On the eve of confirmation hearings, an article by investigative reporter Antonia Juhasz finds that the former Exxon Mobil CEO is personally named in a current case alleging that security forces employed by the company engaged in serious human rights abuses, including murder, in Aceh, Indonesia.
Juhasz also reveals the company’s long record, under Tillerson’s leadership, of alleged human rights violations; unsafe working conditions; investor and public fraud; destruction of the environment, climate and public health; support of dictators; contributions to global instability and inequality; and being party to wars and conflict.
East County News Service
January 9, 2016 (Chicago) -- Rex Tillerson is scheduled to appear Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be considered for U.S. secretary of state.
A new In These Times cover story by Antonia Juhasz—“Rex Tillerson Could Be America’s Most Dangerous Secretary of State”—reveals for the first time that Tillerson himself is named in a suit alleging “murder, torture, sexual violence, kidnapping, battery, assault, burning, arbitrary arrest, detention and false imprisonment” by security forces employed by Exxon Mobil in Aceh, Indonesia from 2000 through 2004, including while Tillerson served as senior vice president and then president of Exxon Mobil.
The suit alleges that top Exxon Mobil officials “have been continuously involved” in the Indonesian operations and that “Exxon Mobil Corp. officials who have met with Indonesian officials include ... Rex W. Tillerson, president of Exxon Mobil Corp.”
And, as Juhasz uncovers:
“It is just one of countless lawsuits, investigations and allegations confronting the company and its former CEO … which will follow Tillerson into and haunt the next administration, should Congress permit him to join it.”
The 5,000-word feature article lays out new and revelatory findings uncovered while investigating Exxon Mobil’s activities under Tillerson impacting the environment, worker and LGBTQ protections, human rights, global war and the climate.
In addition to citing allegations of anti-union behavior by the company, Juhasz explains how Exxon Mobil played a critical role in the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to the near-privatization of Iraq’s oil industry. In 2009, the company emerged as one of the war’s biggest winners.
The strong ongoing ties between Tillerson and former members of the Bush administration, Juhasz explains, should raise red flags for both Congress and the American public for his potential role as secretary of state.
Juhasz also examines the question, “Why does Rex Tillerson want a job that could easily be seen as a step down in power and influence?” A partial answer is that Tillerson turns 65 in March and faced a forced retirement. He also has an ongoing interest in his Exxon Mobil legacy and unfinished business, particularly in Russia, which, as Juhasz explains, he likely does not trust the Trump administration to handle.
Where some have argued that Rex Tillerson will adequately represent the U.S. in global climate talks because of his stated belief in the reality of climate change, Juhasz finds that Tillerson holds a pattern of focusing on the language of “risk,” which, she writes, “implies that all climate effects are yet to come—such as when Tillerson said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in 2013 that climate change ‘does present serious risk’ yet ‘our ability to project with any degree of certainty the future is continuing to be very limited.’ But, as of 2012, nearly 1,000 children a day were already dying because of climate change, and the estimated annual death toll was 400,000 people worldwide.”
Assessing Exxon Mobil’s history on climate change under Tillerson’s leadership, Juhasz finds:
—In 2008 and 2009, the company nearly doubled its federal lobbying expenditures, out- spending every other corporation, to successfully thwart congressional and White House efforts to pass meaningful climate change legislation.
—Exxon Mobil continues to fund climate denialist organizations and those that are leading the attacks on the Paris Agreement and Obama’s Clean Power Plan while fighting climate-related initiatives launched by shareholders and largely rejecting renewable energy investments.
—Exxon Mobil has contributed more global green-house gas emissions to the atmosphere over the last 150 years than all but one company (Chevron).
“In 2008, Exxon Mobil Senior Vice President J.S. Simon told Congress: ‘The pursuit of alternative fuels must not detract from the development of oil and gas.’ To grasp the threat posed by Exxon Mobil and Rex Tillerson, one could replace ‘alternative fuels’ with just about any phrase, word or concept expected of a just U.S. secretary of state—be it ‘diplomacy,’ ‘equality,’ ‘peace,’ ‘climate justice’ or ‘human rights.’”
Antonia Juhasz is a leading energy analyst, author, and investigative journalist specializing in oil. An award-winning writer, her articles appear in Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic and more. Juhasz is the author of three books: Black Tide, The Tyranny of Oil, and The Bush Agenda. She is a frequent media commentator, appearing regularly on TV and radio.