Accuracy in Media

In a story about the visit of the Angolan dictator to the U.S., Karen de Young of the Washington Post reported that the war in that African country concerned “control of Angola’s considerable natural resources.” She added, “Chief among those resources are oil deposits rivaling those of Saudi Arabia. But despite investment by major U.S. and other oil companies, oil income has brought little or no benefit to the majority of Angola’s 13 million people.” That sounds like a story ? U.S. oil companies and the Angolan dictator are making money at the expense of the people of that poor country. Who are those companies anyway?

One happens to be Chevron, on whose board sat Condoleeza Rice, President Bush’s national security adviser. In fact, Chevron named one of its oil tankers after Ms. Rice. It reportedly brought oil from Angola to the U.S. Chevron is a major player in the United States-Angola Chamber of Commerce. Another firm involved in it was Enron. All of this is interesting and relevant because the Bush Administration continued the Clinton policy of supporting the Angolan communist regime and isolating the guerrillas led by Jonas Savimbi who opposed it.

Savimbi, who was hailed as a freedom fighter by President Reagan, was assassinated by Angolan government forces just days before the dictator, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was scheduled to meet with Bush. Savimbi was shot fifteen times, two to the head and one to the throat. The State Department human rights report says government troops use rape and murder, and the police torture and kill their victims.

The obvious question, which hasn’t been pursued by the media, is whether Rice’s ties to Chevron influenced the Bush Administration’s continuation of the Clinton policy on Angola. The Center for Public Integrity reported that, as a corporate board member, Rice was paid a $35,000 annual retainer, $1,500 for each board meeting attended, $1,500 for each board committee meeting attended, and $1,500 for each committee meeting chaired. She held 3,014 shares of Chevron stock, valued at approximately $241,000, her single largest asset. When she was appointed as national security adviser, she resigned from the board and was supposed to sell her stock.

The media may not be interested in such information ? and may not report it ? because the financial connections in this case go to a left-wing or communist government, and Savimbi of course was fighting a war against it. In an editorial, the Post smeared Savimbi as a mere “warlord.” However, both de Young and the Post editorial agreed that there are serious allegations about diversion of Angola’s oil revenue to the bank accounts of the communist elite.

Neither the Post nor the Washington Times covered a Washington news conference where Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus talked about the oil connection to the Bush Administration and urged the president not to meet with the Angolan dictator. Phillips noted that a Kennedy family company, the Citizens Energy Corporation, also has a deal to exploit Angolan oil. So perhaps this is another example of Bush playing politics with the Kennedys. Now that’s a story, too.

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