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Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline

“Mr. Secretary, I have enormous respect for your character and ability. You have preserved more international credibility for us than our policy deserves, and salvaged something positive from the excesses of an ideological and self-serving Administration. But your loyalty to the President goes too far. We are straining beyond its limits an international system we built with such toil and treasure, a web of laws, treaties, organizations, and shared values that sets limits on our foes far more effectively than it ever constrained America’s ability to defend its interests.”
- John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, after 20 years of service, February 27, 2003

“Written laws are like spiders' webs, and will like them only entangle and hold the poor and weak, while the rich and powerful will easily break through them.”
-
Anacharsis, to Solon when writing his laws

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!"
- Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17

Tearful U.S. Taliban Gets 20 Years
Fri Oct 4, 2002 7:37 PM ET
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - John Walker Lindh, whose discovery as a U.S.-born Taliban fighter startled the nation, received a 20-year sentence Friday after condemning Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network during a sobbing, halting plea for forgiveness.

Lindh pleaded guilty last July to supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during commission of a felony. Each count carries a 10-year sentence. The government told Ellis last week that Lindh had fulfilled his agreement to cooperate, allowing prosecutors to drop more serious charges that could have brought a life sentence.

"I want the court to know, and I want to American people to know," Lindh said, "that had I realized then what I know now about the Taliban, I would never have joined them."

Lindh also told the court that he never understood jihad to mean anti-Americanism or terrorism and declared, "I condemn terrorism on every level unequivocally."

 

“And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”
- President Bush's address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night, September 20, 2001

Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline (From BBC site without pictures.)
Thursday, December 4, 1997 Published at 19:27 GMT
“A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.”

“A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company's headquarters in Sugarland, Texas.”

Unocal says it has agreements both with Turkmenistan to sell its gas and with Pakistan to buy it.”

Feminist Majority Demonstrates Against UNOCAL Afghanistan Pipeline
Feminist Majority Report, Fall 1998; Arlington, VA
In response to continued news reports that California-based UNOCAL has been negotiating with the Taliban militia to build a gas pipeline through Afghanistan, the Feminist Majority Foundation joined a coalition of human rights, women's rights, and environmental groups to demand that the California attorney general revoke UNOCAL's charter to do business, because of their crimes against humanity and the environment.

"If UNOCAL thinks it can do business with the Taliban, a regime that, in effect, denies women their right to exist as human beings, then we think UNOCAL's privilege to exist as a corporation must also be denied," said Kathy Spillar, National Coordinator for the Feminist Majority Foundation.

U.S. INTERESTS IN THE CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS
48–119 CC
HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FEBRUARY 12, 1998

Mr. BEREUTER (Nebraska, Chairman). I would like to proceed to the subject of the hearing for today, U.S. interests in the Central Asian Republics. I do have a statement. One hundred years ago, Central Asia was the arena for a great game played by Czarist Russia, Colonial Britain, Napoleon's France, and the Persian and the Ottoman Empires. Allegiances meant little during this struggle for empire building, where no single empire could gain the upper hand. One hundred years later, the collapse of the Soviet Union has unleashed a new great game, where the interests of the East India Trading Company have been replaced by those of Unocal and Total, and many other organizations and firms.

Today the Subcommittee examines the interests of a new contestant in this new great game, the United States. The five countries which make up Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, attained their independence in 1991, and have once again captured worldwide attention due to the phenomenal reserves of oil and natural gas located in the region. In their desire for political stability as well as economic independence and prosperity, these nations are anxious to establish relations with the United States. In response, last November, Secretary of Energy Frederico Pena led a Presidential mission to the Caspian-Central Asian region for discussions. The area's energy resources were also discussed during November visits to Washington of Kazakhstani President Nazarbayev and Uzbek Prime Minister Sultanov.

Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan possess large reserves of oil and natural gas, both on-shore and off-shore in the Caspian Sea, which they urgently seek to exploit. Uzbekistan has oil and gas reserves that may permit it to be self-sufficient in energy and gain revenue through exports. Estimates of Central Asian oil reserves vary widely, but are usually said to rival those of the North Sea or Alaska. More accurate estimates of oil and gas resources await wider exploration and the drilling of test wells.

Stated U.S. policy goals regarding energy resources in this region include fostering the independence of the States and their ties to the West; breaking Russia's monopoly over oil and gas transport routes; promoting Western energy security through diversified suppliers; encouraging the construction of east-west pipelines that do not transit Iran; and denying Iran dangerous leverage over the Central Asian economies.

In addition, as has been noted by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, the United States seeks to discourage any one country from gaining control over the region, but rather urges all responsible States to cooperate in the exploitation of regional oil and other resources.

Central Asia would seem to offer significant new investment opportunities for a broad range of American companies which, in turn, will serve as a valuable stimulus to the economic development of the region. Japan, Turkey, Iran, Western Europe, and China are all pursuing economic development opportunities and challenging Russian dominance in the region. It is essential that U.S. policymakers understand the stakes involved in Central Asia as we seek to craft a policy that serves the interests of the United States and U.S. business.

On the other hand, some question the importance of the region to U.S. interests, and dispute the significance of its resources to U.S. national security interests. Others caution that it will take a great deal of time and money to bring these resources to world markets. Still others point to civil and ethnic conflicts in Tajikistan and Afghanistan as a reason to avoid involvement beyond a minimal diplomatic presence in the area.

Afghanistan Aims to Revive Pipeline Plans
Officials in Kabul say Unocal is the best choice for the natural gas project, but the California firm says it's no longer interested.
By Paul Watson, LA Times, May 30, 2002
For the last eight years, as Afghans fought one another on the battlefield, foreign companies waged a back-room war for the right to build a pipeline to tap the vast energy riches of Central Asia.

El Segundo-based Unocal Corp. and Argentina's Bridas Corp. headed two competing groups that hired diplomats skilled in the gentle art of persuasion and offered Afghan warlords tempting incentives in pursuit of a prize worth billions.

But like so many Afghan dreams dashed in 23 years of war, the $1.9-billion natural gas pipeline project never got past the talking and enticing. When rivalries were fully inflamed, the vision quickly vanished. Unocal pulled the plug on its involvement in 1998, after the Clinton administration ordered airstrikes on suspected terrorist camps in the country. Now the leaders of Afghanistan and neighboring Turkmenistan and Pakistan hope to revive the venture at a summit today, and as the intrigue starts to swirl again, this shattered country desperate for foreign investment risks getting sucked into another bitter round of pipeline politics.
 

“What is called 'capitalism' is basically a system of corporate mercantilism, with huge and largely unaccountable private tyrannies exercising vast control over the economy, political systems, and social and cultural life, operating in close cooperation with powerful states that intervene massively in the domestic economy and international society.”
- Noam Chomsky

Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions With the Taliban
Executive Order 13129 of July 4, 1999

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)("IEEPA"), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of the Taliban in Afghanistan, in allowing territory under its control in Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven and base of operations for Usama bin Ladin and the Al-Qaida organization who have committed and threaten to continue to commit acts of violence against the United States and its nationals, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

I hereby order:

Sec. 2. …(a) any transaction or dealing by United States persons or within the United States in property or interests in property blocked pursuant to this order is
prohibited, including the making or receiving of any contribution of funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of the Taliban or persons designated pursuant
to this order;

Explosive New Book Published in France Alleges that U.S. Was in Negotiations to Do a Deal with Taliban
Aired January 8, 2002 - 07:34 ET, CNN
“BUTLER: The most explosive charge, Paula, is that the Bush administration -- the present one, just shortly after assuming office slowed down FBI investigations of al Qaeda and terrorism in Afghanistan in order to do a deal with the Taliban on oil -- an oil pipeline across Afghanistan.”

