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Grinch Stories for Your Christmas Eve Reading Pleasure

Here’s a couple of nice Christmas eve stories about our favorite Grinch, Chevron. The latest from former West County Times reporter John Geluardi you can read and comment on at http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2008/12/chevrons_prince_of_darkness.php.

The second is from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle.


Chevron's Prince of Darkness

Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 04:35:15 PM

By John Geluardi

The Chevron Corporation has exposed its pestilent underbelly


by hiring William J. Haynes II, a Department of Defense attorney who compiled
lists of violent interrogation techniques for shadowy U.S. detention centers.

 Chevron hired Haynes on as its chief corporate council in April, two months before the Senate Arms Services Committee (SASC) completed a bipartisan investigation that found Haynes' actions at the Department of Defense "deeply troubling."

In 2002 Haynes recommended a menu of 15 dehumanizing interrogation techniques to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that included the use of stress positions, removal of clothing, light deprivation and exploitation of phobias such as the "Arab fear of dogs." Rumsfeld eagerly signed off on Haynes' recommendations and dispatched a memo to Guantanamo Bay and other detention centers so they could be used on "enemy combatants," according to the senate investigative report.

The brass of nearly every branch of the U.S. Military vigorously opposed Haynes' ghoulish techniques. The opposition was so great, the list also, in part, spurred Bush Administration lawyers to justify certain techniques by redefining the definition of torture so the CIA would be free to use nasty little methods such as waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning. The method was invented by the fiends who conceived the Spanish Inquisition (waterboarding was not on Haynes' list).

Haynes used a diabolical method called "reverse engineering" to compile his list of interrogation techniques, which have cast a shameful shadow on our moral authority to prosecute the "War on Terror."

In December of 2001, the Harvard-educated Haynes had begun to formulate his menu of misery by soliciting ideas from the Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE). The school's once noble function was to train American military personnel to withstand illegal interrogation techniques should they fall into the hands of despicable enemy forces, a soulless terrorist group or murderous criminal organization.

Haynes simply reverse engineered the enemy's diabolical methods and adopted them for use at U.S. detention centers, according to the senate investigation report.

Lyndie's dog.jpg

Haynes' "intel techniques" had the effect of a "virus" that spread to numerous detention centers, according to the report. "Secretary Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002 approval of Mr. Haynes' recommendations contributed to the use of abusive techniques in Afghanistan and Iraq," the report reads.

The senate report goes on to say "the abuse at Abu Ghraib was a potent recruiting tool for the al Qaeda and handed al Qaeda a propaganda weapon they could use to peddle their violent ideology."

And if compromising the integrity of the U.S. Military and all Americans wasn't enough, Haynes demonstrated disdain for American soldiers by sending letters and memos to congress asking that enlisted military personnel be barred from filing lawsuits in federal courts on issues of promotion, re-enlistment and retirement, according to the Army Times. He also sought to strip military personnel of the right to present courts marshal cases to the Supreme Court, according to the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Haynes' discriminatory suggestions so incensed Republican and Democrat representatives they sponsored the Equal Justice for Military Personnel Act of 2007. The House of Representatives approved the act with a strong bipartisan vote in September and Senate approval is still pending.

Haynes retreated from the excitement of devising interrogation techniques to the stronghold  of Chevron's headquarters in upscale San Ramon with its neatly shorn lawns and pricey housing developments.

But that doesn't mean Haynes won't be in the thick of things. After all, Chevron frequently finds itself in sticky legal situations which require the services of a clever attorney who can find fuzzy legal justification for causing harm to the powerless.

For example, there was that little misunderstanding in Nigeria in 1998 where Chevron was


alleged to have actively supported government security forces that squashed a protest on a Chevron oil drilling platform in the Niger Delta by killing two protestors and torturing another. Thanks to a corps of high-paid attorneys like Haynes, a nine-member jury serving a U.S. federal court found Chevron not liable for the incident earlier this year.

Then there's that ongoing mess in Ecuador where Chevron, and other oil companies, have been accused of befouling the Oriente Rain Forest with a vast legacy of polluted water, poisoned air and cancer clusters.


And on the home front, there's always the beleaguered city of Richmond where Chevron's refinery pumped 60,819 tons of toxins into the air over mostly impoverished neighborhoods in 2003, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

So, at least, Haynes will have plenty to keep himself busy.

