Oil Geopolitics Central
To Cheney Task Force
Within 10 days of the Jan. 20, 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush as President, Vice President Dick Cheney was made head of the newly created National Energy Development Taskforce, in a look-good pretense, given the unprecedented crisis of energy hyperinflation in California and nationwide—triple digit profiteering, oil shortages, electricity black-outs, etc. In May, 2001, Cheney's official energy policy was released. In fact, Cheney's role then—and now, is to protect the very interests and practices perpetrating the looting of California over 2000-2001, and imposing rigged oil shortages, speculation and harm today.
Cheney has done his job blatantly, covering up in 2001 for Enron, Reliant, and many other companies and persons, who since, have been convicted for crimes committed in California under the Energy Task Force period. Subsequently, Cheney has continued as enforcer for both ongoing energy thievery, and also for geopolitical interventions internationally, involving oil supplies, speculation, and war, as we see today.
To the present, Vice President Cheney has refused to release any of the minutes and records of his 2001 National Energy Development Taskforce, despite court actions.
A timeline of Cheney's culpability for energy crimes, was assembled in September, 2003, commissioned by Lyndon LaRouche, titled, "Who Robbed California? The Cheney Gang." It went out in mass-circulation in California against the gubernatorial re-call operation. Some of the key facts, and subsequent revelations:
- Cheney Task Force, January-May, 2001. On Jan. 28, 2001, on national TV, Cheney presented his view of energy policy: don't touch the looting going on. His exact words, "I'm a believer in markets...I think the notion of deregulation is basically sound. What happened in California [soaring electricity prices]—it was poorly executed." Then, during the ensuing four-month Cheney Task Force period, "market" prices shot up even higher! Wholesale electricity in California (which had sold in 1999 for $35 per megawatt hour), soared from $500 per mwh in January, up to $2,500 per mwh during the spring, as power output was clearly being taken off-line in a contrived pattern to create shortages and aid speculators.
In 2003, Enron's manager of power trading, Tim Belden, entered a guilty plea, admitting to illegal manipulation of "markets." New phone transcripts of Enron trader phone conversations, were released just this May, by utility commissioners in Washington state, documenting how the bilking worked during the 2001 Energy Task Force period, and also, the gloating. E.g. "Person 1:'...all the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers of California?' Person 2:'Yeah, Grandma Millie, man. But she's the one who couldn't figure out how to [expeletive deleted] vote on the butterfly ballot.' "
As Energy Task Force Czar, Cheney met with a stream of execs from the bigtime energy speculator companies, for example, Ken Lay of Enron, in April, who provided a memo on what he wanted Cheney to do for energy policy. At the same time, Cheney rejected all appeals from California officials and Congressmen, etc.
During the 2001 Q1 January-March period, mega-profit rates were posted by a swarm of energy companies, for example (2001 Q1 over 2000 Q1), EOG Resources (formerly Enron Oil & Gas)—448%! Some others: Calpine—424%, Williams—172%, Reliant Energy—104%. The profiteering extended way beyond the California electricity free-for-all as such. The Big Oil companies' profit rates: Conoco—58%, Chevron—53%, BP plc—52%, ExxonMobil—44%, Texaco—39%, Shell—23%.
On March 19, 2001, Cheney presented an "interim report" from the Energy Task Force, forumlated to bar any Federal relief for the worsening Western states power crisis.
By December, 2001, the California electricity bubble had burst—for many reasons, including exposure of fraud, and the Democrats taking control over the Senate; Enron announced bankruptcy, and over the next two years, prosecutions proceeded. However, Cheney remains 'above it all.'
- "Energy NAFTA"/Global Oil Control. On May 16, 2001, Cheney presented his final, 170-page report, "Affordable and Environmentally Sound Energy for America's Future." Downplaying California's unprecedented crises—including first-ever (since World War II) repeated black-outs, the report called for more deregulation across the board, and for international control over priority oil resource regions.
The report's theme was, "development of future supplies," the refrain used earlier in a March 19, 2001 interim report of Cheney's, to reject any relief for the West. The secondary point, repeated in recent years as a sop to popular opinion, was, to reduce dependence on "foreign oil." A pseudo pro-nuclear section of the report, called for speeding up re-licensing of aging U.S. nuclear plants, now that under deregulation, nouveau energy-speculator companies wanted to buy them up fast and cheap from formerly regulated utilities.
Cheney's imperial view of "future energy supplies" can be seen in the map of oil resources and infrastructure in Iraq, that the Cheney Task Force was working on in March 2001. (See map, obtained by Freedom of Information action). The 2003 Iraq war succeeded in "securing" these supplies, in Cheney's Task Force terms. Cheney's own Halliburton oil company has received some $1.7 billion in no-bid contracts to date from the U.S. government, for doing business in Iraq oil fields.
This imperial view was explicitly stated by Cheney/Bush well before their inauguration. On Sept. 28, 2000, the Cheney/Bush campaign energy policy was announced, in which the central concept was to be an "Energy NAFTA." The idea is for a borderless region for operations and speculation by the energy privateer companies of all kinds—oil, natural gas, electricity-generators, and pure speculators. Bush said, he would "invite the governments of Canada and Mexico to join in developing a North American Energy Policy" rooted in the "principles of free trade and the free flow of energy across our borders."
In fact, this "Energy NAFTA" was just a cynical propaganda gloss-over for the shift already underway for U.S. oil imports to come from predominantly Mexico, Canada and Venezuela, and not from Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere. -- Marcia Merry Baker