To this point, it must be said, the portrait of Schaffer is a paint-by-numbers smear, which my column disposed of two weeks ago (April 30, "Smeared with oil"). What distinguishes Huttner's latest attack and qualifies it for a Chesterton boomerang award is its claim that Schaffer "led the company's delegation in Iraq to lobby local speculators for oil contracts."The Michael Huttner wing of the Big Blue Lie Machine doesn't have enough conscience to spare an oppressed ethnic minority in its deceitful attempt to politically smear Bob Schaffer and anyone that stands in its way.
Local speculators? Savor that contemptuous description of the Kurdistan Regional Government and, by implication, the historically oppressed minority that it represents.
Aspect Energy, for which Schaffer worked, negotiated with Kurdish leaders for the right to explore for oil in the north of Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government is no more a "local speculator" in Iraq than Gov. Bill Ritter is a "local warlord" in the United States.
Huttner's use of "local speculators" was no accident. The term appears twice in his letter without any hint as to whom the "speculators" might be. When I e-mailed him in wonderment, he replied, "I'm OK if you prefer to use Kurdish government."
He's OK if someone else prefers the relevant fact. Just don't expect him to volunteer it.
It is true that the Baghdad central government is not happy with the Kurds for having cut a number of oil exploration deals with small- and mid-sized foreign companies; indeed, the oil minister considers them invalid. But it is equally true that the Iraqis have yet to reach agreement on a final oil and gas law, and that a draft completed last year has been slammed by both Kurds and Sunni Arabs (for different reasons). Meanwhile, the parties continue to talk.
The activists at ProgressNowAction are free to support the Arab vision of a state oil company controlling future production in Iraq - and they are equally free to suggest that such a future would best serve American interests, although it's hardly obvious that it would. But in his zeal to discredit Schaffer, Huttner simply airbrushed the Kurds out of existence - and crossed the line between aggressive opinion and outright propaganda. [emphasis added]
The question is whether Mark Udall will renounce this vile propaganda or continue to let PlagiarismNow work on his campaign's behalf at all costs.