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We received the following request from a reader:
I looked over Michael Moore's "factual back-up" regarding his claims about Enron and Halliburton and I must say he makes a strong case, though not for Michael Moore. Rather he reveals:
* A) how far he is ready to stick his neck out lying about the US invasion of Afghanistan, and
* B) a cynical contempt for people's ability to think straight.
Let's first take a look at Moore's supposed documentation concerning Halliburton.
In the movie, narrator Michael Moore says: "And who got a Caspian Sea drilling contract the same day Unocal signed the pipeline deal? A company headed by a man named Dick Cheney, Halliburton."
Moore's evidence consists of short excerpts from two press releases, one from Halliburton and one from Unocal. Here are those excerpts, exactly as posted on Moore's website:
Moore's point in posting these excerpts is to show that Unocal and Halliburton did indeed get Turkmenistan oil deals the same day. So case closed. Right?
Not quite. There are a few things wrong with this supposed evidence.
First, notice that the Unocal and Halliburton press releases are dated Oct. 27, 1997. But in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Moore attempts to persuade viewers that Bush arranged for the Taliban to visit Unocal in Texas in order to *get the Taliban to sign* an oil pipeline deal that would help Enron and Halliburton, Bush's supposed commercial allies. The Taliban visited Unocal on December 6, 1997. If the Taliban had already signed with Unocal on October 27 - that is, 40 days earlier - what was the point of the trip?
Second, notice that Moore does *not* provide the link to the Unocal press release. That made me curious, so I tracked it down. 
After reading it, I can see why Moore didn't post the link. The Unocal press release contradicts Moore in the following ways:
* A) It does not announce that Unocal has signed a pipeline deal with the Taliban. Rather it announces that Unocal and other parties have formed a consortium (i.e., a business group) to pursue the signing of a pipeline deal. Thus the press release refers to "the proposed pipeline." Note the word "proposed."
* B) The press release includes a list of the consortium's members:
Notably missing from the list: Halliburton and the Taliban!
* C) The press release names the gas field where the proposed pipeline would start:
The Dauletabad Field is in the Charjow region of southeastern Turkmenistan.
Moore's evidence that the Halliburton company gained from the supposed signing of a pipeline deal was that Halliburton got rights to drill in the Caspian Sea. But as you can see from the map, the Caspian Sea is about 600 miles West of Charjow! Whatever Halliburton might be doing in the Caspian Sea it could have no possible connection with a pipeline that was to start in a gas field 600 miles from the Caspian and proceed to Afghanistan, even further from the Caspian!
Perhaps Michael Moore and his fact checkers from the New Yorker magazine thought nobody would take the time to track down the original press release. Or maybe they thought that if anyone tracked it down, they wouldn't read it carefully.
Now let's look at the press release from Halliburton. The excerpt posted by Moore states that Halliburton had been providing services in Turkmenistan for five years. That proves nothing, so I read the entire press release. It states that Halliburton had gotten a relatively minor contract putting it in charge of an "exploration and appraisal program in the Caspian Sea beginning in late 1997."
We already know that UNOCAL's proposed pipeline was to begin 600 miles from the Caspian Sea and continue southeast.
But even if this were not true, the Halliburton press release would not support Moore's claims. After all, how could the Taliban and Unocal sign a deal to build a pipeline to pump gas that Halliburton had not yet started prospecting for?
Indeed Halliburton's press release doesn't even specify that they would be looking for gas. Perhaps they were going to be prospecting for oil...
To summarize so far: Moore's movie claims:
* A) that Bush arranged the Taliban's December 1997 visit to Texas and
* B) that the visit resulted in a pipeline deal from which Halliburton benefited because
* C) it got Halliburton a Caspian Sea drilling contract.
But Moore's evidence in fact shows that:
* A) an agreement was signed *before* the Taliban went to Texas and in any case
* B) that was an agreement to establish a consortium to pursue a pipeline deal, not an agreement to build the pipeline and
* C) Halliburton and the Taliban were not included in the consortium agreement and anyway
* D) Unocal's proposal was to pump gas from a field 600 miles away from the Caspian Sea.
Attempting to cover-up his lies about Halliburton, Moore has posted evidence that he was lying.
As you may recall, in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Moore said two things about Enron.
Point one: that Enron was Bush's commercial ally.
Point two: that Enron stood to gain from a Unocal deal to build a gas pipeline across Afghanistan.
But unless point two is true, point one is irrelevant. That is, for present purposes, we don't care whether Enron was Bush's best friend or worst enemy *unless* Enron stood to gain from Unocal's proposed pipeline deal.
In order to prove that Enron stood to gain, Moore offers a "factual backup" with evidence that Enron was to be part of a Unocal deal.
What kind of evidence?
The best evidence would be a public statement from Enron, Unocal or someone else involved in the proposed deal. But Moore provides no such statement. (In the press release for which Moore didn't provide a link, Unocal lists all parties involved in the CentGas consortium. The list does *not* include ENRON. )
So what is Moore's evidence? A comment made by one Dr. Zaher Wahab in a speech to a human rights conference in March 1997.
