NYT studiously ignores Galbraith-DNO link

The NYT today carried a substantial article about the dispute over oil rights between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish regional government, including many mentions of the oil lease for the KRG’s Tawke field held by the Norwegian company DNO– and they managed to do that without making any mention of the other big aspect of this story that’s roiling the Norwegian press: namely, the fact that the US “cowboy diplomatic advisor” Peter Galbraith has been revealed to be a mystery shareholder in DNO.
Amazing. How could the NYT not mention this– especially given the amount of space the NYT has given to Galbraith’s own views in recent years, both on the op-ed page and as the subject of news articles, including recently?
There truly seems to be (as Reidar Visser and Steve Connors have noted in the comments section of of my earlier post on this topic) some kind of vow of omerta in the US MSM regarding Galbraith’s investing activities and the sharp conflicts of interest involved therein.
in the English-language media, the only other major people to have picked up on the story so far are Michael Rubin of The National Review (here and here) and the always excellent Paul Woodward of War in Context.
Meanwhile, Reaidar Visser has provided us with a fuller translation of the Oct. 10 article about Galbraith from Dagens Næringsliv (DN).
The article puts Galbraith’s involvement in the context of the dispute that has broken out between DNO, the KRG, and some former DNO shareholders, including the Connecticut-registered company “Porcupine”, of which Galbraith is a significant shareholder.
The DN journos have these quotes gathered from Galbraith, as they confronted him in the Norwegian city of Bergen where he has a home along with his Norwegian wife:

    1. “It is well known that I have worked for companies that invest in Iraq. I have pledged to maintain confidentiality concerning these relationships and cannot provide any more information.”
    2. “I have worked with companies investing in Iraq and of course the Kurdish authorities know about my relationships to my clients. That is all I want to say.”

Michael Rubin had done a little digging round and found some paragraphs about Galbraith and his financial interests in Iraqi Kurdistan in this January 2007 Al Kamen piece in the WaPo (scroll down):

    Former ambassador to Croatia Peter W. Galbraith, testifying last week at a Senate hearing about Iraq, noted that he’d been asked by committee staffers to “clarify my relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government.”
    The query probably was sparked by rumors over the years that Galbraith was formally advising the Kurds. His biography is on the KRG’s “Kurdistan, The Other Iraq” Web site, which lists him as an “adviser to the Kurdistan Regional Government.”
    In his testimony, Galbraith said he’d “been friends of the Kurdish leaders and for that matter, other Iraqis, for a very long period of time, but I am not in a paid relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government.”
    In an e-mail exchange Friday and Saturday, Galbraith wrote that he hadn’t seen the Web site and “to the extent that it implies a formal relationship with the KRG, it is inaccurate.” Galbraith wrote that he had been paid by “two Kurdish clients” for four months in late 2003-2004 for “either an educational program on negotiations or conducting a negotiation” — all outside this country.
    “I do not lobby or represent anyone in the U.S.,” he wrote, adding that he specifically noted this in his recent book on Iraq and explained there that the KRG has “provided security, accommodation and in-country transportation” when he visits.

So, he did not get paid in cash by the KRG. But was he given the shares in the DNO-KRG deal as some form of “recognition” for the work he did for the KRG?
Definitely worth asking more questions.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, over to you?

9 thoughts on “NYT studiously ignores Galbraith-DNO link

  1. pangloss

    Interesting, isn’t it. I’d been waiting patiently for some large M$M links to the Peter G story and noticed a nice quiet Fall Vermont silence – the time to be looking at the leaves, I guess, and they are lovely you have to get out to see them. But, hmm, I’m from southwestern Ontario where his Dad sprang & wondered, as I liked JKG, what he’d think, if it is true that Peter is a potential putz or should that schmuck. The Black Donnelley’s from around our shared home towns, but they were irish, so what’s Peter’s excuse, eh, if it’s true, of course.

  2. traducteur

    So the NYT publishes Zionist public-relations material dressed up as information. What else is new?

