NYC on 9-11: They Knew, and We Want Answers

August 30, 2004 at 7:11 pm
Contributed by:


I am very encouraged by this new Zogby poll, showing that a majority of New Yorkers believe that U.S. leaders had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks and “consciously failed” to act. They want a real inquiry into what happened, and answers to their very legitmate questions, and they’re not going to settle for the whitewash we’ve been given.

For the sake of the dignity of our country, and out of respect for those who died, I wish the group the best of luck in getting to the bottom of what happened that day, and condemn in the strongest possible terms the way that Bush is seeking to use 9-11 as a basis for re-election, in the face of these many unanswered questions. Shame on him. Let him show that he’s really interested in giving America the truth about 9-11, then maybe–maybe–he has a claim to that. But not now.


[Further reading: previous GRL blogs about what really happened on 9-11:

FBI Whistleblower Explodes 9-11 Commission Report

9-11: Bush knew. And did nothing.

Today’s Roundup

You Can’t Handle the Truth

20 Crucial 9/11 Questions

William Rivers Pitt – “The Sins of September 11”

Krugman – Exploiting the Atrocity

Were the Saudis responsible for WTC attacks?

Common misconceptions about 9/11

Poll: 50% of NYC Says U.S. Govt Knew

Zogby International

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Monday, Aug. 30, 2004

Half of New Yorkers Believe U.S. Leaders Had
Foreknowledge of Impending 9/11 Attacks and
“Consciously Failed” To Act;

66% Call For New Probe of Unanswered Questions
by Congress or New York’s Attorney General,
New Zogby International Poll Reveals

(Utica, NY) – On the eve of a Republican National Convention invoking 9/11 symbols, sound bytes and imagery, half (49.3%) of New York City residents and 41% of New York citizens overall say that some of our leaders “knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act,” according to the poll conducted by Zogby International. The poll of New York residents was conducted from Tuesday August 24 through Thursday August 26, 2004. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of +/-3.5.


The poll is the first of its kind conducted in America that surveys attitudes regarding US government complicity in the 9/11 tragedy. Despite the acute legal and political implications of this accusation, nearly 30% of registered Republicans and over 38% of those who described themselves as “very conservative” supported the claim.

The charge found very high support among adults under 30 (62.8%), African-Americans (62.5%), Hispanics (60.1%), Asians (59.4%), and “Born Again” Evangelical Christians (47.9%).

Less than two in five (36%) believe that the 9/11 Commission had “answered all the important questions about what actually happened on September 11th,” and two in three (66%) New Yorkers (and 56.2% overall) called for another full investigation of the “still unanswered questions” by Congress or Elliot Spitzer, New York’s Attorney General. Self-identified “very liberal” New Yorkers supported a new inquiry by a margin of three to one, but so did half (53%) of “very conservative” citizens across the state. The call for a deeper probe was especially strong from Hispanics (75.6%), African-Americans (75.3%) citizens with income from $15-25K (74.3%), women (62%) and Evangelicals (59.9%).

W. David Kubiak, executive director of, the group that commissioned the poll, expressed genuine surprise that New Yorkers’ belief in the administration’s complicity is as high or higher than that seen overseas. “We’re familiar with high levels of 9/11 skepticism abroad where there has been open debate of the evidence for US government complicity. On May 26th the Toronto Star reported a national poll showing that 63% of Canadians are also convinced US leaders had ‘prior knowledge’ of the attacks yet declined to act. There was no US coverage of this startling poll or the facts supporting the Canadians’ conclusions, and there has been virtually no debate on the victim families’ scores of still unanswered questions. I think these numbers show that most New Yorkers are now fed up with the silence, and that politicians trying to exploit 9/11 do so at their peril. The 9/11 case is not closed and New York’s questions are not going away.”

Nicholas Levis of NY 9/11 Truth, an advisor on the poll, agrees, “The 9/11 Commission gave us a plenty of ‘recommendations’, but far more plentiful were the discrepancies, gaps and omissions in their supposedly ‘final’ report. How can proposals based on such deficient findings ever make us safe? We think these poll numbers are basically saying, ‘Wait just a minute. What about the scores of still outstanding questions? What about the unexplained collapses of WTC 7, our air defenses, official accountability, the chain of command on 9/11, the anthrax, insider trading & FBI field probes? There’s so much more to this story that we need to know about.’ When such a huge majority of New Yorkers want a new investigation, it will be interesting to see how quickly Attorney General Spitzer and our legislators respond.” (Contact:, Tel. 917.295.4929)

SCOPE: The poll covered five areas of related interest: 1) Iraq – do New Yorkers think that our leaders “deliberately misled” us before the war (51.2% do); 2) the 9/11 Commission – did it answer all the “important questions” (only 36% said yes); 3) the inexplicable and largely unreported collapse of the third WTC skyscraper on 9/11 – what was its number (28% of NYC area residents knew); 4) the question on complicity; and 5) how many wanted a new 9/11 probe. All inquiries about questions, responses and demographics should be directed to Zogby International.

SPONSOR: is a coalition of researchers, journalists and victim family members working to expose and resolve the hundreds of critical questions still swirling around 9/11, especially the nearly 400 questions that the Family Steering Committee filed with the 9/11 Commission which they fought to create. Initially welcomed by the commissioners as a “road map” for their inquiry, these queries cut to the heart of 9/11 crimes and accountability. Specifically, they raised the central issues of motive, means and cui bono (who profited?). But the Commission ignored the majority of these questions, opting only to explore system failures, miscommunications and incompetence. The victim families’ most incisive issues remain unaddressed to this day. The Zogby International poll was also cosponsored by Walden Three ( and 9/11 Citizens Watch (, a watchdog group which has monitored the Commission since its inception and will release its findings, “The 9/11 Omission Report,” in several weeks.

On September 9th and 11th, will cosponsor two large successive inquiries in New York, a preliminary 9/11 Citizens Commission hearing and “Confronting the Evidence: 9/11 and the Search for Truth,” a research-focused evidentiary forum. These inquiries will examine many of the 9/11 Commission-shunned questions and discuss preparation of a probable cause complaint demanding a grand jury and criminal investigation from the New York Attorney General. Possible charges range from criminal negligence and gross dereliction of duty to foreknowledge, complicity and subsequent obstruction of justice. For details and developments, see For press info, contact Kyle Hence 212-243-7787

Zogby International conducted interviews of 808 adults chosen at random in New York State. All calls were made from Zogby International headquarters in Utica, N.Y., from 8/24/04 through 8/26/04. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, and gender to more accurately reflect the population. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Republicans Breaking Ranks

August 20, 2004 at 8:10 pm
Contributed by:


Finally, some cooler heads in the Republican party are beginning to stand up and speak out for the truth, putting their loyalty to America before their fealty to Dubya’s throne. And just when I thought the whole GOP had had a lobotomy.

First, a much-circulated column from the VERY conservative Charley Reese of the Orlando
Sentinel. Showing that he still has the capacity for independent thought, and sound reasoning, he concludes that Bush’s extreme policies are very bad indeed for America:

People who think of themselves as conservatives will really display
their stupidity, as I did in the last election, by voting for Bush. Bush
is as far from being a conservative as you can get. Well, he fooled me
once, but he won’t fool me twice.

Next, a stinging rebuke from Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb, a senior member of the International Relations Committee and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who calls the invasion of Iraq a mistake, and “a dangerous, costly mess.”

Kudos to these right-wingers for having the guts to call it like it is, and speak up for true conservatism. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of this sort of thing before November.


Vote for a Man, Not a Puppet

by Charley Reese
Americans should realize that if they vote for President Bush’s re-election, they are really voting for the architects of war – Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers.

I have sadly come to the conclusion that President Bush is merely a frontman, an empty suit, who is manipulated by the people in his administration. Bush has the most dangerously simplistic view of the world of any president in my memory.

It’s no wonder the president avoids press conferences like the plague. Take away his cue cards and he can barely talk. Americans should be embarrassed that an Arab king (Abdullah of Jordan) spoke more fluently and articulately in English than our own president at their joint press conference recently.

John Kerry is at least an educated man, well-read, who knows how to think and who knows that the world is a great deal more complex than Bush’s comic-book world of American heroes and foreign evildoers. It’s unfortunate that in our poorly educated country, Kerry’s very intelligence and refusal to adopt simplistic slogans might doom his presidential election efforts.

But Thomas Jefferson said it well, as he did so often, when he observed that people who expect to be ignorant and free expect what never was and never will be.

People who think of themselves as conservatives will really display their stupidity, as I did in the last election, by voting for Bush. Bush is as far from being a conservative as you can get. Well, he fooled me once, but he won’t fool me twice.

It is not at all conservative to balloon government spending, to vastly increase the power of government, to show contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law, or to tell people that foreign outsourcing of American jobs is good for them, that giant fiscal and trade deficits don’t matter, and that people should not know what their government is doing. Bush is the most prone-to-classify, the most secretive president in the 20th century. His administration leans dangerously toward the authoritarian.

It’s no wonder that the Justice Department has convicted a few Arab-Americans of supporting terrorism. What would you do if you found yourself arrested and a federal prosecutor whispers in your ear that either you can plea-bargain this or the president will designate you an enemy combatant and you’ll be held incommunicado for the duration?

This election really is important, not only for domestic reasons, but because Bush’s foreign policy has been a dangerous disaster. He’s almost restarted the Cold War with Russia and the nuclear arms race. America is not only hated in the Middle East, but it has few friends anywhere in the world thanks to the arrogance and ineptness of the Bush administration. Don’t forget, a scientific poll of Europeans found us, Israel, North Korea and Iran as the greatest threats to world peace.

I will swallow a lot of petty policy differences with Kerry to get a man in the White House with brains enough not to blow up the world and us with it. Go to Kerry’s Web site and read some of the magazine profiles on him. You’ll find that there is a great deal more to Kerry than the GOP attack dogs would have you believe.

Besides, it would be fun to have a president who plays hockey, windsurfs, ride motorcycles, plays the guitar, writes poetry and speaks French. It would be good to have a man in the White House who has killed people face to face. Killing people has a sobering effect on a man and dispels all illusions about war.

May 17, 2004

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969–71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.

© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Charley Reese Archives

Intelligence vice chairman calls war unjustified

The Associated Press

Aug. 19, 2004

LINCOLN, Neb. – A top Republican lawmaker has broken from his party in the final days of his House career, saying he believes that the U.S. military assault on Iraq was unjustified and that the situation there has deteriorated into “a dangerous, costly mess.”

“I’ve reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action,” Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., wrote in a letter to his constituents.

“Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action,” he said.

Bereuter, 65, is a senior member of the International Relations Committee and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee. He is stepping down after 13 terms to become president of the Asia Foundation effective Sept. 1.

The letter, which Bereuter (pronounced BEE-writer) sent to constituents who have contacted him about the war, was reported Wednesday by the Lincoln Journal Star.

Signs of GOP slippage
In 2002, Bereuter spoke out in support of a House resolution authorizing President Bush to go to war. Bush has continued to argue that the war was justified because Iraqi President Saddam Hussein represented a threat to the United States, his neighbors and the people of Iraq.

Most Republicans and top administration officials say the war was justified even though no weapons of mass destruction have been found.

