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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/4/09

Eager to Tap Iraq's Vast Oil Reserves, Industry Execs Suggested Invasion

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    There has long been speculation that a key reason why Cheney fought so hard to keep his task force documents secret was that they may have included information about the administration's plans toward Iraq.

    "Conspiracy Theory"

    However, both before and after the invasion, much of the US political press treated the notion that oil was a motive for invading Iraq in March 2003 as a laughable conspiracy theory.

    Generally, business news outlets were much more frank about the real-politick importance of Iraq's oil fields.

    For instance, Ray Rodon, a former executive at Halliburton, the oil-service giant that Cheney once headed, said he was dispatched to Iraq in October 2002 to assess the country's oil infrastructure and map out plans for operating Iraq's oil industry, according to an April 14, 2003 story in Fortune magazine.

"From behind the obsidian mirrors of his wraparound sunglasses, Ray Rodon surveys the vast desert landscape of southern Iraq's Rumailah oilfield," Fortune's story said. "A project manager with Halliburton's engineering and construction division, Kellogg Brown & Root, Rodon has spent months preparing for the daunting task of repairing Iraq's oil industry."
 

"Working first at headquarters in Houston and then out of a hotel room in Kuwait City, he has studied the intricacies of the Iraqi national oil company, even reviewing the firm's organizational charts so that Halliburton and the Army can ascertain which Iraqis are reliable technocrats and which are Saddam loyalists."

    At about the same time as Rodon's trip to Iraq - October 2002 - Oil and Gas International, an industry publication, reported that the State Department and the Pentagon had put together pre-war planning groups that focused heavily on protecting Iraq's oil infrastructure.

    The next month, November 2002, the Department of Defense recommended that the Army Corps of Engineers award a contract to Kellogg, Brown & Root to extinguish Iraqi oil well fires.

    The contract also called for "assessing the condition of oil-related infrastructure; cleaning up oil spills or other environmental damage at oil facilities; engineering design and repair or reconstruction of damaged infrastructure; assisting in making facilities operational; distribution of petroleum products; and assisting the Iraqis in resuming Iraqi oil company operations."

    In January 2003, as President Bush was presenting the looming war with Iraq as necessary to protect Americans, the Wall Street Journal reported that oil industry executives met with Cheney's staff to plan the post-war revival of Iraq's oil industry.

"Facing a possible war with Iraq, US oil companies are starting to prepare for the day when they may get a chance to work in one of the world's most oil-rich countries," the Journal reported on January 16, 2003.

"Executives of US oil companies are conferring with officials from the White House, the Department of Defense and the State Department to figure out how best to jump-start Iraq's oil industry following a war, industry officials say.

"The Bush administration is eager to secure Iraq's oil fields and rehabilitate them, industry officials say. They say Mr. Cheney's staff hosted an informational meeting with industry executives in October [2002], with ExxonMobil Corp., ChevronTexaco Corp., ConocoPhillips and Halliburton among the companies represented.

"Both the Bush administration and the companies say such a meeting never took place. Since then, industry officials say, the Bush administration has sought input, formally and informally, from executives and industry experts on how best to overhaul Iraq's oil sector."

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Jason Leopold is Deputy Managing Editor of Truthout.org and the founding editor of the online investigative news magazine The Public Record, http://www.pubrecord.org. He is the author of the National Bestseller, "News Junkie," a memoir. Visit (more...)
 
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