Eric Scigliano was intrigued by the announcement that United Airlines, caught up in post-September 11 woes, tapped John Creighton Jr. as its new CEO. Creighton, retired president of the timber giant Weyerhaeuser, has also sat on the board of the California-based oil multinational Unocal since 1995–the period in which Unocal became the main US corporate suitor seeking to do business with the Taliban, alleged protectors of Osama bin Laden, alleged mastermind of the terrorist plot that resulted in the September 11 crashes of two United planes. In 1995 Unocal conceived a pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea and enlisted Saudi, Pakistani, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian partners. In December 1997 Unocal hosted Taliban delegates in Texas, and even took them to the beach. It also gave nearly $1 million to a job-training program in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, out of up to $20 million it spent on the pipeline effort. After the Taliban took Kabul in 1996 and women's groups protested its increasingly intolerant policies, Unocal hung on. Finally, in the wake of Osama bin Laden's fatwa on the United States, of embassy bombings and US missile reprisals, it withdrew from the pipeline project (for more details: www.thenation.com).
The copious references to God in public life these days leave the Rev. Peter Laarman of the Judson Memorial Church in New York City unimpressed. He sent us what he calls "Among the Reasons God May Temporarily Be Unavailable to Bless America." Among them: (1) because God has had it up to here with the assumption that prayers for national exemption from pain and tragedy deserve an answer; (2) because God is too busy processing Americans' prayers for their high school football teams; (3) because God takes for granted that the bombs falling on Kabul are America's real prayers; (4) because such a tasteless and lurid efflorescence of red, white and blue (including flags wrapped around church steeples) gives God a massive headache.
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"Even more damning is the Saudi terrorist link. According to a New York Times story, US officials have concluded that 'much of the financial support for terrorists who attack Americans… comes from wealthy individuals from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies of the United States.' Moreover these same officials concede that the principal problem is not state-sponsored terrorism, which the United States continues to target, but the emergence of sophisticated privately financed networks of terrorists" (Sherle Schwenninger, The Nation, October 7, 1996).
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Call him irresponsible. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on civilian casualties caused by US bombing: "Responsibility for every single casualty in this war, be they innocent Afghans or innocent Americans, rests at the feet of the Taliban and Al Qaeda."