However, after a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded in early July that intelligence agencies had provided false assessments of the Iraqi threat before the war, the panel’s Republican chairman, Pat Roberts of Kansas, said Congress might not have approved the Iraq war had lawmakers known the truth.

Roberts said that without an immediate threat that Saddam had and was trying to get weapons of mass destruction, military action against Iraq still could have been justified on humanitarian grounds but that the battle plan might have been different from a full-scale invasion.

Bereuter sees other problems
Bereuter said that in addition to “a massive failure or misinterpretation of intelligence,” the Bush administration made several other errors in going to war.

“From the beginning of the conflict, it was doubtful that we for long would be seen as liberators, but instead increasingly as an occupying force,” he said. “Now we are immersed in a dangerous, costly mess, and there is no easy and quick way to end our responsibilities in Iraq without creating bigger future problems in the region and, in general, in the Muslim world.

Bereuter said that as a result of the war, “our country’s reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened.”

Bereuter declined to answer questions Wednesday about the letter. His spokesman, Alan Feyerherm, said Bereuter feels the letter speaks for itself.

Oil’s New Highs, And Its Effects On The Economy

August 18, 2004 at 8:00 pm
Contributed by: Chris


A brief return here to the subject of oil prices. I received some feedback today that I’m getting a bit into the realm of the esoteric with the articles about how the stock market reacts to crude oil prices, so I will try to stop banging on about that (although personally, I find it fascinating, and a key indicator of what’s to come). But I thought these three articles were worthwhile for wider distribution, because they make a complex subject comprehensible.

First, an article from today’s Christian Science Monitor, which did a typically pithy job of summing up the important points about future oil prices.

Second, an opinion piece from, penned by an investment manager who specializes in oil and transportation issues. He elegantly explains why crude prices have enormous impacts on the economy as a whole.

Third, a very good article, though longer, and technically detailed, from The Hindu Business Line. It warns about a global recession coming at us next year, due to high oil prices. High oil prices have preceded every major recession since WWII.


By the way, let me remind you that I love getting your feedback, on what’s working for you and what’s not. You’d be surprised at how little of it I get. So don’t be shy, fire away. How am I doing? You want more of one topic and less of another?

And while I’m at it, let me offer two other reminders: 1) Invite your friends to join GRL, the more the merrier! 2) Subscribe to the Progress Report (free) and read it, every single day! It’s really the best, no-bullshit source of news on the issues of the day that I have found, and I wish that everyone read it every day. (Though the best political commentary is still Jon Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central, hands-down.)



Novel Approach To Cooling Buildings: Lake Water

August 18, 2004 at 7:36 pm
Contributed by:


An alert Canadian reader sent me this article today, about a novel project in Toronto that just began operating yesterday, which will cool downtown buildings using frigid water from the bottom of Lake Ontario.

“[This is] clean, renewable, reliable energy. Compared to traditional air-conditioning, Deep Lake Water Cooling reduces electricity use by 75 per cent and will eliminate 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off of the streets of Toronto.”

Very interesting stuff. This may be just the sort of alternative/renewable energy project that can make a dent in our dependence on foreign oil.


‘Energy of the future’ flows into downtown Toronto


Aug 17, 2004

Globe and Mail Update

Air cooled by the frigid waters deep in Lake Ontario started bringing relief to buildings in downtown Toronto on Tuesday after the valves were symbolically opened on the multi-million-dollar project.

The project, which is believed to the first of its kind in North America, could be cooling significant parts of the downtown by the time the heat and humidity hits Toronto next summer.

Enwave, co-owned by the City of Toronto and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, will draw cold water from far out in the lake, using three intake pipes 83 metres below the surface to collect fluid that is barely above freezing.

Brought to the John St. Pumping Station, the lake water is used to cool down other water that will then be used to lower the temperature in downtown buildings. The original water continues on into the city system, is treated and enters the drinking supply.

“This is truly the energy of the future, available today,” Enwave president Dennis Fotinos said Tuesday.

“[This is] clean, renewable, reliable energy. Compared to traditional air-conditioning, Deep Lake Water Cooling reduces electricity use by 75 per cent and will eliminate 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off of the streets of Toronto.”

The company says that they have the capacity to air condition 100 office buildings or 8,000 homes — the equivalent of 32 million square feet of building space. They note that the cooling system reduces energy usage, freeing up megawatts from the Ontario’s electrical grid, minimizes ozone-depleting refrigerants and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide entering the air.

Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, who has a sideline career as an environmental campaigner, was on hand for the ceremony at Toronto’s Steam Whistle Brewery, which was one of the first buildings to sign up for the project. Also there was federal cabinet minister Joe Volpe, in his role as ranking Liberal MP for Toronto, provincial Energy Minister Dwight Duncan and Toronto deputy mayor Sandra Bussin.

Mr. Volpe brought with him a $10-million loan that will not accrue interest for two years, one of his staffers told, the money coming from the Green Municipal Fund with is administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

After six years of work, the Deep Lake Water Cooling project was ready for launch last month but Enwave chose to delay it until mid-August, the anniversary of the 2003 blackout that crippled much of central Canada and the Eastern United States. Mr. Fotinos admitted then that the choice was purely a publicity decision, designed to remind people that “green projects will actually work toward eliminating that situation from happening again.”

The downside of the decision is that the project is being launched in the middle of a particularly cool August, during a week when the temperature in downtown Toronto is not forecast to rise above the mid-20s.

Oil Prices, Russia, and Venezuela…What\’s Really Going On Here?

August 18, 2004 at 1:32 am
Contributed by:


For all but one of the last 10 straight trading sessions, crude oil prices have hit record highs. As discussed here previously, two of the major factors are the situation with the Yukos oil company of Russia, and last Sunday’s recall vote on Venezuela’s Chavez, which he survived. But are we really getting the real scoop?

The outside stories, for public consumption, are that Yukos is in bankruptcy proceedings because it owes $3 billion in taxes to the state, and that the referendum vote on Chavez was initiated by “opposition leaders” who say he is authoritarian and has managed a rich economy badly.

But the inside stories are quite different. In the case of Yukos, apparently the back taxes are really just a “sham” to give the state a way to wrest control of Russia’s major export away from a wealthy industrialist who had gotten cozy with Big Oil in the U.S., so that Prime Minister Putin can “exert more influence on U.S. foreign policy and global economic affairs.”

In the case of Chavez, Greg Palast reports that what’s really going on is a race and class war, between Venezuela’s first indigenous president, who favors bringing his people out of poverty by giving them a larger share of the oil revenue, and white, middle-class business leaders who are cozy with–surprise–Big Oil interests in the U.S.

Chavez asserts that U.S. military leaders met with the plotters of the failed April 12, 2002 coup against him. (See Palast’s article: Venezuela and Argentina: A Tale of Two Coups – 2004 Project Censored Award.) Why? Venezuela is the third-largest supplier of foreign petroleum to the U.S., and Chavez has used Venezuela’s production capacity to reinvigorate the price control ability of OPEC. But at the time of the coup, “Iraq and Libya were trying to organize OPEC to stop exporting oil to the US to protest American support of Israel” and so the US, under the cover of Venezuela’s business elite, tried to replace Chavez with a puppet, in order to thwart a renewed Arab oil embargo.

Politics and intrigue are as thick as Saudi crude in the energy business, as the world holds its breath and hopes to keep the lights on and the transports running.

[Further reading: Other Greg Palast articles on Chavez]


Using Oil as a Weapon

Russia On Trial

Russia is currently the number two oil producer in the world, and plans to be on par with Saudi Arabia by 2010. As the U.S. looks beyond the Middle East for alternative sources of oil, President Vladimir Putin is positioning his oil-rich nation to take Saudi Arabia’s place.

Putin’s ambition to become a major supplier of oil to the U.S. is a clear bid to exert more influence on U.S. foreign policy and global economic affairs. And he doesn’t want Russian oil companies in charge. He wants the Kremlin calling the shots.

Putin has been actively asserting greater state control over Russia’s oil industry in the last two years. One of his most daring moves has been an all-out campaign to renationalize YUKOS Oil , a major Russian oil company that forged close ties with the U.S. YUKOS executives, including ex-CEO Mikhail Khodorkovksy, have been thrown into jail or forced into exile, and the company is being driven into bankruptcy through sham tax evasion charges. Once YUKOS is in bankruptcy, the state will undoubtedly take control.

Putin’s takeover of YUKOS directly interferes with negotiations the private company was pursuing with the U.S. Mikhail Khodorkovsky had already met with Vice President Cheney, Energy Secretary Abraham and other U. S. officials to discuss oil exports to the U.S. The first shipment arrived in Texas in 2003, offering hope that the U. S. would at last have a major alternative source of oil imports. That was before Mr. Khodorokovsky’s imprisonment. Russian authorities also have blocked ExxonMobil’s plans to invest in YUKOS and derailed efforts to build pipelines in Russia to transport oil to Russian ports for shipment to the U.S.

In addition to YUKOS, Russian officials appear poised to nationalize or exert more control over other oil companies too. Tax officials recently announced they will conduct an assessment of the effects of privatization in Russia , and said they will review the tax payments of major oil companies such as Sibneft, Lukoil and Transneft. This is how the Kremlin went after YUKOS too…

The bottom line: If Putin is successful in exerting control over the Russian oil industry, the U.S. economy will be directly dependent on decisions made by the Russian president and Kremlin. President Putin, a former KGB operative who has systematically populated the top tiers of Russian government with anti-western members of Russia’s current and former security service, will hold the reins of U.S. oil imports.

  Dick Cheney, Hugo Chavez and Bill Clinton’s Band
  By Greg Palast

  Monday 16 August 2004

Why Venezuela has voted again for their ‘Negro e Indio’ president.

  There’s so much BS and baloney thrown around about Venezuela that I may be violating some rule of US journalism by providing some facts. Let’s begin with this: 77% of Venezuela’s farmland is owned by 3% of the population, the ‘hacendados.’

  I met one of these farmlords in Caracas at an anti-Chavez protest march. Oddest demonstration I’ve ever seen: frosted blondes in high heels clutching designer bags, screeching, “Chavez – dic-ta-dor!” The plantation owner griped about the “socialismo” of Chavez, then jumped into his Jaguar convertible.

  That week, Chavez himself handed me a copy of the “socialist” manifesto that so rattled the man in the Jag. It was a new law passed by Venezuela’s Congress which gave land to the landless. The Chavez law transferred only fields from the giant haciendas which had been left unused and abandoned.

  This land reform, by the way, was promoted to Venezuela in the 1960s by that Lefty radical, John F. Kennedy. Venezuela’s dictator of the time agreed to hand out land, but forgot to give peasants title to their property.

  But Chavez won’t forget, because the mirror reminds him. What the affable president sees in his reflection, beyond the ribbons of office, is a “negro e indio” — a “Black and Indian” man, dark as a cola nut, same as the landless and, until now, the hopeless. For the first time in Venezuela’s history, the 80% Black-Indian population elected a man with skin darker than the man in the Jaguar.

  So why, with a huge majority of the electorate behind him, twice in elections and today with a nearly two-to-one landslide victory in a recall referendum, is Hugo Chavez in hot water with our democracy-promoting White House?

