Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Maybe, just maybe, oil folks shouldn't run everything?

Back in the early days of this millennium, with Iraq about as much of a pariah on the international scene as it tended to be, the UN implemented an "oil-for-food" program under which Iraq was able to sell a limited amount of oil in exchange for food aid.

Of course, as is often the case with international aid, the folks in charge (i.e. Saddam Hussein and friends) ended up with more of the aid than the folks on the bottom. Unsurprisingly, there was quite a scandal over all this, which led to many conservatives rightly calling for an investigation.

An investigation or two duly occurred, and revealed (among other things) that the Hussein regime had imposed special "taxes" on the oil that was sold... which meant that from 2000-2002, cold, hard cash was going from American oil companies to Saddam Hussein and company, who cheerily spent it on weapons and influence, instead of food.

In one case, the investigation found out that when the practice started in the summer of 2000, the public policy committee of Chevron's board of directors had every reason to be aware of what was going on, and that the company participated in the kickbacks anyway, not even stopping after Chevron's president pointed out the illegality of it in late January of 2001.

Of course, that observation came just days after the chair of that committee left Chevron, after 10 years on its board, to accept a position as National Security Advisor in the Bush administration.

Yep, Condoleeza Rice, who's now Secretary of State.

They say, "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer," but I'm a little unclear on how it's a good thing to appoint someone National Security Advisor, let alone Secretary of State, whose most recent resumé entry involved overseeing (or knowingly overlooking) the payment of millions in illegal kickbacks to a rogue dictator.

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