I don’t have time to respond to every part of this. For now, I’ll focus just on the parts about Afghanistan. I’ll respond regarding other issues later.
- Oil/gas as possible motive for invading Afghanistan (general)
- Another possible geostrategic motive for invading Afghanistan
- Pre-9/11 plans to invade Afghanistan (general)
- Pre-9/11 plans to invade Afghanistan (Ruppert’s evidence)
- Oil/gas as motive for invading Afghanistan (Ruppert’s evidence)
- Unocal and the proposed Afghan pipeline (Ruppert’s evidence)
- Enron and the Dabhol Power Company (Ruppert’s evidence)
- May 2001 aid to Afghanistan (Ruppert’s evidence)
- P.S.: More about the “carpet of bombs” remark and the likely motives for invading Afghanistan
- P.S.: More about pre-9/11 plans to invade Afghanistan
- P.S., 3/16/2008: Jared Israel on U.S. sponsorship of Islamist terrorism, and on Zalmay Khalilzad
“COINTELPRO Tool” wants us to believe that the invasion of Afghanistan really was just about fighting terrorism and had little or nothing to do with oil, natural gas, or anything else whatsoever. Before delving into “COINTELPRO Tool’s” comments on Ruppert’s evidence, I’ll first address this topic in a general way.
First off, oil and natural gas do indeed play a significant role in U.S. foreign policy in general. For an authoritative source confirming this, see the pages about Energy Security on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations. See especially the articles on Why We’re in the Gulf and World Oil Transit Chokepoints, 2007. According to these pages, the exact role of oil and natural gas in U.S. foreign policy has been oversimplified and distorted by many commentators, but their role nevertheless is very significant.
Admittedly, the above-linked articles are mostly about the Gulf, not Afghanistan. However, as we’ll soon see, similar considerations do apply to Afghanistan too.
“Cointelpro TOOL” claims that the idea that the war in Afghanistan had anything to do with oil or natural gas is “a gross oversimplification, treating the oil industry as a monolithic interest. The reality is that there has never been a consensus among oil companies on the best route for the Central Asian pipeline.”
In support of this claim, “Cointelpro TOOL” quotes BBC Eurasia Analyst Malcolm Haslett as claiming:
On the contrary, very few western politicians or oil companies have taken Afghanistan seriously as a major export route – for the simple reason that few believe Afghanistan will ever achieve the stability needed to ensure a regular and uninterrupted flow of oil and gas.
The West, in contrast, and particularly the US, has put almost all its efforts into developing a major new route from the Caspian through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea.
However, according to a testimony by John J. Maresca, Vice President of Unocal Corporation, to the House Committee on International Relations, February 12, 1998, the above-mentioned Azerbaijan/Georgia pipeline plus another already-existing pipeline project “would not have enough total capacity to transport all the oil expected to flow from the region in the future; nor would they have the capability to move it to the right markets. Other export pipelines must be built.”
Maresca also said that multiple pipeline routes are needed, going in different directions to service different markets. Unocal itself was in on the Azerbaijan/Georgia pipeline too, as well as wanting a pipeline through Afghanistan. Given the perceived need for multiple routes, it would seem that any disagreement amongst oil companies about “the best route” is a red herring.
Furthermore, according to Maresca, a pipeline through Afghanistan would have the advantage of being relatively short, hence much less costly, other factors being equal (if only there were a stable and friendly government in Afghanistan, obviously).
More about the proposed pipeline through Afghanistan can be found here, on a website otherwise very critical of the 9/11 Truth movement. This website, “World War 3 Report,” quotes a New York Times article from December 5, 1998:
“When Unocal joined the project in 1995, it was viewed by many analysts as the most audacious gambit of the 1990’s oil rush in the Caspian…There was to have been a 1,005-mile oil pipeline and a companion 918-mile natural gas pipeline, in addition to a tanker loading terminal in Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadan…The company projected annual revenues of $2 billion, or enough to recover the cost of the project in five years…Unocal opened offices in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. To help it sell the project to the many governments involved, Unocal hired senior United States diplomats like the former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger… Probelms began with the Taliban’s capture of the Afghan capital, Kabul, in September 1996, Unocal initially took a positive view of the movement’s triumph.”
Also very interesting is an Asia Times opinion piece mentioned in Ruppert’s timeline, Pipelineistan, Part 1: The rules of the game by Pepe Escobar, January 25, 2002. Among other things, this article says the following:
Afghanistan itself has some natural gas in the north of the country, near Turkmenistan. But above all it is ultra-strategic: positioned between the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia, between Turkmenistan and the avid markets of the Indian subcontinent, China and Japan.
In this geostrategic grand design, the Taliban were the proverbial fly in the ointment. The Afghan War was decided long before September 11. September 11 merely precipitated events.
More recently, while most of the planet that has access to news was distracted by New Year’s Eve celebrations, and only nine days after Hamid Karzai’s interim government took power in Kabul, Bush II appointed his special envoy to Afghanistan. It comes as no surprise he is Afghan-American Zalmay Khalilzad – a former aide to the Californian energy giant UNOCAL. Khalilzad wasted no time in boarding the first flight to Central Asia. The Bush II team now does not even try to disguise that the whole game is about oil. The so-called brand-new American “Afghan policy” is being conducted by people intimately connected to oil industry interests in Central Asia.
