According to Associated Press writer Karin Miller, "He said his family's involvement with Occidental began after his father's 1970 defeat when Gore Sr. opened a law firm and Occidental became a client." But this is demonstrably false. A quick look at any biography of Hammer or Gore discloses that the relationship between Hammer and Gore Sr. dates back to the 1950s or before.
In his book, Gore: A Political Life, former ABC News reporter Bob Zelnick puts it this way: "Throughout the 1950s and well into the following decade, Hammer counted on [Gore Sr.] as his principal link to the Democratic congressional leadership, and to defend his economic interests." By 1950, Hammer had taken Gore as a partner in his cattle-breeding business, an arrangement that was very lucrative for the Gore family. Zelnick adds that Hammer "also supplied Gore with Christmas gifts of expensive silver."
It appears that Gore Jr. is trying to avoid a discussion of how his father's services were bought and paid for by Occidental when he was a senator. He is also trying to avoid a discussion of how his own services were bought and paid for. Hammer financially supported Gore Jr.s' runs for public office and met frequently with Gore in Washington. When Gore Jr. first ran for president, back in 1988, Hammer intervened to try to get then-Senator Paul Simon to drop out of the race. Hammer offered Simon a cabinet position in the Gore Administration if he would do so. Zelnick also reports that Hammer's luxurious private jet was put at the disposal of the Gore family.
Gore Sr. played a role in a foreign policy debacle that is still unfolding before our eyes -- U.S. involvement in Libya. In 1967 -- three years before Gore Jr. says his father developed a relationship with Occidental -- Gore Sr accompanied Hammer to Libya to dedicate Occidental's oil fields there. According to various sources, Occidental got the oil concessions after millions of dollars in bribes were paid to Libyan officials and middlemen.
This corruption played a role in the 1969 military coup by Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, who turned out to be one of the world's leading sponsors of terrorism against the West. But today, Occidental is trying to get back into Libya, and the Clinton-Gore Administration has been trying to help. On March 26th, in the Washington Post, columnist Jim Hoagland exposed how the administration is laying the groundwork for the normalization of relations with Gadhafi. He said U.S. oil companies were behind it. He didn't name them, but they include Gore's friends at Occidental.
Gore's failure to tell the truth about his family connection to Hammer and Occidental also flies in the face of a story that appeared on March 19 in the New York Times. Reporter Douglas Frantz said Gore Sr. and Hammer met back in the 1940s, and that the two men were partners in the cattle business. Frantz said Hammer "helped make the elder Mr. Gore a wealthy man, and the politician became one of the oilman's most valued allies in Washington." This was mainly during the 1960s - many years before Gore Jr. claims his father developed a relationship with Hammer. Frantz did not shy away from Hammer's Soviet connection, noting that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover wanted to prosecute Hammer for being a Soviet agent. But Gore Sr. defended Hammer on the Senate floor, and Hammer wasn't charged.
The rest of the Frantz article is devoted to other controveries surrounding Gore's ties to Occidental, including a mineral deal, the sale of federal oil reserves, and a foreign aid package for Colombia. In regard to the latter, in an article in Newsweek magazine, Michael Isikoff and Gregory Vistica have confirmed that Occidental Petroleum, the Gore family patron, was one of the "powerful interests" that weighed in on behalf of the Colombia package because it has "large investments" in that country. Those investments include oil pipelines. Newsweek also reports that other companies played key roles in getting the Administration to propose the aid to Colombia.
It is not apparent if Frantz of the New York Times was aware of Gore's claim that his family had no relationship with Hammer until the 1970s. But his article makes it clear how ridiculous that claim really is. On the matter of Gore's current relationship with Occidental, Frantz quoted an environmentalist who had met with him on the Colombia oil issue. Stephen Kretzmann of Amazon Watch was quoted as saying that Gore said he could not interfere in a Colombian internal issue or Occidental's practices.
Not interfere? Gore is the vice president of the United States. He is part of an administration that has proposed aid for Colombia to benefit Occidental. And this aid package has been formulated partly in response to lobbying from Occidental. The pro-Libya policy has been pursued for the same reasons. Gore's claim that he has taken a hands-off attitude about this matter is impossible to believe. It's reminiscent of "no controlling legal authority."
Gore's statements about his family's connection to Armand Hammer and Occidental Petroleum strongly suggest that he is trying to hide something. It may be as sinister as the Buddhist Temple fundraising scandal and Gore's connection to a Communist Chinese agent. In this case, however, the agent represented the old Soviet Union. Armand Hammer is dead, but the Occidental connection lives on. The media must dig deeper. A good place to look is Libya.
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