Commerce Dept docs: Cheney and oil execs decided to take Iraq's oil in spring 2001

The Commerce Department has been forced by Judicial Watch to turn over records of spring, 2001 meetings held between Dick Cheney and execs from global oil giants, records that suggest that the group decided months before September 11th that the US energy policy would center on taking control of Iraq's oil:
In the late spring of 2001, Vice President Cheney held a series of top secret meetings with the representatives of Exxon-Mobil, Conoco, Shell and BP America for what was later called the Energy Task-force. Their job, ostensibly, was to map out America’s Energy future. Since late 2001 several public interest groups, including the very conservative Judicial Watch, sued to have the proceedings of those meetings opened to public scrutiny. In March 2002, the Commerce Department turned over a few documents from the Task-force meetings to Judicial Watch, among which was the map of Iraq’s Oil Fields, dated March 2001 (above) and a list of the existing “Foreign Suitors” for Iraq Oil. Since that time, Cheney’s office has fought fiercely (and so far, successfully), right up to the Supreme Court, to keep the proceeding secret and to keep any of the private industry officials from disclosing any information about the meetings. Since we all now know the Bush administration’s energy policy, there can be only one explanation for the extraordinary efforts Cheney has taken to keep this secret–he was discussing the potential for a takeover of Iraq’s oil with the companies that might manage the resource, even before 9/11 gave him the excuse to do it.


  1. Perhaps it is time for Congress to consider using some “Enhanced Oversight Techniques” on the Vice President?

  2. Holy shit. That’s even worse than what most people thought of for the reasons they were hiding those meetings.

  3. It is known that Bush had plans to invade Iraq shortly after he was elected before 9/11. Bob Woodward said so in one of his books.

  4. And I just thought I was being suspicious and cynical…..I hate it when that nauseated feeling in the pit of my stomach is right.

  5. NOEN you can’t call it impeachment. Nancy took that off the table.

    So, just like if you call torture an “enhanced interrogation technique” she’s for it, if we call impeachment an “enhanced oversight technique” she’ll be for that, too.

    It’s all about the words you pick.

  6. How is this news? We know from the 1998 letter to Clinton from the Project for the New American Century that regime change in Iraq was on the neocon wish-list at least since the mid-90s; I’m not sure what these newly released documents add to that picture. All they really tell us is that it was still on their wish-list in early 2001.

    It’s no revelation that the administration considered an Iraq invasion to be an option on the table even before it took office. It’s damning, yes—but it’s not news. Now, if we find out that Cheney et al were actually planning an invasion in March 2001, that’s a whole other kettle of fish; but AFAIK there’s no evidence to that effect.

    Not saying it’s an implausible theory or anything, but I’ve gotta say: the phrase “there can be only one explanation” automatically sets my bullshit detector a-pinging.

  7. Why are our democrats such useless, spineless TOOLS!?


  8. just came in here to say what “Gomer” said. This is not news to ANYONE who has been paying attention since 9/11.

  9. I would like to triumphantly declare this the proverbial smoking gun, gather up the posse, get some good strong hangin’ rope with a side order of torches and pitchforks, throw these scumfucks into irons and heal this nation’s wounds by making these vicious animals drag boulders down Pennsylvania Ave. and on across the expanse of the country via donkey collars around their necks, driven by dominatrixes on lizardback with cat-o-nine-tails, as the entire populace stands on either side of the road, booing and throwing batteries.

    That’s what I would like, yes. Unfortunately, at this point, after this country has had shit thrown in its collective face for so long, the collective response, if this even penetrates that far into the news cycle, will be to shrug, scratch our asses and turn American Gladiators back on. But think: wouldn’t it be so much more fun to watch Wolf and Helga chase down a smug shit with a bum ticker so his final thoughts in this life are absolute terror and knowledge that anyone with a soul wishes him dead as unpleasantly as possible?

  10. @14: Why should it be up to the Democrats to start impeachment proceedings?

    You should expect, as a citizen, that your elected representatives will put country before party. If you don’t expect that, then you can be sure partisans will follow their natural tendency to become more partisan, which is what we’re seeing in the U.S.

    Don’t let the partisan bastards set your default assumption about the behaviour of people in government.

  11. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it was clear to me, in 2000, that a Bush presidency would mean another invasion of Iraq.

