheltered. Anyone aware of just how hard it is to govern Pakistan and the fact Alexander was the last conqueror to pacify Afghanistan would know that the region is beyond the control of any government.

Smith also juxtaposed the Administration's "you're with us or against us" approach to dealing with terror in the immediate post-9/11 days, quoting Richard Armitage. I've tried to make a similar point in previous posts and articles, that this attitudal manifestation of a more robust foreign policy has failed miserably.

Smith said the US faces a crisis in Pakistan's inability to contain support for the Taliban. The Guardian provides coverage of the feud and problems in Pakistan in their article here.

Strong-arming Musharraf by threatening to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age achieves nothing as there is nothing Pakistan can do to rid itself of its tribes. As a matter of fact, the story about threatening Pakistan may not refer to the post-9/11 days but instead an exchange just a week or so ago where Musharraf revealed that bin Laden was in fact dead. According to one Tom Heneghan article (Link), Bush
"...threatened to bomb Pakistan just one week ago when Musharraf threatened to tell the world that Bin Laden has been dead for three years."

Pakistan has had a symbiotic relationship with the Taliban, described in this article transplanted from The Telegraph UK, "Pakistan 'caved in' to Taliban".

In it, there is mention of a deal between the Pakistani government and pro-Taliban tribal leaders, which I found in the Guardian article later.

Here are the details in the Massoud Ansari and Colin Freeman article:
"In return for an end to the US-backed government campaign in Waziristan, the tribal leaders - who have harboured Taliban and al-Qaeda units for more than five years - agreed to halt attacks on Pakistani troops, more than 500 of whom have been killed. The deal has been widely criticised as over-generous, with no way to enforce the Taliban's promise not to enter Afghanistan to attack coalition troops."

Where is the central axiom of Bush's stated "War on Terror"--that the nations who harbor terrorists will be treated no differently from the terrorists themselves?

The image that this kind of cooperation and acquiescence presents is politically explosive. Pakistan's negotiations with the harborers of terrorists indicates that Pakistan is in no position militarily to enforce Washingtonian edicts. At the very least the feud is a sign of a crack in the anti-terror "coalition"; more alarmingly, Pakistan appears to be incapable of controlling its own terrority, and too weak militarily to dominate the people who are sheltering Taliban.

The feud poses a massive Image problem. Karzai is right to be angry with its neighbor. The Telegraph article continues:

"While officially a US ally in the war on terror, Pakistan has been repeatedly accused by Afghanistan of not doing enough to clear Taliban militants out of its border regions, allegations it denies."

Pakistan has a long and illustrious history with bin Laden's elusive harborers, the Taliban. The Pakistani intelligence community has had well-known ties to the Taliban and played a suspicious role in their rise to power. Pakistani military officials have profitted personally through controlling the only border open to trade allowed into Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Pakistan had been a funnel for US aid to anti-Soviet mujhadeen so control over secret trade conduits didn't end with the departure of the Soviets. Now, as record poppy harvests buoy billions in financial support to the Taliban, much of the illicit cargo flows through Pakistan, where corruption must be quite rewarding to a privileged few. Apparently the Taliban are purchasing weapons in exchange for poppy or its derivatives.

Trafficking in Death

Karzai must face the threat of terror on another dimension: narco-trafficking, with distribution ties to large population centers in the West. This provides cash to fuel the insurgency, and the residual consequences can only be considered a satisfactory conclusion for terrorist forces intent on destablizing the West itself.

It's questionable if Muslims involved in the narcotics trade would be interested in terrorism. Acts of terror and mass victimization serve no purpose but to increase police scrutiny and threaten their business model. Then again Atta was a boozing, gambling womanizer, so maybe there is a case for recruiting drug dealers; perhaps a devout Muslim fundamentalist could think he was doing the right thing by distributing drugs, then sending the profit home. Taking drugs, however, would be taboo under Islam's covenant against intoxicants.

Regardless of the potential overlap between narco-terror and the fundamentalist kind, the channels for the transference of WMD open and co-exist easily alongside along covert drug trade routes. Both heroin and WMD are deadly, so in one sense the terrorists win by flooding the West with highly addictive heroin at irresistable prices. And it may well be that heroin is more effective relative to its transport risk and impact than the complications involved in moving WMD, not to mention the swift and severe reaction of law enforcement to a single terror act of massive proportions.

Rising rates of drug addiction may do more harm than outright murder in the name of Jihad; the ongoing cash flow such operations provide is an added bonus. A WMD may provide a dividend of fear, but it remains unclear just how much their use will benefit the terrorist cause. (Similar questions have been raised about al Qaeda's role in 9-11, considering the destructive reaction to the premise that hijacked planes had been able to down the towers and strike the Pentagon. Still, al-Qaeda's popularity soared, where it mattered: in the Arab world. Recruitment is up.)

Domestic Impact

As the story of Pakistani infirmity creeps into the American mainstream, the clear failure of Bush Administration policy to succeed geopolitically--over there--will come clear in a union of foreign policy failure and image discord. The Taliban and their leader Mullah Omar are household names, and their revitalization may encourage the public impression that the US was soft on efforts to apprehend bin Laden and eliminate the ongoing menace. [See Additional Resources at bottom of this section for more.]

I would liken the failure to catch Mullah Omar with the very first American foreign military adventure--tromping off to fight the pirates of the Barbary Coast, the basis of the 'shores of Tripoli' line in the Marine Corps Anthem. In our present day case, we declared victory, stretched the intervention into Occupation, only to have the very same people re-emerge 5 years later to continue their pirating. This would have hardly been a satisfactory outcome for the fledgling country then and still isn't for the pre-eminent World Power we consider ourselves now.

Another Geopolitical Jungle
[The title of my last post was "The Terror War's Ugly, Slow Death in the Steamy Jungles of Realpolitik." These jungles may not be real, but the thorny bog we now face may not be so diiferent from Vietnam, where we chaperoned a succession of unstable, obnoxious regimes in our never-ending quest to implement military solutions for political problems.]

