Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Big Oil and The Secret Energy Policy

We now know why Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AL) refused Democratic requests to swear in the oil company executives last week in front of the joint hearing of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committees.

The oil execs took full advantage of Sen. Stevens atypically obliging nature to testify that their companies had not met in 2001 with Vice-President Dick Cheney's secret energy task force.

According to today's Washington Post, several of these execs were dissembling (or dis-assembling as George W. Bush would put it). The Post turned up a White House document which :

(S)hows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

Several of the execs are apparently familiar with Washington testimony-speak:

The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.

Smart guys. It is possible that the others are not completely off the legal hook:

The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) not to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making "any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation" to Congress.

This whole secret energy policy business smells of "big time" corruption. Even worse, I have spoken to a knowledgeable Washington hand who claims that plans for a U.S. intervention in Iraq were discussed in these meetings, which took place before 9-11.


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