“BUTLER: That's the allegation that instead of prosecuting properly an investigation of terrorism, which has its home in Afghanistan as we now know, or one of its main homes, that was shut down or slowed down in order to pursue oil interests with the Taliban. The people who we have now bombed out of existence, and this not many months ago. The book says that the negotiators said to the Taliban, you have a choice. You have a carpet of gold, meaning an oil deal, or a carpet of bombs. That's what the book alleges.”

"The DOD definition of terrorism is "the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."
- TERRORISM DEFINED, U.S. Army, Field Manual 100-20, Stability and Support Opperations, (Final Draft), "Chapter 8: Combatting Terrorism."

Quick take on "Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth"
February 1, 2002, OnLineJournel
"Ben Laden: La Verite Interdite ("Bin Laden: the Forbidden Truth") by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie is a well-researched piece of mainstream French journalism. It is not a scandal-mongering knockoff—in some places it is so well documented as to be tedious. Besides ample research in print media, the authors received information from disgruntled US sources, together with the French and (presumably) the Israeli intelligence services.”

Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden
Jean-Charles Brisard, Guillaume Dasquie, Lucy Rounds (Translator), Peter Fifield (Translator), Nic Greenslade (Translator)
From Our Editors
Did the Bush administration engage the Taliban in secret negotiations just prior to 9/11, negotiations that directly led to the terrorist attacks? Did the Taliban then decide to preemptively attack the U.S. before they could be attacked themselves? The authors of this potentially explosive book claim that Bush's efforts to secure an oil pipeline that would run from Kazakhstan through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean led to a proposed agreement that would have guaranteed the safe passage of Osama Bin Laden -- already the subject of an arrest warrant at the time -- to Saudi Arabia. The book contains a startling revelation by former FBI counterterrorism chief John O'Neill -- who was, ironically, killed at the Twin Towers -- that the failure of this alliance between the U.S. and the Taliban directly led to the 9/11 attacks and to the subsequent military invasion of Afghanistan.

Bush-Taliban allegations remain cloudy
By Mike Kirkland
UPI Legal Affairs Correspondent
From the Washington Politics & Policy Desk
Published 2/27/2002 7:06 PM
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A book recently published in France makes two remarkable claims: The Bush administration was negotiating an oil pipeline with the Taliban until last summer; and the late John O'Neill, the nemesis of Osama bin Laden, had resigned from the FBI's war against terrorism protesting that the administration's oil policy was obstructing his investigation.

If true, the revelations would recast history.

USA: Unocal Advisor Named Representative to Afghanistan
January 3, 2002, Corpwatch
“President Bush has appointed a former aide to the American oil company Unocal, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to Afghanistan. The nomination was announced December 31, nine days after the US-backed interim government of Hamid Karzai took office in Kabul.”

Afghanistian: Oil Execs Revive Pipeline From Hell
Oil companies have dreamed of a trans-Afghan pipeline. Are they crazy enough to pull it off now?
By Daniel Fisher, Forbes.com, February 4, 2002
It has been called the pipeline from hell, to hell, through hell. It's a 1,270-kilometer conduit, 1.2 meters in diameter, that would snake across Afghanistan to carry natural gas from eastern Turkmenistan--with 700 billion cubic meters of proven reserves--to energy-hungry Pakistan and beyond. Unocal of the U.S. and Bridas Petroleum of Argentina vied for the $1.9 billion project in the 1990s. Now, with the collapse of the Taliban, oil executives are suddenly talking again about building it.

"It is absolutely essential that the U.S. make the pipeline the centerpiece of rebuilding Afghanistan," says S. Rob Sobhani, a professor of foreign relations at Georgetown University and the head of Caspian Energy Consulting. The State Department thinks it's a great idea, too. Routing the gas through Iran would be avoided, and Central Asian republics wouldn't have to ship through Russian pipelines.

