COLUMN SEVENTY, APRIL 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
THE TIES LINKING BUSH, BIG OIL, BIN LADEN, THE TALIBAN, THE ISI, THE CIA AND THE PEARL KILLERS
the Taliban and the Bush Oil Team
by Wayne Madsen January 23, 2002
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),
Afghan, Iranian, and Turkish government sources, Hamid Karzai, the interim Prime
Minister of Afghanistan, was a top adviser to the El Segundo, California-based
UNOCAL Corporation which was negotiating with the Taliban to construct a Central
Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline from Turkmenistan through western Afghanistan to
leader of the southern Afghan Pashtun Durrani tribe, was a member of the
mujaheddin that fought the Soviets during the 1980s. He was a top contact for
the CIA and maintained close relations with CIA Director William Casey, Vice
President George Bush, and their Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI)
Service interlocutors. Later, Karzai and a number of his brothers moved to the
United States under the auspices of the CIA. Karzai continued to serve the
agency's interests, as well as those of the Bush Family and their oil friends in
negotiating the CentGas deal, according to Middle East and South Asian sources.
peers beyond all of the rhetoric of the White House and Pentagon concerning the
Taliban, a clear pattern emerges showing that construction of the trans-Afghan
pipeline was a top priority of the Bush administration from the outset. Although
UNOCAL claims it abandoned the pipeline project in December 1998, the series of
meetings held between U.S., Pakistani, and Taliban officials after 1998,
indicates the project was never off the table.
Quite to the
contrary, recent meetings between U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain
and that country's oil minister Usman Aminuddin indicate the pipeline project is
international Project Number One for the Bush administration. Chamberlain, who
maintains close ties to the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan (a one-time chief money
conduit for the Taliban), has been pushing Pakistan to begin work on its Arabian
Sea oil terminus for the pipeline.
President Bush says that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan for the long
haul. Far from being engaged in Afghan peacekeeping---the Europeans are doing
much of that---our troops will effectively be guarding pipeline construction
personnel that will soon be flooding into the country. Karzai's ties with UNOCAL
and the Bush administration are the main reason why the CIA pushed him for
Afghan leader over rival Abdul Haq, the assassinated former mujaheddin leader
from Jalalabad, and the leadership of the Northern Alliance, seen by Langley as
being too close to the Russians and Iranians. Haq had no apparent close ties to
the U.S. oil industry and, as both a Pushtun and a northern Afghani, was popular
with a wide cross-section of the Afghan people, including the Northern Alliance.
Those credentials likely sealed his fate.
entered Afghanistan from Pakistan last October, his position was immediately
known to Taliban forces, which subsequently pinned him and his small party down,
captured, and executed them. Former Reagan National Security Adviser Robert
McFarlane, who worked with Haq, vainly attempted to get the CIA to help rescue
Haq. The agency claimed it sent a remotely-piloted armed drone to attack the
Taliban but its actions were too little and too late. Some observers in Pakistan
claim the CIA tipped off the ISI about Haq's journey and the Pakistanis, in
turn, informed the Taliban.
McFarlane, who runs a K Street oil consulting firm, did not comment on further questions about the circumstances leading to the death of Haq. While Haq was not part of the Bush administration's GOP (Grand Oil Plan) for South Asia,
the SS Condoleezza Rice
Karzai was a
key player on the Bush Oil team. During the late 1990s, Karzai worked with an
Afghani-American, Zalmay Khalilzad, on the CentGas project. Khalilzad is
President Bush's Special National Security Assistant and recently named
presidential Special Envoy for Afghanistan.
in the White House press release naming Khalilzad special envoy, no mention was
made of his past work for UNOCAL. Khalilzad has worked on Afghan issues under
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, a former member of the board of
Chevron, itself no innocent bystander in the future CentGas deal. Rice made an
impression on her old colleagues at Chevron. The company has named one of their
supertankers the SS Condoleezza Rice.
fellow Pashtun and the son of a former government official under King Mohammed
Zahir Shah, was, in addition to being a consultant to the RAND Corporation, a
special liaison between UNOCAL and the Taliban government. Khalilzad also worked
on various risk analyses for the project. Khalilzad's efforts complemented those
of the Enron Corporation, a major political contributor to the Bush campaign.