I did find a tidbit on just how screwed things up are in Pakistan. This in an unsourced, unconfirmed source through http://www.batr.net/neoconwatch/ :

"Former Baluchistan Governor and Chief Minister Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who served Pakistani leaders like President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto...and ousted and jailed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was recently brutally assassinated by...security forces of Pakistan's dictator General Pervez Musharraf..."

"Bugti, the charismatic 79-year Baluchi leader, was killed after he went underground in support of Baluchi autonomist forces who have become increasingly opposed to Punjabi human rights violations against ethnic Baluchis."

The blog post goes on to say:
"...The Baluchi Liberation Army responded to Punjabi aggression against Baluchis by launching attacks against natural gas pipelines in Baluchistan — tactics that immediately earned the wrath of the oil-centric Bush-Cheney regime."

Now the assassination hardly surprised me, but the following statement did:
"...Musharraf's actions received the full backing of the Bush administration, which defended the action as necessary to preserve a 'strong and unified' Pakistan."

The terror war rhetoric is a trap which forces the Bush to preserve the lie that Pakistan is an ally, even as Musharraf systemically assassinates any threat to power that he seized in a coup himself. Geopolitically, this creates a Shah-type issue where US foreign policy ends up supporting dictatorship, in this case not to fight communism but terrorism. As a matter of fact, Pakistan's ISI was modeled on the Shah's brutal SAVAK.

As the extent of real support for the Taliban emerges in emboldened cross-border raids, the Bush Administration is caught denying two truths. First, not only is the group that hosted Bin Laden alive, but it is entrenched essentially permanently as a result of Pakistani support originating from the Taliban's tribal links in that country.

If Pakistan is in fact ruled by tribal chieftains and uncontrollable from its capital, even with massive US aid ($4-5 billion according to Frontline's Smith), what's to say the Afghan side of the border will be any more controllable? There are after all the same tribes, regardless of the location of the border; the people there possess 'the border crossed us' type attitude we see with Mexicans in the southwestern US.

By signing a deal with Pakistani tribes, Musharraf is simply acknowledging the failure of his government to rule. Rather than stubbornly deploying finite resources to a problem unsolvable and unwinnable, he submitted to the status quo wherein support for the Taliban was tacitly acknowledged, which could seen as appeasement.

Observers following cross-border activity have seen a marked increase in Taliban activity since the September 5th agreement, so it is clear the changes have help the Taliban. Less clear is what Musharraf's government gets, perhaps the reduction of some internal threat the tribal forces pose to his regime or life.

Apparently, the US is slower than Musharraf to recognize the loss of control over the tribes and the spillover effect on the worsening Afghan situation. The predicament the US faces is the product of strategic limits on military effectiveness, constrained by realities on the ground, in this case insufficient Pakistani support for any effort to impose dominance militarily. Violent door-to-door fighting, Pakistani on Pakistani, undoubtedly threatens Musharraf's tenuous hold on power and could threaten to spread civil war to Pakistan aka Iraq.

The geopolitical ambush which lies ahead comes out of reality-adverse and image-conscious rhetoric (and the idea that we are making a more or less linear progression towards victory) in the War on Terror. The hubris of an overbounding presumption of victory simply cannot exist alongside the possibility that the "terrorists" and/or "those who harbor them" are getting stronger.

We saw this miscalculation previously in the failure of the military occupation in Iraq to adequately size up the scope of the insurgent movement there in late 2003. The insurgent threat in Iraq was not treated seriously until the momentum of opposition fully flowered, at which point nothing pre-emptive could be done. Ironically, the rush by Donald Rumsfeld to compensate by harsh interrogations opened the door to graphic legal and image problems the Administration's enemies feed on today.

Now if Pakistan is ungovernable, Musharraf can't resolve the problem of cross-border infiltration and support for the Taliban through military efforts. Any alternative to Musharraf's rule would be equally ineffective in implementing US foreign policy aims, so regime change is not going to help the effectiveness of the War on Terror. Therefore the US can only take on the Taliban supporters directly themselves, yet it appears incapable of eradicating the presence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The price of changing the underlying dynamic will no doubt be unfathomable.

The covert supplying of "terror" forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan sets up a near-identical repitition of the Ho Chi Minh trail scenario. In that case, the only possible military course of action--interdiction--broadened the war to Laos and Cambodia where it had been fought covertly. The border may not matter in the deepest military sense, but it does set up major Geneva/Legal barriers (see my 9-18 post) to the serious detriment of broader global US policy goals.

In realpolitik, the global study of the realities of political, social, and material domination, the Pakistan problem only festers, creating a potent limit on the continued viability of the War on Terror.

Additional Resources

" Osama bin Laden, R.I.P.?" a Justin Raimondo piece on the truth about bin Laden.

"Lost at Tora Bora," a NYT article describe how our armed forces failed miserably to find Bin Laden.

Update on US Energy Concerns' Involvement in the War on Terror

In a previous post (September 6th,Whose Oil Is It Anyway?) I dabble in Big Oil economics, basically concluding that the price of oil is largely a product of its costs of extraction and demand, and the system of oil leases favors the commercial effort at the expense of lower gas prices.

The energy industry has been labelled a villain by many skeptical of its strong ties tothe Bush Administration, and even labelled an active conspirant in plans of conquest before 9/11.

The CentGas Pipeline

The post I've quoted claims: "The Bush crime cartel wants to clear Baluchistan of troublesome independence-minded tribal leaders like Bugti before construction gets fully underway on the Pakistan leg of the Central Asian Gas pipeline (CentGas) from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and to the Arabian Sea in Baluchistan."

Pipelines are a popular theme in the Terror War dance, as an underlying motivation for Bush to militarize support for regimes friendly to Big Oil interests.

I don't know the extent of collusion between Big Oil companies and the 'istan governments. In the case of the Afghan', the US has perhaps not so coincidentally replaced a regime unfriendly to US energy concerns with one friendly to them, whose current president once served as an adviser for a planned UNOCAL pipeline now coming to fruition.