The entire article is worth reading — although, as we’ll see later, it does contain some errors. Part 2 of the Asia Times article is interesting too.
“COINTELPRO Tool” writes:
Other insight into the war-for-oil conspiracy theory can be found here and here, both good pieces from Spinsanity that obliterated the theory as put forth by Ted Rall – who does not, to my knowledge, believe that there was any government foreknowledge or complicity in 9/11.
I don’t have time to dig into all of Spinsanity’s criticisms of Ted Rall. But the Spinsanity pages hardly “obliterate” the general idea that the natural gas pipeline played a significant role in the Bush administration’s decision to invade Afghanistan.
The first of the two Spinsanity columns admits that “Afghanistan is strategically crucial in the race to develop large oil and gas reserves in Central Asia – both as part of a potential route for oil and gas pipelines and as a source of political instability hindering any major energy development in the region. Such considerations are thus undoubtedly a part of the strategic calculus of American policymakers and yet have received little attention in the mainstream US press. … Clearly, the energy reserves of Central Asia are a factor that has to be considered when analyzing the US war in Afghanistan, particularly in examining the issues facing American policymakers considering post-war plans for the country.” Spinsanity nevertheless objects to the idea that oil or natural gas was the main motive for invading Afghanistan.
Personally, I don’t claim to know exactly what the Bush administration’s “main” motive was for invading Afghanistan. Most likely there were multiple motives. But the proposed pipeline, and the geostrategic significance thereof (in addition to the profits of the oil/gas companies themselves), should not be underestimated.
Not everyone in the 9/11 Truth movement believes that it’s “all about oil.” In the Emperor’s clothes website’s listing of articles about 9/11, there is a section 6. What is the US/European Strategy in Central Asia? Is it really “all about oil”?.
The first page in this section is Why Washington Wants Afghanistan by Jared Israel, Rick Rozoff & Nico Varkevisser, 18 September 2001. Among other things, they say:
Central Asia is strategic not only for its vast deposits of oil, as we are often told, but more important for its strategic position. Were Washington to take control of these Republics, NATO would have military bases in the following key areas: the Baltic region; the Balkans and Turkey; and these Republics. This would constitute a noose around Russia’s neck.
Add to that Washington’s effective domination of the former Soviet Republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia, in the south, and the US would be positioned to launch externally instigated ‘rebellions’ all over Russia.
NATO, whose current doctrine allows it to intervene in states bordering NATO members, could then initiate “low intensity wars” including the use of tactical nuclear weapons, also officially endorsed by current NATO doctrine, in ‘response’ to myriad ‘human rights abuses.’
For more about Jared Israel’s theory, see The Empire Isn’t In Afghanistan For The Oil!, 17 May 2002.
Other very interesting pages on the Emperor’s Clothes site include Ex-Security Chief Brzezinski’s Interview makes clear: The Muslim Terrorist Apparatus was Created by US Intelligence as a Geopolitical Weapon and Articles Documenting U.S. Creation of Taliban and bin Laden’s Terrorist Network.
Whatever the relative significance of various possible motives for invading Afghanistan, I suspect also that the Bush administration may have been tricked by the Northern Alliance into believing that it would be relatively easy to overthrow the Taliban and install a pro-Western government there, and I suspect that the Bush administration may have fallen for this as part of its own general propensity for hubris. Obviously, a pro-Western regime in Afghanistan would give the U.S. all manner of geostrategic advantages, including but not limited to a natural gas pipeline.
On a page linked by “COINTELPRO Tool,” Spinsanity also makes the following claim, which is clearly false: “There is simply no indication that the US wanted to invade Afghanistan prior to the attacks of September 11.”
Whatever the Bush administration’s main motive for invading Afghanistan might have been, it is clear that, before 9/11/2001, there were already plans to war with Afghanistan. Indeed, not just plans, but actual military preparations. See, for example, the following:
- India in anti-Taliban military plan: India and Iran will “facilitate” the planned US-Russia hostilities against the Taliban, News Insight (India), 26 June 2001
- US ‘planned attack on Taleban’ by George Arney, BBC News, Tuesday, 18 September, 2001
- Threat of US strikes passed to Taliban weeks before NY attack by Jonathan Steele, Ewen MacAskill, Richard Norton-Taylor and Ed Harriman, The Guardian, September 22, 2001
- U.S. sought attack on al-Qaida: White House given plan days before Sept. 11 by Jim Miklaszewski and Alex Johnson, MSNBC and NBC News, May 16, 2002
- Comment: This war on terrorism is bogus by Michael Meacher, Guardian, U.K., Saturday September 6, 2003
The most interesting of the above news stories is the one which, itself, pre-dates 9/11/2001: India in anti-Taliban military plan: India and Iran will “facilitate” the planned US-Russia hostilities against the Taliban, News Insight (India), 26 June 2001, I was not able to find anything further about most of the specifics of this story elsewhere on the web, although I did find, on an Indian government website, confirmation of at least the existence of the “India-Russia Joint Working Group on Afghanistan” and its June 25-26 meeting which was attended by Chokila Iyer. I also found an earlier story in Jane’s Intelligence Review, India joins anti-Taliban coalition by Rahul Bedi, 15 March 2001, confirnimg that “India is believed to have joined Russia, the USA and Iran in a concerted front against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.” It also mentions “the newly instituted Indo-US and Indo-Russian joint working groups on terrorism” which “led to this effort to tactically and logistically counter the Taliban.”