Because Wahab has a doctorate, perhaps Moore and his fact-checkers from the New Yorker figured readers would assume he was an expert on Central Asian energy development.
So let's see what Moore's expert witness has to say. Here he is, as quoted by Michael Moore:
"Dr. Zaher Wahab of Afghanistan, a professor in the US speaking at International Human Rights Day event, 'explained that Delta, Unocal as well as Russian, Pakistani and Japanese oil and gas companies have signed agreements with the Turkmenistan government, immediately north of Afghanistan, which has the fourth largest gas reserve in the world. Agreements also have been signed with the Taliban, allowing these oil and gas giants to pump Turkmenistan gas and oil through western Afghanistan to Pakistan, from which it then will be shipped all over the world. The energy consortium Enron plans to be one of the builders of the pipeline.'" [My emphasis] 
Notice, for starters, that Professor Wahab says an agreement had *already* been signed by various parties including the Taliban and Unocal "...to pump Turkmenistan gas and oil through western Afghanistan to Pakistan." The professor happens to be wrong, since no pipeline deal was ever signed, but apart from that, consider that the professor was speaking on March 31, 1997. So if he had been right, it would mean the Taliban signed the supposed deal prior to March 31, 1997.
But according to Moore's "factual back-up", the agreement was signed seven months later, on October 27, 1997.
And according to Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" the deal was signed on or after the Taliban's December 6th trip to Houston Texas.
Signed in March; signed in October; wined and dined and signed in December. So many signings, and yet...no pipeline. 
Aside from giving us a third fictional pipeline-deal-signing-date, the professor's comments reveal a Moore-ian disregard for facts:
* Prof. Wahab says the pipeline would "...pump Turkmenistan gas and oil through western Afghanistan to Pakistan..." But in fact, the pipeline was to pump only natural gas from the Dauletabad Field. No oil.
* Prof. Wahab says "...it then will be shipped all over the world". Not so. The market for the gas was to be Pakistan and possibly India. As Unocal Vice President Marty Miller said in the Unocal press release:
Given that he wrongly claims the Taliban signed a deal, wrongly states that the pipeline was intended to carry oil and wrongly identifies the intended market, it is not surprising that Prof. Wahab is also wrong about Enron. Says Wahab: "The energy consortium Enron plans to be one of the builders of the pipeline."
Actually Enron was involved at this time in two possible pipeline projects to originate in Turkmenistan. Both terminated in Turkey. One of those deals is described below:
In case you're geography is rusty, Azerbaijan is to the West of Turkmenistan (it's on the West bank of the Caspian Sea) whereas Afghanistan is to the Southeast. So these two pipelines, Unocal's and Enron's, were proposed to go in opposite directions.
It struck me that for an energy expert, Prof. Wahab made a remarkable number of mistakes in a small space (4 bloopers in 36 words) so I checked and, as it turns out, he isn't an energy specialist at all.
Michael Moore's expert witness is... an Education teacher. No expertise regarding gas or oil.
Why am I not surprised?
Continued in "Part 3 - Afghanistan: The War the
Establishment Wants us to Forget," at
[Further Reading & Footnotes Follow the Appeal]
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Further Reading followed by Footnotes
read Part 1 of this series, go to
Here's a list of some Emperor's Clothes articles relevant to Michael Moore's claim that the US invaded Afghanistan to get an oil pipeline.
* To understand US
policy one must first know that the US Establishment lies about its
attitude towards Muslim extremism. They describe it as a purely
internal affair, a fanatical distortion of Islam. But at the same
time, they covertly foster it! First the British Empire and then the
US-led Western Empire have fostered Muslim extremism, supporting the
most backward-looking forces among Muslims who use this extremism to
maintain their own social-economic status. Does such a policy sound impossibly
conspiratorial? Want some evidence? Read the article, "Why has USAID
been Shipping Muslim Extremist Schoolbooks into Afghanistan...for 20
Years? And why is President Bush hiding it?"
Russia, not oil, motivates US policy in Afghanistan!'
* 'And They Still
Haven't Built a Pipeline Through Afghanistan!'
* "U.S. Won't
Abandon Central Asia... Central Asians, Be Warned..."
* "The IDLO, Backed
by the US and Iran, Planned Islamic Rule for Afghanistan," by Jared
Israel. This was covered by the top wire services but ordinary people
did not get to read even the bare bones news because, according to the
Lexis-Nexis search engine, none of the English language media published
the wire service reports! The facts about this IDLO conference
completely contradict the accepted view of the US Establishment's
attitude toward Muslim extremism in general and Iran in particular.
Top US Strategist
Zginew Brzezinski admits:
* 'Why Washington
* 'And They Still Haven't Built a
Pipeline Through Afghanistan!'
The Pratt Oilgram article explains that
Enron was involved in two entirely unrelated Turkmenistan to Turkey
pipeline projects. Neither involved UNOCAL. If
you'd like to read the Pratt Oilgram article, it's posted at
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