Tags: Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Chevron, Iraq, torture, waterboarding, William Haynes II

Category: Breaking News


Report rips ex-Defense counsel, now at Chevron

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

William J. Haynes II, a former Defense Department counsel...

Report rips ex-Defense counsel, now at Chevron

A little over a week ago, the Senate Armed Services Committee released a report, "Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody." The product of an 18-month investigation, the report concluded that "former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

One of the "senior U.S. officials" prominently featured in the report is William J. Haynes II, currently the chief corporate counsel for San Ramon's Chevron Corp.

From 2001 until February, Haynes was general counsel for the Department of Defense. The general counsel "provides oversight, guidance, and direction regarding legal advice on all matters arising within the Department of Defense, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense," according to the Pentagon's job description. In Haynes' case, that included advising on interrogation techniques used on U.S.-held detainees in the U.S. war on terror, and in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The bipartisan report - signed by Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. - found that Haynes' opinions on the legality of various interrogation techniques were a key contributor to their being given the go-ahead. For example, then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld authorized the techniques only after Haynes recommended their approval, according to the report. It also states that Haynes' office sought information on harsh interrogation techniques even before a list of such techniques was drawn up by military officials for possible use at Guantanamo Bay. In the report's conclusions, the senators said they found some of Haynes' actions "deeply troubling."

From the report:

-- In December 2001, Haynes' office "had already solicited information on detainee 'exploitation' from (a U.S. military) agency whose expertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions."

-- On Nov. 27, 2002, "notwithstanding the serious legal concerns raised by the military services, Mr. Haynes sent a one page memo to the secretary, recommending that he approve all but three of eighteen techniques in the GTMO request. Techniques such as stress positions, removal of clothing, use of phobias (such as fear of dogs) and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli were all recommended for approval."

-- "Secretary Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002 approval of Mr. Haynes' recommendation contributed to the use of abusive techniques in Afghanistan and Iraq."

-- Haynes' "effort to cut short the legal and policy review of the GTMO request was inappropriate and undermined the military's review process."

-- "Further, Mr. Haynes' reliance on a legal memo produced by GTMO's Staff Judge Advocate that military lawyers called 'legally insufficient' and 'woefully inadequate' is deeply troubling."

The response: Haynes, hired as Chevron's chief corporate counsel soon after he left the Pentagon, could not be reached for comment. Kent Robertson, a Chevron spokesman said, "We aren't in a position to speak to the report."

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in June, Haynes said he did "not remember" requesting information on harsh interrogation techniques in 2001. He said he had "misgivings" about the process for approving interrogation techniques. "This is not something that I did as a rubber stamp, or did lightly. I continue to stew on that, frankly," he said. However, he added at another point in his testimony, "As the lawyer, I was not the decisionmaker. I was an adviser."

He also defended the recommendations he made to Rumsfeld. "There is a paucity of law that was applicable at the time, and my job, as the lawyer, is not to say no, but to say, 'Where is the area or discretion available to the client?' - in this case, the secretary of Defense. And that was my determination, and I stand by it."

Reactions: The Wall Street Journal, in a lengthy editorial Friday, castigated the Senate committee report as "politically predetermined." It said the "real purpose" of the committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., "is to lay the groundwork for war crimes prosecutions of Bush officials like ... Jim Haynes who acted in good faith to keep the country safe within the confines of the law." In a statement dated the same day, six GOP members of the committee dissented from the report's conclusions. "The implication that this abuse was the direct, necessary or foreseeable of policy decisions made by senior administration officials is false and without merit."

The Journal's editorial and the GOP letter came a day after a New York Times editorial, which said the Senate report provides "a strong case for bringing criminal charges against ... Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials." The editorial doubted that such a step would be taken, but hoped the incoming Obama administration would "appoint an independent panel to look into these and other egregious violations of the law."

Further reading: To read the executive summary of the Senate Armed Services Committee report (most of the investigation details remain classified), go to links.sfgate.com/ZFTC. To read Haynes' testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, go to links.sfgate.com/ZFTF. For the Wall Street Journal editorial, go to links.sfgate.com/ZFTD. For the New York Times editorial, go to links.sfgate.com/ZFTE.

Tips, feedback: E-mail bottomline@sfchronicle.com