Confirming that the U.S. government was at least contemplating the possibility of military action against Afghanistan by June 2001, I also found a New York Times article, Britain’s Bill of Particulars: ‘Planned and Carried Out the Atrocities’, October 5, 2001, containing “the text of the report issued from Britain on the terror attacks on Sept. 11.” Item #16 reads: “In June 2001, in the face of mounting evidence of the Al Qaeda threat, the United States warned the Taliban that it had the right to defend itself and that it would hold the regime responsible for attacks against U.S. citizens by terrorists sheltered in Afghanistan.”
Admittedly there have been errors and exaggerations in some other reports about pre-9/11/2001 plans to invade Afghanistan. For example, the Asia Times opinion piece I mentioned earlier says:
Plans to destroy the Taliban had been the subject of international diplomatic and not-so-diplomatic discussions for months before September 11. There was a crucial meeting in Geneva in May 2001 between US State Department, Iranian, German and Italian officials, where the main topic was a strategy to topple the Taliban and replace the theocracy with a “broad-based government”. The topic was raised again in full force at the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Genoa, Italy, in July 2001 when India – an observer at the summit – also contributed its own plans.
Trying to confirm what that July 2001 G8 summit had to say about Afghanistan, I came across the English-language section of an Italian website with the title Genoa Summit 2001 and, at the top of the main English-language page, the heading “G8 – July 20-22, 2001.” It turns out that Afghanistan was hardly the “main topic” at the summit, although I did indeed find this statement, dated 18-19 July 2001, which did contain a section on Afghanistan, calling for “the establishment of a broad-based, multi-ethnic and fully representative government.”
(As for the May 2001 Geneva meeting mentioned in the Asia Times article, so far I’ve found only a Google Book, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic by Chalmers Johnson. This book mentions the May 2001 Geneva meeting on page 180, quoting Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections, February 2002, which published merely a copy of the earlier Asia Times article. So I have no confirmation of the May 2001 Geneva meeting yet.)
There’s also a widely-publicized but highly questionable claim that, sometime during the summer of 2001, an American representative told the Taliban, ‘either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold [i.e. a pipeline deal], or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.” This claim seems to have originated with Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, authors of a French book titled Bin Laden, la verite interdite (Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth), published in November 2001. (See this Asia Times review.) For some reasons to doubt this alleged quote, see A Reader Asks: “What about Bush’s Carpet of Bombs Threat?” What standards of evidence should we demand? by Jared Israel, 15 July 2002. To Ruppert’s credit, his timeline does not include the alleged “carpet of bombs” quote. So, he does not have quite the indiscriminate “vacuum cleaner” approach that some have accused him of.
(P.S.: It turns out that the “carpet of bombs” threat may be be a credible quote after all. See P.S.: More about the “carpet of bombs” remark and the likely motives for invading Afghanistan.)
In all other stories I’ve seen about pre-9/11 plans for U.S. military action in Afghanistan, the stated justification was to fight terrorism. It is unlikely that the Bush administration would admit to any motives other than fighting terrorism, because any other conceivable motives would not be valid justifications for war under international law. As we have seen, though, it is likely that there were indeed ulterior motives.
In my opinion, the most important point is this: Whatever motives the Bush administration may have had for invading Afghanistan, besides the stated aim of fighting terrorism, 9/11 provided the perfect excuse for a war which otherwise would have been very difficult to sell to the American public, given what horrible luck the Soviets had had in Afghanistan back in the 1980’s. 9/11 provided an excuse, not only for a war in Afghanistan, but also for a century of imperialistic “war on terror.”
Now to some of the specific objections by “COINTELPRO Tool” to Ruppert’s timeline. In Part 1 of an attempted debunking of Ruppert’s timeline, “COINTELPRO Tool” writes, quoting Ruppert:
17. July, 2001 – Three American officials: Tom Simmons (former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan), Karl Inderfurth (former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian affairs) and Lee Coldren (former State Department expert on South Asia), meet with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officers in Berlin and tell them that the U.S. is planning military strikes against Afghanistan in October. A French book released in November, “Bin Laden – La Verite? Interdite,” discloses that Taliban representatives often sat in on the meetings.
British papers confirm that the Pakistani ISI relayed the threats to the Taliban. [Source: The Guardian, September 22, 2001; the BBC, September 18, 2001.The Inter Press Service, Nov 16, 2001]
There he goes with another glaring misuse of the word “confirm,” and this time he cannot claim a language barrier as an excuse. A quick perusal of the Guardian story confirms that they confirmed no such thing – they merely echoed the original allegation by former (in fact, all of the participants of these “track two” meetings were former government officials) Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Naik.
Actually, the Guardian story says, “Mr Coldren confirmed the broad outline of the American position at the Berlin meeting yesterday. ‘I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action.'” The Americans denied that they had mentioned any details of military plans, but they did not deny the general idea that the U.S. government was at least considering military action.
