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NOTE: Barry Lane is UNOCAL's manager for public relations. This interview was conducted by telephone at around noon July 8th.
Jared Israel: Mr. Lane, this is Jared Israel calling from the Website, Emperor's Clothes. We deal with foreign policy and we're examining the widespread argument that you guys are behind everything that's happened in Central Asia.
Barry Lane: And I'm trying to figure out how you get to that! [Laughs boisterously.]
Jared Israel: Well, there are two key points. One of which we're already documenting, which is that Zalmay Khalilzad was a consultant for you -
Barry Lane: Well, he was and he wasn't.
Jared Israel: My understanding is he never worked directly for you. Is that right?
Barry Lane: Yep. He worked for Cambridge Energy Research Associates. CERA. C-E-R-A. That's Daniel Yergin's outfit. Like the RAND Corporation -
Jared Israel: They're owned by RAND?
Barry Lane: No, no they're *like* RAND. They're a consultant. And Khalilzad worked for them. Because he was quite a noted expert on Afghanistan you know, so he did consulting for us.
Jared Israel: My understanding is that he's a door-opener because he's very influential. Is that correct?
Barry Lane: Well, yes.
Jared Israel: Is it commonplace for companies dealing with an area to have people working for them that have influence in the area. I mean -
Barry Lane: You know, that's how Henry Kissinger makes his living today.
Jared Israel: The argument is then made by people that therefore what he is doing now he is doing as your agent or the agent of the oil industry in general.
Barry Lane: Well, I'm trying to figure out how you get there because we officially - and this was way back in in December 1998 - withdrew from the Centgas consortium and never looked back.
Jared Israel: Is any other oil company now hot and panting for a pipeline through there?
Barry Lane: I haven't heard of anybody else except Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Turkmenistan would want it so it would have a place to sell its gas and Pakistan would want it so it would have a gas supply for its markets *if* they do need a supply anymore.
Jared Israel: And of course Afghanistan wants the fees. It occurred to me that it's in the interest of Afghanistan to say UNOCAL is still interested because that makes the project seem more attractive and *they* need it as a cash cow. So you guys are not secretly planning to go back?
Barry Lane: No. No we've got enough other things on our plate that are placing demands on our capital and our management's time and basically we've kind of focused on many other areas. Plenty of other things on our plate and that's not one of them. We've said that over and over again.
Jared Israel: So you're not going to surprise us tomorrow? The so-called proof that's presented that you are still involved is a May 13th BBC article in which the source is Alim Razim, Afghanistan's minister for Mines and Industries. And the BBC quote is:
Barry Lane: Well if you read the actual words that are said, and we don't know if the quotes are direct - watch the tenses very closely - you'll notice he said "Unocal *was* the lead" you know -
Jared Israel: You're right. It's not a direct quote. The only thing they're quoting are the words, "lead company." The other thing that is being asserted everywhere is that Hamid Karzai, the current head of the Afghan 'government' once worked for you.
Barry Lane: Yeah. Yeah, well that's probably one of the great urban legends. He never worked for us.
Jared Israel: He didn't work for somebody else who worked for you?
Barry Lane: No. No, not him. He was never a consultant, never an employee. We've exhaustively searched through all our records to try and find out where the hell that came from.
Jared Israel: Le Monde. Dec. 6th, 2001.
Barry Lane: Le Monde. Le Monde was the one who wrote it first and you know what's strange about it is I've asked reporters over and over again, go ask Mr. Karzai himself. And nobody has.
Jared Israel: Well the argument is that there is something sinister and therefore you would both deny it anyway. But my argument is in order to posit that this relationship existed in the first place you have to have some evidence - something - but all le Monde has is their own assertion. They just say he was a consultant. They say, "At one time." Not even a date. And no source. And then all these writers repeat this as if Le Monde's assertion is enough to counter your denial. I mean, you can't use the fact that somebody denies something to prove it's true.
Barry Lane: Hey, it makes a great story. But I gotta tell you, our CEO was asked this kind of question about the project at the annual meeting, in May, and he was absolutely emphatic that we have no interest, no plans. I'm not sure what part of that is confusing for people.