According to one waynemadsen article, "Hamid Karzai, the interim Prime Minister of Afghanistan, was a top adviser to the El Segundo, California-based UNOCAL Corporation which was negotiating with the Taliban to construct a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline..."

"Karzai was a key player on the Bush Oil team. During the late 1990s, Karzai worked with an Afghani-American, Zalmay Khalilzad, on the CentGas project."

Khalilzad is the present Ambassador to Afghanistan. More on him and the pipeline in this truthout.org article. Perhaps his and Karzai's rise to positions of authority coincides with US government efforts to protect oil and gas company interests, leading up to Cheney's secret Energy Task Force meetings in early '01.

Halliburton, Dick Cheney's former company from which the Vice President continues to receive "deferred" compensation, was apparently under some pressure to succeed on the CentGas pipeline, according to Madsen. Enron, the largest corporate contributor to the Bush-Cheney campaign, had collapsed; Halliburton's fall must have been considered unacceptable and seen as personally and financially injurious to the soon-to-be Vice President.

The Taliban supported an Argentine company for the pipeline. Basically, negotiating a deal the Taliban became problematic, and regime change desirable.

Secretary of State Rice have been personally and directly involved in pipeline planning as well, working alongside Karzai on the Chevron Board of Directors. The oil company has since named a tanker in her name.

The theory that Afghanistan was attacked in order to clear the way for a pipeline would not be implausible. Scarily, the notion of replacing the Taliban with a more sympathetic Afghan government may support the notion that 9-11 was meant to be a new Pearl Harbor-type event, and thus the product of a conspiracy.

Regardless of who's responsible for 9/11, the simple act of blaming Osama bin Laden exclusively and perhaps prematurely carries drastic geopolitical implications if replacing the Taliban had been a stated policy intent prior to the perfect excuse the terror attacks provided for regime change in Kabul.

Whatever the motives and possible conspiracies involved, our military resources are now being devoted to pipeline protection. According to Madsen, "far from being engaged in Afghan peacekeeping -- the Europeans are doing much of that -- our troops will effectively be guarding pipeline construction personnel..."

Also interesting in the prescient Madsen article from '02 are connections to the recent blow-up between former President Clinton and Fox News. One passage of how Clinton's attempts to stop terror may have been sabotaged I found especially relevant and timely:

"...Clinton administration also devised a plan with Pakistan's ISI to send a team of assassins into Afghanistan to kill Bin Laden. But Pakistan's government was overthrown by General Musharraf, who was viewed as particularly close to the Taliban. The CIA cancelled its plans, fearing Musharraf's ISI would tip off the Taliban and Bin Laden...The CIA's connections to the ISI in the months before September 11 and the weeks after are also worthy of a full-blown investigation..."

Madsen may fall for the cloak and dagger, but in light of Pakistan's persistent failure to deal with the Taliban, I thought his article--written in Jauary 2002--was eerily premonitory. It continues:

"The CIA continues to maintain an unhealthy alliance with the ISI, the organization that groomed bin Laden and the Taliban. Last September, the head of the ISI, General Mahmud Ahmed, was fired by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his pro-Taliban leanings and reportedly after the U.S. government presented Musharraf with disturbing intelligence linking the general to the terrorist hijackers."

It was ISI general Ahmed (Ahmad) who was thought to be funding money to the Taliban, and is accused of wiring no one other than Mohammed Atta a large sum of cash.
Madsen explains:

"...both the Northern Alliance spokesman in Washington, Haron Amin, and Indian intelligence, in an apparent leak to The Times of India, confirmed that General Ahmed ordered a Pakistani-born British citizen and known terrorist named Ahmed Umar Sheik to wire $100,000 from Pakistan to the U.S. bank account of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker."

In a case of extreme coincidence, Ahmed was eating with prominent lawmakers the morning of September 11th. This article from globalresearch.ca reports:

"On the morning of September 11, the three lawmakers Bob Graham, Porter Goss and Jon Kyl (who were part of the Congressional delegation to Pakistan) were having breakfast on Capitol Hill with General Ahmad, the alleged "money-man" (to use the FBI expression) behind the 9/11 hijackers."

Someone obviously knew what would happen to the Towers and when it would occur. General Ahmad may have been trying to exonerate future allegations of involvement in 9-11 by mixing with prominent Washingtonians, men who had reputations to protect who would presumably shield Ahmad's involvement to protect their untimely associations with the head of Pakistan's ISI. One Congressman, Porter Goss, would go on to be CIA chief. He resigned suddenly, without any apparent reason.

Madsen sums up his article: "there is simply too much evidence that the War in Afghanistan was primarily about building UNOCAL's pipeline, not about fighting terrorism."

Other Links

I'm now reciting add-on posts to the article by Madsen, dating from '02 and before, which I has some problems downloading at its original site:

"The one serious drawback companies have faced is getting the supplies to the right market, the energy-hungry Asian Pacific economies. Afghanistan---the only Central Asian country with very little oil---is by far the best route to transport the oil to Asia. Enron, the biggest contributor to the Bush-Cheney campaign of 2000, conducted the feasibility study for a US$2.5 billion trans-Caspian gas pipeline which is being built under a joint venture agreement signed in February 1999 between Turkmenistan, Bechtel and General Electric Capital Services."

The Motive

"For years, US oil interests have been trying to build a pipeline across Afghanistan to access the oil and gas around the Caspian Sea; efforts that have continued past the 9-11 attacks." [Link.]

The Crime

"Unfortunately, the talks broke down, and by late last summer, the US Government was threatening to commence war against Afghanistan (an attack which would have violated every precept of international law)."
[ Link.]

Source: BBC Audio of report on US intentions to invade Afghanistan BEFORE Sept 11th
[ Link.]

"At least twice, Bush conveyed the message to the Taliban that the United States would hold the regime responsible for an al Qaeda attack. But after concluding that bin Laden's group had carried out the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, a conclusion stated without hedge in a Feb. 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney, the new administration did not choose to order armed forces into action."
[ Link.]