“COINTELPRO Tool” goes on to say:
According to the same story, Naik’s version of events are refuted not only by Simon, Coldren, and Inderfurth, but the Russian counterpart as well:
and quotes the Guardian story as saying:
Nikolai Kozyrev, Moscow’s former special envoy on Afghanistan and one of the Russians in Berlin, would not confirm the contents of the US conversations, but said: “Maybe they had some discussions in the corridor. I don’t exclude such a possibility.”
Mr Naik’s recollection is that “we had the impression Russians were trying to tell the Americans that the threat of the use of force is sometimes more effective than force itself”.
Again, “COINTELPRO Tool” has exaggerated the degree to which Naik’s story is “refuted.”
Anyhow, confirmation that the U.S. government had in fact made actual military plans, not just a vague possibility that the U.S. government “might be considering some military action,” can be found in this subsequent NBC story: U.S. sought attack on al-Qaida: White House given plan days before Sept. 11 by Jim Miklaszewski and Alex Johnson, MSNBC and NBC News, May 16, 2002.
That NBC story is discussed, by “COINTELPRO Tool,” in Part 3 of the attempted debunking of Ruppert’s timeline. Quoting Ruppert:
50. Sept. 9, 2001 – President George W. Bush is presented with detailed war plans to overthrow Al Qaeda, according to U.S. and foreign sources speaking to NBC News. [Source: MSNBC, May 16, 2002. Thanks to Prof. Peter Dale Scott]
“COINTELPRO Tool” responds:
It?s a tad peculiar that Ruppert uses the phrase “overthrow Al Qaeda” to describe these plans, perhaps to give the impression that the plans alluded to a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan, which they clearly did not:
and then proceeds to quote the NBC article. I’m at a loss as to how “COINTELPRO Tool” can imagine that the NBC story does not allude to “a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan.” The NBC story, as quoted by “COINTELPRO Tool,” clearly does mention “military operations in Afghanistan” and goes on to say:
In many respects, the directive, as described to NBC News, outlined essentially the same war plan that the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon put into action after the Sept. 11 attacks. The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly to the attacks because it simply had to pull the plans “off the shelf,” Miklaszewski said.
But “COINTELPRO Tool” quibbles: “Nowhere in this detailed plan is there any provision for overthrowing the Taliban.” True, the news story doesn’t explicitly mention overthrowing the Taliban, but the phrase “essentially the same war plan” certainly does suggest a full-fledged invasion, as does Miklaszewski’s remark that the Bush administration “simply had to pull the plans ‘off the shelf.'”
“COINTELPRO Tool” adds: “Nor are there any details that support the war-for-oil theory. If anything, it suggests that the Bush administration was getting serious about fighting terrorism before 9/11, but did not act quickly enough.”
Of course, fighting terrorism was the stated aim. The question is whether there were ulterior aims. It seems likely, on other grounds, that there were. There’s no reason why we should expect to find explicit evidence of the ulterior motives in all or most news stories about the war, or even in all or most news stories about preparations for the war. But such evidence can be found elsewhere.
25. June 26, 2001 – The magazine indiareacts.com states that “India and Iran will ‘facilitate’ US and Russian plans for ‘limited military action’ against the Taliban.” The story indicates that the fighting will be done by US and Russian troops with the help of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. [Source: indiareacts.com, June 26, 2001.]
“COINTELPRO Tool” quotes the news story as saying:
Indian officials say that India and Iran will only play the role of “facilitator” while the US and Russia will combat the Taliban from the front with the help of two Central Asian countries, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to push Taliban lines back to the 1998 position 50 km away from Mazar-e-Sharief city in northern Afghanistan.
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will lead the ground attack with a strong military back up of the US and Russia. Vital Taliban installations and military assets will be targeted. India and Iran will provide logistic support. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already hinted of military action against the Taliban to CIS nation heads during a meeting in Moscow in early June.
“COINTELPRO Tool” doesn’t comment except to say “Now that’s just silly” and, in a sarcastic remark preceding the quote, “Except for the part about Iran ‘facilitating’ our invasion of Afghanistan, the part about the Russian troop involvement, and the stuff about ‘limited military action,’ this is an example of good journalism.”
“COINTELPRO Tool” then remarks: “But even if there were any validity to this report, I don’t think pushing the Taliban back to its 1998 position would have been enough to get that pipeline!” Indeed it would not have. But perhaps this proposed invasion was merely the first step in a longer-term game plan? We don’t know, of course.
In any case, I do think we’ve established, at the very least, that the U.S. government had plans to invade Afghanistan before 9/11/2001.
In Part 1 of the attempted debunking of Ruppert’s timeline, “COINTELPRO Tool” wrote, quoting Ruppert:
1. 1991-1997 – Major U.S. oil companies including ExxonMobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP, Amoco, Shell and Enron directly invest billions in cash bribing heads of state in Kazakhstan to secure equity rights in the huge oil reserves in these regions. The oil companies further commit to future direct investments in Kazakhstan of $35 billion. Not being willing to pay exorbitant prices to Russia to use Russian pipelines the major oil companies have no way to recoup their investments. [“The Price of Oil,” by Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, July 9, 2001 – The Asia Times, “The Roving Eye Part I Jan. 26, 2002.]