Jared Israel: Would you have any reason to feel ashamed if you wanted to go and build a pipeline there.
Barry Lane: No because number one we thought it was a very good project economically. It still may be a good project, although we don't think so.
Jared Israel: For what reason?
Barry Lane: Well we proposed this back in 1995 - that's a fact that a lot of people fail to note. Long before anybody knew how to spell Taliban. But in that intervening time, as it got delayed and delayed and delayed because of conditions in Afghanistan - and we knew it would take a long time - Pakistan developed other sources for gas. So the market in Pakistan for the gas was not nearly so attractive as it was in 1995.
Jared Israel: And you don't know of any other oil company which -
Barry Lane: The only one that I've heard was even remotely mentioned was GAZPROM, the Russian company. That's the only oil company name I've seen that's associated with this at all.
Jared Israel: Not a US company. What about MOBIL? EXXON?
Barry Lane: I couldn't speak for them but I haven't heard them associated with it. I just read the literature, you know. GAZPROM is the only one I've even heard that was halfway associated with it.
Jared Israel: You know, I did a lot of research on Zalmay Khalilzad. This Khalilzad is a stratospheric power.
Barry Lane: He sure is. He was a top man with the RAND Corporation.
Jared Israel: He was the director of strategy planning for the Pentagon.
Barry Lane: Yep.
Jared Israel: He seems to be close to Brzezinski. He went to the State Department from the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a key strategist behind the attack on Iraq, which he himself proposed in a policy paper in 1988. And he was a top strategist concerning the Afghan war in the 1980s. The idea that his activities are determined by a gig as an oil consultant is -
Barry Lane: It's ludicrous.
Jared Israel: It's a complete misrepresentation of the relation of forces. You might be *his* instrument, but he is not *your* instrument.
Barry Lane: Look, we didn't have a lot of experience in that area so we sought out people who did. Who knew - in fact we also had a former Ambassador to Pakistan as a consultant.
Jared Israel: Who was that?
Barry Lane: I can't remember his name. A US Ambassador. Because he knew the culture and so on.
Jared Israel: It's the same thing that a real estate developer does when he wants to build in an area where there is conflict; he hires influential people from that area.
Barry Lane: That's exactly the relationship we had. He was an advisor to us.
Jared Israel: So even terming him a 'consultant' is a mis-description?
Barry Lane: Well, he sure wasn't there, like every day, punching a clock. [Laughs.] And as for Mr. Karzai, no. Never.
Jared Israel: If Karzai had worked for you would you regret it?
Barry Lane: Heck, no. Why? We don't care. But he didn't.
Jared Israel: The thing that's interesting to me about Le Monde is, why don't they report that you have denied that Karzai was a consultant? Isn't that news? Their story is denied by a primary source - that is definitely news. The failure to report it tells me they have no evidence because if they did have any evidence surely they would have a great article - report your denial and then show their evidence.
Barry Lane: Well they know we denied it. We sent them a letter saying exactly that pure and simple right after their publication.
Jared Israel: OK, I guess that's it. Thank you for your time, Mr. Lane.
Barry Lane: All right. Sure thing.
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Also check 'Further
Reading' at the end of 'THE EMPIRE ISN'T IN AFGHANISTAN FOR THE OIL!,' by Jared Israel at
1) For UNOCAL's statements see
2) 'Ex-National Security Chief Brzezinski admits:
Afghan Islamism Was Made in Washington,' - magazine interview with Brzezinski with
comments by Jared Israel. Can be read at
3) Here are some articles helpful for understanding what's been done to Afghanistan:
A) 'Washington's Backing of Afghan Terrorists: Deliberate Policy' Article from "Washington Post' with introductory note from 'Emperor's Clothes'. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/docs/anatomy.htm
B) 'Bush & the Media Cover up the Jihad
C) 'Taliban Camps U.S. bombed in Afghanistan Were
Built by NATO'
E) 'Osama bin Laden: Made In USA'
F) 'Excerpts from News Reports - Bin Laden in the Balkans' evidence that bin Laden aided or is aiding the U.S.-sponsored forces in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/news/binl.htm
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