Just how much did Bush do about OBL when he took office? Can we really believe that he was more responsive to the terrorist threat in the days before 9-11 than Clinton? Long before the recent blow-up with Chris Wallace, Bush's Administration had, according to democrats.com, softened our anti-terror posture:

"...Bush took a number of actions to make the US decidedly more vulnerable to a terrorist attack. He ordered the Naval strike force, which Clinton placed in the Indian Ocean on 24 hour alert so he could hit Osama as soon as he had solid intelligence, to stand down. Bush threatened to veto the Defense Appropriations Bill after Democrats tried to move $600 million out of Star Wars and into anti-terror defense. Bush opposed Clinton's anti-money-laundering efforts, which were designed to stop al Qaeda's money. Bush abandoned Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud..." [Link]

Massoud's Northern Alliance played a pivotal role in the defeat of the Taliban. Militarily, the scope of anti-terror efforts under Bush's command were also limited.

"...as the two star general Donald Kerrick told the Washington Post, reflecting on his service to both President Clinton and President Bush: Clinton's advisors met nearly weekly on how to stop bin Laden and al Qaeda. "I didn't detect that kind of focus" from the Bush Administration.

The above links are dated. Still, because of the sheer volume of noise about terror, I think it's essential to revisit older sources and theories. We must re-examine the underlying assumptions that have formed the shaky foundations of our War on Terror.

President Clinton vehement responses to Wallace's pointed questions may be the product of Clinton's erstwhile belief he had done more to fight terror than Wallace and his Republican proxy Fox accused him of. Clinton's outburst has been represented as a challenge to the flawed basis of Wallace's questions. Progressive spin has framed Clinton's reaction around the premise that no Republican assumption, theory, or uncontested fact can be allowed to go beneath the radar at this juncture.

I hope you can learn more about the secret motives held by those in power, and challenge the Official Explanation on every front, to support truth and accountability.


Monday, September 18, 2006

The Terror War's Ugly, Slow Death in the Steamy Jungles of Realpolitik

Bush's War on Terror has been checked by a potent combination of limitations. For the first time in the President's reign, the Administration has been put in a position where policy must be changed in order to work.

Legal limits have been exceeded. Congressional politics and constraints on public image have shut down the Administration's ability to pursue its War on Terror. Military issues and geopolitical realities prevent the US government from achieving its objectives as they've been framed. Together, these forces create an unmovable box around the aims of the Administration in its War on Terror.

The Geneva Framework

The consequences of ignoring Geneva have come home to roost. In an article on the Geneva Convention, as well as in posts, I've warned that ignoring Geneva could result in far worse consequences for the Occupying Power than the Occupied. The architects of the Global War on Terror have completely ignored the benefits of treaty compliance to their own detriment as the number of detainees languishing in US custody grows.

The Conventions are designed to restore order; for believers in the power of the Conventions, it's no coincidence that the US faces such disorder in Iraq. Geneva and treaties like it are designed to make tribunals work, and to do so the Occupier must be prevented from changing the laws of the country it invades. Otherwise, as we see in Iraq, the justice system alienates the people it serves.

The US appears to have totally ignored this threat; the Coalition Provisional Authority's meddling in the Iraqi legal system has weakened it. Ths sheer case volume Iraq's underdeveloped legal system now faces makes processing the detainees an American obligation, extending its Occupation and creating another legal issue.

The trial process needs to reflect the re-establishment of order and an independent, functional legal system, which must be protected from the arbitrary exercise of total authority by the Occupier.

In creating the Convention, European powers knew from experience that a war's after-effects could sow much bigger problems. De-stabilization threatened to broaden the war; in feud-heavy Europe a single two-party conflict could grow into a conflagration if not contained. The Occupied nation would become a threat to all its neighbors if order weren't re-established.

The US has been accused of formenting sectarian divisions in Iraq, in order to continue the Occupation. Establishing a united Iraq would ease the Occupation's burdens and set the stage for withdrawal, which at this point has to be considered in the US' best interest considering the violence it faces.

Actually the Geneva Conventions want a state of order to emerge out of the chaos of war. If the defeated country is incapable of self-rule, the Occupation has to go on.

Re-establishing an independent judiciary in Iraq would be a way forward, but the numbers of detainees and status of the Iraqi courts makes the process incumbent upon the Occupier. An established military tribunal system would work under Geneva, not Bush's substitute, the "enemy combatant" system, whose tribunals as proposed by Bush have been ruled illegal.

One problem has been created by moving detainees out of the country where they were captured, which is specifically illegal under the Conventions. The "black sites" run by the CIA are excellent examples. Sure, anything could go and brutal treatment could theoretically result in new intelligence, but how to manage the so-called terrorists after they've been squeezed for all they know?

The questionable origins of evidence present a daunting challenge to processing the detainees, a problem which could have been avoided had their interrogations complied with Geneva.

Legal Limits

The indefinite detentions have arisen not out of the need to lock the enemy combatants away, but out of an absence of lawfully procured evidence to try detainees.

The trials themselves may prove unwinnable under current laws, as torture appears to have been used to extract confessions, including the case of American citizen Jose Padilla, accused of a "dirty bomb" plot. His case may be the tip of a iceberg of weak cases built on extralegal interrogations. Hundreds of other cases may be unwinnable because evidentiary procedure forbids the use of unlawfully obtained confessions.

Our government has invested a great deal of its credibility in information extracted through illegal means, from people it arbitrarily labelled terrorists and beyond Geneva's protection. Put succinctly, our military and civil legal structure prevents us from successfully prosecuting terrorists. This explains why there have been so few trials and why Guantanamo has devolved into a holding tank. A recent AP article stated that the US has 14,000 people imprisoned in overseas facilities, which is indicative of a failed processing system.

The rhetoric coming from US military is that every detainee is detained because he poses a security threat. Yet this presumes that the US military is infallible which may be soothing to the military's ego but is hardly accurate. Holding an AP photographer for 5 months (Link)and arbitrarily arresting and indefinitely detaining shopkeepers and others who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time is hardly evidence of a functional detention process.