  3. Reidar

    I just watched a 30-minute interview on BBC’s Hard Talk with Galbraith. Based on what he says on Afghanistan, you can easily understand why he has got sympathy with some audiences. On the elections themselves, he certainly seems to score some valid points about transparency, or at least that is the impression I get as a non-expert. His ideas about negotiating with “as many of the Taliban as possible” (he specifically mentioned Mullah Omar) will play well in some circles; as will his statement that he has perfect confidence in President Obama. If I understand correctly, his general scepticism to Karzai is shared by Holbrooke and Biden. Right now he also appears to play the role as crown witness for those who oppose a troop surge in Afghanistan (“what is the point of doing COIN if the state you are building is itself rotten”), and this may explain the reluctance among some to engage in robust criticism of his past Iraq activities.
    Logically, then, I guess one might expect some kind of pushback on purely partisan lines from the Republican camp. But the general silence on the affair so far could perhaps have to do with the fact that there are other US ex-diplomats than Galbraith who also have been trading in the oil of Kurdistan? Sources in Baghdad alerted me to the involvement of several other CPA figures in deals with Kurdish oil companies, including some that are already publicly known (and where the US press has been less reticent …)
    These allegedly include Jay Garner, see for example
    and Richard Perle, as reported by The Wall Street Journal
    It should be added, though, that both of these cases seem to have taken place after the individuals in question stopped playing an active part in the policy-making debate.
    And also, isn’t this story first and foremost about the increasingly murky circumstances that created the Iraqi constitution of 2005 and its current political system?

  4. bb

    Must say Galbraith was much more convincing in that HardTalk interview than I thought he would be. His comments about successful counter-insurgency being dependent on a legitimately elected host govt and linking this to Obama’s “surge” decision was very on point.
    Makes me suspect the NYT and rest of MSM have been lent on not to play up the Galbraith kickback allegations so as not to distract attention from behind scenes pressure admin is putting on Karzai.
    btw its interesting to compare this with Iraq. While the torturous process that led to the eventual formation of the Maliki govt in 2006 led to it being widely derided and attacked for the following two years, the 3 Iraqi elections in 2005 that led to it were, in themselves, broadly accepted as (mainly) uncorrupt and the process as legitimate.
    It’s a great pity Afghanistan got saddled with a presidential system and no transparent PR electoral system,imo.

  5. Alexno

    It is not disputed that Galbraith is right about the Afghan election. The electoral fraud was evident. He was only there four months, and never developed his own point of view.
    The question as why expose it is more difficult. Replace Karzai? OK, reasonable. Karzai is corrupt. A new leader will be better? Not much chance.
    We’re into the basic illogic of the situation. Only the Afghans can decide their future, without external pressure.
    Actually I thought Galbraith’s intervention on Afghanistan was made spontaneously, without thought, quite different from Iraq, where he has it all worked out.

  6. Alexno

    Although only marginally on-thread, I was astounded this evening to hear on the BBC, that the US will announce a ‘Surge’ in Afghanistan. No doubt, Helena, you will have a post soon.
    It was expected, in the sense that, militarily, the US will insist on victory, whatever that means.
    What I regret, is the comparison with Iraq. The Surge in Iraq was actually a defeat for the US. Many military successes were had. The main result, though, and it is highly disputable, was to finally convince the parties that the US had to be expelled by political means. Not that they didn’t know this before. Removal of the US by political means has proved to be a success, though not yet finished.
    Afghanistan is quite different. This summer’s offensive in Helmand was a zero, and the British brought to a halt, whatever they say. There’s no defeated enemy to buy off.
    The game that the Iraqis have played with success, relying on Iraqi nationalism, has no value in Afghanistan.

  7. Reidar

    This story is covered in The Boston Globe today, with additional revelations. There is more on my blog along with links to the Boston Globe article, not posted here in an attempt to avoid spam filter delays.

  8. Alexno

    I see the report I alluded to at 8.30 pm has been denied. So much for believing the BBC.
    Though next week or the week after, we will be back at the same question again.

  9. Shirin

    …the report I alluded to at 8.30 pm has been denied. So much for believing the BBC.
    Or so much for believing the Obama administration. Time will tell.

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