"}
Amy Goodman

Chevron in the White House: Continuity we can believe in

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama introduced his principal national-security Cabinet selections to the world Monday and left no doubt that he intends to start his administration on a war footing. Perhaps the least well known among them is retired Marine Gen. James Jones, Obama’s pick for national-security adviser. The position is crucial—think of the power that Henry Kissinger wielded in Richard Nixon’s White House. A look into who James Jones is sheds a little light on the Obama campaign’s promise of “Change We Can Believe In.”

Jones is the former supreme allied commander of NATO. He is president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. The institute has been criticized by environmental groups for, among other things, calling for the immediate expansion of domestic oil and gas production and issuing reports that challenged the use of the Clean Air Act to combat global warming.

Recently retired from the military, Jones has parlayed his 40-year military career into several corporate directorships. Among them is Cross Match Technologies, which makes biometric identification equipment. More germane to Jones’ forthcoming role in Obama’s inner circle, though, might be Jones’ seat as a director of Boeing, a weapons manufacturer, and as a director of Chevron, an oil giant.

Chevron has already sent one of its directors to the White House: Condoleezza Rice. As a member of that California-based oil giant’s board, she actually had a Chevron oil tanker named after her, The Condoleezza Rice. The tanker’s name was changed, after some embarrassment, when Rice joined the Bush administration as national-security adviser. So now Chevron has a new person at the highest level of the executive branch. With Robert Gates also keeping his job as secretary of defense, maybe Obama should change his slogan to “Continuity We Can Believe In.”

But what of a Chevron director high up in the West Wing? Obama’s attacks on John McCain during the campaign included a daily refrain about the massive profits of ExxonMobil, as if that was the only oil company out there. Chevron, too, has posted mammoth profits. Chevron was also a defendant in a federal court case in San Francisco related to the murder, 10 years ago, of two unarmed, peaceful activists in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. On May 28, 1998, three Chevron helicopters ferried Nigerian military and police to the remote section of the Delta known as Ilajeland, where protesters had occupied a Chevron offshore drilling platform to protest Chevron’s role in the destruction of the local environment. The troops opened fired on the protesters. Two were killed, others were injured. (Rice was in charge of the Chevron board’s public-policy committee when it fought off shareholder resolutions demanding that Chevron improve its human-rights and environmental record in Nigeria.)

One of those shot was Larry Bowoto, who, along with the family members of those killed, filed suit in California against Chevron for its role in the attack. Just after Jones was named the national-security adviser Monday, a jury acquitted Chevron. Bowoto told me: “I was disappointed in the judgment by the jury. I believe personally the struggle continues. I believe the attorney representing us will not stay put. He will take the initiative in going to the court of appeals.” I met Bowoto in 1998, just months after he was shot. He showed me his bullet wounds when I interviewed him in the Niger Delta. I also met Omoyele Sowore, who has since come to the U.S. and started the news Web site SaharaReporters.com.

Sowore has followed the case closely. Though disappointed, he said: “We have achieved one major victory: Chevron’s underbelly was exposed in this town. ... Also there is Nigeria: Protesters won’t give up ... this will not discourage anybody who wants to make sure Chevron gives up violence as a way of doing business. American citizens are increasingly protective of their economy. ... Chevron played into fears of ... the jurors, saying these are people [the Nigerian protesters] who made oil prices go through the roof. This was a pyrrhic victory for Chevron. If I was in their shoes, I wouldn’t be popping champagne.”

Nigerians know well the power of the military-industrial complex in their own country. While Obama was swept into office promising change, his choice of Marine Gen. James Jones as national-security adviser probably has U.S. corporate titans breathing easy, leaving the poor of the Niger Delta with the acrid air and oil-slicked water that lie behind Chevron’s profits.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column. Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

ICU
Past Columns
Produce the note

February 4, 2009

A long train ride

January 21, 2009

Israeli voices for peace

January 7, 2009

Voices of resistance sing on

December 31, 2008

Bush and the monkey wrench guy

December 23, 2008

A tale of two Nobel nations

December 9, 2008

A view from the South

November 19, 2008

Unchaining history

November 5, 2008

Election protection

October 29, 2008

Invasion of the Sea-Smurfs

October 8, 2008

Wall Street socialists

September 18, 2008

The party police

September 10, 2008

Events
Today
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Bellingham

Cuisine Culture

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Washington Goes Solar

4:30pm|Whatcom County

Fried Chicken Three Ways

5:30pm|Pierside Kitchen

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Kevin Woods Quintet

7:00pm|Unity Spiritual Center

Radio Trivia Night

7:00pm|Goat Mountain Pizza

Panty Hoes

9:00pm|Rumors Cabaret

MBT Hur Lester and Hyldahl
Tomorrow
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Bellingham

Law Day

10:00am|Skagit Transit Center

Parkinson's Dance Class

10:00am|Ballet Bellingham

Skagit Writers League Meeting

1:00pm|Mount Vernon Senior Center

Family Service Party and Gear Swap

3:00pm|Squalicum Creek Park

Uptown Arts Open House

3:00pm|Uptown Art

Ensembulele

4:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Walk for a Paws

5:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Incognito

6:00pm|Ciao Thyme

Mexican Kitchen

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Twelfth Night

7:00pm| Sehome Little Theatre

Viking Economics

7:00pm|Village Books

movie trivia

7:00pm| Bayou Annex Bar

Celtic Fiddle Festival

7:00pm|Littlefield Celtic Center,

FAME Fundraiser

7:30pm|Lairmont Manor

Butt Kapinski

7:30pm| Sylvia Center for the Arts

Trove Northwood Steak and Crab
Friday
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Bellingham

Twelfth Night

7:00pm| Sehome Little Theatre

Butt Kapinski

7:30pm| Sylvia Center for the Arts

Student Veteran Conference

8:00am|Settlemyer Hall

Wild Things

9:30am|Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Wild Things

9:30am|Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Spring Book and Bake Sale

10:00am|Deming Library

Spanish Storytime

10:30am|Lynden Library

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Northwest Wine Encounter

4:00pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Glassbaby pop-up shop

4:00pm|Spruce Stationary & Design

Sin & Gin Tours

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Aristokittens

6:00pm|BAAY Theatre

The Killer Whale Who Changed the World

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Community Band

7:30pm|Maple Hall and Brodniak Hall

Celebrating in Song

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Celebrating in Song

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Lifeguards and Pirates

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar ยป

MBT Hur Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Northwood Steak and Crab Village Books Lester and Hyldahl Bellingham Farmer’s Market