Honestly, the US doesn't need the hassle of holding every suspect indefinitely. Yet Bush and his allies are prisoners of their own rhetoric and must appear to be hard on terror. So the word came down from Rumsfeld OK'ing harsh interrogation tactics. The logjam of detainees may have emerged as an unintended consequence, in light of the dimished potential for successful prosecutions.

What was done to the detainees is illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Geneva Conventions, and U.S. law. Judging by the Administration's effort to head off criminal liability, there's been a clear effort to retroactively excuse acts of torture.

Buried in laws under consideration are obstructions to victims pursuing justice as a result of torture. According to WaPo, CIA officials have been signing up for government-paid torture insurance, so there must be fear of civil and criminal liability.

The Bush Adminstration is trying to change the rules. On September 6th, "the Pentagon issued a new interrogation manual banning forced nakedness, hooding, stress positions, and other abusive techniques", according to the AP article. I guess this is an effort to "clarify" the former rules by specifically prohibiting these acts of torture, as if they hadn't previously considered torture under Geneva. At least the new restictions will cut down on the number of unprosecutable cases going forward.

In the face of a courageous court ruling by a Federal judge, Bush turned to Congress to rewrite domestic laws restricting "cruel and inhumane treatment," although Geneva they can't touch. An alternative to their rejected trial process is being sought, one which would lead to convictions by retroactively de-criminalizing the treatment of detainees and thereby sanitizing illegally acquired confessions.

The political cost of losing cases is simply too high, as the Administration has wrapped its political future in the cloak of national security. Trapped in its rhetoric, the White House cannot appear to be failing in the War on Terror, for every "terrorist" exonerated comes across as a victory for "the terrorists."

Legislative Politics

Bush is facing a revolt, according to the Media. Colin Powell was joined by Republican senators McCain, Graham, and Warner, in opposing the Administration on its planned trial system for detainees and attempted "clarification" of the Geneva Convention's covenant against torture. Apparently, the Graham/Warner bill may be hardly the opposite of the Administration's, despite its billing as some kind of rebellion against Bush's preferred tribunal system. For details on the "alternative" legislation, see Obsidian Wings.

The Revolt of the Three Senators (+ Colin) is representative of the larger issue in Congress, which is the decline of influence associated with the full flowering of the Unitary Executive under the War on Terror. Bush treats Congress as his poodle on a leash; the notion that the President sees Congress as little more than a debating society like the UN has yet to be dispelled.

Bush may now see the enemies he has created in Congress gathering before him. It is unclear whether the Senators and Congress are a little upset or firmly drawing the line. Perhaps a Congressional inquiry into the Plame leak scandal could put some real fear into 1700 Pennslyvania.

Congress holds the purse strings we see, but in its haste to avoid looking weak against the threat (Goering) they've basically greenlighted everything Bush wants. So why would Bush respect them now? He can simply claim the need for funding to continue the War on Terror. Congress must cave in to Executive demands on the war or appear weak against the enemy (Georing.)

The flip side of this subservience is the inevitable insertion of pork alongside desperately needed war funding. I remember Eli Lilly getting retroactive legal protections for their vaccine preservative Thimersal (linked to autism) out of the PATRIOT Act. The favorable addition to the bill was framed by Frist as vital for the makers of vaccines in their efforts to protect us from WMD. (I'm still waiting for the vaccines.) The opportunistic channeling of war support is symptomatic of politicization, which is thought to be the reason we lost Vietnam.

The net cost to America for its recent wars is reaching into the stratosphere. As a logical question--not political--we must ask ourselves, "Do we have enough to cover Medicare as our population ages?" Funding for Medicare is already being cut. Our government must spend according to Congress, and thus it borrows even more.

The debt ceiling may be reset, but Congress will be held accountable eventually if we burn through our available credit and just start printing money. Unfortunately, Congress' control over the military began to erode once Bush began the War on Terror, in the case of yet another undeclared and thus un-Constitutional war.

Military Limits

Success in the War on Terror demands visible results, especially with the President's self-declared central front against terror in Baghdad not yielding much good news. Just recently thousands of soldiers were deployed to the Iraqi capital, where there are apparently efforts to build a ditch around the circumference of the city so bad is the disorder there (Link).

Israeli's attack on Lebanon reinforced the dangers of insurgency warfare. It showed how military force alone was incapable of ending a threat, or that Israel was far underprepared and/or Hezbollah far more capable. In the afterglow of Israeli bombing, Hezbollah has a chance to shine by financially supporting the victims of Israeli aggression, who as civilians make juicy propaganda plums for the cause of formenting radicalism.

Iraq is the enigma. Like jokers in some pop-out-and-hammer-em-down arcade game, the redeployment from districts outside Bagdad to the capital has weakened the US in outlying regions, particularly Anbar Province. The call has been increasing for more hammers (troops) in order to quell the jokers (insurgents).

Even hammered down, the jokers pop back up somewhere else or in the same box. This unpredictability requires occupation forces to be spread thin in anticipation of an insurgent strike anywhere, even in areas thought to be sanitized like Fallujah. Sound familiar? It should. Overextending the enemy is a vital element of insurgent tactics right out of Sun-Tzu.

Ruminations abound of Al Qaeda actually controlling Anbar, Iraq's large restive western province. It may not be clear who's in charge there because there is simply no one in charge, which is the real deficiency which deforms the democratization process: anarchy. Too many are dying. We cannot stop this state of anarchy, whether it is in civil war or on the "brink" of it, through military force alone. This isn't to say military force isn't needed or insufficient force adequate.

If Iraq weren't so unpopular, Britain might be willing to contribute more. Yet Afghanistan is drawing in more and more NATO forces. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan was the war we had to fight--assuming OBL did do 9/11. The future success of the Afghan Occupation can hardly be called likely, unless of course NATO thinks of itself as the next Alexander, who was the last occupier able to conquer the country.

The Administration can't apply sufficient military force to win. Predictably, waging two wars simultaneously has led to a shortfall of active troops (none of the Army's combat brigades are available for deployment at present). Equipment has also faltered in the sands of Iraq. A future war with Iran would be militarily suicidal.