Enron, which recently filed for bankruptcy in the single biggest corporate
collapse in the nation's history, conducted the feasibility study for the
CentGas deal. Vice President Cheney held several secret meetings with top Enron
officials, including its Chairman Kenneth Lay, earlier in 2001. These meetings
were presumably part of Cheney's non-public Energy Task Force sessions. A number
of Enron stockholders, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Trade
Representative Robert Zoellick, became officials in the Bush administration.
Thomas White, a former Vice Chairman of Enron and a multimillionaire in Enron
stock, currently serves as the Secretary of the
with the CentGas negotiations with the Taliban was Laili Helms, the niece-in-law
of former CIA Director Richard Helms. Laili Helms, also a relative of King Zahir
Shah, was the Taliban's unofficial envoy to the United States and arranged for
various Taliban officials to visit the United States. Laili Helms' base of
operations was in her home in Jersey City on the Hudson River. Ironically, most
of her work on behalf of the Taliban was practically conducted in the shadows of
the World Trade Center, just across the river.
liaison work for the Taliban paid off for Big Oil. In December
Some of those
supporters were also close to the Bush campaign and administration. And Kandahar
was the city near which the CentGas pipeline was to pass, a lucrative deal for
the otherwise desert outpost.
While Clinton's State Department omitted Afghanistan from the top foreign policy priority list, the Bush administration, beholden to the oil interests that pumped millions of dollars into the 2000 campaign, restored Afghanistan to the top of the list, but for all the wrong reasons. After Bush's accession to the
CIA agent lamented
that the U.S. never bothered
to understand the Taliban
various Taliban envoys were received at the State Department, CIA, and National
Security Council. The CIA, which appears, more than ever, to be a virtual
extended family of the Bush oil interests, facilitated a renewed approach to the
The CIA agent
who helped set up the Afghan mujaheddin, Milt Bearden, continued to defend the
interests of the Taliban. He bemoaned the fact that the United States never
really bothered to understand the Taliban when he told the Washington Post last
never heard what they were trying to say... We had no common language. Ours was,
'Give up bin Laden.' They were saying, 'Do something to help us give him up.'
even reports that the CIA met with their old mujaheddin operative bin Laden in
the months before September 11 attacks. The French newspaper Le Figaro
quoted an Arab specialist named Antoine Sfeir who postulated that the CIA met
with bin Laden in July in a failed attempt to bring him back under its fold.
Sfeir said the CIA maintained links with bin Laden before the U.S. attacked his
terrorist training camps in Afghanistan in 1998 and, more astonishingly, kept
them going even after the attacks. Sfeir told the paper, "Until the last
minute, CIA agents hoped bin Laden would return to U.S. command, as was the case
actually officially broke with the US in 1991 when US troops began arriving in
Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. Bin Laden felt this was a violation
of the Saudi regime's responsibility to protect the Islamic Holy Shrines of
Mecca and Medina from the infidels. Bin Laden's anti-American and anti-House of
Saud rhetoric soon reached a fever pitch.
administration made numerous attempts to kill Bin Laden. In August 1998, Al
Qaeda operatives blew up several U.S. embassies in Africa. In response, Bill
Clinton ordered cruise missiles to be launched from US ships in the Persian Gulf
into Afghanistan, which missed Bin Laden by a few hours. The Clinton
administration also devised a plan with Pakistan's ISI to send a team of
assassins into Afghanistan to kill Bin Laden. But Pakistan's government was
overthrown by General Musharraf, who was viewed as particularly close to the
cancelled its plans, fearing Musharraf's ISI would tip off the Taliban and Bin
Laden. . The CIA's connections to the ISI in the months before September 11 and
the weeks after are also worthy of a full-blown investigation. The CIA continues
to maintain an unhealthy alliance with the ISI, the organization that groomed
bin Laden and the Taliban. Last September, the head of the ISI, General Mahmud
Ahmed, was fired by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his pro-Taliban
leanings and reportedly after the U.S. government presented Musharraf with
disturbing intelligence linking the general to the terrorist hijackers.
was in Washington, DC on the morning of September 11 meeting with CIA and State
Department officials as the hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center
and Pentagon. Later, both the Northern Alliance spokesman in Washington, Haron
Amin, and Indian intelligence, in an apparent leak to The Times of India,
confirmed that General Ahmed ordered a Pakistani-born British citizen and known
terrorist named Ahmed Umar Sheik [now under arrest as one of the kidnappers
responsible for the murder of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel
Pearl] to wire $100,000 from Pakistan to the U.S. bank account of Mohammed Atta,
the lead hijacker.