  Maybe it’s the oil. Lots of it. Chavez sits atop a reserve of crude that rivals Iraq’s. And it’s not his presidency of Venezuela that drives the White House bananas, it was his presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC. While in control of the OPEC secretariat, Chavez cut a deal with our maximum leader of the time, Bill Clinton, on the price of oil. It was a ‘Goldilocks’ plan. The price would not be too low, not too high; just right, kept between $20 and $30 a barrel.

  But Dick Cheney does not like Clinton nor Chavez nor their band. To him, the oil industry’s (and Saudi Arabia’s) freedom to set oil prices is as sacred as freedom of speech is to the ACLU. I got this info, by the way, from three top oil industry lobbyists.

  Why should Chavez worry about what Dick thinks? Because, said one of the oil men, the Veep in his Bunker, not the pretzel-chewer in the White House, “runs energy policy in the United States.”

  And what seems to have gotten our Veep’s knickers in a twist is not the price of oil, but who keeps the loot from the current band-busting spurt in prices. Chavez had his Congress pass another oil law, the “Law of Hydrocarbons,” which changes the split. Right now, the oil majors – like PhillipsConoco – keep 84% of the proceeds of the sale of Venezuela oil; the nation gets only 16%.

  Chavez wanted to double his Treasury’s take to 30%. And for good reason. Landless, hungry peasants have, over decades, drifted into Caracas and other cities, building million-person ghettos of cardboard shacks and open sewers. Chavez promised to do something about that.

  And he did. “Chavez gives them bread and bricks,” one Venezuelan TV reporter told me. The blonde TV newscaster, in the middle of a publicity shoot, said the words “pan y ladrillos” with disdain, making it clear that she never touched bricks and certainly never waited in a bread line.

  But to feed and house the darker folk in those bread and brick lines, Chavez would need funds, and the 16% slice of the oil pie wouldn’t do it. So the President of Venezuela demanded 30%, leaving Big Oil only 70%. Suddenly, Bill Clinton’s ally in Caracas became Mr. Cheney’s — and therefore, Mr. Bush’s — enemy.

  So began the Bush-Cheney campaign to “Floridate” the will of the Venezuela electorate. It didn’t matter that Chavez had twice won election. Winning most of the votes, said a White House spokesman, did not make Chavez’ government “legitimate.” Hmmm. Secret contracts were awarded by our Homeland Security spooks to steal official Venezuela voter lists. Cash passed discreetly from the US taxpayer, via the so-called ‘Endowment for Democracy,’ to the Chavez-haters running today’s “recall” election.

  A brilliant campaign of placing stories about Chavez’ supposed unpopularity and “dictatorial” manner seized US news and op-ed pages, ranging from the San Francisco Chronicle to the New York Times.

  But some facts just can’t be smothered in propaganda ink. While George Bush can appoint the government of Iraq and call it “sovereign,” the government of Venezuela is appointed by its people. And the fact is that most people in this slum-choked land don’t drive Jaguars or have their hair tinted in Miami. Most look in the mirror and see someone “negro e indio,” as dark as their President Hugo.

  The official CIA handbook on Venezuela says that half the nation’s farmers own only 1% of the land. They are the lucky ones, as more peasants owned nothing. That is, until their man Chavez took office. Even under Chavez, land redistribution remains more a promise than an accomplishment. But today, the landless and homeless voted their hopes, knowing that their man may not, against the armed axis of local oligarchs and Dick Cheney, succeed for them. But they are convinced he would never forget them.

  And that’s a fact.


  Greg Palast’s reports from Venezuela for BBC Television’s Newsnight and the Guardian papers of Britain earned a California State University Journalism School “Project Censored” award for 2002. View photos and Palast’s reports on Venezuela at


Support for Chavez Unwavering in Slums of Venezuelan Capital

  By Ken Silverstein
  Los Angles Times

  Monday 16 August 2004

  CARACAS, Venezuela – The rich hate him, saying he has stirred up class warfare. The privately owned media, closely aligned with his political opponents, pillory him daily as an enemy of democracy. And the Bush administration, which supported those who briefly overthrew him in 2002, describes him as a dangerous leftist.

  But in the shantytowns here in the capital, President Hugo Chavez is revered as a national savior.

  “Our hope is with Chavez,” said Carlos Contreras, who urged residents to support the president in Sunday’s recall vote. “All of our other presidents promised to help the poor, but he’s the first one who has kept his word.”

  Chavez’s support is concentrated among the poor, who make up a majority of this country’s 25 million people. The soaring price of oil, a major export, has flooded the national treasury, allowing the government to spend heavily on social programs and fund what Chavez calls a “Revolution for the Poor.”

  Like many in the winding, hillside shantytown of brick-and-tin shacks in Catia district, Contreras has no steady work. He owns a truck and occasionally is hired as a mover or for other odd jobs.

  Even so, he said life had improved dramatically since Chavez was elected in 1998. From a spot that offers a sweeping view of the neighborhood, Contreras pointed to a new health clinic staffed by Cuban doctors. The government has also opened several nearby markets that sell subsidized food to the poor.

  There are new literacy programs, and Contreras, who is 47 and hadn’t studied beyond third grade, now attends a school built by the government. He hopes to earn a high school degree.

  If the opposition has support here, it does not readily show its face other than a handful of “Yes” signs scattered about the neighborhood. The walls of the shantytown and windows in homes are covered with red signs urging a “No” vote in the recall referendum.

  “This whole street is Chavista,” Contreras said as he led a tour through the neighborhood. “Maybe one in a hundred is for the opposition.”

  Nationwide, voters are divided over the recall, but in poor neighborhoods like this one, the president appears to have overwhelming support.

  The opposition and the Bush administration have attacked Chavez for his close friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, but that relationship doesn’t bother poor Venezuelans who receive free treatment at government health clinics from Cuban doctors. Before, the poor had, at best, little access to healthcare.

  “Chavez has love for the people,” Contreras said. “He was poor and he understands the needs of the poor.”

  Chavez also benefits from poor Venezuelans’ skepticism of his opponents, whom they see as remnants of the country’s discarded political past.

  Before Chavez won power, two elite parties exchanged power for four decades. Those governments were widely considered corrupt and squandered much of the country’s oil wealth.

  Nelson Ortiz, a stocky man standing in front of a store where he sells live chickens, said he planned to vote for Chavez.

  “There are good things and bad things about the government, but with another president things would be worse,” he said. “I have to thank this man because he is the first one who has used our oil for the poor.”

  Similar sentiments were voiced in a number of other Caracas shantytowns, which have benefited from the same social programs seen in Catia.

  People were especially enthusiastic in the January 23 neighborhood, which is dominated by huge, dilapidated apartment buildings built in the late 1950s. From the windows, laundry hangs alongside large banners painted with a popular Chavez campaign slogan, “No al Pasado” (“No to the Past”).

  “Here, you don’t have to ask,” a young woman said when asked how she would vote. “Everyone in this neighborhood is with the president.”

  Nearby, a crowd gathered on a square in front of a neighborhood school where Chavez was expected to vote.

  Around noon, the presidential motorcade arrived, leading to a burst of fireworks and cheers from the crowd. As Chavez emerged from a blue sport utility vehicle, people began singing a campaign song, “Uh, Ah, Chavez No Se Va” (“Ooh, Ah, Chavez Isn’t Leaving”).

  Pastora Sivira, a primary school teacher, was among those singing the loudest. “We know he will win,” she said. “We have waited for this president for too long to lose him now.”

Seeking a Renewable Energy Future

August 17, 2004 at 1:12 am
Contributed by:


After all the information I have posted about the problems of our energy policy, I decided it was high time to focus on some positive options for the future.

I have been greatly encouraged lately by the way that some parts of the media, and the American discourse in general, have finally started to focus on energy. I came across several pieces today that can inspire some hope, so I’m sharing them with you.

On PBS tonight, I saw a fairly well-done half hour piece called “Power Shift” that highlighted the renewable energy options we have, and made the point that the power is still in our hands to make different choices, and choose a future where we generate all the power we need, renewably. It’s a grand vision, and through my little role in the solar power business, I support and reach for it. But what we really need is for all people to understand how the power they use every day is generated, and how small changes in the way each of us consume it can add up to major changes in our whole society’s consumption. That piece was a good start in the public education effort.

Two short animated video pieces about our oil addiction and renewable energy options came to my attention today too, produced by the Apollo Alliance and available from the web site of the Campaign for America’s Future. These are fun, check them out:

Two short videos about energy policy

Another bit was this article from Science Daily, which focuses on the problem of global warming and what might be done about it.
We already have the technology to control emissions and stop global warming, and we’ve had it for a good long while now. All that we lack is
the political will to do it.

Technology Already Exists to Stabilize Global Warming

There is much that you can do, from installing compact fluorescent bulbs, to replacing inefficient appliances, to replacing your car with a hybrid. (If every regular car in America were replaced with a hybrid, we would not need to buy any oil from the Middle East. Think about that.) There is much that the US government can do, to improve efficiency, increase renewable energy generation, and stop global warming from getting any worse. It all starts with you: with what you buy, what you use, and who you vote for. Take a moment to think about all the energy that is wasted in our daily lives, and then imagine a future where waste is minimal, and where we don’t need any imported oil to keep our way of life going. The choice is in your hands.

I’ll return with more doom ‘n gloom stuff soon enough, I just thought maybe you’d like a break from that to start thinking about how to make a better world. Check out the Apollo Alliance, I think they’re really going in the right direction.


American Fascism: \"It Can Happen Here\"

August 12, 2004 at 4:00 pm
Contributed by:


I know from past experience that when parallels are noted between fascism and the extreme right of American politics, lots of conservatives cry foul, and lots of lefties nod their heads knowingly.

But how many of us know what “fascism” really means?

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

“Fascists have an agenda that is primarily economic. As the Free Dictionary ( notes, fascism/corporatism is ‘an attempt to create a “modern” version of feudalism by merging the “corporate” interests with those of the state.'”

Sound familiar?

It’s not enough to know about Hitler, the modern poster boy of fascism. There is more to it, and if one really looks at the tactics and beliefs of fascism from history, the parallels with our current administration are startling indeed.

In 1944, writing about the rise of fascism in America, Vice President Henry Wallace wrote:

“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

That comment stands as true today as it did in 1944. My first impulse when I started reading this article was to throw it out. But by the time I got to the end, I decided it was worthy of broader circulation. This is a history lesson none of us–especially true conservatives–can afford to miss.


The Ghost of Vice President Wallace Warns: “It Can Happen Here”

by Thom Hartmann

Published on Monday, July 19, 2004 by

The Republican National Committee has recently removed from the top-level pages of their website an advertisement interspersing Hitler’s face with those of John Kerry and other prominent Democrats. This little-heralded step has freed former Enron lobbyist and current RNC chairman Ed Gillespie to resume his attacks on Americans who believe some provisions of Bush’s PATRIOT Act, his detention of American citizens without charges, his willingness to let corporations write legislation, and the so-called “Free Speech Zones” around his public appearances are all steps on the road to American fascism.

The RNC’s feeble attempt to equate Hitler and Democrats was short-lived, but it brings to mind the first American Vice President to point out the “American fascists” among us.

Although most Americans remember that Harry Truman was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Vice President when Roosevelt died in 1945 (making Truman President), Roosevelt had two previous Vice Presidents – John N. Garner (1933-1941) and Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945). In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, “write a piece answering the following
questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?”

Vice President Wallace’s answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.

“The really dangerous American fascists,” Wallace wrote, “are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word “fascist” – the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word. (It was actually Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile who wrote the entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana that said: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Mussolini, however, affixed his name to the entry, and claimed credit for it.)

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Mussolini was quite straightforward about all this. In a 1923 pamphlet titled “The Doctrine of Fascism” he wrote, “If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.” But not a government of, by, and for We The People – instead, it would be a government of, by, and for the most powerful corporate interests in the nation.

In 1938, Mussolini brought his vision of fascism into full reality when he dissolved Parliament and replaced it with the “Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni” – the Chamber of the Fascist Corporations. Corporations were still privately owned, but now instead of having to sneak their money to folks like Tom DeLay and covertly write legislation, they were openly in charge of the government.

Vice President Wallace bluntly laid out in his 1944 Times article his concern about the same happening here in America:

” If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. … They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.”

Nonetheless, at that time there were few corporate heads who had run for political office, and, in Wallace’s view, most politicians still felt it was their obligation to represent We The People instead of corporate cartels. “American fascism will not be really dangerous,” he added in the next paragraph, “until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information…”

Noting that, “Fascism is a worldwide disease,” Wallace further suggest that fascism’s “greatest threat to the United States will come after the war” and will manifest “within the United States itself.”

In Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel “It Can’t Happen Here,” a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician – Buzz Windrip – runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy as anti-American. When Windrip becomes President, he opens a Guantanamo-style detention center, and the viewpoint character of the book, Vermont newspaper editor Doremus Jessup, flees to Canada to avoid prosecution under new “patriotic” laws that make it illegal to criticize the President.

As Lewis noted in his novel, “the President, with something of his former good-humor [said]: ‘There are two [political] parties, the Corporate and those who don’t belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck!’ The idea of the Corporate or Corporative State, Secretary [of State] Sarason had more or less taken from Italy.” And, President “Windrip’s partisans called themselves the Corporatists, or, familiarly, the ‘Corpos,’ which nickname was generally used.”

Lewis, the first American writer to win a Nobel Prize, was world famous by 1944, as was his book “It Can’t Happen Here.” And several well-known and powerful Americans, including Prescott Bush, had lost businesses in the early 1940s because of charges by Roosevelt that they were doing business with Hitler. These events all, no doubt, colored Vice President Wallace’s thinking when he

” Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after ‘the present unpleasantness’ ceases.”

Fascists have an agenda that is primarily economic. As the Free Dictionary ( notes, fascism/corporatism is “an attempt to create a ‘modern’ version of feudalism by merging the ‘corporate’ interests with those of the state.”

Feudalism, of course, is one of the most stable of the three historic tyrannies (kingdoms, theocracies, feudalism) that ruled nations prior to the rise of American republican democracy, and can be roughly defined as “rule by the rich.”

Thus, the neo-feudal/fascistic rich get richer (and more powerful) on the backs of the poor and the middle class, an irony not lost on author Thomas Frank, who notes in his new book “What’s The Matter With Kansas” that, “You can see the paradox first-hand on nearly any Main Street in middle America – ‘going out of business’ signs side by side with placards supporting George W. Bush.”

The businesses “going out of business” are, in fascist administrations, usually those of locally owned small and medium-sized companies. As Wallace wrote, some in big business “are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage.” He added, “Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise [companies]. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.”

But American fascists who would want former CEOs as President, Vice President, House Majority Whip, and Senate Majority Leader, and write legislation with corporate interests in mind, don’t generally talk to We The People about their real agenda, or the harm it does to small businesses and working people. Instead, as Hitler did with the trade union leaders and the Jews, they point to a “them” to pin with blame and distract people from the harms of their economic policies.

In a comment prescient of George W. Bush’s recent suggestion that civilization itself is at risk because of gays, Wallace

” The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination…”

But even at this, Wallace noted, American fascists would have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And, because they were in bed with the nation’s largest corporations – who could gain control of newspapers and broadcast media – they could promote their lies with ease.

“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” Wallace wrote. “Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy.”

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism the Vice President of the United States saw rising in America, he added, “They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

Finally, Wallace said, “The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. … Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must…develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels.”

This liberal vision of an egalitarian America in which very large businesses and media monopolies are broken up under the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Act (which Reagan stopped enforcing, leading to the mergers & acquisitions frenzy that continues to this
day) was the driving vision of the New Deal (and of “Trust Buster” Teddy Roosevelt a generation earlier).

As Wallace’s President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said when he accepted his party’s renomination in 1936 in Philadelphia, “…out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties…. It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction…. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man….”

Speaking indirectly of the fascists that Wallace would directly name almost a decade later, Roosevelt brought the issue to its core: “These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.”

But, he thundered in that speech, “Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power!”

In 2004, we again stand at the same crossroad Roosevelt and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II. Fascism is again rising in America, this time calling itself “compassionate conservatism.” The RNC’s behavior today eerily parallels the day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, “In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for.”

It’s particularly ironic that the CEOs and lobbyists who run the Republican National Committee would have chosen to put Hitler’s fascist face into one of their campaign commercials, just before they launched a national campaign against gays and while they continue to arrest people who wear anti-Bush T-shirts in public places.

President Roosevelt and Vice President Wallace’s warnings have come full circle. Which is why it’s so critical that this November we join together at the ballot box to stop this most recent incarnation of feudal fascism from seizing complete control of our nation.

Thom Hartmann (thom at is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk radio show. His most recent books are “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight,” “Unequal
Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights
,” and “We The People: A Call To Take Back America.” His new book, “What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy,” based on four years of research in Jefferson’s personal letters, begins shipping this week from Random House/Harmony.

Global Oil Production Capacity Now \"Flat Out\"

August 11, 2004 at 7:38 pm
Contributed by:


I was planning to take a little break from stories on Peak Oil–no really, I was!–but then we encountered a very short leash on oil production capacity, the markets went nutty, and now it’s all over the news. So when this little goodie from Aljazeera came in, I couldn’t pass it up. Aljazeera updates the Peak Oil story with some important new numbers, and quotes the head of the Iranian National Oil Company as saying, “Cheap oil is dead. You are never going to see oil priced at $25 a barrel again. These high prices, yes, they are exacerbated by Yukos, Iraq and so on, but more importantly they are a sign that we have major structural problems with supply. They are a sign that there is now no spare capacity for the fluctuations of the markets.”

In response to those wild fluctuations, and the setting of new record prices for oil futures nearly every day for several weeks now, the Saudis tried to calm the markets today by announcing that (despite what many experts have said) they do in fact have excess production capacity of 1.3 million barrels of oil a day.

However, if you read my post from Monday (“New Peak Oil stories from around the world”), that wouldn’t give you much comfort, because as T. Boone Pickens correctly observed, that additional production will be sucked up by increasing demand by the end of the year. Of course, the Saudis realize that they are nearly a paper tiger already, and are doing what they can to retain some measure of control over spiraling oil prices.

The markets today were only briefly assuaged.
“Oil prices ended higher after a volatile day in which Iraq revealed that its production has been cut in half by sabotage in the country’s southern region. Prices eased in the late morning after Saudi Arabia said it had an additional 1.3 million barrels of oil a day at its disposal, but Nymex crude for September delivery eventually closed up 28 cents to $44.80, just shy of the record high of $44.84 touched Monday.” [Source:]

Of course there are several other factors affecting oil prices, from the Yukos bankruptcy proceeding, to uncertainty over this coming Sunday’s referendum vote on Chavez in Venzuela, to battening down the facilities around the Gulf of Mexico in anticipation of Tropical Storm Bonnie, on its way to becoming a true hurricane.
(For more on the fluctuation of oil prices in the market today, see A Bouncy Day for Oil Prices)

But perhaps the most startling news today was another part of the Aljazeera article,
which noted that the recently retired executive vice president of Saudi Aramco, Sadad al-Husayni, has frightened the markets with recent articles in Oil & Gas Journal, stating that the Saudis’ “proven developed reserves” are only “130bn barrels”, half of what Saudi Arabia normally claims to have underground. The lack of transparency in the reserve numbers claimed by Saudi Arabia continues to be the biggest X factor of all.

That assertion is echoed in an editorial by the Petroleum Review journal, which details some equally startling numbers:

On p26 Dr Salameh tackles the thorny question of how accurate are Middle East reserve estimates. His conclusion that these may be overstated by up to 300bn barrels, or roughly five North Seas, will certainly give pause for thought. If his assessments are right, the world faces very major challenges in developing and securing the oil supplies it will require.

And as far as immediate production capacity goes:
“early August production will exceed 33mn b/d. After that, the only incremental capacity is the, definitionally unsustainable, surge capacity…” That article is posted below as well.

Further reading: for an excellent article on the problem of the Saudis’ reserve numbers, see this article by Julian Darley, special to From the Wilderness:

A Tale of Two Planets

A Report on the Conference
“Future of Global Oil Supply: Saudi Arabia”
held at CSIS, Washington DC, February 24th 2004

by Julian Darley

More to come!


The Death of Cheap Crude


By Adam Porter in France

Wednesday 04 August 2004

Oil prices are in a state of flux or so we are told. But the truth of the matter may be far simpler than that; maybe production cannot meet soaring global demand.

As prices hit record highs, some analysts’ remarks, and much of the comment in the media, are directed at uncertainty surrounding Russian company Yukos, Iraqi pipeline attacks, Nigerian strikes and a forthcoming presidential referendum in Venezuela.

Yet behind the easy headlines, so called emerging economies such as China and India, added to rising American demand, are putting pressure on the price of energy. Meanwhile, major oil fields are withering, no new ones are being found and supplier countries are already pumping at their production limits.

Major problems

As an example, in the same year as China’s consumption rose by a crushing 26% its main oilfield, Daqing, started to decline.

The Chinese state, not known for releasing accurate figures on anything, said the decline would be abour 7% a year. It may well be faster.

As Daqing produced about 50% of China’s total oil needs, one does not need to be a mathematician to see the problem. China will need to import large quantities of oil to satisfy its astronomical growth in consumption – growth which shows little sign of slowing.

The Yukos crisis may be only
part of a very big problem

Ali Bakhtiari, head of strategic planning at the Iranian National Oil Company (NIOC), dismisses the media chat, as just that.

“Cheap oil is dead. You are never going to see oil priced at $25 a barrel again. These high prices, yes, they are exacerbated by Yukos, Iraq and so on, but more importantly they are a sign that we have major structural problems with supply.

“They are a sign that there is now no spare capacity for the fluctuations of the markets.”

Then we can add some other major determinants. That the North Sea oilfields, long a cash cow for the British and Norwegian governments, have peaked and are declining at a faster rate than analysts expected.

Then factor in the millions of “lost” barrels of oil that were misrepresented by Royal Dutch Shell, to the tune of 23% of their total reserves. Mix up the fact that no major oilfields were discovered in the last 18 months, despite increased technological innovation.

