Greg Palast - June 15, 2005
Palast for Conyers: The OTHER ' Memos' from Downing Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
Greg Palast, unable to attend hearings in Washington
Thursday, has submitted the following testimony:
It's official: The Downing Street memos, a snooty New
York Times "News Analysis" informs us, "are not the
Dead Sea Scrolls." You are warned, Congressman, to
ignore the clear evidence of official mendacity and
bald-faced fibbing by our two nations' leaders because
the cry for investigation came from the dark and
dangerous world of "blogs" and "opponents" of Mr. Blair
and Mr. Bush.
On May 5, "blog" site Buzzflash.com carried my story,
IMPEACHMENT TIME: "FACTS WERE FIXED," bringing the
London Times report of the Downing Street memo to the
US media which seemed to be suffering at the time from
an attack of NADD -- "news attention deficit disorder."
The memo, which contains the ill-making admission that
"the intelligence and facts were being fixed" to match
the Iraq-crazed fantasies of our President, is
sufficient basis for a hearing toward impeachment of
the Chief Executive. But to that we must add the other
evidence and secret memos and documents still hidden
from the American public.
Other foreign-based journalists could doubtless add
more, including the disclosure that the key inspector
of Iraq's biological weapons, the late Dr. David Kelly,
found the Bush-Blair analysis of his intelligence was
indeed "fixed," as the Downing Street memo puts it,
around the war-hawk policy.
Here is a small timeline of confidential skullduggery
dug up and broadcast by my own team for BBC Television
and Harper's on the secret plans to seize Iraq's assets
February 2001 - Only one month after the first Bush-
Cheney inauguration, the State Department's Pam Quanrud
organizes a secret confab in California to make plans
for the invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam. US oil
industry advisor Falah Aljibury and others are asked to
interview would-be replacements for a new US-installed
On BBC Television's Newsnight, Aljibury himself
"It is an invasion, but it will act like a coup. The
original plan was to liberate Iraq from the Saddamists
and from the regime."
March 2001 - Vice-President Dick Cheney meets with oil
company executives and reviews oil field maps of Iraq.
Cheney refuses to release the names of those attending
or their purpose. Harper's has since learned their plan
and purpose -- see below.
October/November 2001 - An easy military victory in
Afghanistan emboldens then-Dep. Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz to convince the Administration to junk the
State Department "coup" plan in favor of an invasion
and occupation that could remake the economy of Iraq.
An elaborate plan, ultimately summarized in a 101-page
document, scopes out the "sale of all state
enterprises" -- that is, most of the nation's assets,
"... especially in the oil and supporting industries."
2002 - Grover Norquist and other corporate lobbyists
meet secretly with Defense, State and Treasury
officials to ensure the invasion plans for Iraq include
plans for protecting "property rights." The result was
a pre-invasion scheme to sell off Iraq's oil fields,
banks, electric systems, and even change the country's
copyright laws to the benefit of the lobbyists'
clients. Occupation chief Paul Bremer would later order
these giveaways into Iraq law.
Fall 2002 - Philip Carroll, former CEO of Shell Oil
USA, is brought in by the Pentagon to plan the
management of Iraq's oil fields. He works directly with
Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. "There were plans,"
says Carroll, "maybe even too many plans" -- but none
disclosed to the public nor even the US Congress.
January 2003 - Robert Ebel, former CIA oil analyst, is
sent, BBC learns, to London to meet with Fadhil Chalabi
to plan terms for taking over Iraq's oil.
March 2003 - What White House spokesman Ari Fleisher
calls "Operations Iraqi Liberation" (OIL) begins.
(Invasion is re-christened "OIF" -- Operation Iraqi
March 2003 - Defense Department is told in confidence
by US Energy Information Administrator Guy Caruso that
Iraq's fields are incapable of a massive increase in
output. Despite this intelligence, Dep. Secretary
Wolfowitz testifies to Congress that invasion will be a
free ride. He swears, "There's a lot of money to pay
for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money.
We're dealing with a country that can really finance
its own reconstruction and relatively soon," a
deliberate fabrication promoted by the Administration,
an insider told BBC, as "part of the sales pitch" for
May 2003 - General Jay Garner, appointed by Bush as
viceroy over Iraq, is fired by Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld. The general revealed in an interview for BBC
that he resisted White House plans to sell off Iraq's
oil and national assets.
"That's just one fight you don't want to take on,"
Garner told me. But apparently, the White House wanted
The general also disclosed that these invade-and-grab
plans were developed long before the US asserted that
Saddam still held WDM:
"All I can tell you is the plans were pretty elaborate;
they didn't start them in 2002, they were started in
November/December 2003 - Secrecy and misinformation
continues even after the invasion. The oil industry
objects to the State Department plans for Iraq's oil
fields and drafts for the Administration a 323-page
plan, "Options for [the] Iraqi Oil Industry." Per the
industry plan, the US forces Iraq to create an OPEC-
friendly state oil company that supports the OPEC
cartel's extortionate price for petroleum.
The Stone Wall
Harper's and BBC obtained the plans despite official
denial of their existence, then footdragging when
confronted with the evidence of the reports' existence.
Still today, the State and Defense Departments and
White House continue to stonewall our demands for the
notes of the meetings between lobbyists, oil industry
consultants and key Administration officials that would
reveal the hidden economic motives for the war.
What are the secret interests behind this occupation?
Who benefits? Who met with whom? Why won't this
Administration release these documents of the economic
blueprint for the war?
To date, the State and Defense Department responses to
our reports are risible, and their answers to our
requests for documents run from evasive to downright
misleading. Maybe Congress, with its power of subpoena,
can do better.
Blogs, the Media and Democracy
Let me conclude with a comment about those pesky
"blogs" that so bother the New York Times. We should
stand and offer a moment of quiet gratitude to the
electronic swarm of gadfly commentators who make it so
much harder for the US media to ignore news not
officially blessed. Yes, Judith Miller's breathless
reports for The Times that Saddam possessed weapons of
mass destruction may have maintained "access" for the
mainstream press to its diet of White House propaganda,
but the blogs insure that, whatever nonsense the US
press is biting on, the public need not swallow.
Greg Palast's investigative team was this week
named winner of a 2004-5 Project Censored award from
the California State University at Sonoma Journalism
School for their exposť of the secret US plans to seize
Iraq's oil assets. Special thanks to the chief
investigator on Iraq, Leni von Eckardt, as well as
additional support from Matt Pascarella. The
investigation was conducted for Harper's Magazine, BBC
Television Newsnight and "blog" outlet TomPaine.com.
View the BBC television reports and the Harper's and
related reports at www.GregPalast.com