Harsh, you say? Well, it’s hard to argue with the facts.
In a recent campaign press release covered by PoliticsNJ’s Matt Friedman and referenced earlier by our own SJBrian, likely future US Senate candidate, actual current State Senate candidate, and professional Dentist Joe Pennacchio of Montville attacked Senator Frank Lautenberg for… standing up to terrorists.
Right now, Senators Lautenberg and Menendez are standing united with New York Senators Clinton and Schumer to block the nomination of Gene Cretz as ambassador to Libya. Their objection is that Libya, a state sponsor of terrorism, has never truly paid for its crimes.
The Senate Democrats, led by Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, said no U.S. ambassador should set foot in Tripoli until Libya fulfilled the financial commitments made to the victims’ families.
“Libya must no longer be allowed to drag its feet and the U.S. must not pursue fully normalized diplomatic relations with Libya until they fulfill their legal obligations to American families,” Lautenberg said in a statement.
Joe Pennacchio, however, is apparently of the mindset that we ought to open normalize relations with Libya to “reward responsible behavior.” Dictator Qaddafi’s ‘responsible behavior,’ in Pennacchio’s mind, includes having “admitted a role in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103,” according to his statement. To Pennacchio, it seems mass murder is okay as long as you at least ‘fess up to it. Meanwhile, other reputable international organizations characterize Libya as a nation that engages in the vicious torture, murder, and unlawful detention of both journalists and dissidents.
But what’s really insane to me is that Pennacchio, as I mentioned earlier, is a resident of Montville. For years, one of the most outspoken advocates of justice for Libya has been Montville resident Kathleen Flynn, who lost her son John Patrick Flynn in Libya’s bombing of Pan Am 103. When the Bush adminstration announced that they would be opening diplomatic relations with the Qaddafi regime in Libya, she told USA Today that “the moral compass of this administration is so off-kilter.”
So if Pennacchio isn’t speaking for his constituents in championing the cause of ‘rewarding’ Libya, then who is he speaking for?
As indicated in the headline, this is where Dick Cheney comes into the picture. As the CEO of Halliburton in the nineties, Cheney was one of the leading voices in the push to restore diplomatic ties with Libya. The motive, of course, was profit. The Washington Post has an excellent history of the company’s relationship to Libya at their website.
Halliburton came under fire in the early ’90s for supplying Libya and Iraq with oil drilling equipment which could be used to detonate nuclear weapons. Halliburton Logging Services, a former subsidiary, was charged with shipping six pulse neutron generators through Italy to Libya. In 1995, the company pled guilty to criminal charges that it violated the U.S. ban on exports to Libya. Halliburton was fined $1.2 million and will pay $2.61 million in civil penalties.
. . .
During his chairmanship of Halliburton, Cheney criticized U.S. sanctions against “rogue” nations such as Iran and Libya in a 1998 speech. According to a July 26, 2000, Washington Post story, Cheney complained the sanctions “are nearly always motivated by domestic political pressure, the need for Congress to appeal to some domestic constituency.”
Unsurprisingly, in April of 2001, just three months after taking office, The Washington Post reported that Cheney’s energy task force recommended that sanctions against Libya and other rogue states be restructured as they impacted “some of the most important existing and prospective petroleum producing countries in the world.”
Joe Pennacchio’s position is clear. When it comes to chosing sides, it’s Dick Cheney and Big Oil over his own constituents fighting to bring a terrorist state to justice.