And round it all off with the OPEC statement that producer countries have “no more supply” according to spokesman, Indonesian oil minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro. This just weeks after OPEC assured markets production was “no problem”.

Panic pricing

Thus the underlying reasons for high oil prices seem to be that demand is outstripping possible production.

Additional worries such as Yukos, Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela are the icing on the crumbling energy cake.

Indeed Yukos is still pumping oil at record levels, Nigeria produced more oil in June 2004 than it has done for six years and a lack of Iraqi oil on the market place did not drive prices to $43 during the 12 years of sanctions. Indeed there is more Iraqi oil reaching refineries now than since the first Gulf war.

“Remember on June 3, when oil was $43 a barrel?” continues Bakhtiari. “Then OPEC said they would increase production, by 2.5m barrels a day from July 1. It did make a small dent in the price for a while, but now we are already back where we started.”

Critical point

Dr Colin Campbell is former executive vice president of oil company Total. He is one of the leading industry figures who have long stated that oil prices are set to rocket, as production fails to meet soaring demand.

“Because of the way the market works, what was previously a minor strike in Nigeria or a commercial row in Russia is now a straw that will break the camel’s back.

“Once you are producing flat-out, there is nothing you can do about disruptions. Once a slight imbalance occurs, then traders, who are there to make money, will price oil accordingly.”

Of course, a surge in oil prices does benefit some areas of the global community, the oil companies.

BP has reported record 2nd quarterly profits of $3.9bn to June, a 23% yearly increase. The market was disappointed it did not make more.

Lord Browne, chairman of the super-giant, acknowledged that prices would “stay high for the short term”, adding unconvincingly that they would come down “one day”. That one day may be in the form of a recession.

Bleak prospects

Then there is the Saudi Arabian angle. Another major oil figure, the recently retired executive vice president of Saudi Aramco, Sadad al-Husayni, has frightened the markets with recent articles in Oil & Gas Journal.

In them he cites “proven developed reserves” of Saudi Arabia at only “130bn barrels”, half of what Saudi Arabia normally claims to have underground.

A lack of transparency over reserve figures, many of which are thought to be groundless, has further undermined confidence in oil producers to match demand.

Add to this that Russia’s oil minister has claimed that Russian output will fall in 2005 and that Indonesia became the first OPEC country to admit, in June, that it had become a net importer and one can see the underlying trend.

Campbell draws some difficult conclusions. “It could be that the long awaited peak in oil production is either here or about to arrive. We are seeing that nowhere has the capacity to increase production.”

Bakhtiari agrees. “We are approaching the plateau of production; these are the first signs that we are there. As I said, cheap oil is history.”

If they are right, there are harsh times ahead.

Go To Original

Global oil production now flat out

Petroleum Review – Editorial – August 2004

By Chris Skrebowski, Editor of Petroleum Review

By the time this is being read, currently available oil production capacity all around the world will be producing flat out. How sustainable this proves to be remains to be seen.

For many years now non-Opec production has been operated at capacity, leaving Opec to fine tune production in order to achieve its price objectives. In economic terms, because no company or country had the capacity to challenge Opec, they had no choice but to be price takers, maximising earnings by maximising production.

Opec’s record production of 31.7mn b/d in 1977 wasn’t exceeded until November 2003, since then it has never been under that level. It reached 32.2mn b/d in March, dropped back a little in April and May, and then in June reached 32.65mn b/d.

The utilisation of the final bits of readily available capacity in Saudi Arabia – in line with the 0.5mn b/d expansion in Opec quotas from August – means that early August production will exceed 33mn b/d. After that, the only incremental capacity is the, definitionally unsustainable, surge capacity and any new capacity that comes onstream. On p38 of the August issue Petroleum Review has tabulated the most up-to-date version of its megaprojects database. Although one or two projects have been added since it was last published (Petroleum Review, January 2004 – unfortunately now out of print). Most of the changes are project delays, most notably the Nigerian offshore Bonga, Erha and Agbami projects.

On p42 is Petroleum Review‘s annual re-presentation of global oil production from the latest BP Statistical Review, June 2004. This shows that 18 major oil producers are now in decline, handsomely offset by rapidly expanding production from the 15 countries growing at over 5%/y and the eight growing at over 10%/y. A straw in the wind, however, is that decline is now running at over 1.1mn b/d and there is evidence of decline rates increasing.

The feature on p18 confirms the view that the industry is now making a massive commitment to new LNG projects. This potential investment boom is being driven by three factors – the desire to monetise stranded gas, the need to make up for US and Canadian gas production shortfalls, and the attractions of probably the fastest growing area of the whole oil and gas business – LNG. As part of this feature we have produced our first tabulation of all the gas megaprojects. What this clearly shows is that if all these LNG and GTL projects go ahead, by the end of the decade there will be few gas discoveries not in production or queued for production. Equally certain is that declining gas production in Canada and the US is providing a major, and potentially rapidly growing, market for LNG. Our annual reviews of recent developments in the US and Canada are on p14, 24 and 30.

On p26 Dr Salameh tackles the thorny question of how accurate are Middle East reserve estimates. His conclusion that these may be overstated by up to 300bn barrels, or roughly five North Seas, will certainly give pause for thought. If his assessments are right, the world faces very major challenges in developing and securing the oil supplies it will require.

However, the most minimal concern must be the latest developments in Russia. The nerve twisting drama of Yukos and the tax demands has now taken a dramatic and deeply disturbing twist. It now appears that the tax authorities wish to remove the bulk of Yukos’ production assets and so, we are told, sell them for a fraction of their worth. If this proves true, the hopes that Russia could be safely invested in, with law and regulation being fairly applied, are undermined. Investors with liquid assets will leave, those left will not be sure if they have paid good money for assets or liabilities. If the situation is not regularised very quickly – by Presidential intervention if necessary – then the outlook is very bleak indeed.

In the preparation of our megaprojects tables every effort has been made to ensure they are as accurate as possible. Our time and resources are necessarily limited, so if any reader has better information we would be very pleased to hear from them. We extend our thanks to all who have helped in the past.

The Energy Institute is to hold a major conference on oil depletion on 10 November, in which all aspects of the topic will be discussed. For further details, contact the EI Events Department t: +44 (0)20 7467 7100 or

Chris Skrebowski

The opinions expressed here are entirely those of Chris Skrebowski, Editor of Petroleum Review, and do not necessarily reflect the view of the EI.

Krugman – O\’Rielly \"Shootout\"

August 10, 2004 at 11:57 pm
Contributed by:


I hope you caught Paul Krugman and Bill O’Rielly duking it out on Tim Russert’s show last night. It didn’t really come to blows, but I think if Krugman hadn’t continually taken the high ground, ignored O’Rielly’s personal attacks and partisan barbs, and tried to steer the debate back to substantive issues, it very well might have.

If you didn’t catch it, then here’s the transcript. I doubt it will communicate the tension in that exchange, but it’s interesting stuff. I wish other Democratic talking heads had the mettle to challenge the right’s lies and dirty tactics the way that Krugman did. O’Rielly showed himself, more than ever, to be an uninformed, common playground bully.

Transcript of Krugman – O’Rielly “Shootout”


William Rivers Pitt: The Writing on the Latrine Walls

August 9, 2004 at 5:04 pm
Contributed by: Chris


Even though I just wrote yet another big blog entry on Peak Oil, I couldn’t let today pass without pointing your attention to today’s article by Truthout’s William Rivers Pitt.

Pitt writes about his discussions with a Reuters photographer who just returned from Iraq. The story that he pieces together confirms what most Americans already believe, and what this blog has asserted for nearly three years: that the war on Iraq is, and always was, about control over Middle East oil. And the Halliburton contracts in Iraq are too: the billions the US has given to Halliburton aren’t being used to rebuild Iraq so much as they are to build US military bases. And the military convoys are mainly occupied protecting convoys of oil and oil field equipment.

There are some startlingly frank quotes in this article. You won’t see any of this on CNN. Read it.



New Peak Oil stories from around the world

August 9, 2004 at 4:33 pm
Contributed by:


I guess it serves me right for crowing about my oil & gas portfolio last week, that in the
following few days it took a good beating, along with the rest of the market and the energy sector in particular. But as far as I can tell, it wasn’t due to the fundamental valuations of those stocks. Rather, it was about a strange little business happening in Russia.

In short, Russia’s biggest oil-exporting firm, Yukos, has been embroiled in a dispute that amounts to a game of control and punishment between a wealthy Russian industrialist
and the Russian state. This dispute, now in bankruptcy proceedings, has been having a
wild and chaotic effect on the world price of oil, because Yukos now has what is
essentially the last bit of “excess production capacity” in the entire world.
The whole system hinges on tiny little marginal fluctuations. The Saudis, having maxed out their productive capacity in several recent production hikes, are
no longer in control of world oil prices, making OPEC a paper tiger, and
making this weird Russian bankruptcy proceeding the determining factor in
oil prices.

“Yukos continues to battle bankruptcy due to a multi-billion-dollar tax debt case, which threatens to bring its day-to-day operations to a halt, including oil exports. Yukos, Russia’s biggest oil-exporting firm, pumps 1.7 million bpd of crude, or 2 per cent of global supply.” (Reuters)

So, across the world, hundreds of energy companies (and little guys like me) lost 3-20% of their valuations over the period of a couple of days last week, and then the whole market
reacted as the price of oil notched up, causing all kinds of companies to give up aggregate billions in their valuations, all because this one Russian guy is having a fight with the state over his taxes.

Bizarre, isn’t it?

As smart market pundit Howard Simons said last week in his column:

The Russians! Two of the last three market meltdowns originated in all or
part with their weak acquaintance with things we (hopefully) take for
granted, such as private property and the sanctity of contract law. I cannot
predict how this Yukos mess will end, although I suspect it is in the
interests of all parties involved to resolve it quickly and keep the oil

But the longer it goes on, the greater the damage will be: The world cannot
tolerate an oil price approaching $50 for long, and the resulting reduction
in demand will be associated with weaker economic activity.

How odd is it we could survive a 40+ year-long cold war when all we had to
worry about was thermonuclear annihilation from a bunch of guys wearing
cardboard suits, and twice have had to endure financial and economic damage
from their archaic socioeconomic and legal structures?

Indeed. But let’s look a bit farther into the future. Some very recent articles on Peak Oil may shed some light on the longer term.

This article, from the publication, examines the optimistic and pessimistic sides of the debate about future oil prices:

Crest Or Trough?

As crude prices threaten to cross $50, a debate rages on which way they will move over the long term. The doomsayers say they will stabilise at $70; the optimists argue they will tumble to $15. Outlook examines arguments on both sides of the oil divide.

It’s pretty astonishing that opinions could vary so widely for something that is so fundamental to the health of the global economy, and so sensitive to tiny little marginal
fluctuations. $15 or $70 a barrel? Wow!

Well, today on Kudlow & Cramer, legendary investor T. Boone Pickens and another energy trader gave their opinions about future oil prices, and whether or not the Stragetic Petroleum Reserve should be tapped to bring down prices. Pickens and the trader both agreed that world production capacity is pretty much tapped, and that the Yukos capacity IS the swing capacity worldwide right now, because Saudi production is maxed out. They both believe that the SPR should not be tapped to soften oil prices, because it would only be a short-term fix at best. Pickens said words to the effect of “Think about December. What is going to happen to the price of oil when demand is up another 1.5 mbpd in December? We’re going to see $50/barrel before the year is out” and also claimed that world peak production has already arrived.