    Cheney’s Energy Task Force meetings also likely played a role in the California Energy Crisis, of 2000-2001, which resulted in the GOP installing Schwartzenegger as governor…

  12. I’m suffering from outrage fatigue. I can’t muster up the energy to even get annoyed about this – we know that the Bush camp had already considered invading Iraq… so what does this non-news tell us? “Based on the documents we’ve seen, and how much they don’t want us to see the rest of the confidential info from these meetings, it MUST mean that… they wanted to invade Iraq!” Well… duh.

  13. I am absolutely shocked, shocked that Dick Cheney would tell lies to the American people so that he could steal natural resources, murder innocent civilians, and destroy the sovereignty of an oil-rich nation.

    shocked. really. Never saw it coming. I mean, it’s not like he has a history of abusing power to further his own interests, or exhibiting poor judgment like driving drunk or working for Richard Nixon.

    Nobody could have predicted this.

  14. As the oil dwindles there will be more of these maneuvers into war, whether it’s war with an oil-producing state, or war with another huge oil-consuming state like China.

    If we want the madness to stop then we should come up with some way around it– like maybe building our own electric cars (since clearly the auto industry won’t).

  15. “…there can be only one explanation for the extraordinary efforts Cheney has taken to keep this secret…” – article

    “Well, you’ve got a blogger convinced so I don’t know what other evidence you could possibly need.” -#24 lumberjack

    Usually when posting something like this, you might expect there to be a credible source for the information, rather than a blogger’s opinion.

  16. @29… exactly… flagged as inaccurate. Nothing new has been released. Instead, this is just speculation about what limited info released 6 years ago means.

  17. I don’t defend Cheney at all. I can’t wait for this administration to exit the stage. But I’m a little perplexed at the shock expressed in this comment thread. This is well-trodden territory. It doesn’t take a genius or sage to understand that…

    The world’s demand for oil is out-pacing supply

    Rapidly increasing demand for oil in the developing world will bring us to a crisis point very soon

    Our economy runs on oil

    Without a steady flow of imports we would burn through our domestic supply in just a few months (60 days is a figure that gets tossed around)

    This dynamic of dependence means our economic well-being is in the hands of a few unstable regimes. Needless to say, that’s pretty frightening.

    The US (and most of the European powers, for that matter) has a long history of manipulating, intimidating and of course toppling foreign governments in order to create economic conditions that benefit a few powerful people.

    The difference this time around is that we don’t have the information gap we used to have before the digital age. We see and hear about it all.

    Of course, there are sensible ways to wean ourselves from dependence on unstable foreign regimes. It’s sad that we always choose threats and violence.

  18. While I have no love for the current administration and am horribly cynical about their intentions and actions, I don’t see how that blog post contains a smoking gun. What’s the evidence for the ‘only one explanation’ from the post?

    “Since we all now know the Bush administration’s energy policy, there can be only one explanation for the extraordinary efforts Cheney has taken to keep this secret–he was discussing the potential for a takeover of Iraq’s oil with the companies that might manage the resource, even before 9/11 gave him the excuse to do it.”

    Just want to make sure we’re encouraging a higher class of journalism than USA Today/FoxNews et al. You know, because since we knew what Saddam’s chemical weapon policy was, there could have only been one explanation for what those semi trucks were in Iraq. Mobile chemical labs.

  19. This should com to no surprise to anyone. One of the first things that was done during the war was securing the flow of oil in Iraq.

    Maybe this is why Chaney shot that dude in the face. To show him what happens if people talk.

    For all the bad that they did, at least, right now as we speak Bush is giving condoms to Africans.

  20. So, what’s the crime that the impeachment is being advocated for? I mean, regime change in Iraq was made U.S. policy under a law enacted by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1998, so it’s pretty damn hard to see how discussing methods of regime change in Iraq could be a crime.

    Similarly, the actual invasion of Iraq was in accordance with the Authorization to Use Military Force, another duly passed law. Sure, we could argue that it violated the UN Charter. But the standard rules of legal construction established by the U.S. judiciary treat treaties as having no more force than ordinary laws, and specific authorizations as overriding blanket prohibitions. So the war, while possibly illegal under “international law”, was completely legal as far as the Constitution and laws of the United States are concerned.

    Back when Bill Clinton was being impeached, I heard a lot of criticism of the right for treating political differences as grounds for impeachment. But at least the Republicans focused on an actual felony committed by Clinton when making their impeachment arguments.

    If you want Cheney impeached for something else, some actual crime, sure, go ahead. But the Iraq War was not a criminal offense, and even ironclad proof that Cheney was plotting war in May 2001 is not grounds for impeachment.