Larger foreign policy goals have been undermined by the failure of military policy to achieve results in Iraq. The Iraq conflict lengthens and Afghanistan worsens as popular support declines. Pursuing further policy objectives in the War on Terror through the use of force against Iran has become rhetorically significant but unacheivable without a draft. An attack on Iran would lead to a collapse of US credibility as well as raise grave security threats to the flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf, as well as with oil-rich Venezuela and Russia, who have treaties with Iran. Syria would also be drawn in.

Recent press has supported the notion that Bush's foreign policy options are limited abroad. Internationally, the world community has turned against the American government, meaning global support vital to sustaining the War on Terror has all but disappeared. The stout English have tromped off to Iraq with us. Now Blair sits wounded in 10 Downing, waiting for his government to fall after ministers abandon him en masse. Europe on the whole is basically waiting for Bush to end.

Iran has extended its influence over Iraq to the point the US is now indirectly supporting an expansion of the Iran sphere of political and spiritual influence through rabid, resistance-emboldening US and Israeli militarism. So from a geopolitical perspective, we can only help the Iranians and their proxies in Iraq by stabilizing their surrogate's rule in Baghdad.

We must meanwhile keep our balance in dealing with the Sunni and not let al Qaeda dominate the Sunnis. This may unfortunately require us to let some more homegrown Sunni terrorist organization succeed in capturing the bulk of anti-American support. Now if anti-American sentiment is to continue to grow, al-Qaeda is positioned perfectly to capture it and expand its influence, like Hezbollah did through the polarization process created by the Israeli firestorm.

Lebanon's wounds have done enough to expand Hezbollah's influence. Oddly, the Sunnis in Syria seem esconced in their anti-Israeli status alongside the Shia. Just last week they interrupted an attack on the American Embassy, raising the very troubling question of which side of the terror fence the Syrians stand on. It is clear that Syria would have been accused of direct participation in the attack had it succeeded, out of an ongoing American political effort to isolate the regime and punish it for supporting Hezbollah.

Pakistan is accused of harboring Bin Laden. Its intelligence services supported the Taliban before 9/11; the Taliban have hardly disappeared. Recently, NATO deployed thousands along its border with Afghanistan to cope with the threat. Pakistan continues to host a swath of brutally anti-American madrasses and other indocrination centers for extremists. How can we call it an ally in the War on Terror? We do not ally ourselves with Pakistan out of a conviction doing so will further the spread of democracy; we do it because the alternative to Musharraf is the rise of fundamentalism there, as is the case in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Islamic revolutions in those countries are held in check only through repression, repression which only feeds covert support for radical Islamic fundamentalism.


The picture of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malikiand and Iranian President Ahmadinejad together hand-in-hand must have seriously crimped neocon policy supporters. Prime Minister al-Maliki had visited Teheran to request help in controlling the security environment.

Supported by Republicans, al-Maliki addressed a joint session for Congress on July 26th, despite resistance from Democrats. The effort to build credibility for al-Maliki appears to have backfired, and could become a source of attack to be used in the Fall's midterm elections against Repulican incumbents, assuming they can't disassociate themselves from Bush's policies.

Prior to the address, House Democrats sent a prescient letter to Majority Leader Hastert saying, "...if the Iraqi leader's positions are at odds with U.S. foreign policy goals then he should not be given the honor of giving an address..."

The letter goes on:
"In recent months there have been extensive reports indicating that al-Maliki and many in the Iraqi leadership are increasingly influenced by the government in Iran. Further, they have expressed support of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, the latter of which was responsible for the death of 241 United States Marines in Beirut. The House should not allow an address from any world leader who has taken such action..."

That from Fox News.

Image does make an impact. When our supposed friends in Iraq end up talking to our supposed enemies, the entire Bush gospel of spreading democracy sounds hollow. Alliances and back-stabbing are nothing new to the Arabs, who possess far more political cynicism than do Americans, who are content to believe in their President, at least until it's apparent he's been lying all along. Only then they will demonize him.

The flow of American casualties really does force even the most ardent war supporter to wonder who we are fighting for over there. Like Vietnam there will clearly be supporters of the war effort simply by virtue of the effort being made. Still, unlike Vietnam where over 50% of Americans supported it, support for Iraq is at 39%. Images of flag-draped coffins have been suppressed. Coupled with more adequate coverage of the antiwar movement in the MSM, popular support could go down even more.


Surely the situation we are in can be remedied. It does however, require one crucial ingredient: conviction based on the truth. As it is, the Bush school of thought declares that Americans will be safer down the road by eliminating support for terror, ostensibly through democratic means. But the truth is Lebanon and the Palestinians have been ruthlessly punished as the result of democratic advances, while inert, autocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan are rewarded. To expect new democracies to fight terror in their midst requires help, yet this has not been forthcoming. Moderates have been pushed out; the Israelis even imprisoning legitimately elected members of the Palestinian parliament.

Congress must face down Bush on the tribunals and refuse to rewrite the law to accomodate violations of Geneva. This isn't an issue of security, as torture (inhumane and degrading treatment are defined as such under Geneva Convention General Article III) has yet to be proven effective in gathering information. The crude example of torturing to intercept an impending terrorist attack avoids real debate over the ethics of torture, and ignores the world opinion and the geopolitical consequences of losing face.

Justifying torture is on par with the Cut-and-Run label. Both ignore the alternatives available. Jingoistic, they appeal to the lowest common denominator, which in the American body-politic is not too low a target, not by a longshot. Worse, hardcore Republicans have been calling any who doubt the President's policies terrorist sympathizers. While scoring well again on a Rovian-style inverted scale of ethics in politics, this partisanship can hardly lead to compromise or alternatives.

Back to solutions. First, we must be able to make choices. As much as Bush would like to ride a magical carpet of rhetorical falseifications to victory, we are limited by geopolitics in what we can do. The Middle East is a scary and unpredictable place. This is a fundamental statement of fact, as Colin Powell and others warned the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld axis.