When you hear that from T. Boone Pickens, the smart money stands up and listens.
(Further reading: T. Boone Pickens on Peak Oil & Gas)

Another article confirming Pickens’ prediction appeared in today’s MSN Money, which I thought was quite good, as it examined some of the likely effects of dramatically higher
oil prices:

Get ready for $50 oil

Moving right along, a new article from Newsweek quotes Princeton geology professor emeritus Kenneth Deffeyes as saying that his prediction for the global peak is Thanksgiving, 2005. See that article here:

Gas Guzzlers’ Shock Therapy

(Further reading: more GRL articles on Deffeyes’ work)

From “across the pond,” this article from the Scotland on Sunday publication describes the impending energy shortage and what they’re trying to do about it in the UK:

A modern-day Noah warns that the end is nigh for oil

Moving farther east, here is a compilation of three articles about China’s increasing demand, and the problems we may be facing with getting our imports from Venezuela, as they are tending to favor China as a customer. (Anybody still believe that the CIA wasn’t behind the aborted coup of Chavez last year?):

Three interrelated stories about the energy crisis in China

Those of you who are paying attention to the details about the problem of overstating oil & gas reserves will find this interview very interesting. Julian Darley (author of High Noon for Natural Gas) interviews chief Peak Oil theorist and geologist Colin Campbell about BP’s methodology for statistical review of their reserves statements. Now, this article does get a bit technical, but I think it’s worth reading because as they say, the devil’s in the details:

Colin Campbell speaks about BP’s Statistical Review

Finally, let’s end this one on a positive note, and take an in-depth look at the
$30 billion Kerry-Edwards energy plan to seek greater fuel efficiency and reduce our reliance on foreign oil and gas:

Kerry Plan Seeks Fuel Efficiency, Stability

For its part, the GOP is now trying to lay the blame for the defeat of the omnibus energy bill at the feet of Kerry and Edwards. Sticking to his GOP-assigned talking points, House Speaker Dennis Hastert blamed the “trial lawyers” for the bill’s defeat last week in his Fox News interview with Stuart Varney, and got away with it. In reality, the bill had strong bipartisan opposition for being so incredibly pork-laden and packed with massive subsidies for oil, gas, coal, and nuclear sources, while giving only lip service attention to renewables. John McCain called it “rancid pork.” Oddly, the greatest opposition to the bill came from Sen. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) because it didn’t exempt Big Oil from liability lawsuits over their poisoning of soil and water through the manufacture of the gasoline additive MTBE.

Stay tuned, folks, much more to come…


FBI Whistleblower Explodes 9-11 Commission Report

August 6, 2004 at 3:30 pm
Contributed by:


Now that the 9-11 Commission has completed its report, it is abundantly clear that it left the most important questions about 9-11 unanswered. The commission’s ambition was to come up with a unanimous, bipartisan report, and in fulfilling that mission, they failed to address the most glaring questions, failures, and culpabilities in favor of what is essentially a whitewash and a lukewarm set of recommendations for the future–which Bush has failed to endorse, opting instead to pick and choose which recommmendations he will support.

To review these important questions that remain unanswered, see this article by the Philadelphia Daily News: “Why Don’t We Have Answers To These 9/11 Questions?

How could the commission let this happen? How could these obvious smoking guns be ignored? How can the American people settle for this whitewash of the most heinous attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor?

Perhaps a clue can be found in the ongoing story of one courageous whistleblower’s attempt to daylight “a litany of errors and
cover-ups of those errors” within the FBI. The following article is better than most of the ones I’ve seen on the subject, but there is much more to be found if you want to Google it.

If our government really wanted to know the truth about 9-11, wouldn’t it have insisted on a full investigation, and done all that it could to support that investigation? Wouldn’t it have left no stone unturned, and faced unflinchingly every detected failure? Wouldn’t it have thought that America deserved to know what really happened?

Well, it’s clear that our government doesn’t feel that way at all. The Bush team stonewalled the 9-11 Commission the whole way, limiting its time and access to interviewees and documentation, even objecting to its creation. And now we know that the FBI is stonewalling and covering up as well. All we need wait for now is for recently-resigned CIA Director George Tenet to be subpoenaed.

As I said when I posted that Philly article almost one year ago, “No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I think you’ll agree that these questions deserve answers. We should tolerate nothing that will keep us from it, and I, for one, would hate to see this turn into another Kennedy assassination mystery. America deserves the truth about 9/11.”

Apparently, the 9-11 Commission, the FBI, and the White House do indeed intend to let it become an unanswered mystery, and to hide the truth from us.

Write your Congressmen. Tell them you won’t accept this whitewash. Demand that the FBI and the White House be held accountable for their actions, and that they put an end to the muzzling of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds.


Whistleblower explodes 9-11 Commission Report

By Ritt Goldstein

[Original source unknown]
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s own September 11 whistleblower has
done it again, this time taking aim at the 9-11 Commission itself.

Sibel Edmonds, an FBI translator who has in effect been silenced by the
bureau and the US Justice Department, said in an open letter to commission
chairman Thomas Kean that the FBI had suffered from a litany of errors and
cover-ups of those errors, which had been reported to the 9-11 Commission by
Edmonds and others, yet the commission report “contains zero information
regarding these systemic problems that led us to our failure in preventing the
[September 11, 2001] terrorist attacks”.

“In your report, there are no references to individuals responsible for
hindering past and current investigations, or those who are willing to
compromise our security and our lives for their career advancement and
security,” wrote Edmonds, a 33-year-old Turkish-American whose services as a
translator were terminated by the FBI after she claimed vast wrongdoing within
the bureau’s translation unit.

Edmonds’ open letter, while skirting around certain issues that she is
prohibited by gag orders from revealing, is chilling in its revelations that,
contrary to public claims by the administration of President George W Bush, the
FBI was in possession months before September 2001 of intelligence that Osama
bin Laden’s terrorist organization was planning a major attack on the United
States, using airplanes as a weapon.

These revelations are not new, though the open letter is remarkable in its
specificity and naming of names. Previously, while being careful not to violate
the legal silencing measures imposed on her by the FBI, the courts and the
Justice Department, she has leveled damning criticisms in the media of her
former employers and what she has termed the Bush administration’s
“anti-transparency, anti-accountability and their corrupt attitudes”.

“But that aside,” she told radio interviewer Jim Hogue in April, “we are not
made of only one branch of government. We are supposed to have a system of
checks and balances. And I am saying, how about the other two branches? And
putting the pressure on our representatives in the Senate and the Congress, and
the court system? They should be counteracting this corruption, but they are
sitting there silent. And they are just an audience, just watching it happen.”

That interview took place before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks
upon which the United States issued its final report on the September 11
attacks. Despite hours of testimony to the commission about what she knew of FBI
failures leading up to the attacks, nearly nothing of this was mentioned in the

“While FBI agents from various field offices were desperately seeking leads
and suspects, and completely depending on FBI HQ and its language units to
provide them with needed translated information, hundreds of translators were
being told by their administrative supervisors not to translate and to let the
work pile up,” Edmonds wrote in her letter. “I provided your investigators with
a detailed and specific account of this issue and the names of other witnesses
willing to corroborate this.

“Today, almost three years after [September 11], and more than two years
since this information has been confirmed and made available to our government,
the administrators in charge of language departments of the FBI remain in their
positions and in charge of the information front lines of the FBI’s
counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence efforts. Your report has omitted any
reference to this most serious issue …”

Specific charges made by Edmonds included the case of a Turkish translator,
whom she named, and who “for months … blocked all-important information
related to … semi-legit organizations and the individuals she and her husband
associated with … [The translator] and several FBI targets of investigation
hastily left the United States in 2002, and the case still remains
uninvestigated criminally. Not only does the supervisor facilitating these
criminal conducts remain in a supervisory position, he has been promoted to
supervising Arabic-language units of the FBI’s counter-terrorism and
counter-intelligence investigations.”

Edmonds also spoke of a translator put in charge of sensitive operations who
not only could not speak English well enough to pass FBI proficiency tests, but
he also could not speak the languages he was in charge of translating. Despite
the fact that his case was made public on CBS television’s 60 Minutes, and
“after admitting that [he] was not qualified to perform the task of translating
sensitive intelligence and investigation of terrorist activities, the FBI still
keeps him in charge of translating highly sensitive documents and leads,”
Edmonds revealed.

But while Edmonds’ letter delivered a cascade of specific allegations,
perhaps the most explosive charge she makes concerns information the bureau was
said to have received four months prior to September 2001, information warning
of the September 11 plan. While both President Bush and National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice have repeatedly denied that there was any indication
that airplanes would be used as a terror weapon, Edmonds revealed that in April
2001 the bureau had information that bin Laden was “planning a major terrorist
attack in the United States targeting four to five major cities”; “the attack
was going to involve airplanes”; some of those involved were already “in the
United States”; and the attack would be “in a few months”. Edmonds states that
the information came from “a long-term FBI informant/asset” and that it was sent
to the “special agent in charge of counter-terrorism” in Washington. She also
charges that after September 11 “the agents and translators were told to ‘keep
quiet’ regarding this issue”.

Further to that, she writes, “The Phoenix Memo, received months prior to the
[September 11] attacks, specifically warned FBI HQ of pilot training and their
possible link to terrorist activities against the United States. Four months
prior to the terrorist attacks the Iranian asset provided the FBI with specific
information regarding the ‘use of airplanes’, ‘major US cities as targets’, and
‘Osama bin Laden issuing the order’ …

“All this information went to the same place: FBI Headquarters in Washington,
DC, and the FBI Washington Field Office, in Washington DC. Yet your report
claims that not having a central place where all intelligence could be gathered
as one of the main factors in our intelligence failure. Why did your report
choose to exclude the information regarding the Iranian asset and [translator]
Behrooz Sarshar from its timeline of missed opportunities? Why was this
significant incident not mentioned, despite the public confirmation by the FBI,
witnesses provided to your investigators, and briefings you received directly?
Why did you surprise even [FBI] director [Robert] Mueller by refraining from
asking him questions regarding this significant incident and lapse during your
hearing … ?”

Given the sweeping nature of Edmonds’ knowledge of intelligence failures in
the lead-up to September 11, it is probably not surprising that the US
government has used its legal clout to try to shut her up. In what the July 29
New York Times termed “an unusually broad veil of secrecy”, the Justice
Department ordered the details surrounding Edmonds’ allegations a matter of
“state secrets”. On May 13, Attorney General John Ashcroft had signed an order
forbidding her to testify in a case brought by the families of September 11
victims, invoking rarely used “state secrets” authority. Edmonds was also
broadly prohibited from discussing the facts surrounding her assertions.

It is unclear what personal consequences this latest whistleblowing may have
for Edmonds. But notably, none of her prior revelations have been determined
erroneous; rather, they have increasingly been found accurate.

