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Jason Holliston
Monday, January 12, 2004  
What Happened To Paul O'Neill?

Odd. Now, I understand 60 Minutes putting such an obviously biased story on the air -- yes, they should know better, given they call themselves journalists, but hey, it's Bash Bush time, and the logic can't stop the party. But Paul O'Neill's actions are strange, to say the least. Perhaps I don't know enough about his past and what he's been doing lately, but he did sign on with a known Republican a few years ago, and he appeared bright enough, if not really suited for the job of Secretary of Treasury. His sudden meltdown into the world of conspiracies is, I think, an example of an attempt for payback melded with the curse of the Anti-Bush Flu going around.

Anyway, I have to do it, so let's get going. On the 60 Minutes program with O'Neill, there were two major points. Let's deal with them in order. First, accusations were leveled that as soon as President Bush took office (the first Cabinet meeting, as a matter of fact), he was already asking for solutions for the Saddam problem. He made it clear, it seems, that he wanted rid of the blood thirsty dictator, and he wanted his top advisors -- SecTres included -- to work on the problem and give it high priority.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," O'Neill told CBS's "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired Sunday night.

The 60 Minutes interviewer, of course, was breathless, hanging on every answer and revelation, and making it sound like this was Watergate times a million. Here's the problem -- Bush never hid the fact during his election campaign that he desired Saddam's removal from power. He did say that he was against nation building, but never did he say that regime change of corrupt overseas powers was off the table. Also, it was the policy of the United States government during the Clinton administration that Saddam had to go, as well, even though that president didn't go so far as to commit to a massive invasion to do the job. President Clinton took more of a covert operations and hope for the best kind of policy. The fact that President Bush saw Saddam as a threat to world peace and as an evil man in general speaks well of him, and doesn't imply any about face in policy or any conspiracy. It's simply, "This guy is bad news for us and the world, and I want you guys to bring ideas to the table on how to get rid of him." Only moral relativists, Stalinists, and true America-haters can find fault in that.

Second, and probably the most potentially disturbing part of the interview, was the accusation leveled that early in his administration, Bush and his people were already planning on slicing up Iraq's oil reserves to the world's corporations. Heck, there were plans written up and reports disseminated. Proof, right? Again, 60 Minutes doesn't do their job of investigating. I'd go into it in detail, but others have already done a better job than I could. Essentially, this report was part of the energy plan worked on in early 2001 about world oil reserves, and similar plans existed for other Middle East countries, like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. It was even available a bit ago online without some disgruntled ex-Secretary having to make it public. Read the links -- they're enlightening.

To sum up, it's sad to see this happen. While Paul O'Neill didn't excel at his job, I never thought him this petty or crazy, until now. He's even facing some potential nasty investigations as a result of his haste for revenge.

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