A Sensitive Subject


Clearing up a ‘fundamental misunderstanding’ regarding Dick Cheney

Seizing on ex-soldier John Kerry‘s use of the word “sensitive” when referring to the “war on terror,” ex-non-soldier Dick Cheney smugly said on August 12 in Dayton, Ohio, that Kerry has a “fundamental misunderstanding of the way the world we are living in works.”

(Keep reading, but come back to see Kerry’s speech here and Cheney’s speech here.)

His voice dripping with disdain, Cheney went on—and went off:

Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They’re invited by the perception of weakness. Senator Kerry has also said that if he were in charge, he would fight a ‘more sensitive’ war on terror.

Cheney is absolutely right about that “fundamental misunderstanding.” Let’s clear it up right now. Set the Wayback Machine to June 13, 1998, in Amarillo, Texas. As the CEO of Halliburton, Cheney spoke at the annual meeting of an influential group of oilmen, the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association.

Greg Rohloff, a business writer for the Amarillo Globe-News, covered the speech and wrote at the time that “the current hot spots for the major oil companies are the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region.” Rohloff’s story continued:

The potential for this region turning as volatile as the Persian Gulf does not concern Cheney.

“You’ve got to go where the oil is,” he said. “I don’t worry about it a lot.”

See, the main thing is where the oil is. You do what you gotta do. Cheney doesn’t have to put on a helmet and pick up a gun. No wonder he doesn’t worry about “volatile” situations.

In fact, Cheney told the oilmen that Congress was more of a problem for U.S. oilmen than these oil-rich countries themselves.

Rohloff put it this way:

Congress has proven to be a bigger blockade to developing new business overseas than the foreign countries, [Cheney] said.

He cited Iran, which is making overtures toward renewed trade with the West, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and Nigeria as oil-rich regions that have come under fire in Congress because of their internal politics and accusations of wrongdoing.

Some are suggesting boycotts of countries that fail to protect religious liberties, he said.

“I don’t agree with that approach,” Cheney said.

At the time, as Rohloff noted, Cheney was on the 12-member Kazakhstan Oil Advisory Board, appointed by Kazakhstan’s ruler, Nursultan Nazarbayev. (See the July 21 Bush Beat on that tinpot dictator and the Kazakhgate scandal that’s just about to erupt.) And this was the same period in which the SEC now says that Halliburton was cooking its books. (See the August 11 Bush Beat for that.)

Hey, “you go where the oil is.” You gotta do what you gotta do. Tough talk by Cheney, huh? Worth a thousand U.S. lives so far in Iraq? Worth thousands of Iraqis’ lives? Do you understand now?

The mainstream big newspapers and TV networks apparently don’t. But others do. Journalist Laura Flanders read Rohloff’s story and, a month after 9/11, wrote about Cheney’s comments in a smart analysis of what was not being said in the mainstream national press about the Bush-Cheney regime’s lust for oil.

As for the pseudo-controversy over the word “sensitive,” The Daily Show punctured that just fine in its August 12 edition, when Jon Stewart pointed out some words that George W. Bush said August 5—to the same group to which Kerry used the word “sensitive” on August 6.

Speaking of the “war on terror,” Bush said:

Now in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is—we need to be very sensitive on that.

Stewart noted, “Dude, I think the vice president just called you a pussy.”

Figure out yourself what to call Cheney, but Billionaires for Bush, the self-described “activists for the corporate elite,” announced today a nationwide “Cheney is Innocent!” protest for tomorrow, August 14. The group plans to launch a “Dick Cheney Defense Fund,” saying it’s “appalled by the vast, middle-of-the-road conspiracy against Cheney that includes the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Associated Press, Judicial Watch, the nation of France, and the U.S. Attorney in Houston.”

“Cheney is Innocent!” vigils are scheduled in front of the vice president’s D.C. home and in New York, Orlando, Toledo, Phoenix, Scranton, Madison, Cleveland, and Palm Beach. The New York City vigil is scheduled for 1 p.m. tomorrow (August 14) at the southeast corner of Central Park—Fifth Avenue and 60th.

“We at Billionaires for Bush will not stand idly by while our good friend is hounded by such shameless truth-seekers,” said Iona Bigga Yacht, the group’s director of field operations.

The rapidly growing group says it is “prepared to defend Cheney against a long list of accusations, including: overseeing Enron-style accounting at Halliburton, the secret energy task force, Supreme Court cronyism, arranging no-bid contracts, dodging the draft repeatedly, bribery of Nigerian officials, and doing business with Iran, Iraq, and Libya.”

The busy Cheney clearly has quite a package of deals going.