All of which proves absolutely nothing. Yes, the U.S. consumes a great deal of oil. And yes, Central Asia is a burgeoning source which could well supply us, and the rest of the world, for decades to come. But even if we were to accept Ruppert’s conclusions at face value, this in no way supports any logical nexus between our craving of petroleum and the decision to go to war.
Indeed, the New Yorker article by Seymour Hersch, The price of oil, July 9, 2001, says nothing about Afghanistan. I’m not sure what Ruppert’s point was in citing it, but my guess is that his point was to show that other oil export routes from Central Asia have been problematic, which might have been one of the reasons why pipelines for oil and natural gas though Afghanistan were considered desirable despite the difficulties there too.
On the other hand, the Asia Times article mentioned in the above quote from Ruppert’s timeline, Pipelineistan, Part 1: The rules of the game by Pepe Escobar, January 25, 2002, has plenty to say about Afghanistan. )See my quote from this article in the first section of this post.)
“COINTELPRO Tool” writes:
And it doesn’t even support, much less prove, Ruppert’s allegation that there was foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
The question of motive and the question of foreknowledge are separate issues. There’s no reason why we should expect to find evidence of both in every story cited by Ruppert.
Let’s look now at Ruppert’s evidence regarding (1) Unocal and (2) Enron.
“COINTELPRO Tool” writes, quoting Ruppert:
3. December 4, 1997 – Representatives of the Taliban are invited guests to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Subsequent reports will indicate that the negotiations failed, allegedly because the Taliban wanted too much money. [Source: The BBC, Dec. 4, 1997]
Nothing more compelling here than his first item. Moreover, this bullet is contradicted by the next…
4. February 12, 1998 – Unocal Vice President John J. Maresca – later to become a Special Ambassador to Afghanistan – testifies before the House that until a single, unified, friendly government is in place in Afghanistan the trans-Afghani pipeline needed to monetize the oil will not be built. [Source: Testimony before the House International Relations Committee.]
Which is it, Ruppert? Either Unocal backed out over too much money, or the lack of stability. Put together, these two items seem to confirm that Unocal’s desire for such a pipeline was tepid, at best.
According to the BBC article, “despite the civil war in Afghanistan, Unocal has been in competition with an Argentinian firm, Bridas, to actually construct the pipeline.” Thus it would appear that, despite the instability, Unocal would have been willing to gamble on the pipeline if only the price were low enough.
Here is a copy of Maresca’s testimony. About the possibility of a pipeline through Afghanistan, Maresca says:
South to the Indian Ocean: A Shorter Distance to Growing Markets
A second option is to build a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean.
One obvious potential route south would be across Iran. However, this option is foreclosed for American companies because of U.S. sanctions legislation. The only other possible route option is across Afghanistan, which has its own unique challenges.
The country has been involved in bitter warfare for almost two decades. The territory across which the pipeline would extend is controlled by the Taliban, an Islamic movement that is not recognized as a government by most other nations. From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of our proposed pipeline cannot begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders and our company.
In spite of this, a route through Afghanistan appears to be the best option with the fewest technical obstacles. It is the shortest route to the sea and has relatively favorable terrain for a pipeline. The route through Afghanistan is the one that would bring Central Asian oil closest to Asian markets and thus would be the cheapest in terms of transporting the oil.
The entire testimony is worth reading.
More about Unocal’s attempts to deal with the Taliban can be found in an article which is cited later in the timeline, The Puzzle of the Enron Coverups by Ron Callari, Albion Monitor, 2/21/2002. See also Dabhol – Enron Timeline by by Ron Callari, Albion Monitor, 2/21/2002.
“COINTELPRO Tool” writes, in Part 1, quoting Ruppert:
6. April, 1999 – Enron with a $3 billion investment to build an electrical generating plant at Dabhol India loses access to plentiful LNG supplies from Qatar to fuel the plant. Its only remaining option to make the investment profitable is a trans-Afghani gas pipeline to be built by Unocal from Turkmenistan that would terminate near the Indian border at the city of Multan. [Source: The Albion Monitor, Feb. 28, 2002.]
Huh? Qatar and India are not adjacent countries. Oil shipments between the two would presumably have been made by sea, which would seem to open up a few more “remaining options.” Options like, oh, I don’t know, Oman?
“COINTELPRO Tool” then cites two news stories from the year 2000 about the Dabhol Power Company (in India) buying liquified natural gas (LNG) from two other sources, one in Oman and one in the UAE – both of which are quite a bit further away from India than Afghanistan. Thus, “only remaining option” was an exaggeration.
However, it probably is true that no other option would have been anywhere nearly as cheap as a pipeline through Afghanistan could potentially have been.
In Part 2, “COINTELPRO Tool” writes, quoting Ruppert:
19. Summer, 2001 – The National Security Council convenes a Dabhol working group as revealed in a series of government e-mails obtained by The Washington Post and the New York Daily News. [Source: The Albion Monitor, Feb. 28, 2002]
Curiously, Ruppert prefers to cite the Albion Monitor’s secondhand reporting rather than the specific Washington Post or Daily News stories. I wonder why? Ruppert may not want you to read the actual stories they cited, but I do:
“COINTELPRO Tool” then quotes the New York Daily News, Jan. 18, 2002, as follows:
“Good news is that the veep mentioned Enron in his meeting with [Indian opposition leader] Sonia Gandhi yesterday,” a National Security Council aide wrote in a June 28 E-mail.
