In Case You Missed It

Time for another boring little news summary, culled from diverse mainstream media outlets, with links to sources…

Dick Cheney is being sued for possible involvement in accounting fraud while running Halliburton. The company is also being investigated by the SEC. Meanwhile, Halliburton has just won the contract to provide the support services for the US military in Afghanistan.

Halliburton took part in Energy Task Force discussions about building an oil pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Dabhol in India, to allow the tapping of the Central Asian oil reserves. The pipeline construction was to be handled by a company called UNOCAL, also a member of the Energy Task Force. A third company in the task force was Enron, who just happened to have a power plant in Dabhol. [PDF]

UNOCAL began negotiating the pipeline construction. Pakistan was no problem, but Afghanistan wouldn’t play ball. When the Taliban made the mistake of supporting Osama bin Laden’s attack on the WTC, it became clear that there was a much easier way of getting the pipeline built: bomb Afghanistan, and install some friendly warlords as the new government. It seems to have worked—the new regime wants UNOCAL to start building the pipeline this year. Naturally it’s pure coincidence that Bush’s special envoy to Afghanistan is Zalmay Khalilzad, who was special advisor to UNOCAL in 1997 and carried out the risk assessments for the Afghanistan pipeline project—along with colleague Hamid Karzai, who is now interim president of Afghanistan.

We still don’t know exactly what Enron, UNOCAL and Halliburton discussed with Dick Cheney. Initially Cheney refused to hand over the meeting notes. After a subpoena, it was agreed to release some documents—but only if guarantees were given that their contents would not be made public. Why is it so important to protect the confidentiality of advice given by a bankrupt company that no longer exists? We might have found out from Enron Vice Chairman and whistleblower J. Clifford Baxter—but sadly, he was found in his car, dead from a gunshot wound. A suicide note was found near his body. Also, he’d made sure to still have his defunct Enron corporate ID in his wallet, even though he’d resigned five months previously, perhaps in case the people finding him might fail to realize who he was. Police have concluded that he went out for a drive to shoot himself. It’s a little curious that a suicidal man had talked about needing a bodyguard just two days earlier, but no doubt he was feeling confused. An autopsy uncovered chemical traces on Baxter’s left hand consistent with his having fired the gun, and concluded that he died from the bullet wound to his right temple. Toxicology results revealed residual traces of a cocktail of sedatives, antidepressants and and painkillers in his body. So, nothing suspicious there.

A second oil executive committed suicide last month. Charles Dana Rice was senior vice president at El Paso Corp. El Paso has worked with UNOCAL on pipeline projects. Probably just another coincidence.