Wednesday, November 16, 2005

This Explains Why They Didn't Testify Under Oath

With public anger rising about already high fuel costs rising nearly as fast as oil company profits, Congressional Republicans recently made a big show of grilling the top executives from those companies about their profits and fuel costs.

The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Republican Ted ("Bridge to nowhere") Stevens of Alaska, ignored protests of committee Democrats and did not require the oil execs to swear that their testimony would be truthful.

Now we know why.

The front page headline in today's Washington Post reads: "Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force."

Here are the first paragraphs:
A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows 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.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. 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.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.
Here's another:
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.
I can't for the life of me figure out why Vice President Cheney has fought so hard to keep the record of these energy task force meetings secret!

High fuel prices with record oil company profits, coupled with oil execs so giddy that they are willing to lie to the Congress about their role in shaping policy? Sounds to me like energy policy is the Bush administration policy initiative that has worked exactly as it was designed!

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