When the FBI
traced calls made between General Ahmed and Sheik's cellular phone---the number
having been supplied by Indian intelligence to the FBI---a pattern linking the
general with Sheik clearly emerged. According to The Times of India, the
revelation that General Ahmed was involved in the Sheik-Atta money transfer was
more than enough for a nervous and embarrassed Bush administration. It pressed
Musharraf to dump General Ahmed. Musharraf mealy-mouthed the announcement of his
general's dismissal by stating Ahmed "requested" early retirement.
well known to the Indian police. He was arrested in New Delhi in
was a major player
in terrorist activities
Kashmiri terrorist group, Harkat-ul-Mujaheddin, a group only recently and quite
belatedly placed on the State Department's terrorist list. The ISI and bin
Laden's Al Qaeda reportedly assists the group in its operations against Indian
government targets in Kashmir.
which assisted its Indian counterpart in the investigation of the Indian
Airlines hijacking, says it wants information leading to the arrest of those
involved in the terrorist attacks. Yet, no move has been made to question
General Ahmed or those U.S. government officials, including Deputy Secretary of
State Richard Armitage, who met with him in September. Clearly, General Ahmed
was a major player in terrorist activities across South Asia, yet still had very
close ties to the U.S. government. General Ahmed's terrorist-supporting
activities---and the U.S. government officials who tolerated those
activities---need to be investigated.
visits to Washington continued up to a few months prior to the
meantime, the Bush administration took a hostile attitude towards the Islamic
State of Afghanistan, otherwise known as the Northern Alliance. Even though the
United Nations recognized the alliance as the legitimate government of
Afghanistan, the Bush administration, with oil at the forefront of its goals,
decided to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and curry favor with the
Taliban mullahs of Afghanistan. The visits of Islamist radicals did not end with
the Taliban. In July 2001, the head of Pakistan's pro-bin Laden Jamiaat-i-Islami
Party, Qazi Hussein Ahmed, also reportedly was received at the George Bush
Center for Intelligence (aka, CIA headquarters) in Langley, Virginia.
the Washington Post, the Special Envoy of Mullah Omar, Rahmatullah
Hashami, even came to Washington bearing a gift carpet for President Bush from
the one-eyed Taliban leader. The Village Voice reported that Hashami, on
behalf of the Taliban, offered the Bush administration to hold on to bin Laden
long enough for the United States to capture or kill him but, inexplicably, the
administration refused. Meanwhile, Spozhmai Maiwandi, the director of the Voice
of America's Pashtun service, jokingly nicknamed "Kandahar Rose" by
her colleagues, aired favorable reports on the Taliban, including a
controversial interview with Mullah Omar.
administration's dalliances with the Taliban may have even continued after the
start of the bombing campaign against their country. According to European
intelligence sources, a number of European governments were concerned that the
CIA and Big Oil were pressuring the Bush administration not to engage in an
initial serious ground war on behalf of the Northern Alliance in order to
placate Pakistan and its Taliban compatriots. The early-on decision to stick
with an incessant air bombardment, they reasoned, was causing too many civilian
deaths and increasing the shakiness of the international coalition.
and woefully underreported, interfaces between the Bush administration, UNOCAL,
the CIA, the Taliban, Enron, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, the groundwork for
which was laid when the Bush Oil team was on the sidelines during the Clinton
administration, is making the Republicans worried. Vanquished vice presidential
candidate Joseph Lieberman is in the ironic position of being the senator who
will chair the Senate Government Affairs Committee hearings on the collapse of
Enron. The roads from Enron also lead to Afghanistan and murky Bush oil
politics. UNOCAL was also clearly concerned about its past ties to the Taliban.