Two other E-mails indicate preparations were made for President Bush to bring the subject up with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but the idea was scrapped before they met. The documents are the latest indication that there were contacts between the Bush administration and Enron on issues directly related to the company’s business. The White House maintains Enron enjoyed no special favors from the White House or Cheney.
Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans have conceded they spoke with Enron chief Kenneth Lay last fall about the energy giant’s impending failure, but they insist they refused to help.
The new documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, indicate Cheney took a key role in pushing the Maharashtra State Electricity Board to make good on the huge debt claimed by Enron for a gas project in Dabhol, India.[New York Daily News, Jan. 18, 2002]
I see nothing here that Ruppert would want to hide, or that contradicts Ruppert’s overall claims. If anything, the above story demonstrates the U.S. foreign policy is not only concerned about oil/gas in a general geostrategic way, but can also be influenced by the specific financial interests of specific corporations.
Anyhow, “COINTELPRO Tool” writes:
Ruppert incorrectly alleges that the Dabhol plant “was floundering in red ink because Enron could not access inexpensive natural gas via a proposed trans-Afghani pipeline from Turkmenistan.” Quite the opposite is true.
As I noted in Part 1 (addressing his No. 6), Enron had secured LNG supplies from Oman and Abu Dhabi, (20-year contracts, according to the July 27, 2001 edition of Financial Times). One might also recall Ruppert’s allegation that the Dabhol venture had lost access to Qatari sources in April 1999. Hmm. Then explain why the LA Times would report on May 22, 2001 that Enron had pulled out of its deal with Qatar (not the other way around)?
The Dabhol power plant has remained dormant since June 2001, after Enron ceased funding because the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) refused to pay what it viewed as astronomical fees to the Enron-controlled company. Albion’s assertions that this was all due to a failed trans-Afghan pipeline is completely baseless.
But perhaps the reason for the “astronomical fees” was that the Dabhol plant was otherwise “floundering in red ink,” perhaps because the LNG from Oman and Abu Dhabi was so more expensive to transport than LNG from a much shorter trans-Afghan pipeline might have been? That plus perhaps the fact that the LNG was being imported from OPEC countries?
“COINTELPRO Tool” writes, in Part 1, quoting Ruppert:
14. May 2001 – Secretary of State Colin Powell gives $43 million in aid to the Taliban regime, purportedly to assist hungry farmers who are starving since the destruction of their opium crop in January on orders of the Taliban regime. [Source: The Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2001].
“COINTELPRO Tool” responds by quoting David Corn:
Purportedly? Was the administration paying off the Taliban for something else? That is what Ruppert is hinting. The newspaper, though, reported that all US funds “are channeled through the United Nations and international agencies,” not handed to the Taliban. Unless Ruppert can show that was not the case, this dot has no particular significance.
It appears that David Corn is correct on this particular point. I was not able to find the original Los Angeles Times news story, but I did find a BBC story, US announces Afghan aid package, Thursday, 17 May, 2001, according to which the aid does indeed seem to have been channeled through various international relief agencies, not via the Taliban.
However, on most other issues pertaining to Afghanistan, it does not seem to me that “COINTELPRO Tool” has found very many significant errors in Ruppert’s timeline, nor does it seem to me that most of Ruppert’s conclusions are at all far-fetched.
It turns out that perhaps the “carpet of bombs’ threat may be a credible quote after all. In the Truth Action forum, Nicholas Levis wrote:
The Bush regime approved $125 million in aid to Afghanistan through May 2001 and conducted the back-channel 4+1 talks that broke off in June 2001 with the infamous promise of “a carpet of gold or carpet of bombs,” as reported by Dasquie and Brisard and not really denied by negotiater Tom Simons, whose excuse was along the lines that one says daring things when drunk and doesn’t remember a thing afterwards.
Yes, I trust the French on this!
Googling to confirm Tom Simons’s “drunk” excuse, I found the following pages:
- The Conspiracy Theory That Wouldn’t Die by Damien Cave, Salon.com, August 16, 2002, on the website of the Global Policy Forum
- Debating September 11: Replies to David Corn, on The Nation magazine’s website, including letters from Jean-Charles Brisard and Michael C. Ruppert
Brisard says the following:
Asked by the French daily newspaper Le Monde to comment on the allegations contained in the French edition of our book, Ben Laden: La vérité interdite (“Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth”), Ambassador Simons answered, “It is true that it was requested from the Taliban to deliver bin Laden and to form a government of union.”
About the threat itself, he recognized that “we said in July to the [Pakistanis, who passed on messages to the Taliban] delegates that we were investigating the attack against the USS Cole on October 12, 2000, in Yemen, and that if there was solid evidence of bin Laden’s involvement, one had to expect a military answer. Now, one can always inflate such a declaration to see this as a global threat against the Taliban. But the American declaration related only to the USS Cole investigation. As for carpets of gold and carpet bombs, we actually discussed the need for a plan to rebuild Afghanistan, which would follow a political agreement.” Simons added: “It is possible that an American participant, acting mischievously, after some glasses, evoked the gold carpets and the carpet bombs. Even Americans don’t avoid the temptation to act mischievously.”