  21. SEE is right. Presidents and VPs can only be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    Plotting war and seizing oil assets of other countries is not technically a crime here in the US — international law sure but that doesn’t count for impeachment. The Valerie Plame scandal was the closest we got to pinning an actual an actual impeachable offense on anyone in the Bush admin. Sure they’ve lied left and right, but it’s not perjury if it’s not under oath and they’ve been pretty good at avoiding having the main people go under oath.

    I wish it were otherwise, but the impeachment movement doesn’t seem to have a leg to stand on.

  22. I thought we were freeing the Kurds from the atrocities of Saddam? And protecting Israel from an imminent threat? And that anyone who suggested otherwise was suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome?

    This would all still be acceptable behavior if you were to believe that what’s best for Big Oil is best for America.

  23. @#19 (License Farm) –

    aside from all the problems related to making claims about the soul and its nature in a political arena (ultimately just a thinly-veiled attempt to add weight to one’s own stance without any substantive, real evidence or reasoning to back it up), i find it disturbing that your definition of a soul requires such malice.

    dick cheney is without a doubt a bad, bad man and deserves punishment. one might even wish extreme humiliation on him. but wishing for someone’s violent, painful death is another matter entirely. if you really, truly desire cheney’s painful death, please for the sake of the rest of us liberals keep that sick, evil thought to yourself.

    making claims about the possession of a soul being related to a specific desire for malice towards an individual or group of people is exactly the kind of ideology and dogma that religions and governments have used for years to justify horrible acts.

  24. 1. Looking at maps and discussing potential investors in a region that is currently embargoed is hardly evidence of plotting an invasion. Any serious discussion of energy policy at the time would have had to include speculation about when Iraqi reserves would return to substantial production.

    2. When do we actually plan to seize the oil fields? It seems like we are really taking our time. In fact, wasn’t it the favored policy of the so-called neo-cons to create an Alaska-style trust for Iraqi oil reserves so that the Iraqi people could benefit directly from their oil wealth? And wasn’t that idea killed because the administration determined it wasn’t our business to tell the Iraqi government how they would handle their own oil reserves?

    Whatever – Bush=Hitler – Hooray.

  25. #38

    Or, was he just venting the frustration of a nation? (and the rest of us)

    I don’t believe License Farm would take his suggestions any further than this thread, and I personally don’t have a problem with this type of vernacular when the target is such a evil little villian, who should (amongst others) be tried for war crimes.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily constructive to take frustrated, cartoonish rantings as a valid course of action and then critique it.

    When he lights his torch and sharpens his pitchfork, I’ll join in the admonishment.

  26. note date;

    “Iraq: New Drill: Inside Giant Oil
    Industry, Maze Of Management Tensions

    by Chip Cummins, Susan Warren and Bhushan Bahree , Wall Street Journal
    April 30th, 2003

    Flanked by a half-dozen Iraqi engineers in open-collared shirts, the de facto head of Iraq’s South Oil Co. wanted to make one thing clear to the U.S. army officers and oilmen sitting across the table: Iraqi oil workers still report to him.

    “This is between us Iraqis,” Jabbar A. El-Leaby told the Americans at a recent meeting in Basra, Iraq’s southern oil capital. Local workers will cooperate with the Americans, he said, but they will report to their old bosses, just as they did before the war. “We want them to be in touch with their managers,” he said.

    The Pentagon is embarking on one of the most audacious hostile takeovers ever: the seizure and rejuvenation of Iraq’s huge but decrepit state-run petroleum industry. Before the war, Iraq pumped about as much oil each day as Exxon Mobil Corp., the biggest publicly traded petroleum company. The Iraqi system, with the world’s second-largest reserves, is potentially the second-largest oil operation of any kind, after Saudi Arabia’s Aramco.”

    how do you think it turned out?

  27. Impeach and CONVICT! NOW! Then send them to Guantanamo Bay. I hear the water-boarding is fabulous this time of year.

  28. @ #38 Gadfly: I hope you’ve never read any Hunter S. Thompson; I have a feeling you’d assume he personally drove Nixon from office with a cattle prod rectally-inserted.

    Of course I’m not speaking literally. Do you know of any lizards presently living large enough to ride like horses? Because if you do, I want to buy some.