Afghanistan plans gas pipeline
Monday, 13 May, 2002, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK, BBC
Afghanistan hopes to strike a deal later this month to build a $2bn pipeline through the country to take gas from energy-rich Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India.

Mr Razim said US energy company Unocal was the "lead company" among those that would build the pipeline, which would bring 30bn cubic meters of Turkmen gas to market annually.

Unocal - which led a consortium of companies from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Japan and South Korea - has maintained the project is both economically and technically feasible once Afghan stability was secured.

Afghan Delegates Walk Out in Protest Over Vote
Wed Jun 12, 4:52 AM ET, Reuters
“KABUL (Reuters) - Dozens of Afghan delegates walked out of the Loya Jirga assembly on Wednesday, saying they were angry about the lack of a free vote to decide the future of their war-shattered country, including the next president.”

“The Loya Jirga was preparing to vote for a president with Hamid Karzai, interim leader and U.S. favorite, the sole candidate, prompting protests the process was undemocratic.”

3 nations sign agreement for Afghanistan pipeline
Staff and News Reports , HoustonChronicle.com
Dec. 27, 2002, 10:29PM
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed an ambitious agreement with the president of Afghanistan on Friday to build a gas pipeline through the war-ravaged country.

The 910-mile Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline would carry natural gas from the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan to energy-hungry Pakistan. It would be one of the largest direct foreign investment projects in Afghanistan in decades.

 

“I will have Arrakis back for myself and House Harkonnen! He who controls the Spice, controls the universe!”
– Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Dune by Frank Herbert

“And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”
- President Bush's address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night, September 20, 2001

FBI AND US SPY AGENTS SAY BUSH SPIKED BIN LADEN PROBES BEFORE 11 SEPTEMBER
The Guardian (London)
Wednesday, November 7, 2001
Officials told to 'back off' on Saudis before September 11
by Greg Palast and David Pallister
“FBI and military intelligence officials in Washington say they were prevented for political reasons from carrying out full investigations into members of the Bin Laden family in the US before the terrorist attacks of September 11.”

“US intelligence agencies have come under criticism for their wholesale failure to predict the catastrophe at the World Trade Centre. But some are complaining that their hands were tied.”

“But the FBI files were closed in 1996 apparently before any conclusions could be reached on either the Bin Laden brothers or the organisation itself. High-placed intelligence sources in Washington told the Guardian this week: "There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis".”

“They said the restrictions became worse after the Bush administration took over this year. The intelligence agencies had been told to "back off" from investigations involving other members of the Bin Laden family, the Saudi royals, and possible Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan.”

Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
by Robert Baer
“In his blustering second book, former CIA officer Baer (See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism) targets Saudi Arabia's corrupt leadership and cozy relationship with Washington. He argues that because the Saudis pay vast sums to powerful Americans, often in the form of lucrative defense contracts, those U.S. agencies that could help stop terrorism are thwarted by their own side.”

PBS - frontline: saudi time bomb?: interviews: james baker (former U.S. Secretary of State)
Frontline
: So our policy's based on the realities on the ground?
During the Gulf War, he was secretary of state in President George H. W. Bush's administration. He argues that access to Saudi energy reserves is vital to U.S. national security interests, and that the U.S. cannot allow the kingdom to become destabilized. This interview was conducted mid-October 2001.
Baker: It's based on our national interest and our national security interests, you bet. And that's really what a nation's foreign policy ought to be primarily focused on, if I may say so. ...

Frontline: Saudi Arabia, you say, is essential to our national security because of energy, because of oil. When you were secretary of treasury and secretary of state, Saudi Arabia became an integral part of our economy. We got the oil money back in many cases, right? ... We got their money back in military purchases of equipment and various construction contracts in Saudi Arabia, many of which you testified in favor of. What I'm getting at is that in that part of the world, people say, "Oh, yes. The Saudis are very nice to you. They give you low-priced oil, help subsidize your economy. Then you get the money back by making them buy all of these weapons, buy all of these things, and even invest in your Treasury bills and in your major corporations. And that's why you're so tight with [the regime.]"