A July 21 letter from FBI director Mueller to Utah Republican Senator Orrin
Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, notes that an inspector
general’s report found her whistleblowing “a contributing factor in why the FBI
terminated her services”. Mueller’s letter also noted that, based upon the
report’s findings, a new FBI determination to pursue “discipline of FBI
employees” and “additional investigation” of Edmonds’ allegations had yet to be

Mueller’s July 21 letter, of which Asia Times Online obtained a copy, also
pointedly outlined that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) “noted that Ms
Edmonds, as a contract employee, did not qualify for ‘whistleblower’

With her open letter to the 9-11 Commission providing what can only be termed
a damning mantra of revelation, on six separate occasions within the text
Edmonds identically questioned how huge budget increases and the creation of an
insulated “intelligence czar” could alleviate “systemic and departmental”

Mueller’s letter to Hatch outlined that the “OIG criticized the FBI’s failure
to adequately pursue Ms Edmonds’ allegations of espionage” regarding the
above-mentioned translator who “hastily left the United States in 2002”.

Again, the OIG’s report is known to have criticized the bureau’s conduct
regarding its pursuit of Edmonds’ claim of ongoing espionage, with Edmonds
presently revealing that “hundreds of pages of top-secret sensitive intelligence
documents” were taken outside the bureau to “unknown recipients” by her
co-worker in question.

Edmonds described the FBI’s perspective upon this as being “that it would not
look good for the bureau if this security breach and espionage case was
investigated and made public”, concurrently citing the blemish that the last FBI
spy scandal had left, that of Robert Hanssen.

Her letter is particularly noteworthy for its specific naming of those
involved in the wrongdoing she cites, and in providing corroboration of her
account, including such by those within the government. Notably, two key members
of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Iowa Republican Charles Grassley and Vermont
Democrat Patrick Leahy, had requested the OIG’s investigation of Edmonds’ FBI
allegations in 2002, Grassley terming her “very credible”.

On July 9, the two senators jointly wrote to Ashcroft, Mueller and Justice
Department Inspector General Glenn Fine requesting that the OIG’s pertinent
reports be made publicly available.

The senators’ letter specified three OIG reports: one on Sibel Edmonds,
another on the FBI translation program, and a third upon whether information
“obtained by the FBI and other federal law-enforcement agencies” preceding
September 11 “was not acted upon, or not acted on in the most effective and
efficient manner”. The senators requested that these documents either be
declassified or made available to the public via summary. Asia Times Online has
obtained a copy of this letter in which the senators highlight that they are
seeking “to understand how important clues were overlooked”, and that the
information in question is significant to both the “public interest” and
“congressional oversight”.

Leahy and Grassley emphasized that they “fear that the designation of
information as classified in some cases serves to protect the executive branch
against embarrassing revelations and full accountability”. They also observe
that a failure to provide the OIG’s findings “could damage the public’s
confidence not only in the government’s ability to protect the nation, but also
in the government’s ability to police itself”.

Again, from what has emerged from the classified OIG action, none of Edmonds’
accounts of FBI wrongdoing appear to have been found erroneous.

In what critics of the Bush administration have long seen as a contrast, a
March 22 Washington Post op-ed piece by Condoleezza Rice stated: “Despite what
some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing
to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts
speculated that terrorists might hijack planes to try and free US-held
terrorists.” And according to an April interview Edmonds gave to the United
Kingdom’s Independent newspaper, she termed Rice’s claim “an outrageous lie”,
saying, “I saw papers that show the US knew al-Qaeda would attack cities with
airplanes,” referring to the April information she has now written of.

Of particular note is that Edmonds did provide several hours of secret
testimony to the 9-11 Commission. Cutting to what she perceives as part of the
US government’s shortcomings, in her present letter Edmonds strongly emphasizes
an “unspoken policy of ‘protecting certain foreign business relations’ …
‘safeguarding certain diplomatic relations'”, as substantively contributing to
the general lack of candor she charges.

On July 22, 2002, Sibel Edmonds launched a civil suit in the US District
Court for the District of Columbia against the Justice Department. The suit
cited an FBI release of information that she was the “subject of a security
review”, that she had been retaliated against by the bureau for her
whistleblowing activity, and that there had been “interference” with her ability
to obtain future employment as well as a wrongful “termination” of her FBI

Asia Times Online has obtained a copy of the court’s recent decision, and in
its presentation of the case’s “Factual Background” – beyond the allegations
Edmonds widely made – it notes that Edmonds asserted that “the safety and
security of the Plaintiff (Edmonds) and her family has been jeopardized and that
a foreign country has targeted Plaintiff’s sister to be interrogated ‘and
taken/arrested by force'”. It also notes that on May 8, 2002, Senator Grassley
wrote to Mueller regarding what he perceived as the gravity of Edmonds’ charges,
urging Mueller to “emphasize to [FBI] officials … that retaliation against
current or former FBI employees is not acceptable, especially when retaliation
endangers a person’s family member”.

On July 6 the court decided Edmonds’ case, finding that “the plaintiff’s case
must be dismissed, albeit with great consternation, in the interests of national
security”, doing so as Ashcroft invoked the seldom-used “state secrets
privilege”, in effect precluding a trial.

(For the full text of Sibel Edmonds’ open letter to 9-11 Commission chairman
Thomas Kean, please click here:

Ritt Goldstein is an American investigative political journalist based in Stockholm. His work has appeared in broadsheets such as Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, Spain’s El Mundo and Denmark’s Politiken, as well as with the Inter Press Service (IPS), a global news agency.

Bush: \"Keep those motherfuckers away from me\"

August 4, 2004 at 5:49 pm
Contributed by:


Capitol Hill Blue has really been on point lately with its insider reports on Dubya. Guaranteed you will not see any of this in the mainstream press! I think you’ll find some thought-provoking material on their site if you want to poke around there.

Here are two recent posts from them, showing that Bush’s paranoia and melancholy are becoming real matters of concern in the White House. Worth reading. The “Keep those motherfuckers away from me” quote was inspired by some reporters who wanted to question him about his relationship with Ken Lay. Is that the other shoe I hear falling?


Bush Using Drugs to Control Depression, Erratic Behavior


Editor, Capitol Hill Blue

Jul 28, 2004, 08:09

President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.

The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Angry Bush walked away from reporter’s questions.

Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”

Bush’s mental stability has become the topic of Washington whispers in recent months. Capitol Hill Blue first reported on June 4 about increasing concern among White House aides over the President’s wide mood swings and obscene outbursts.

Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid meglomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities.

“I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed,” Dr. Frank said. “He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated.”

Dr. Frank’s conclusions have been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School.

The doctors also worry about the wisdom of giving powerful anti-depressant drugs to a person with a history of chemical dependency. Bush is an admitted alcoholic, although he never sought treatment in a formal program, and stories about his cocaine use as a younger man haunted his campaigns for Texas governor and his first campaign for President.

“President Bush is an untreated alcoholic with paranoid and megalomaniac tendencies,” Dr. Frank adds.

The White House did not return phone calls seeking comment on this article.

Although the exact drugs Bush takes to control his depression and behavior are not known, White House sources say they are “powerful medications” designed to bring his erratic actions under control. While Col. Tubb regularly releases a synopsis of the President’s annual physical, details of the President’s health and any drugs or treatment he may receive are not public record and are guarded zealously by the secretive cadre of aides that surround the President.

Veteran White House watchers say the ability to control information about Bush’s health, either physical or mental, is similar to Ronald Reagan’s second term when aides managed to conceal the President’s increasing memory lapses that signaled the onslaught of Alzheimer’s Disease.

It also brings back memories of Richard Nixon’s final days when the soon-to-resign President wandered the halls and talked to portraits of former Presidents. The stories didn’t emerge until after Nixon left office.

One long-time GOP political consultant who – for obvious reasons – asked not to be identified said he is advising his Republican Congressional candidates to keep their distance from Bush.

“We have to face the very real possibility that the President of the United States is loony tunes,” he says sadly. “That’s not good for my candidates, it’s not good for the party and it’s certainly not good for the country.”

© Copyright 2004 Capitol Hill Blue

Sullen, Depressed President Retreats Into Private, Paranoid World


Capitol Hill Blue Staff

Jul 29, 2004, 09:08

A sullen President George W. Bush is withdrawing more and more from aides and senior staff, retreating into a private, paranoid world where only the ardent loyalists are welcome.

Cabinet officials, senior White House aides and leaders on Capitol Hill complain privately about the increasing lack of “face time” with the President and campaign advisors are worried the depressed President may not be up to the rigors of a tough re-election campaign.

“Yes, there are concerns,” a top Republican political advisor admitted privately Wednesday. “The George W. Bush we see today is not the same, gregarious, back-slapping President of old. He’s moody, distrustful and withdrawn.”

Bush Walks Alone

Bush’s erratic behavior and sharp mood swings led White House physician Col. Richard J. Tubb to put the President on powerful anti-depressant drugs after he stormed off stage rather than answer reporters’ questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay, but White House insiders say the strong, prescription medications seem to increase Bush’s sullen behavior towards those around him.

“This is a President known for his ability to charm people one-on-one,” says a staff member to House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert. “Not any more.”

White House aides say Bush has retreated into a tightly-controlled environment where only top political advisors like Karl Rove and Karen Hughes are allowed. Even White House chief of staff Andrew Card complains he has less and less access to the President.

Among cabinet members, only Attorney General John Ashcroft, a fundamentalist who shares many of Bush’s strict religious convictions, remains part of the inner circle. White House aides call Bush and Ashcroft the “Blue Brothers” because, like the mythical movie characters, “both believe they are on a mission from God.”

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, the man most responsible for waging America’s war on terrorism, complains to staff that he gets very little time with the President and gets most of his marching orders lately from Ashcroft. Some on Ridge’s staff gripe privately that Ashcroft is “Bush’s Himmler,” a reference to Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the SS (the German Police) under Adolph Hitler.

“Too many make the mistake of thinking Dick Cheney is the real power in the Bush administration,” says one senior Homeland Security aide. “They’re wrong. It’s Ashcroft and that is reason enough for all of us to be very, very afraid.”

While Vice President Cheney remains part of Bush’s tight, inner circle, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has fallen out of favor and tells his staff that “no matter what happens in November, I’m outta here.”

White House aides say the West Wing has been overtaken by a “siege mentality,” where phone calls and emails are monitored and everyone is under suspicion for “disloyalty to the crown.”

“I was questioned about an email I sent out on my personal email account from home,” says one staffer. “When I asked how they got access to my personal email account, I was told that when I came to work at the White House I gave up any rights to privacy.”

Another staffer was questioned on why she once dated a registered Democrat.

“He voted for Bush in 2000,” she said, “but that didn’t seem to matter. Mary Matalin is married to James Carville and that’s all right but suddenly my loyalty is questioned because a former boyfriend was a Democrat?” Matalin, a Republican political operative and advisor to the Bush campaign, is the wife of former Bill Clinton political strategist James Carville.

Psychiatrists say the increasing paranoia at the White House is symptomatic of Bush’s “paranoid, delusional personality.”

Dr. Justin Frank, a prominent Washington psychiatrist and author of the book, Bush on the Couch, Inside the Mind of the President, says the President suffers from “character pathology,” including “grandiosity” and “megalomania” – viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable.