On September 14, just three days after terrorists of the Afghan-base al Qaeda
movement crashed their planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon,
company is not supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan in any way whatsoever. Nor
do we have any project or involvement in Afghanistan. Beginning in late 1997,
Unocal was a member of a multinational consortium that was evaluating
construction of a Central Asia Gas pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan
[via western Afghanistan]. Our company has had no further role in developing or
funding that project or any other project that might involve the Taliban."
The Bush Oil
Team, which can now rely on the support of the interim Prime Minister of
Afghanistan, may think that war and oil profits mix. But there is simply too
much evidence that the War in Afghanistan was primarily about building UNOCAL's
pipeline, not about fighting terrorism. The Democrats, who control the Senate
and its investigation agenda, should investigate the secretive deals between Big
Oil, Bush, and the Taliban. ##
behind the War in Afghanistan? from
an e-mail by Robert Lederman Tue, 5 Feb 2002 firstname.lastname@example.org
[I've added a
few url's from oil industry websites...as further evidence of
Enron and the
oil pipeline deal
Oil and Gas: Represented a multinational energy company in
serious drawback companies have faced is getting the supplies to
- The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) has agreed o provide $400
million in financing for a joint venture of Uzbekneftegaz and Enron oil and Gas
Co. (Houston) to develop a clutch of gas fields in Uzbekistan. It is the largest
OPIC commitment in Central Asia thus far."
already know about the oil pipeline deal in Afghanistan and the Bush threats to
the Taliban to invade BEFORE 9/11, but these links show how Enron and the new
Afghan leader we just installed are all directly connected to Bush, to the
so-called war, to Cheney refusing to reveal who he met with and to the
suppression of the 9/11 investigation Bush has threatened Congress with.
For years, US
oil interests have been trying to build a pipeline across Afghanistan to access
the oil and gas around the Caspian Sea; efforts that have continued past the
Enron was a
key player in this game. Way back in 1996, Enron had cut a deal with the
president of Uzbekistan for joint development of the nation's natural gas
Houston Chronicle Date: TUE 06/25/96 Section: Business Page: 4 Edition: 3 STAR (sorry, no link)
also done the feasibility study for the pipeline.
For a time,
the Taliban appeared to be a potential partner. They had even visited Sugarland,
Texas to talk things over.
the talks broke down, and by late last summer, the US Government was threatening
to commence war against Afghanistan (an attack which would have violated every
precept of international law).
BBC Audio of
report on US intentions to invade Afghanistan BEFORE Sept 11th
twice, Bush conveyed the message to the Taliban that the United States would
hold the regime responsible for an al Qaeda attack. But after concluding that
bin Laden's group had carried out the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, a
conclusion stated without hedge in a Feb. 9 briefing for Vice President
the new administration did not choose to order armed forces into action.
with making, but not following through on these threats, Bush took a number of
actions to make the US decidedly more vulnerable to a terrorist attack. He
ordered the Naval strike force, which Clinton placed in the Indian Ocean on 24
hour alert so he could hit Osama as soon as he had solid intelligence, to stand
down. Bush threatened to veto the Defense Appropriations Bill after Democrats
tried to move $600 million out of Star Wars and into anti-terror defense. Bush
opposed Clinton's anti-money-laundering efforts, which were designed to stop al
Qaeda's money. Bush abandoned Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, or as
the two star general Donald Kerrick told the Washington Post, reflecting
on his service to both President Clinton and President Bush: Clinton's advisors
met nearly weekly on how to stop bin Laden and al Qaeda. "I didn't detect
that kind of focus" from the Bush Administration.
The Cover Up
is openly breaking the law by defying GAO requests to turn over his records of
meetings with Enron.
At the same
time that Cheney has refused to turn over his records, Enron and its accountants
have shredded millions of pages of documents.
themselves may have destroyed evidence. When the Justice Department instructed
the Bush administration to preserve any documents related to Enron Corporation,
a senior administration official said that until now, "the White House had
not been making any formal effort to preserve or catalogue information about
While all of
this lawbreaking, stalling, and destruction of evidence has gone on, Bush has
asked Daschle to limit Congressional probes into Sept. 11. (See Email Page
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