Bush's Administration wouldn't be the first to lose its credibility or authority through mistakes in the Mideast. Unfortunately, in America we can't hold new elections, so it looks like the incompetence which sabotaged our foreign policy will steer an unchanging course ahead. Lacking the political will to accept the possibility of failure, we can probably count on Bush to make the wrong decisions going forward.

Hopefully the war's supporters have learned the very first lesson, which is that the Middle East is a scary and unpredictable place. It's been an expensive lesson, having taken 2700 American lives. Beyond that, we can assume the Administration knows or has learned nothing, as they've shown themselves predisposed towards favoring their own rhetoric at the expense of reality. It's now clear the truth is showing and that there is little we can do to get out, save getting out.

Until the pain of going on is more than the price of admitting change is necessary, we will keep doing as we have (a borrowed analogy). Bush's Iraq policy is not succeeding and will require an increased troop commitment, which will stir up more anti-American sentiment not only in Iraq but around the world. Anti-Americanism will translate into a larger resistance and thus require more troops, perpetuating the cycle, who's conclusion must at some point be a realization that we cannot win by force of arms. That realization must be followed by the stern conviction that leaving Iraq is the right thing to do, which can translate into withdrawal.

The desire to get out has already been articulated by the American public. Those in power have a different idea of what we should do--stay the course. This disparity presents a contradiction of the democratic will; the war in Iraq could endanger our own country as resistance hardens and divisiveness ensues domestically, culminating in internal discord on par with Vietnam. This civil disobedience would be greatly exaggerated by a draft, which would be necessary if Iran were attacked.

Additional Sources
See this article, "Bush defends demands for CIA 'torture' power", by Rupert Cornwell of the Independent.

Article on Bush's approach to "defending torture" by Sidney Blumenthal here.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Whose Oil Is It Anyway?

According to one article in Associated Press, oil companies have found a large oil deposit south of New Orleans, with the capacity to "boost the nation's reserves by more than 50 percent. Big Oil taps big deposit in Gulf".

According to the article, "Chevron on Tuesday estimated the 300-square-mile region where the test well sits could hold 3 billion to 15 billion barrels of oil and natural gas liquids."

"America consumes 5.7 billion barrels of crude in a year," the article states. The article cites a analyst who estimates production to come on line "...after 2010."

The depth of the project is an astounding 28,000 feet deep.

My Analysis

I am struck by how American energy independence rides alongside the ghost of massive ecological damage and ongoing dependency on oil. Even as the impact of fossil fuels can be firmly traced to the use of petroleum, our government insists that we need to pump more from our own shores.

The A.P. article seems to attach particular emphasis on the failure to "...reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil." This of course begs the question of what good is it if as much as "50%" increase in our oil supply isn't enough to offset our growing appetite for foreign oil.

The article goes on to state "...it won't help lower prices at the pump anytime soon." Extraction costs are going to drastically impact the break even point in drilling and its return payoff.

The second part of the desired effect--"anytime soon". I guess we'd probably have figured that out ourselves, being that the reservoir lies at a depth of 28,000 feet in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico!

It's my opinion that the project could be prohibitively expensive. Geological factors would definitely impact drilling safety at that depth. I do admit, though that my knowledge of undersea land masses and oil is hardly deep, har har har.

I can figure out for myself what's going on with Big Oil, however. Regardless of how much oil is made available, we've grown dependent on it. The status quo is built around maintaining the price of oil. And unfortunately for us average consumers, we will lose whether oil is cheap or expensive. If oil's scarce, finding it becomes more problematic and extraction becomes more expensive for us, not the oil company, as they simply pass the costs along.

Rather than cope with the problem, the US is trying to pump us out of the problem. And unlike most markets, oil doesn't seem to get cheaper even with new finds. Oil is either getting more scarce--sufficient to warrant development--or cheaper--and therefore not worth finding and extracting and thus, eventually... scarcer.
So either way we end up paying more, assuming the supply is finite which it must be. Only the costs of extraction rise, based on how easy oil is to find.


Regardless of the quantity of oil extracted, the price we consumers pay isn't be decided by its availability alone but by a host of demand-side factors. As a matter of fact, demand for petroleum worldwide exceeds supply now and is projected to continue to surpass supply indefinitely.

Extraction costs are relative to the value of the commodity. If the costs of extraction go up, oil must become more expensive. In fact, forecasts of the price of oil motivate the scope of global extraction. Its a fait accompli to see an oil field developed when developing that field makes sense relative to the cost of extraction.

With a surge in oil prices, more oil is discovered and more extracted. Development costs are paid for that much sooner, assuming oil maintains its value or goes up. The profits are the refiners', less any lease fees paid to the government for the field. {See the comment at the bottom of this post for more on how the US government has exempted Big Oil from paying lease fees.}

Whether the world has reach peak oil or not has yet to be decided. If it can produce more than we think, the price will go down and development costs will take longer to pan out. Less will be discovered. If the world's supply of oil is more limited than thought, its price will go up, making the investment of capital worthwhile. More will be discovered, and development encouraged.

In real terms, nothing changes the value of oil except how scarce we perceive it to be. If prices rise, they rise because supply is finite. Even a huge increase in supply can't change the underlying dynamic, and though it may reduce price in the short-term, the demand is simply too large and growing at too fast a rate.

Big Oil wins either way--consumers get their own oil sold back to them, once the costs of extraction have been repaid, alongside taxes and profits for distributors. Whatever the development costs are, they will be passed along to the consumer, so Big Oil makes its profit regardless. Sure they make less when oil is cheap, but even then they get their cut--albeit of a smaller pie. They invariably make money by controlling the supply.

Oil is scarce because it is limited. In traditional precious resources like gold, the price of gold is treated as a constant, but there is no way of knowing if supply is constant. One day, someone could discover huge reservoirs of anything, and if the costs of extraction were low, greatly injure the price of that commodity.

It is possible that the recent decline in the value of oil--from highs in the $78 range to lows now in the sixties--is traceable to these discoveries. Or not, and the entire fluxuation could be a biennial ritual, whose torch of deception carried aloft by the Media.

Media Angle

The end of summer driving season is cited as the common reason for the decreasing price of oil. This has become I'm sure a seasonal ritual for the media, the price of gas said to be heading up because of increased driving demand over the summer. As we now happen to be in the end of that season, the pronouncements to an end to the period of high gas prices heralds the coming of Fall, as it has in previous years.

Whether we are being told the truth or not, there's clear evidence of an agenda here in this article on the Mainstream Media, spun undoubtedly for mass consumption. A.P. is quite confident in assuring Big Oil hit it big, but doesn't really explain the costs involved, or show any clear short-term benefit for consumers.

To avoid talking about the real limitations of oil dependency, Big Oil and their corporate representatives in the Media demand huge new swaths of land under Interior Secretary's Kempthorne's lease in environmentally sensitive Teshekpuk Lake.

We can pump our way out, is the refrain, sold by multinational oil companies in the Mainstream Media, bloated as they are with oil revenue. This new drilling despite the fact that a 50% increase of reserves won't help decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

If this large a field can't reduce our dependence on foreign oil, this could also indicate our existing domestic reserves are declining at a quicker rate than previously thought.

Speaking of reserves at Prudhoe Bay, BP's recent shutdown due to "leaking pipes" may not have been the product of 'pipe degradation' caused by the environment at all, or even necessarily a surprise to BP. An article by Jason Leopold raises the possibility BP had neglected the pipes for years. The cessation of pipe maintenance--coupled with harassment of a whistle-blower who tries to reveal the scope of neglect--could indicate BP may have been anticipating a decline in overall pump flow out of the facility when the leaks occurred, and had neglected the pipes in order to reduce on substantial maintenance costs.

The easily avoided consequences of environmental disasters deny accountability for Big Oil's actions. Instead of protecting the environment, Big Oil pollutes recklessly and enrich themselves at the expense of the public and environment. To date "Exxon Mobil still owes for Valdez spill" and has yet to pay any of the billions it owes, this despite a claim by A.P. that "Exxon Valdez Restitution Paid"...by Captain Hazelwood! Even after a legal judgement, accoutability is non-existent, and the preferential treatment of the Oil industry repays the lobbying investment made in Washington.

As their CEO's rake in huge pay raises and their tax rates decline, these giant companies can claim to represent the consumer's best interest while soaking them at the same time by talking up big finds, while knowing they ultimately won't change the price of oil for consumers.

Big Oil must support wars and other destructive stimulants for the price of their commodity. Looks at the record billions they've made as a result of US military intervention in the Gulf. Neo-cons claimed oil revenue from Iraq would pay for the costs of occupation, instead the Iraq War has made oil more costly.

The secret energy meetings held by Dick Cheney before the invasion may not have been as concerned with extracting Iraqi oil as guaranteeing a higher price by destabilizing the region. The only Iraqi government building guarded by the US after the invasion was the oil ministry. Before Iraq, and even before 9/11, Cheney and his Big Oil friends looked at maps of Iraqi oil fields during their meetings.

Preferential tax treatment for Big Oil soaks the Treasury and burdens future generations of oil-dependent Americans with the environmental and fiscal costs of their greed. Even as profits surge to unpreceded levels, Congress shies away from a windfall tax.

Like the co-conspirators in the green-shaded backrooms of corporate privilege, spin comes from sympathetic media conglomerates responsible for reporting the news. Strategy session for driving up the price of oil must be freckled with laughter as Congress seems incapable of not caving in to their demands, let alone stopping their power play, not unlike the glee of Enron in its catastrophic drive towards unadulterated greed.

Do something!

Learn more. More information on efforts to open Alaska's North Slope to drilling, you can check out this .pdf from '03 or this article from Boston Globe.

Above all, take action with what you've learned. You can do something and get results. If we don't take action here, we won't preserve our environment. Our complacency could even cost us our democracy.

You can make an impact by voting for political candidates who support environmental cause. Otherwise, money will have an even bigger say, particularly in matters of the exploitation of public land by oil companies favored by President Bush.

Sierra Club was attempting to stop the leases of environmentally sensitive Teshekpuk Lake. I recently sent this letter through their activist system to the Secretary of the Interior:

[Sierra Club Action 8/31/06 (savetlake.org)]

To J.J. Mulva of ConocoPhillips and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne:

I am writing in hopes that you will honor the integrity of your office and
preserve Teshekpuk lake. The wild areas around the lake represent an ancient
and irreplacable environment. By depriving these lands of their rightful
designations, you put money and the temporal state of power you have over the
choices your predecessors made.

By ruthlessly exploiting any reserve in the Teshekpuk Lake area, you sell our lands out to commercial purpose, in direct conflict with the conservation purpose for which they were intended.

The benefits of the leases will be short-lived. The costs to the environment are severe; the destruction that oil and gas extraction cause will linger long after
the leases terminate.

Clearly the auctioning off of America benefits a narrow constituency of corporations and their shareholders. It is not our current government's place to exclude other Americans from benefitting from the sale of public land--or the gross devaluation of such a land subsequent to drilling and transport?

Is your corporate suitor appealing to the authority you claim in your office? Is the sale process occuring behind closed doors? Has the Secretary worked for, or does he plan to receive compensation from those who intend to buy these public lands? Our Vice President's continued compensation from Halliburton has created a dangerous precedent for this Administration.

I hope a legal firewall precludes the Secretary from profitting. Assuming this, I can hardly believe that such a sale benefits the US or its people.

Please preserve Teshekpuk Lake as it was meant to be preserved. It is neither your place nor right to sell what isn't yours. Nor should any company or private venture profit from the sale (or lease when the consequences of development are so devastating) of public land.

I implore the Secretary, his Department, and/or any representative of the American people to disengage from the lease of Teshekpuk lake properties.


I hope the letter makes the point that needs to be made. Please don't let the President and his oil ministers sell public land to enrich their true consituency: Big Oil. Stop the theft of our publicly held natural resources and save the land for the conservation purpose for which it was set aside.