Dr. Frank also concludes that Bush’s years of heavy drinking “may have affected his brain function – and his decision to quit drinking without the help of a 12-step programs puts him at a far higher risk of relapse.”

Whatever the cause for the President’s increasing paranoia and delusions, veteran White House watchers see a strong parallel with another Republican president from 30 years ago.

“From what people who work there now tell me, this White House looks more and more like the White House of Richard M. Nixon,” says retired political science professor George Harleigh, who worked in the Nixon White House. “It may be 2004 but it is starting to seem more like 1974 (the year Nixon resigned in disgrace).”

© Copyright 2004 Capitol Hill Blue

Big Peak Oil Update

August 3, 2004 at 2:00 pm
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While the American press may still be dragging its heels, the Peak Oil and Gas problem is receiving widespread coverage in the world press, especially in the UK and major oil-producing countries. One startling example was this:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has also addressed the moral issues of Oil Depletion, commenting perceptively “How supplies are to be secured at existing levels becomes a grave and moral question for the wealthier states, and a real destabiliser of international relations…………. And in a world of severely limited supply, it is also clear that for the less economically advantaged countries the chances of equal access to fossil fuel supply is negligible” see

I’ve become accustomed to hearing top oil company execs and energy and finance ministers warn about oil depletion, but…the Archbishop of Canterbury!?

Here’s a recent sampling of articles on the subject, and I encourage you to read every word of them. Sure, they’re long, and sometimes technical. But I believe there is no topic more deserving of your attention and self-education. Especially if you have children. As post #389 in the August newsletter of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) so pithily put it, “Politically this brings us firmly into the domain of Yimtoo – Yikes! In my term of office!”

So let’s get right to it, and start with that newsletter. This is very good reading packed with solid information. I highly recommend it!

ASPO August Newsletter

by Colin Campbell


A choice quote:

The Second Half of the Oil Age now dawns. It is characterised by the decline of oil production and all that depends on it, including most significantly the Financial System. In logic, the onset of oil decline undermines the very foundations of the economic system, which may accordingly collapse long before oil runs out or becomes in serious short supply. It sounds as if we therefore face a repeat of the Great Depression of the 1930s, which lasted ten years before being rescued by the economic impetus of the Second World War. It is not just a matter of trying to perpetuate the present system by turning to a windmill, solar panel or nuclear reactor, but of facing a fundamental discontinuity without precedent, triggered by the perception of peak as such. The recognition of the End of Economics will likely have a greater impact than the actual gradual physical decline of oil itself. The enormity of the issue explains why Governments cannot bring themselves to plan or prepare. It may even prompt some to indulge in resource wars to evade the situation for as long as possible or at least until after the next election.

Next, a May update from the Oil & Gas Journal:

World oil production capacity model suggests output peak by 2006-07

Simulations of the World Oil Production Capacity (Wocap) model suggest that global oil production will peak at a point near 81 million b/d well before the end of the decade, likely by 2006-07

Even by this model–which concurs closely with the predictions made by Matthew Simmons, the Bush advisor and energy investment banker–the peak will definitely occur no later than 2008. That’s right around the corner.

No foolin’. You’ve got two, maybe three years, folks, to make a new plan.

Simmons has earned more recent press, himself, as discussed in this recent post to the Petroleum News journal:

Simmons hopes he’s wrong

Leading energy analyst believes Saudi Arabia’s crude oil supply near peak; calls for greater global reserve transparency to anticipate ‘cataclysm’

F. Jay Schempf

Petroleum News Contributing Writer (Houston)

Week of August 01, 2004

Turning for a moment to the investment angle, this recent article by Jon Markman is quite good, and points up the problematic relationship (I call it a deadly embrace) that we have with the Saudis, and ties it in nicely with the Enron debacle:

Is Saudi Arabia Running Out of Oil?

by By Jon D. Markman

Columnist, MSN Money

7/29/2004 7:03 AM EDT

Disclosure: I have put my money where my mouth is in recent months, and invested in a variety of oil and gas stocks, particularly in the refining and transportation sectors. And I’m doing pretty well with it, thank you very much. Perfect hedge for a guy in the solar business, I think. If you’re interested, here’s a chart of a few of my current favorites: Chris’ oil & gas stock picks

Now let’s turn to politics. As has been widely reported, Dick Cheney himself has publicly warned about global oil depletion, stating in a 1999 speech:

That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from? Governments and the national oil companies are obviously controlling about ninety per cent of the assets. Oil remains fundamentally a government business. While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies, even though companies are anxious for greater access there, progress continues to be slow.

Five years later, that progress continues to be slow. The Saudis have pretty much tapped their excess production capacity in their recent production hikes (already well above their quota), and they are the only ones who had any excess capacity at all. Just today, they confirmed it:

Early Tuesday, the president of OPEC, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, warned that the cartel couldn’t immediately increase output from current levels, which are already the highest in over 25 years.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, “can increase production, but it cannot do it immediately,” Yusgiantoro said. The country had previously assured the market that it intended to ramp up production by the first of August.

The next-biggest source of oil, Iraq, is still a long way from increasing production to significant levels, and gives every indication of remaining a very difficult place to build and protect oil facilities. We could go on down the list, but in each case, there are daunting challenges that will make tomorrow’s oil much more expensive than today’s.

This article deals with the public statements of Cheney, the heads of Exxon-Mobil, and the Saudi company Aramco, along with other major players, and gives an interesting peek into the formation of US oil policy:

Dick Cheney, Peak Oil and the Final Count Down

Published on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 by Association for the Study of Peak Oil

By Kjell Aleklett

Kjell Aleklett is the President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil

In that article, the author refers to the original transcript of Cheney’s speech, which was once posted on the website of the Institute of Petroleum, but has since been taken down. (I wonder why?) Well I tracked it down, and here it is:

Full text of Dick Cheney’s speech at the IP Autumn lunch 15 November 1999

Here are a few choice quotes. You have to translate the bureaucratic style of speech, but once you do, you realize that he’s addressing the changes that energy companies will have to make in the coming years, straight up:

In many ways the traditional role of oil companies are changing. Increasingly we are seeing international oil and gas companies concentrating on managing investment, financial, commercial and political risk or above ground risk, while service companies are managing technical, completion and operating risk. Meanwhile, national oil companies are focused on managing their country’s national interest and its resources and in the domestic markets. [Emphases added]


“we will obviously have the super majors, but they have to be careful to avoid the dragdown of facts…”

Pretty potent, direct stuff! The reference to the “dragdown of facts” is, I presume, an oblique nod to the problem of Peak Oil and/or the problem of overstated reserves that now need to be revised downward. (And now we know why that article was taken down from the site: it was 1999, Cheney was still the CEO of Halliburton, he wasn’t the Vice President yet, he was talking to a friendly and financially interested audience, and he had yet to meet in secret with the heads of oil & gas companies to rewrite US energy policy according to their whim. He was much freer to speak his mind then!)

On a somewhat more optimistic note, Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, the new book by Richard Heinberg is out! It’s “a brilliant analysis of the options available to a civilization facing resource depletion, biosphere collapse, and financial insolvency.” You can buy it here on the website of the Post-Carbon Institute. The Institute’s Communications Director actually encourages readers to buy it from their local bookstores if they can, and to request that their local libraries carry it, and offers them a library discount. See his letter here: David Room’s letter to readers

It’s about time to let Dr. Chomsky weigh in, from his July 26 blog entry:

Peak Oil Theory

Posted by Noam Chomsky at July 26, 2004 10:43 AM

The basic theory is incontrovertible. The only questions have to do with timing and cost. …

The date can be pushed back much farther if more costly (or maybe some to-be-discovered improved) technology is used. As for the estimates of cost, by reasonable standards one could argue that oil is far under-priced. In real terms, it’s not particularly high now as compared with other commodities, from some reasonable base line. And low-priced oil leads to heavier use and less effort to create sustainable alternatives.

That I think is a far more serious problem than production peaking. In fact, one could argue that the earlier production peaks, the better off the human species (and a lot more) is, because of the effects of unconstrained use of hydrocarbons on the environment.

Talk about “shrinking our economies” is pretty meaningless. Our economies would shrink substantially if we got rid of huge expenditures for the military, for incarceration, and other highly destructive activities. Sustainable economies might lead to highly improved quality of life.

Which echoes the article “Oil Drought could be our Saviour” from The Guardian Newspaper, Monday July 19 2004 by Colin Hines (see post #398 in the ASPO newsletter, above). A quote:

Economic globalisation with world trade taking place over ever greater distances has accelerated the shift worldwide to an environmentally and socially destructive form of energy intensive agriculture. This concentrates less on supplying local markets and instead contributes to evermore long distance food exports. But perhaps most important in terms of the future of our planet this new and inescapable world of continued high energy prices can lead to a rapid and massive investment in energy efficiency and renewables. This is also crucial in attempting to head off climate change at the pass. Thus geology, with its unavoidable constraints on oil supplies, could well become the planet’s Seventh Cavalry.

To give us a nice pair of bookends on this blog entry, let’s let the Archbishop have the final word (from the same speech):

And the news for humanity is both joyful and sobering: there is a possible human future – but it will be costly for us. The question is whether we have the energy and imagination to say no to the non-future, the paralysing dream of endless manipulation, that currently has us captive.

So! Bring on the $180/barrel oil and the $10/gal gasoline! (You think I’m kidding? I’ll give it ’till 2007.) The more it costs, the more time and options we’ll have. We’ve got ingenuity. There is some reason to be optimistic. But only if we can change our political and economic priorities.

And that’s where you come in. I hope that even the conservatives among you will acknowledge that the continued pursuit of oil and gas industry priorities is not going to chart us a successful path into the future. We must invest–now, and massively–in renewable resources. Bush offers the former. Kerry offers the latter. Compare:

“We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.”

George W. Bush, Trenton, New Jersey, Sep. 23, 2002


“To secure our full independence and freedom, we must free America from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil. By tapping American ingenuity, we can achieve that goal while growing our economy and protecting our environment. Kerry-Edwards will create a new energy and conservation trust fund to accelerate the development of innovative technologies, such as more efficient cars and trucks, the development of biofuels, and creating clean, secure, hydrogen-based energy. Kerry-Edwards will also expand the supply of natural gas, assure 20% of electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020, and make clean coal part of our energy solution.”

John Kerry’s Plan for America

Any questions?

I have much, much more on the topic to share with you, especially as it ties in to the war in Iraq, the so-called war on terrorism, the Enron debacle, and the Saudi connections. But that’s enough for now I think. I’d be surprised if even one of you read all of those articles anyway, so I don’t want to give you too much at one sitting.

Please, please, read up! As always, your feedback is welcomed and encouraged! Pass this on to your friends and family (especially those who think our “oiligarchy” has the situation well in hand), and invite them to subscribe to GRL too. My only intent is to wake America up to her energy situation. The more the merrier.


Further reading:

Past GRL articles on Peak Oil

Past GRL articles citing Matthew Simmons

Full text of Dick Cheney’s speech at the Institute of Petroleum Autumn lunch, 15 November 1999

August 1, 2004 at 9:27 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Full text of Dick Cheney’s speech at the Institute of Petroleum Autumn lunch, 15 November 1999


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