White House Executive Order Shields U.S. Oil Companies in Iraq

An obscure executive order penned by President Bush in May
exempting U.S. oil companies doing business in Iraq from criminal
or civil penalties has raised concerns among several advocacy

The broadly worded Executive Order 13303, published May 22,
exempts these companies from prosecution even for human rights,
environmental destruction, or government bribery charges, reports
Lisa Girion in The Los Angeles Times.

‘As written, the executive order appears to cancel the rule of
law for the oil industry or anyone else who gets possession or
control of Iraqi oil or anything of value related to Iraqi oil,’
said Tom Devine of the Washington-based Government Accountability

Administration officials argue that the order protects oil
proceeds destined for the Development Fund for Iraq, not the
companies that pump the oil. ‘This does not protect the companies’
money,’ said Treasury Department spokesman Taylor Griffin. ‘It
protects the Iraqi people’s money.’ He added that the order would
be refined by rules the Treasury Department is currently

But Jamin Raskin, a constitutional law professor at American
University, said the executive order’s language appeared to negate
occupational safety laws and strips U.S. citizens of their right to
sue. The order ‘seems to destroy the prospect of any enforcement of
civil or criminal liability,’ he said. ‘People are saying of Iraq,
‘It’s a jungle out there,’ and this order kind of makes that the

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Immunity for
Iraqi Oil Dealings Raises Alarm

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