On both of the above pages, convincing arguments are also made against the idea that the immediate commercial interests of oil/gas/electric companies played any role. Obviously, no one wants to invest in a pipeline in a war-torn country.
But I still think it likely that a desire for a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan played a significant role in a longer-term geostrategic sense. To ensure a reliable supply of oil, it is in the U.S. government’s interests for there to be lots of pipelines going out of Central Asia, in many different directions, with as many of them as possible under the control of governments friendly to the U.S.
Nicholas Levis also wrote:
Bush had the plans for “essentially” the same invasion that was actually carried out in October placed on his desk on Sept. 9, according to NBC and other sources as you quote in your blog post. Condoleezza Rice referred to this later as a plan to fight al-Qaeda internationally, including in Afghanistan, and confirmed the amazing date.
I found the following on a page on Peter Dale Scott’s website:
This story is partially corroborated by Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, pp. 35-36. He confirms that National Security Presidential Directive #9, after being vetted by NSC Advisor Condoleezza Rice in the White House, was “ready to go to the president on September 10.” This was a plan to “eliminate” al Qaeda by going “on the offensive” against the Taliban. On September 4 the deputy secretaries of defense and state “approved and recommended a plan [to this effect] that would give the CIA $125 million to $200 million a year to arm the [Northern] Alliance.”
Woodward is silent about MSNBC’s claim that the National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) ranged upwards to include “military operations in Afghanistan.” Indeed, on page 32 he writes that “the [US] military had no plan” for Afghanistan at all. But this latter claim is incredible: the Pentagon has plans “on the shelf” for invading any country in the world, including (it has been said) Canada.
The date mentioned above is September 10, not September 9. Still, just before September 11.
About National Security Presidential Directive #9, the Chapter 10 of the 9/11 Commission Report says:
That evening [on 9/11/2001] the Deputies Committee returned to the pending presidential directive they had labored over during the summer.
The pre-9/11 draft presidential directive on al Qaeda evolved into a new directive, National Security Presidential Directive 9, now titled “Defeating the Terrorist Threat to the United States.” The directive would now extend to a global war on terrorism, not just on al Qaeda. It also incorporated the President’s determination not to distinguish between terrorists and those who harbor them. It included a determination to use military force if necessary to end al Qaeda’s sanctuary in Afghanistan.
About earlier drafts of the directive, I found the following in Chapter 6 of the 9/11 Commission Report:
Rice and Hadley asked Clarke and his staff to draw up the new presidential directive. On June 7, Hadley circulated the first draft, describing it as “an admittedly ambitious” program for confronting al Qaeda.200 The draft NSPD’s goal was to “eliminate the al Qida network of terrorist groups as a threat to the United States and to friendly governments.” It called for a multiyear effort involving diplomacy, covert action, economic measures, law enforcement, public diplomacy, and if necessary military efforts. The State Department was to work with other governments to end all al Qaeda sanctuaries, and also to work with the Treasury Department to disrupt terrorist financing. The CIA was to develop an expanded covert action program including significant additional funding and aid to anti-Taliban groups. The draft also tasked OMB with ensuring that sufficient funds to support this program were found in U.S. budgets from fiscal years 2002 to 2006.201
It’s not clear, from the 9/11 Commission Report, when the specific plans for an invasion of Afghanistan were added.
Anyhow, Nicholas Levis also wrote:
I remember the news reports in 2001 that the CIA had been active in Afghanistan for two years already, talking to warlords, and that after 9/11 agents arrived in regional strongholds with briefcases full of cash as a nice opener for a talk. Research, and you will find many such corporate news stories from the period.
At some point I should research this, yes.
About the temporary alliance amongst the U.S.A., India, Russia, and Iran, Nicholas Levis wrote:
Russia and Iran did support the Afghanistan invasion, by the way, exactly as in the speculative stories published the summer before 9/11. Russia allowed stealth bombers to overfly its territory on their way from Missouri to Afghanistan and back. Until the Iraq invasion was ramped up, Putin was shoulder-to-shoulder with Bush and the “global War on Terror.” Iran honestly condemned 9/11 – tens of thousands attended support vigils – and was thrilled with the Taliban overthrow. They were enemies of the (Sunni) Taliban, who killed a number of Iranian diplomats in a 1998 massacre (in Herat, if I recall). Iran massed 200,000 troops on the border and was on the brink of invading Afghanistan when it was pressured not to do so by the U.S. Clinton bombed Afghanistan (and Sudan) a few weeks later, which was fobbed off in the U.S. press as something related to Monica.
Nicholas, thanks very much for all the info.
The “Emperor’s Clothes” site has many articles about covert and semi-covert U.S. sponsorship of Islamist terrorist groups around the world. See, for example, the collection of articles 2. Behind US actions, a semi-covert strategy of promoting Islamism on the page listing “Emperor’s Clothes” articles about US strategy towards Iraq and Iran, as well as the collections of articles 3. Evidence Osama Bin Laden never severed ties with the CIA. Documentation of his involvement in NATO attacks on Afghanistan in the 1980s and the Balkans during the last decade and 4. US/West European links to Islamic Fundamentalism. on the site’s listing of articles on 9-11.
