Saturday, December 28, 2002

I was afraid that the conflict of interest of the new chairman of Bush's 9-11 whitewash commission, Thomas Kean, was going to go completely unnoticed, but Michel Chossudovsky, who writes excellent stuff which reminds me of the work of Peter Dale Scott (no higher praise is possible), has written a good article on the subject. I have a few comments:

  1. The family ties between Khalid bin Mahfouz and Osama bin Laden are still somewhat murky. I have seen reference to both bin Mahfouz being married to bin Laden's sister and bin Laden being married to bin Mahfouz's sister (I also recollect a letter to the editor of the National Post by a lawyer for bin Mahfouz denying at least one of these connections). In any event, it seems to me to be more important that bin Mahfouz may be linked to Islamic charities that have financed al-Qaeda. It's not that we know that bin Mahfouz is so linked - Kean's problem is that part of his mandate as chairman could lead him to uncover this connection, meaning that he would be forced to reveal a connection between al-Qaeda and a partner of a corporation of which he is a director.

  2. Kean's conflict problem is actually two conflict problems. As chairman of the commission, he will presumably have to swear some sort of oath to uphold the truth, an oath which he won't be able to swear because of Amerada Hess's connections, through the Delta Hess Alliance, to possible financiers of al-Qaeda. On the other hand, as a director of Amerada Hess, he also has a fiduciary duty to Amerada Hess and probably its shareholders, a duty which would preclude him putting himself in a position where his oath as chairman of the commission would force him to damage the corporate interests of Amerada Hess. This damage would occur if the commission were to discover that bin Mahfouz is a financier of al-Qaeda, a discovery which would presumably mean, due to U. S. anti-terrorism laws, that Amerada Hess would no longer be able to participate in the potentially very lucrative Delta Hess Alliance. Kean breaches his duty as a director of Amerada Hess just by putting himself in a position where information disadvantageous to Amerada Hess might be found, even if such information is only inadvertantly stumbled upon by a commission researcher (researchers are the most dangerous people, as they have the tendency to go looking for truths they're not supposed to find). In other words, he breaches his duty to Amerada Hess simply by assuming a duty to the commission which could force him to reveal truths about bin Mahfouz. Kean is putting himself in the position of looking for a gas leak with a lighted match.

  3. He might try to remove his conflict problem by resigning as a director of Amerada Hess, but that wouldn't stop his fiduciary duty to the corporation for acts taken while he was a director, nor would it erase his memory of whatever he happens to know about bin Mahfouz due to his position as a director. I suppose Amerada Hess might try to waive any duty Kean has to them, but the shareholders would probably have something to say about that.

  4. It sounds horrible, but it is not out of the question that Bush picked Kean because Kean was so completely conflicted in this matter that he would act to cover up the potentially extremely embarrassing connections between the Bush family and the bin Mahfouz and bin Laden families.

  5. The sweet, sweet irony of all this is that Kean's conflict problems may actually be worse than Kissinger's.

It seems to me that Kean is opening himself up to massive potential personal liability problems by chairing this commission, and he would be a fool to continue.