News Release

* Condoleezza Rice and Reality * Oil Prices * Oil-for-Food Scandal?

LAURA FLANDERS
Flanders is author of the just-released book Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species, which includes profiles of Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Laura Bush and others. Flanders said today: “Much of the reporting on Rice has tended to play up the personal — her childhood in segregated Alabama — and play down the political. But Rice, who served for 10 years on the board of the Chevron Corporation, deserves at least as much scrutiny as the other members of Bush’s oiligopoly. In the first Bush administration, she defended the CIA when it stood accused of misleading Congress into arming Saddam Hussein. Now her NSC stands accused of skewing the intelligence to persuade Congress to destroy him. In the years between her stints in Washington, she used her expertise as a Sovietologist to secure for Chevron some of the richest oil contracts in the post-Soviet republics alongside Cheney. Just this week, a judge ruled that a case can proceed in which Nigerians accuse the company of human rights crimes — including killings — during Rice’s tenure.” [For Iraq claims by Rice and others, see: www.iraqontherecord.com.] More Information

WENONAH HAUTER
Hauter is director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, which today is releasing a report on oil prices. She said today: “Recent mergers between Exxon and Mobil, Chevron and Texaco, and Conoco and Phillips have placed too much control over energy in too few corporate hands. In 1993, the largest five companies controlled only one third of America’s oil refining capacity. By 2003, after dozens of mergers, the top five now control over half of refining capacity. This greater control over the market makes it far easier for companies to manipulate supplies in order to drive prices up…. Political connections and campaign contributions (in the case of the oil industry: $67 million since 2000, with 79 percent going to Republicans) buy corporations immunity from prosecution. The second reason explaining high gasoline prices is the lack of strong fuel economy standards.”
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ANNA AURILIO
Legislative director for U.S. PIRG, Aurilio said today: “The energy bill, which will cost taxpayers at least $31 billion, will have negligible impacts on consumption and production and will fail to reduce natural gas and electricity prices over the next 20 years according to the Energy Information Administration.”
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JOY GORDON
Gordon is a Fairfield University professor who is writing a book on the Iraq sanctions for Harvard University Press. She said today: “Even if the recent allegations about the [U.N.’s Iraq] oil-for-food program are true, it would be a drop in the bucket. During the 1990s, Iraq’s GDP dropped from $60 billion a year to $13 billion per year from the U.N.’s economic sanctions. The alleged kickbacks amount to, at most, $4 to $6 billion over the entire history of the program. Even if every cent of that had been spent on humanitarian goods, the effect would have been negligible. The collapse of Iraq’s economy and public services was due to the overall strangulation of the economy, and in particular the aggressive U.S. posture in blocking billions of dollars of crucial materials for Iraq’s infrastructure. The real scandal is that the comprehensive sanctions, worsened at every juncture by extreme and unilateral U.S. positions, literally reduced Iraq from a sophisticated, industrialized nation, with excellent health care and education, to a Third World country with the quality of life of nations like Haiti and Somalia.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167