SECRET U.S. PLANS FOR IRAQ'S OIL
BBC News World Edition
March 17, 2005
By Greg Palast
Reporting for BBC Newsnight (London)
Why was Paul Wolfowitz pushed out of the Pentagon onto the World Bank? The answer lies in a 323-page
document, secret until now, indicating that the allies of Big Oil in the Bush Administration have defeated neo-conservatives
and their chief Wolfowitz. BBC Television Newsnight tells the true story of the fall of the neo-cons. An investigation
conducted by BBC with Harper's magazine will also reveal that the US State Department made detailed plans for war in Iraq
-- and for Iraq's oil -- within weeks of Bush's first inauguration in 2001.
The Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks sparking
a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil, BBC's Newsnight has revealed.
Two years ago today - when President George
Bush announced US, British and Allied forces would begin to bomb Baghdad - protestors claimed the US had a secret plan for
Iraq's oil once Saddam had been conquered.
In fact there were two conflicting plans, setting off a hidden policy war
between neo-conservatives at the Pentagon, on one side, versus a combination of "Big Oil" executives and US State Department
"Big Oil" appears to have won. The latest plan, obtained by Newsnight from the US State Department was,
we learned, drafted with the help of American oil industry consultants.
View Segments of Iraq oil plans
Insiders told Newsnight that planning began "within weeks" of Bush's first taking office in
2001, long before the September 11th attack on the US.
An Iraqi-born oil industry consultant, Falah Aljibury, says
he took part in the secret meetings in California, Washington and the Middle East. He described a State Department plan for
a forced coup d'etat.
Mr Aljibury himself told Newsnight that he interviewed potential successors to Saddam Hussein
on behalf of the Bush administration.
Secret sell-off plan
The industry-favoured plan was pushed aside
by yet another secret plan, drafted just before the invasion in 2003, which called for the sell-off of all of Iraq's oil fields.
The new plan, crafted by neo-conservatives intent on using Iraq's oil to destroy the Opec cartel through massive increases
in production above Opec quotas.
The sell-off was given the green light in a secret meeting in London headed by Fadhil
Chalabi shortly after the US entered Baghdad, according to Robert Ebel. Mr. Ebel, a former Energy and CIA oil analyst, now
a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, flew to the London meeting, he told Newsnight,
at the request of the State Department.
Mr Aljibury, once Ronald Reagan's "back-channel" to Saddam, claims that plans
to sell off Iraq's oil, pushed by the US-installed Governing Council in 2003, helped instigate the insurgency and attacks
on US and British occupying forces.
"Insurgents used this, saying, 'Look, you're losing your country, your losing your
resources to a bunch of wealthy billionaires who want to take you over and make your life miserable," said Mr Aljibury from
his home near San Francisco.
"We saw an increase in the bombing of oil facilities, pipelines, built on the premise
that privatization is coming."
Privatization blocked by industry
Philip Carroll, the former CEO of Shell
Oil USA who took control of Iraq's oil production for the US Government a month after the invasion, stalled the sell-off scheme.
Carroll told us he made it clear to Paul Bremer, the US occupation chief who arrived in Iraq in May 2003, that: "There was
to be no privatization of Iraqi oil resources or facilities while I was involved."
The chosen successor to Mr Carroll,
a Conoco Oil executive, ordered up a new plan for a state oil company preferred by the industry.
Ari Cohen, of the
neo-conservative Heritage Foundation, told Newsnight that an opportunity had been missed to privatise Iraq's oil fields. He
advocated the plan as a means to help the US defeat Opec, and said America should have gone ahead with what he called a "no-brainer"
Mr Carroll hit back, telling Newsnight, "I would agree with that statement. To privatize would be a no-brainer.
It would only be thought about by someone with no brain."
New plans, obtained from the State Department by Newsnight
and Harper's Magazine under the US Freedom of Information Act, called for creation of a state-owned oil company favored by
the US oil industry. It was completed in January 2004, Harper's discovered, under the guidance of Amy Jaffe of the James Baker
Institute in Texas. Former US Secretary of State Baker is now an attorney. His law firm, Baker Botts, is representing ExxonMobil
and the Saudi Arabian government.
Read the story in greater detail in the April issue of Harper's magazine.
Greg Palast is
the author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." View his writings at www.GregPalast.com.
Leni von Eckardt contributed investigative research for this project.
email us at contact(at)GregPalast.com
The timetable of the oil war planning
Source: Email from Greg Palast (email@example.com) July 2005.
More problems with Lyco's
2001 - Only one month after the first Bush-Cheney inauguration, the State Department's Pam Quanrud organizes a secret confab
in California to make plans for the invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam. US oil industry advisor Falah Aljibury
and others are asked to interview would-be replacements for a new US-installed dictator.
