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Greased Pigs

Message Stephen Pizzo
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 Gee, I'd really like to let bygones be bygones, but recent events make that quite impossible. I want everyone to stop looking forward to January 21, 2009 just long enough to settle an old score.

This week it happened -- oil topped $100 a barrel. Back in early 2001 when Dick Cheney pulled together secret meetings with the nation's top energy producers to plot out the new administration's energy strategy, oil was selling for $26 a barrel.

What happened? And why? And whom do we have to blame for it? We still don't know.

Most of the activities of the Energy Task Force had not been disclosed to the public, even though Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (since 19 April 2001) have sought to gain access to its materials. The organizations Judicial Watch and Sierra Club launched a law suit (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia: Judicial Watch Inc. v. Department of Energy, et al., Civil Action No. 01-0981) under the FOIA to gain access to the task force's materials. On 5 March 2002 the US Government was ordered to make a full disclosure; this has not happened, pending appeal. In the Summer of 2003 a partial disclosure of these materials was made by the Commerce Department. This resulted in the release of documents, maps, and charts, dated March 2001, of Iraq's, Saudi Arabia's and United Arab Emirates' oil fields, pipelines, refineries, tanker terminals and development projects. That case eventually went to the Supreme Court and the ruling was to send the case back to the Court of Appeals. (Wikipedia: Full article here)

We still don't know the "who, what and why" of those meetings. All we know is the result -- $3 gas and heating bills that will shove millions of Americans into deeper debt this winter.

There are only two conclusions we can draw from that, and neither reflects well on Cheney, et al.

1) This is what they intended all along. Oil company profits have soared, and will now go even higher. If this was the intended result, it worked. The administration has allowed oil companies to pillage and plunder, not only the American people, but other, less well-connected industries and small businesses now saddled with astronomically high energy bills.

Rise in oil prices a boon to drilling-equipment companies
Bloomberg News -- December 18, 2007

HOUSTON: Oil prices hovering around $90 a barrel are doing a lot more for shareholders of Cameron International and Baker Hughes than for investors in Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Halliburton, a large oil field contractor, will gain 30 percent in the next 12 months in New York trading, and Baker Hughes will advance 26 percent, according to the average of analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. Exxon, in Irving, Texas, and Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, will appreciate less than 4.4 percent, the data show.An investor who took $10 million out of Exxon to buy Halliburton would increase his returns sevenfold to about $3 million (Full


2) This was not the intended outcome of the energy policies they cooked up behind closed doors, meaning that they not only failed the American public, but did so in the most spectacular fashion.

Either way, someone needs to pay. But before we can begin building the gallows, we need to know who had a hand in creating this mess. And, since this administration has proven good at one thing --- keeping inconvenient information out of the hands of journalists and even Congress, there seems only one way to get it out of them -- indictments. An indictment for conspiracy to fix prices, defraud consumers and investors and whatever else a room full of wingtip wearing class action lawyers can dream up, naming Cheney and 100 John and Jane Does should be brought immediately. What grand jury of ordinary Americans wouldn't relish slapping their John Hancock on such an indictment?

Then send the FBI to interview Cheney, who will likely not have forgotten what happened to his former aid, Scooter Libby, when thought lying to the FBI was a no-brainer. Let Cheney spend some of his own money on high-price DC lawyers, like Robert Bennett, who've become rich defending political scum caught red handed up to no good.

And there's work for Congress to do as well. Before Democrats regained control of Congress hearings were held on surging gas prices. But at the time Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chaired the Senate committee. Stevens is not only one of the most crooked politicians in DC -- he's currently under investigation for taking bribes from energy producers in his home state -- but he is also in the pocket of Big Oil. Consequently he would not allow the swearing in of any of the oil company execs who testified. In other words they had a liars free card.

Now that the Democrats chair the relevant committees it's time to haul those executives back up to the Hill, and this time put the little bastards under oath, just as Rep. Waxman did with the tobacco executives over a decade ago.

I've said it before, but it needs to be repeated and repeated -- America cannot let the evil-doers in this administration simply slip out of town next January as though they didn't do anything wrong. Their list of misdeeds reads like something you'd expect in some third world banana republic, not America. At least not my America. They must face the music. They must.

Otherwise the message sent ahead to future administrations will be that if you bury the evidence deep enough, stonewall long enough and dissemble well enough, do whatever the hell you want while in office. Because once you leave town no one will bother coming after you. 


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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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