Especially interesting is the article Zalmay Khalilzad – Special US Envoy for Islamic Terror!. Here, Jaret Israel says the following about what Khalilzad has said about the U.S.A.’s pre-9/11 motive for invading Afghanistan:
The shattering of the Soviet Union was Zalmay Khalilzad’s big concern when he was the State Department’s ‘special adviser’ on Afghanistan during the 1980s.
Today, this area of the world remains his focus of concern.
Thus, for example, in a speech delivered at a meeting in 2000, which is quoted elsewhere in this article, Khalilzad called for removing the Taliban because their policies were driving the Central Asian Republics into the arms of Russia. [M]
Why would he care? Because Russia, despite its myriad weaknesses, was once the center of opposition – a counter-balance to US power – and Khalilzad and his Imperial associates do not want this to happen again. [5A]
Regarding the geostrategic role of oil, Jared Israel says the following:
Far from being motivated by a desire to help Unocal get a pipeline, Khalilzad never even uses the word, ‘pipeline’. Rather, he refers briefly to the earlier effort to build a gas pipeline through Afghanistan, saying it was too bad it failed because it could have given the Central Asian republics some hope, thereby luring them away from Russia! In other words, the pipeline was interesting to top US strategists such as Khalilzad as a tool for weakening Russian influence in Central Asia. Note that in the following, Khalilzad does not speak at all as an envoy of Unocal; he refers to it in a distant and disinterested manner.
“Afghanistan was and is a possible corridor for the export of oil and gas from the Central Asian states down to Pakistan and to the world. A California company called Unocal was interested in exploring that option, but because of the war in Afghanistan, because of the instability that’s there, those options, or that option at least, has not materialized. [Because of ] [t]he absence of alternative options for the Central Asian states, and the fear that the Central Asians have of the potential spread of Islamic extremism — as exemplified by the Taliban and the fact that I mentioned before that Afghanistan has become a central place for the training and spread of such movements– Central Asia has become an arena where Russia is reasserting increasingly its influence and role.”
Khalilzad remains focused on Russia. It is the great enemy that defined him. That old enemy was stunned in the early 1990s, but Khalilzad will not rest until it is entirely tamed, or dead.
Regarding U.S. geostrategy in general, Jared Israel says:
There is no way that a US-led Empire can dominate the modern world simply through military force. The people who do the strategic planning for this Empire are aware of that axiom. They are smart, and Dr. Khalilzad is one of the smartest. They, and he, know: political power trumps military power. Therefore the US-led Empire focuses on politics in the most basic sense: ideology and organization. It is concerned with:
A) Creating two immense political forces. One opposes Islamic fundamentalism and believes the media hype that the US government is fighting Islamist terrorism. The leaders of this camp portray US military power as a liberating force and US hegemony as necessary in order to guarantee democracy, protect minorities against racism and racist ideas, such as anti-Semitism, and defeat terrorist regimes. They argue that it is OK to violate national sovereignty – e.g., invade other countries – if the governments of those countries violate, or are portrayed as violating, certain standards of behavior. Thus US leaders can wage what they portray as ‘humanitarian’ war (supposedly aimed at protecting minorities) or ‘democratic’ war or ‘anti-terrorist’ war.
At the same time, the US-led Empire fosters opposition movements whose leaders are covert agents of the Empire. These leaders claim to oppose US hegemony, while at the same time they support Arab, Albanian and other forms of chauvinism, Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Semitism. The traditional left wing idea of anti-imperialism is merged with the fascist idea that high placed Jews are behind the problems of the world. This is often put forward under the guise of opposing a few Jewish conservatives, or Israel, or both.
B) Winning many millions of people in Eurasia to Islamic fundamentalism. In this way, the US-led Empire hopes to destabilize China from the West, (Xingiang), India from the North (Kashmir) and Russian from the south and west (the Caucasus and Central Asia), thus hobbling its most obvious potential opponents.
C) By fomenting various kinds of racism and also Islamic fundamentalism, the Empire can breath new life into the most backward-looking forces around the world. This greatly multiplies the Empire’s military power and also its ability to rule subject peoples. That is why during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, the U.S.-led Empire mobilized the erstwhile allies of Nazi Germany throughout the Balkans – the Croatian clerical-fascist Ustashas,  the Bosnian Islamic fundamentalists and Serb-hating racists among Albanians. That is why they stir up anti-Semitism throughout the Muslim world, anti-Slav bigotry in the Baltic States, the Balkans and elsewhere, anti-Semitism in Russia and the rest of Europe, and so on, and on.
For more about Zalmay Khalilzad, see also Zbigniew and Zalmay’s Excellent Afghan Pro-Terrorist Adventure. On this page, Jared Israel does a good job of refuting the idea that “it’s all about oil” in the sense of being motivated by the immediate commercial interests of oil/gas companies. Nevertheless, it’s likely that Central Asian oil and gas do play an important geostrategic role in U.S. foreign policy.
Anyhow, the topic of covert and semi-covert U.S. sponsorship of Islamist terror is worth looking into more deeply. Likewise the role of Zalmay Khalilzad in particular.