Baker: You make a lot of statements that the Saudis sell us low-priced oil. There have been many times in our history where we've been really concerned about the activities of OPEC to increase the price of oil and adversely affect our economy. Now, oftentimes, we're able to work through the Saudis, who are the biggest producers, in order to alleviate that. That's not the equivalent of their selling us low-priced oil.

Frontline: Then we get them to buy -- with the urgings of people like yourself and our government -- our equipment, our construction projects, our technology.

Baker: I'm not sure that's really right. They buy our construction, they buy our technology, because it's the best. They buy our military equipment because it's the best. They buy from America because they want America presence there to the extent we can be in the kingdom, because we are their security.

Why are we their security? We're their security because we have a self-interest in making sure that those energy reserves in the Persian Gulf don't fall under the control of a country that is adverse to the United States.

As I told you, I worked for four administrations under three presidents. And in every one of those, our policy was that we would go to war to protect the energy reserves in the Persian Gulf. That is a major and very significant national security interest that we have.

In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue
U.S. Drillers Eye Huge Petroleum Pool
By Dan Morgan and David B. Ottaway
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 15, 2002; Page A01
A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling world petroleum markets, according to industry officials and leaders of the Iraqi opposition.

The importance of Iraq's oil has made it potentially one of the administration's biggest bargaining chips in negotiations to win backing from the U.N. Security Council and Western allies for President Bush's call for tough international action against Hussein. All five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- have international oil companies with major stakes in a change of leadership in Baghdad.

"It's pretty straightforward," said former CIA director R. James Woolsey, who has been one of the leading advocates of forcing Hussein from power. "France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them."

But he added: "If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them."

Forceful Tactics Catch Up With U.S.
Efforts to Build Support on Iraq Stymied by Two Years of International Resentment
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 16, 2003; Page A26
"There have been really aggressive battles that have got people's backs up," said a diplomat from a country that publicly supports the U.S. position on Iraq. "The U.S. team often acts like thugs. People feel bullied, and that can affect the way you respond when someone makes a request."

U.S. plans total control in rebuilding postwar Iraq
By Karen DeYoung and Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Posted on Fri, Feb. 21, 2003
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration plans to take complete, unilateral control of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, with an interim administration headed by a yet-to-be named American civilian who will direct the reconstruction of the country and the creation of a ``representative'' Iraqi government, according to an outline described by U.S. officials and other sources.

Briefing Depicted Saudis as Enemies
Ultimatum Urged To Pentagon Board
By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 6, 2002; Page A01
A briefing given last month to a top Pentagon advisory board described Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the United States, and recommended that U.S. officials give it an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States.

"The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader," stated the explosive briefing. It was presented on July 10 to the Defense Policy Board, a group of prominent intellectuals and former senior officials that advises the Pentagon on defense policy.

"Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies," said the briefing prepared by Laurent Murawiec, a Rand Corp. analyst. A talking point attached to the last of 24 briefing slides went even further, describing Saudi Arabia as "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East.

PBS - frontline: saudi time bomb?: interviews: james baker
Frontline:
And yet, they're our allies.

Baker: That's right. We have allies, particularly in this fight against terrorism, that don't embrace democracy, and that don't embrace free markets. We've had allies throughout our history that aren't necessarily of the same philosophy and persuasion that we are, regarding principles and values. Sometimes your realpolitik interests demand that.

Survey: Europeans Say U.S. Partly to Blame for 9/11
Tue Sep 3, 6:10 PM ET, By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) - Most Europeans believe America itself is partly to blame for the devastating attacks on New York and Washington last September 11.  According to a new poll, which questioned more than 9,000 Europeans and Americans about how they look at the world one year after the attacks, 55 percent of Europeans think U.S. foreign policy contributed to the tragic events.

 

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