    But here’s the thing: I’m glad you wondered whether I was speaking literally. Because I hope Dick Cheney and those who would follow his example might wonder whether I’m speaking literally. Do I hope to be disappeared like this were Stalinist Russia? No. But this is a man who does as he pleases without fear of reprisals, human or otherwise. He is a nihilist at the head of a party that supposedly caters to those of devout faith. He believes in nothing greater than himself. Which is why he is an abomination.

    We might think ourselves more civilized than people of mere centuries before, who’d finalize a coup d’etat by executing the parties who they blame for their ills, and perhaps we are. As Howard Bloom observes, it is a testimony to evolution that the harshest response to personal rhetorical offense in the developed world is usually just more of the same. But any system by which we might do otherwise to hold persons of power accountable are rendered toothless without the threat of the ability to put them into action. When peaceful assembly by millions worldwide, much less millions domestically, fails to change the course of megalomaniacal policy, dismissing it as “focus groups,” and the electoral process seemed compromised, what then?

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” — JFK

  29. yep, Rovie and company are too damn smart for their own good. Gotta kill them. Too bad, messy and troublesome – but they made it that way.

    SAIC, Halliburton, Blackwater, KBR et al.

  30. -This? -About Darth Vader?

    Nooo. This is Just Shocking!

    I’d also like to add how much Fox news just raised their morality cred by hiring Karl Rove as a consultant!

    -You stay classy, Fox News!

  31. Has no one read Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast?

    Not only did they have a plan for Iraq, but they had 2.

    Seriously people, read the book maybe it will open an eye or 2, or maybe even piss you off enough to get you to do something about the theft of our country by the robber barons on the hill.

  32. The very worst part of this is not the ‘surprise,’ it’s the cold certainty of knowing that they’ll get away with it.

  33. yeah, they will. Just like always. The whole problem is that those that should prosecute look at the mess and realize that it is just too damn big to clean up – so it gets swept under the rug. Just like the time before and the time before.

  34. As Gerald Ford pointed out in the early 1970s, in practice an impeachable offense is whatever the House of Representatives decides it is. Sadly, the sh!t for which we might easily impeach, convict, and possibly even execute, Mr. Cheney, will not be known until he is already dead of natural causes.

  35. I have actually thought exactly that. Cheney is guilty of crimes against humanity easily equaled by those condemned at Nuremberg. The sheer, cynical evil demonstrated by his every daily word and deed beggar my imagination in what he deserves in terms of simple, decent, natural justice. He is not a mere opportunist or ordinary thieving robber baron, he is an actual monster. And the filthy, filthy bastard is going to walk.

  36. Yes, of course he will get away with it; all of it. The most (and the least) we can hope for is that he will be seen for what he is. That people will remember this. That his supporters will perhaps take some time to reflect on the part they played. People on the left have always hated Dick Chaney – it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to start hating him more. He needs to be more widely discredited, not more intensely.

    Never mind trying punish Chaney, it’s not worth it. But if the record can be set straight, maybe that will provide sufficient momentum for some actual, positive Obama. Er, I mean change.

  37. Did anyone RTFA? Cory? This news came out in 2002, when Judicial Watch got the documents. The news is that the oil companies are about to actualize their planned pillage.

    From the article:

    “The reason this becomes important now is that with yesterday’s agreement in the Iraqi Parliament over Amnesty and Revenue Sharing, the American Embassy is now pushing hard for an Iraq Oil Law which would open up huge new concessions to the Oil Companies that were part of Cheney’s Task force.”


    It is sad, though. I wish I lived in a constitutional democratic republic. Wouldn’t that be cool?

    But, um, I’m sure a Democrat will… make everything… ok… Change! Hope! Just do it! Got milk? Army of One!

    “If voting changed anything, it would be illegal.”

  38. Thu, Feb. 21, 2008
    Police concerned about order to stop weapons screening at Obama rally
    Star-Telegram Staff Writer
    Barack Obama speaks Wednesday at a Democratic rally in Dallas’ Reunion Arena. Police were told to stop screening people for weapons before the rally began.

    DALLAS — Security details at Barack Obama’s rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

    The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

    Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department’s homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order — apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service —

  39. Sadly, this isn’t surprising to me. I had a “friend” (not that you can call him that; more of a disliked classmate and uber-Republican) that when I was at a high school journalism conference in 2003, I was criticizing the upcoming Iraq war and said it was stupid to “link” 9/11 to it as justification for an invasion. He bragged, “My dad’s in the military. Even before 9/11, they were planning to invade Iraq anyway.”

    And now there’s more proof. Lovely.

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