Benchmark Provision Proves War-Oil Connection, Kucinich Says

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT


(CNSNews.com) - Anti-war Congressman Dennis Kucinich took to the House floor Wednesday to try to block legislation that would establish benchmarks for progress in the Iraq war, alleging that the measure hides the Bush administration's real motive - to "steal the oil resources of Iraq."

The supplemental military funding bill under consideration contains numerous benchmarks for progress in Iraq, including one for President Bush to report on whether the Iraqi government enacts "a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis."

But the Iraqi Parliament is already considering legislation backed by the Bush administration that would open up the majority of the country's oil fields to international investment and privatization, according to Kucinich.

In an hour-long address to a mostly empty House chamber, Kucinich, a long-shot contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, railed against the Iraqi legislation, calling it an "outrageous exploitation of a nation that is in shambles due to the American intervention."

"This [Bush] administration has pushed the Congress to put language in funding bills for Iraq that would set the stage for the privatization of Iraq's oil," Kucinich said. "It is clear that the people of Iraq are under enormous pressure to give up control of their oil."

Kucinich called the Iraqi provision "proof" that America's March 2003 invasion of Iraq was about seizing that country's oil resources and not about freeing the Iraqi people from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein or pursuing allegations that Saddam had amassed weapons of mass destruction.

"I would like to believe that this war was not about oil ... but I know better and the proof is in the hydrocarbon act," Kucinich said. "Our heart and our soul of who we are as Americans is not reflected by this obscene attempt to steal the oil resources of Iraq."

He urged his colleagues in the House to strike the benchmark provision from the U.S. military funding bill. "Let's take a stand for truth and justice," Kucinich bellowed at the end of his speech. "Let's take a stand for what is right."

According to an English translation of the Iraqi bill provided by the anti-oil industry group Oil Change International, it would create a "'Panel of Independent Advisors that includes oil and gas experts, Iraqis or foreigners."

It would also allow contracts to be awarded to "an Iraqi or Foreign Person, natural or legal, which had demonstrated ... the technical competence and financial capability that are adequate for the efficient conduct of Petroleum Operations."

The Bush administration argues that opening Iraqi oil fields to foreign investment would be good for Iraqi citizens.

"Iraq will only realize its very considerable potential as an oil producer with the help of investors," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said in July 2006 when the Iraqi bill was being developed.

Bush himself hasn't specifically mentioned the foreign investment bill, but has frequently referred to commitments from the Iraqi government to "share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens."

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