On BBC Television's Newsnight, Aljibury himself explained, "It is an invasion, but it will act like a coup. The original
plan was to liberate Iraq from the Saddamists and from the regime."
March 2001 -
Vice-President Dick Cheney meets with oil-company executives and reviews oil field maps of Iraq. Cheney refuses to release
the names of those attending or their purpose. Harper's has since learned their plan and purpose -- see below.
2001 - An easy military victory in Afghanistan emboldens then-Dep. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to convince the Administration
to junk the State Department "coup" plan in favor of an invasion and occupation that could remake the economy of Iraq.
And elaborate plan, ultimately summarized in a 101-page document, scopes out the "sale of all state enterprises" -- that is,
most of the nation's assets, "… especially in the oil and supporting industries."
2002 - Grover Norquist and other corporate lobbyists
meet secretly with Defense, State and Treasury Officials to ensure the invasion plans for Iraq include plans for protecting
"property rights." The result was a pre-invasion scheme to sell off Iraq's oil fields, banks, electric systems, and even change
the country's copyright laws to the benefit of the lobbyists' clients. Occupation chief Paul Bremer would
later order these giveaways into Iraq law.
Fall 2002 - Philip Carroll, former CEO of Shell
Oil USA, is brought in by the Pentagon to plan the management of Iraq's oil fields. He works directly with Paul Wolfowitz
and Douglas Feith. "There were plans," says Carroll, "maybe even too many plans" -- but none disclosed to the public nor even
the US Congress.
January 2003 - Robert Ebel, former CIA oil analyst,
is sent, BBC learns, to London to meet with Fadhil Chalabi to plan terms for taking over Iraq's oil.
March 2003 - What White House spokesman Ari Fleisher
calls "Operations Iraqi Liberation" (OIL) begins. (Invasion is re-christened "OIF" -- Operation Iraqi Freedom.)
March 2003 - Defense Department is told in confidence
by US Energy Information Administrator Guy Caruso that Iraq's fields are incapable of a massive increase in output.
Despite this intelligence, Dep. Secretary Wolfowitz testifies to Congress that
invasion will be a free ride. He swears, "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer
money. …We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon," a deliberate
fabrication promoted by the Administration, an insider told BBC, as "part of the sales pitch" for war.
May 2003 - General Jay Garner, appointed by Bush
as viceroy over Iraq, is fired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The general revealed in an interview for BBC that
he resisted White House plans to sell off Iraq's oil and national assets. “That’s
just one fight you don’t want to take on,” Garner told me. But apparently,
the White House wanted that fight. The general also disclosed thazt these invade-and-grab
plans were developed long before the US asserted that Saddam still held WDM: “All
I can tell you is the plans were pretty elaborate; they didn’t start them in 2002, they were started in 1001.”
November/December 2003 - Secrecy and misinformation
continues even after the invasion. The oil industry objects to the State Department plans for Iraq's oil fields and
drafts for the Administration a 323-page plan, "Options for [the] Iraqi Oil Industry." Per the industry plan, the US
forces Iraq to create an OPEC-friendly state oil company that supports the OPEC cartel's extortionate price for petroleum
Harper's and BBC obtained the plans despite official
denial of their existence, then foot dragging when confronted with the evidence of the reports' existence.
Still today, the State and Defense Departments and
White House continue to stone wall our demands for the notes of the meetings between lobbyists, oil industry consultants and
key Administration officials that would reveal the hidden economic motives for the war. What are the secret interests
behind this occupation? Who benefits? Who met with whom? Why won't this Administration release these documents
of the economic blueprint for the war? To date, the State and Defense Department responses to our reports are risible,
and their answers to our requests for documents run from evasive to downright misleading. Maybe Congress, with its power
of subpoena, can do better.
THE MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY:
Let me conclude with a comment about those pesky
"blogs" that so bother the New York Times. We should stand and offer a moment of quiet gratitude to the electronic swarm
of gadfly commentators who make it so much harder for the US media to ignore news not officially blessed. Yes, Judith
Miller's breathless reports for The Times that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction may have maintained "access" for
the mainstream press to its diet of White House propaganda, but the blogs insure that, whatever nonsense the US press is biting
on, the public need not swallow.
This week Greg Palast's investigative team was named
winner of a 2004-5 Project Censored award from the California State University at Sonoma Journalism School for their exposÚ
of the secret US plans to seize Iraq's oil assets. Special thanks to the chief investigator on Iraq, Leni von Eckardt,
as well as additional support from Matt Pascarella. The investigation was conducted for Harper's Magazine, BBC Television
Newsnight and "blog" outlet TomPaine.com
View the BBC television reports and the Harper’s and related reports
WAR MAKES MORE EVIL PEOPLE THAN IT KILLS—Immanuel Kant