Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lobbyist for Dakota Access Formerly Led Army’s “Restore Iraqi Oil” Program

Robert Crear, one of the lobbyists working for Dakota Access pipeline co-owners Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, formerly served as a chief of staff and commanding general for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps and other federal agencies are currently reviewing the permit granted for the controversial pipeline’s construction near the Missouri River and Lake Oahe in North Dakota, and the Army Corps has reserved final authorization to complete construction on Corps land until after formal government-to-government consultations with the tribes are completed later this month.

Before he became a lobbyist, Crear headed up the Army Corps project, “Task Force: Restore Iraqi Oil” during the early years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq under the George W. Bush administration. This finding by DeSmog comes as the law enforcement presence has become increasingly militarized and additional forces pour into North Dakota from states nationwide under the auspices of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

Thousands of people, including a number of Native American tribes, are protesting this pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s encampments in North Dakota.

This week, President Barack Obama stated that his administration is considering rerouting the current Dakota Access pipeline path permitted by the Army Corps.

Greenpeace USA, though, has called for Obama to revoke the Army Corps permit granted for the pipeline in July.

“The administration seems to be buying time to maintain the status quo and profits for fossil fuel investors,” Greenpeace USA spokeswoman Lilian Molina said in a statement. “There is only one option that is truly attentive to the Native lives and lands at stake: respect the rights and sovereignty of Indigenous communities by revoking the permits immediately.”

According to 2016 third quarter lobbying disclosure forms, Crear lobbied his former employer — the Army Corps — on behalf of both Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco on compliance and permitting issues.

Restore Iraqi Oil Program

The Army Corps’ Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO) program, spearheaded under Crear’s leadership, got off the ground shortly after the initial “Shock and Awe” bombardment of Iraq by the U.S. military and was a key part of what military planners called the reconstruction phase of the U.S. occupation of the country. As its namesake implies, RIO existed to help reinvigorate Iraq’s oil market and boost production.

In the book Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience, then-Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen wrote about what became known as RIO.

“Avoiding the perception that the U.S. would annex Iraq’s oil wealth for its own purposes was a crucial goal,” Bowen wrote of RIO. “Decisions about Iraq’s oil wealth were not to be seen as made by the U.S. alone.”

Perception was one thing; reality, another.

Then-Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) ended up as a major beneficiary of RIO, landing a lucrative contract worth $2.5 billion to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure from the Army Corps on March 8, 2003, 12 days before the official invasion of Iraq by the U.S. military. Just a few years prior, then-Vice President Dick Cheney had left his perch as CEOof Halliburton to work in the executive branch, which critics noticed and called out with fury.

“[T]he no-bid nature of the contract became such a contentious issue with Congress that it catapulted KBR into the critical limelight and began the process of exposing the company’s rampant fraud, abuse and corruption,” wrote the watchdog website Halliburton Watch. “Congress asserted the RIO contract was awarded without competition because Dick Cheney is the former CEO of KBR‘s parent, Halliburton.”

Time Magazine reported in May 2004 that it had obtained an email from a senior Army Corps official dated March 5, 2003, three days before KBR landed the Army Corps contract, which stated that “’action’ on the [KBR] contract was ‘coordinated’ with Cheney’s office.”

The collusion between KBR, the Army Corps, and the White House for RIO inspired Bunny Greenhouse, then-Chief Procurement Officer for the Army Corps, to become a whistleblower, and she was demoted for doing so. Greenhouse, in stark terms, made known her take on this state of affairs.

“I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career,” said Greenhouse as she testified before Congress in 2005.

Uncertain Future

Lydia Lafleur, a business professor at Louisiana State University and the corporate registered agent for AUX Initiatives, did not respond to a request for comment on whether Crear’s lobbying of the Army Corps was done specifically on behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Crear also did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

The Dakota Access Pipeline would transport oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin across the state and through South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, where it would terminate and connect to another pipeline in Patoka. That pipeline, the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline, will shuttle oil down to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas and in part to the global export market.

To date, the progressive cell phone company Credo Mobile has gathered over 373,000 signatures for a petition calling on the Obama administration to reject Dakota Access.

CREDO Deputy Political Director Josh Nelson issued a statement this week: “Indigenous water protectors and the First Amendment are under assault in North Dakota – and President Obama needs to intervene now.” Nelson continued, “if President Obama wants to uphold his promises to do right by indigenous people and fight climate change, he must summon the political courage to intervene now and stop – not just reroute – the Dakota Access pipeline.”

More articles by:

Steve Horn is a freelance investigative journalist and Research Fellow at DeSmogBlog, where this piece first appeared.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail