On "60 Minutes" this past Sunday, CBS News showed the world a map.
It wasn’t just any map. It was a map intended to back up former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s suggestion that President Bush planned early for regime change in Iraq for all the wrong reasons.
Was that map real?
The map – from the Pentagon, the "60 Minutes" audience was told – seemed show how the United States was going to carve up Iraq’s oil fields after Saddam Hussein was removed.
According to CBS News, O’Neill’s book writer, Ron Suskind, obtained the "Pentagon document."
The document was shocking to behold. There it was: Iraq’s vast oil fields, southwest of Baghdad, sliced into nine blocks two years before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The oil fields obviously were to be managed by the United States in such a way to profit gas-guzzling Americans.
CBS News correspondent Leslie Stahl broke the O’Neill-Suskind story. "Based on his interviews with O'Neill and several other officials at the meetings," she said, "Suskind writes that the [Iraq war] planning envisioned peace-keeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even divvying up Iraq’s oil wells."
Then the "60 Minutes" camera showed us the papers with the map, as Stahl informed us in voice-over, "Suskind obtained this Pentagon document dated March 5, 2001, entitled ‘Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oil Field Contracts.’ It includes a map of potential areas for exploration."
SUSKIND: "It talks about contractors around the world from, you know, 30, 40 countries, and which ones have what intentions or..."
STAHL: "On oil."
SUSKIND: "On oil in Iraq."
It was a sensational news story: The Iraq conspiracy map.
An absolutely shocking Pentagon document on how the United States would divvy up Iraq’s oil.
Except it wasn’t a Pentagon document.
And it wasn’t a map of how the United States would divide the oil fields.
"60 Minutes" got the story wrong.
As Saddam expert Laurie Mylroie reveals via Power Line, that map was produced by Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force, and it was not a picture of a conquered Iraq.
It was a 2001 map of all of Iraq’s existing and proposed oil contracts with foreign nations. It was an inventory of what was already happening.
Funny how Suskind neglected to point out that the document included Iraq’s existing contracts. Talking about "potential areas for exploration" implies a scheme for post-war Iraq.
Funny how he never got around to mentioning the contractors in that document that already were working in Iraq in 2001. He referred only to "which [contractors] have what intentions," again implying the map was of an Iraq redrawn after a U.S. take-over.
The document lists 30 nations, along with notes on their oil companies, oil contracts, oil-contract proposals and the Iraqi oil fields involved.
The list includes Germany, Russia, China and Vietnam, nations unlikely to be high on America’s gift list to share the spoils of war.
And guess which country is not on the list for the oil fields? The United States itself! And not one U.S. oil company is included.
How could Suskind forget to point that out on "60 Minutes"? Apparently, under his conspiracy theory, the evil United States was going to invade Iraq to steal its oil, but then the United States would get none.
France is on the list, along with five French companies.
Next to France, the document lists five projects. Next to the first project, it says, "PSC [Project Service Contract?] ‘agreed in principle’ January 1997." Next to the second, "Feasibility study presented to Baghdad in 1997, updated in 1998." Next to the third, "Technical discussions." Next to the fourth, "Discussions. PSC." Next to the fifth French project: "PSC ‘agreed in principle’ January 1997." Clearly, these are not war plans, or post-war plans.
You can check out the rest of the document yourself at Judicial Watch, which obtained the Energy Task Force papers in 2002 by way of a federal lawsuit.
It's obvious the map of Iraqi oil-field blocks was illustrating the 2001 status quo, not plotting the division of post-war loot. Those lines on the map were the lines Iraq itself used to delineate its major oil fields.
Now, how long will it take before CBS News admits and corrects the gross errors and misleading statements in its "60 Minutes" show of Jan. 11?
When will "60 Minutes" tell the truth about that map?