WASHINGTON (CN) - Investigative reporter Jeff Gerth has sued the Pentagon, demanding a pre-war report on Iraq's oil industry, "prepared, at least in part, by a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company working under the auspices of the United States Department of Defense." Gerth says the Pentagon report "provided a much bleaker assessment of the Iraqi oil industry and its ability to fund post-war reconstruction efforts than the assessment disseminated publicly by administration officials in advance of the U.S. invasion."
The Pentagon acknowledges that its Energy Infrastructure Planning Group created the report, which, Gerth says, will "shed light on issues of enormous public importance, including the adequacy of the government's pre-war planning and the extent to which considerations about the Iraq oil industry affected military strategy and decisions made by the United States government in planning for the financing and conduct of a war that has now been ongoing for five years."
Gerth says a Pentagon official who served on the Energy Infrastructure Planning Group (EIPG) told him about the report in a September 2003 telephone interview that was monitored by Maj. Gen. Paul Swiergosz. Gerth says the report is 500 to 2,000 pages long and was prepared in 2002 under direction of Michael Mobbs, special adviser to Douglas Feith, then under secretary of defense for policy.
"(T)he report was drafted, at least in part, by the KBR division of the Halliburton Company, and the Central Intelligence Agency contributed to the contents of the report," Gerth says.
Based on this interview and other reporting, including an interview with a Shell Oil executive who was an adviser to the EIPG, Gerth says, he wrote an Oct. 5, 2003 article for The New York Times. "That article explained, inter alia, that the report prepared by the EIPG had provided a much bleaker assessment of the Iraqi oil industry and its ability to fund post-war reconstruction efforts than the assessment disseminated publicly by administration officials in advance of the U.S. invasion."
Gerth says the Pentagon refused to release any parts of the report, citing "national defense" and "'foreign policy' secrets." Gerth insists parts of the report are "reasonably segregable" and must be released under FOIA. He claims Mobbs has acknowledged, twice, "that portions of the EIPG report are indeed subject to disclosure under FOIA and at least two different action officers, David Maier and Stephen Fisher, have been assigned to secure the proper reviews and approvals for release of sections from the report. Nonetheless, no portion of the report has yet been released," says.
Cough it up, Gerth says. He is represented in Federal Court by Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz.